936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
If you haven’t yet read part 1 of the Gruetzmacher’s story, be sure to head there first and get to know Eric, Amy, and their three young boys.
With a simple desire to better the health of her family, and in light of a recent diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome for her eldest son, Amy is setting out on a journey to learn about and prepare only whole foods for her family.
I asked Amy what the first steps were in transitioning her family off of processed foods and onto a whole food diet. I could relate to her journey as a mom; many of the steps the Gruetzmacher’s took were the same steps my own family took a year and a half ago.
First, Amy went through her pantry and ditched the processed foods. She said this is when her eyes were opened to just how much fake food they had been eating. I asked her what she did with the food and she laughed, looking a little embarrassed. “I donated it to the food pantry…” I had to join in her laughter, as I had done the same.
Along with purging the pantry, Amy began changing what she kept in the house. This is one of my first words of advice to those making the transition to whole foods: Bring in the good stuff! Good, whole foods naturally begin to phase out the fake stuff. If you only have whole foods in the house, that’s what you’re reaching for rather than cheese puffs or frozen pizzas.
Amy also began planning meals. This is, I must admit, one of my weak points. I’m working on it, and Amy was an inspiration. She reiterated what I have heard from many others, that having a plan for what she’s going to cook her family keeps them going in the right direction, and protects them from deviating to convenience foods.
I asked Amy what her young boys (6, almost 2, and 8 months) think of the new way of food in their home. Amy explained that they’re treating it as an adventure. Boys like adventure; this I’m learning first-hand. Amy is proud of how well her boys have taken the absence of some former staple foods, as well as how they’ve willingly embraced new foods.
What really surprised Amy is just how many foods her middle boy, Levi, is eating. Formerly quite picky, Levi is loving the new foods being offered to him. He’s especially enjoying all sorts of nuts, a fantastic source of protein and healthy fats for a growing boy!
Amy helped the boys with this change by offering new healthful treats in place of the ones they are leaving behind. Some new favorite snacks are homemade fruit and nut bars, and homemade sweet potato fries cooked in coconut oil and cinnamon.
Amy said that surprisingly, there has not been much the boys haven’t enjoyed of the new foods she is introducing them to. She told me, “I guess you just really can’t go wrong using fresh stuff.” I agreed.
I wanted to get Amy’s husband’s view of all the changes taking place in their kitchen.
I asked Eric what his first thoughts were when Amy approached him with the idea of switching from their former diet to a new diet of only whole and fresh foods. Eric explained that Amy’s strategy included setting before him a meal composed of only fresh, whole ingredients. I guess the saying is true, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!”
Eric said that he has been surprised by some of the new foods they’re trying, like fresh raw green beans, which remind him of growing up, working in the garden with his grandma on hot summer days. He’s enjoying trying unfamiliar fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market, and says that fresh foods seem to take on their own flavor.
Eric also said that with leaving behind processed foods, he doesn’t actually crave anything he used to enjoy. He still enjoys eating out at times when he’s at work, which helps. We’ve also found this to be true. We love discovering new foods at local restaurants, and we allow ourselves to do so without sticking to a strict “only whole food” mentality. Moderation is a very important aspect of eating well!
Eric notices a physical difference eating whole foods instead of processed foods. He says he feels much better on a diet of fresh ingredients; that he tends to eat slower now, and not fall into a “food coma” after meals. Eric explained, “I have a good peace of mind that what I am putting in my body is better than our usual alternative. I am proud of my wife for being courageous in the kitchen and willing to experiment. It’s definitely more work.”
Finally, I asked Eric how he would challenge other men whose wives approach them with a desire to change their diet for the better. Eric’s reply was impeccable; I could not have given a better admonition.
He replied, “The advice I want to give to other men is that God put your wife in your life for a reason. A man is lucky to spend time with a woman who cares enough to want to improve in any area let alone stepping into action for herself or family. Anything good a man does for his wife he also benefits! Give it a try. Be honest about what you like and don’t like. If you pretend to like something more will follow! Find something to like about every meal even if it’s simply the appreciating the thought and energy that went into the meal.”
I often tell people that I could not purchase, prepare, research, photograph, eat, write, or do any of this without the support of my husband. It just can’t happen. If the whole family is not on board, the ship is not going to sail anywhere. Well, unless it’s heading to McDonalds.
Sometimes it takes some convincing, or in the Gruetzmacher’s case, one meal composed of fresh foods; but a little prayer and persistence go a long way in getting everyone excited and involved. The persistence pays off as husbands and children begin to voice their satisfaction with delicious whole food meals prepared with time, thought, and a whole lot of love. And the prayers are answered as families begin to transform their bodies, health, and future through enjoying those delicious meals together!
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!