Food Insecurity

At almost every meal time, I briefly think that our family is “food insecure.” Not in the true sense of the word – by no means are we that at all. But if you asked me what we ate for the last week, I would have no idea. And if you asked me what we were going to eat for our next meal, I’d semi-panic and want to crawl in a hole and avoid the question entirely.

How is it possible that I go shopping every week, have a fridge and pantry full of food, yet we rarely have anything to eat?

In fact, I think one of the reasons Glow Worm is so short is because all he does is snack all day and doesn’t actually eat real food. (I’ll just go back and hide now.)

It’s pretty telling that my favorite time of every year is when I go to San Diego and visit my friend for a few days and she provides all meals and snacks for those blissful three days. I don’t have to think about anything!

It’s heaven.

Anyhow, lately, it’s been pressing upon me more and more so that we have to make some changes as a family about what we eat and how we eat it.

It all started when I slowly started realizing that whenever I had even minimal amounts of caffeine or sugar, I would start shaking. My whole body would feel jittery and jerky and I would feel jumpy and just “off.” And every time I ate a granola bar that my kids eat all the time (especially Glow Worm), I would feel really weird and my heart would start racing. I would get to thinking, “If I, as a fully grown adult woman, couldn’t handle the sugar content in a “healthy” granola bar, what the hell is it doing to my children?

I mean, maybe the reason Glow Worm is quite insane and is never tired has more to do with his diet than his temperament? Perhaps the kids would eat more of their normal meals if they didn’t always have snacks?

So, I don’t really know what to do. I flirt with the idea of cutting sugar or having only unprocessed foods in the house (OMG – that makes me so sad to even think about), or to go all hard core like the 100 Days of Real Food lady and that just stresses me out. I know I have the tendency to go full tilt all in extreme and then burn out super quick.

It seems impossible. And really hard. And a lot like work. (You all know how I feel about anything that even remotely resembles work.)

My mind races to think of what schedules I need to rearrange for shopping and food prep. Do I start freezer cooking? Use a crock pot? And are any of these dishes actual Chinese food? Or things my kids would eat?

And of course, I have a ton of excuses: the kids never eat what I make so why bother? We’re always on the go, how can we have fewer processed foods but still have an active lifestyle (and by active, I mean that we’re constantly driving around from one thing to another). What about all the food we already bought? It seems crazy hard – especially with my kids’ multiple food allergies.

And so, I’m hesitant to even mention my thoughts for several reasons. The main being that if I talk about it, I might actually have to do something. The others being that I know that my complaints are totally a first world problem and that I feel a lot of shame.

After all, there are 870 million people worldwide who don’t know what – if anything – they will have to eat. Even within the United States, there are millions of children and families who experience actual food insecurity. (1 in 7 Americans experience hunger because they or their families cannot afford food.) And here I am, complaining about my petty problems.

So, even though I have no idea what to do with our food situation, I hopefully can at least remind us that as America is gearing up for the holiday season. I encourage you to donate to your local food bank, volunteer for Meals on Wheels, donate your time to help pack food supplies, whatever. If you are at a loss of what to do, consider donating on a monthly basis to your local county food bank. We currently donate $150/month to the Contra Costa County Food Bank and I consider it part of our tithing. It has not been difficult to do considering it’s the very least I can do – which is give money.

In addition, this year, instead of just telling folks to not bring gifts to my children’s birthday parties, I’ve asked people to bring food items to donate to the local food bank instead. For Glow Worm’s birthday, we raised 118 pounds of food. I might even have people do so for our annual New Year’s Eve party.

I mention these things not to seem righteous or holy, but merely acknowledging that the rest of this post is horribly incongruent with real food insecurity. But since the context is my life, I can only write what I know.

However, I do want to also highlight actual hunger instead of my cheap facsimile so as we get ready for the holiday season (I know it seems early, but it really isn’t!), to keep in mind ways you can help – even if it’s just with your time and energy and strength.

I would also encourage you to set up a monthly contribution (or at least a reminder to donate during the summer months – which are notoriously low on donations) instead of just doing something during the holidays. People are hungry year round – not just on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Anyhow, I have no idea how to end this post (as always). But I would love to hear your feedback (especially if you and your family have made major food changes) and advice! Happy Monday.

 

4 thoughts on “Food Insecurity

  1. When my husband was in addiction recovery, we both learned how critical it was to maintain a good diet, because sugar crashes and hunger pangs can trigger craving for the drug/alcohol.
    We started out slow and gradual, because anything too drastic would have been a shock to his system and not gone over well with the kids.
    We began to replace one convenience food at a time with the homemade variety–I might make a huge batch of dehydrated fruit one weekend, and then stop buying gummy fruit snacks. The next week, maybe I’d make a batch of granola bars or trail mix.
    We started a small garden (which has stayed REALLY small) but provided at the very least an interest in eating fresh fruits and veggies as snacks. I made sure there was always ready-to-eat produce on hand (baby carrots, cut celery, apple slices, fresh rinsed grapes) I found that if we had to put forth any effort like washing or cutting a fruit before eating, we were a lot more likely to just grab a convenient snack item instead.
    I started planning dinners a week ahead, and meshing them with my calendar so that I didn’t inadvertently schedule roasted chicken for a night that we would be at dance class until 6. I did–and still do–plan on a mix of crock pot/freezer meals, 15-30 minute recipes, and more involved dinners for weekends. Grocery shop for everything all at once, for each week. It’s a little more expensive if you’re used to shopping coupons/ads/bulk/stockup sales, but in the long run it’s time saved and less food going to waste.
    Baby steps, baby steps.

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