Hey readers, I would like to share this blog article that appeared on Cleopatra’s blog sometime back in November 2012.
Cleo is just one year older than me. We met as colleagues just before I embarked on my university path in 2007. When I heard that she was going to get married at such a young age, I was apprehensive, but since she was just my colleague, I just hoped that she made the right decision and would be happy.
Fast forward to now, Cleo is now a mummy of 2 beautiful kids, Xander and Evie. The family resides in Melbourne, Australia.
Through the years on Facebook, I have noticed and was surprised as Cleo started to have a shift in her lifestyle. Frankly, she was not one of those whom I expected or even thought of that would start choosing a healthier lifestyle and diet choices out of her own will as she was just a typical Singaporean lady, not even a health nut freak when we first met each other.
However, as a result of her expanding family, her mindset started to charge. She may not be vegetarian, but she sure is walking the talk through the daily lifestyle decisions that she made. This is what I call an exemplary lady/mother! I am very darn proud of this friend of mine as she is a very good role-model.
The post below appeared on Cleo’s personal blog on 27 Nov 2012, and it is a worthy article to read.
I am a mother on a mission. A mission to provide my beloved family with the cleanest, greenest, and most non-toxic environment to live in and grow.
My impetus to embark on this quest was simple – my baby boy. Prior to his arrival, I never gave it a thought. How chemicals and toxins were such an integral part of my everyday life. But his arrival into our hearts and family changed everything. We saw that we had a huge responsibility to this new person who is entirely dependent upon us for the best start to his life. So much of the first years of a child’s life is the critical foundation upon which the rest of his life is built upon, including his health and physical well-being. It took having my own child, for me to learn how precious life truly is. Here is a little person, so perfect, so pure, so undamaged. And yet here he is, in our world, inhabiting our planet, which now has way too much toxins and dangerous chemicals in its air that cannot possibly be good for us, let alone a tiny little being like him. I wanted to provide him with the best possible environment to grow up in. I wanted to do everything in my power to ensure that we are around for him for as long as possible. As the mother and the wife of this little family, it was ultimately up to me to make these changes. To set us on the right path. So I began my research.
I will be the first to also admit that this is one heck of a daunting task. One that is so huge and feels almost impossible to achieve fully. But every little change makes a huge impact in our lives and every little change is a step towards a better life.
There are so many areas in our lives that we have made changes to and I don’t think it’ll all fit into one post, so there’ll be a few posts coming up that will be related. Today, I’m talking about food.
We have committed to eating real food most of the time, as much as we can. My basic rules are:
Stick to fresh ingredients in my cooking. Cook with fresh hormone-free and chemical-free meat instead of bacon and luncheon meat and such. Use fresh vegetables and eggs. Things like that.
Use natural aromatics like ginger, garlic, spring onions, natural sea salt, etc, to reduce my life-long reliance on artificially processed flavourings such as soy sauce and oyster sauce. If you’ve ever looked closely at the ingredients list of these sauces, you’d be appalled. Artificial colourings, flavourings, and preservatives are all common ingredients. All of which does harm to our bodies, not something I want my son to eat much of.
When buying store bought food, I ALWAYS scrutinise the ingredients lists and if I cannot pronounce it, or if I don’t know what it is exactly, I do not put it in my shopping basket. Rule of thumb: not more than 5 ingredients, and nothing I cannot recognise in its natural state. Even something as simple as strawberry jam can be deceiving. The only strawberry jam I buy for my family, is made up of at least 55% strawberries and sweetened only with grape juice, and preserved only with lemon juice and fruit pectin. That’s it. 4 ingredients. Check out the label of your strawberry jam the next time you reach for it. Most store-bought jams contain less than 30% fruit, and more than 50% pure refined sugar, in addition to artificial colourings, flavourings, and preservatives. Think again, about what you are eating!
Choose the lesser of the evils. I am not willing to give up on potato chips just yet. I still enjoy it way too much to be willing to give it up. Maybe one day I will. But for now, we only have original-flavoured stuff in our pantry. All our potato chips have only 3 ingredients: Potatoes, oil, salt. Period. Have you looked at what’s really in your favorite potato chips recently?
All the other junk gets dumped. I don’t remember the last time I had chocolate, ice-cream, a full can of soft drink, gummy bears, M&M’s, etc. I no longer waste money on them, and no longer kill myself slowly on them. I do, however, indulge very occasionally in fruit sorbets from the gelato stand at the shopping mall, knowing that they freshly churn their sorbets in store. Soft drinks are simply horrible for me now. The last time I drank half a can, I had to crash and take a 3 hour nap because of the intense sugar rush, the chemical-induced migraine, the fuzzy blurry vision and more. Thank goodness it was a weekend and Jude was home to watch Xander. Ditto to chocolates. Especially the milk chocolates. I haven’t tried dark chocolate yet because I can’t handle the caffeine when pregnant or breastfeeding, so no chocolate for a few years yet.
No more processed food that pretends to be the real stuff. I’m talking about instant noodles and such. The smell of the instant noodles is enough to make me dizzy and sick. The last time I ate a packet of my favorite Korean ramen noodles, I was throwing it all back up in less than half an hour no matter how hard I tried to keep it down. MISERABLE does not even begin to describe it. I thought I’d miss it because I was a HUGE fan growing up, but I truly don’t. I don’t miss how terrible it made me feel after eating it. Ugh.
Dairy is a rarity in our home, which is a huge deal because Jude has always been a big milk drinker. Ever since he began cutting down on his dairy intake, his life-long issues with acne and gout has dramatically improved. Those large painful breakouts that he used to suffer on a regular basis started to become less frequent, and months can go by without his gout problem flaring up and leaving him in pain. We also discovered that Xander has a dairy intolerance and he is seriously better off without it. When we used to give him yoghurt and cheese, he would be sick for days – cough, runny nose, teary eyes, lots of phlegm, diarrhea. Yuck. Jude takes olive oil butter, I wanted to switch too but my pregnant taste buds haven’t found something suitable yet so for now I’m sticking to a half dairy/half canola oil blend of butter. We still have the occasional homemade pizza with grated cheese, Jude still has the occasional slice of cheddar cheese with his breakfast sandwich, but we’re slowly getting there. Instead of drinking Yakult for my probiotics, I take probiotic capsules instead. Baby steps.
Eating out is a luxury we choose not to indulge in. We went from eating out or getting takeaway at least 3 times a week to now maybe once a week or so. Not only have we been saving a lot of money, we have been much healthier for it. Nothing beats fresh home-cooked food that has been lovingly prepared by us and knowing exactly what went into the food. Even when I was having my exams and struggling to complete my assignments, I still made it a point to cook dinner everyday because it is simply better than anything we can get outside. We also went from eating MacDonald’s breakfast every Saturday morning, to cooking our own breakfast feast at home with fresh eggs, ham, toast or fresh wholemeal English muffins. Sometimes we have homemade pancakes, french toast, etc. So much cheaper, and so much better.
Since we started making these changes in our diet, we have seen our health improve drastically. We all have so much more energy, so much more life in us. No more feeling cranky and lethargic all the time. I would not have believed it if I didn’t try it for myself either.
We are certainly not perfect. We still eat too much biscuits and I would like to rid my freezer of frozen convenience food like fish fingers that only contains 48% fish, for example. I would like to make more homemade pasta sauces and even things like jam and such. But the truth is that I simply cannot find the time. My daily routine is jam packed with chores and Xander that I cannot find the time during the week to do any of that. Weekends, we have started using a little more productively. Baking goodies for snacks for the rest of the week, cooking proper meals instead of eating out, etc. But it’s still not enough, not when I’m pregnant and caring for Xander all on my own most of the time. So for now, we pick our battles and make the most important and simple changes first. Everything else will fall into place soon enough.
I’m very proud of how our family eats today, and it makes me happy to know that I’m doing my best to give my child the best start to life, by ensuring a good diet for him. And especially now that I’m pregnant, I feel great knowing that my unborn little girl is getting much better stuff from me than she would be before these changes.
I am even prouder of myself, for proving at least to myself if no-one else, that it’s all about mindset. I used to HATE onions, garlic, spring onions, capsicum, ginger, celery, carrots, etc. Today, I regularly cook with them and to my surprise, I’ve started enjoying them. I believe it’s because in my mind, I know they are good for me and definitely better than artificial flavourings, so I am more able to accept and embrace them. It’s good… I feel good!
Below are some photos I got from Cleo’s Facebook album that proves she really practices what she believes in.
Here is Xander, a young kid, completely enjoying his “deconstructed tortilla burger wrap, made up of multigrain tortilla, avocado slices, cucumber sticks, cherry tomatoes and a bit of mama’s handmade chicken patty” with a huge smile on his face. Bet you can’t find kids who enjoys eating such healthy food nowadays.
And Cleo’s homemade natural playdough for Xander:
It is very admirable that a young mum like Cleo can spare a thought for her kid’s health. How about you? 🙂
*If you would like to contact Cleo to find out more from her, please do not hesitate to drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org*