023I went to the new Trader Joe’s in Libertyville yesterday and I was just so inspired! Maybe it was because I am happy to have TJ’s closer to home, maybe it was because it was 50 degrees and sunny after a spirit-crushing winter from hell, but I don’t think that was it. I think it was because I felt like a French Lady at the Market. Can you picture it: some classy woman, dressed well, red lipstick, stopping at the market and picking up a few ingredients and some wine to bring home to her family? This imaginary family then sits around a table for hours enjoying each others company and the delicious food. (If you haven’t learned this about me yet, I have quite the imagination). In this fake scenario, there is none of the typical issues most of us face: no time, kids fighting, family complaining… It is a happy place and I want to live there more often. I am going to live more ‘European’.

In many other countries (France, Italy, Spain, etc.) the food that people eat and their relationship to it is vastly different than our experience in America. Of course I am making extreme generalizations here so if you take offense in anyway- you’re missing the point. In Europe you are less likely to see someone loading up their cart at Wal-mart every other week with convenience food and industrial size tubs of cheese balls. We have become obsessed with saving a buck and saving ourselves calories. We care more about how much fat is in something than what ingredients are in something. Exhausted moms are like zombies in the super market aisles asking themselves ‘will my kid actually eat this?’ On the other hand, people in Europe buy full flavored fresh foods without obsessing over calories. People in Europe don’t avoid chocolate, but they also don’t wolf down a Butterfinger on their way home from work. They ENJOY the chocolate.

When I went to TJ’s, I had no plan and no list. I knew I needed a few dinners, and I was out of wine. I walked the store and picked up things that looked good and fresh. I grabbed a fresh salsa we’ve never had for my husband. I got a whole chicken that I made last night, and I have some fish and soup for tonight. Add in 5 bottles of wine, fresh fruit and veggies, and call it a day. I didn’t bring home anything I am going to regret having in my house. I didn’t buy any food that will sabotage our diets/healthy eating. But most importantly, I didn’t ‘shop-down’ to my kids. I didn’t buy something breaded, bland, and beige for them to eat. I didn’t buy some food-like product that is easily palatable so I can get thru dinner without complaints. I simply bought food. When we ate chicken and roasted veggies last night, so did the kids (Will told me cauliflower is not his favorite). When we eat fish tonight, so will the kids. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in some weird bizarro world where my kids love everything I make, but they do know that what mommy makes for dinner is what’s for dinner. There is no back up dinner; there is no snack later because you didn’t eat your dinner and there is CERTAINLY no telling mommy that the food is gross! (I will actually be blogging about feeding kids soon so be on the look out for that).

Lastly, food should be wonderful and exciting and fulfilling and fun and delicious. Food shouldn’t be depressing or worrisome or filled with guilt or boring or stressful. People talk about love-hate relationships with food. There should be no hate. By choosing foods that are real and fresh and yummy and preparing them to nourish your family, you will never need to worry about calories again.

So, you can either be:

That frazzled, crazed, hurried woman at Wal-mart, fighting the crowds, cursing people under your breath, schlepping around 3 weeks worth of convenience food, obsessing over how many calories is in your lean cuisine and your vitamin water, wondering if your kids will eat pork chops or if you should just get nuggets for them, and going home feeling crabby and wanting to order pizza.

Or, you can be:

That stylish, calm, collected woman at the ‘market’ smelling the produce and smiling, placing carefully selected ingredients in your basket, bringing home new and exciting flavors for your family to try, and never again worrying about calories or fat because you know that when you focus on nourishing your body and soul, you will never be unhealthy.

It’s all in your head, and you can have that experience too. Just decide it

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