Less is more, always

The older I get, the clearer I become on the value of simplicity. I’d rather have one or two great fitting pairs of jeans than a closet full of trendy, ill-fitting, or someday-I’ll-loose-five-pounds and those will fit pairs of space hogs. When I focus on quality versus quantity of anything my overall experience of that item becomes expansive, deeply satisfying and rich.

Same goes for food. Don’t  get me wrong. I love seeing the sheer abundance and variety at my farmer’s market, but I’m happier when I return home to review the considered items I selected and I can think clearly about how I’m going to enjoy that food throughout the week. Like a toddler, I am easily overwhelmed. Less is always more. I get it.

Over the past few months I’ve made massive changes to my own personal diet and thankfully it’s started to trickle down to my daughter’s eating habits. When she complains of hunger I give her a few simple choices. Some nuts, a few olives, cheese, an apple, perhaps? This usually gets her thinking about whether she’s really hungry or just bored and looking for something to fill an existential void. As a treat, she gets a yogurt tube. We can debate the issue of cultivating a fast food culture through tubes of liquid food another day. These are treats in our home and it’s a modern convenience I’m happy to live with.

PMD yogurt tubes

But, all fast food is not created equal. I knew these little tubes were filled with sugar and I tried to sooth myself by saying that at least I wasn’t buying brands that are filled with artificial colors and hey, there’s protein and calcium in there! The Trader Joe’s brand is colored with beet juice, but why does it need to be colored in the first place? But to top it off, it also contains “natural flavors” – a huge red flag. And carrageenan – a very common additive in organic and “natural” processed foods that I am working to avoid. (Check your labels, friends. It’s everywhere.) Not to mention, the TJ’s brand has 11 ingredients, which seems a little excessive in something as simple a yogurt.

Enter Siggi’s. It’s got four ingredients, no added flavors or colors and has six grams of sugar (compared to 9 grams in the TJs brand). From their packaging to their formulation, they are keeping it simple and for that I’m grateful. Emerson is happy and I’m happily throwing out the last of the icky TJ’s brand. The one downer is that they are not certified organic. But for now, I’m accepting this as one of our only non-organic dairy and produce items. I’ve emailed Siggi’s through their website to ask about this issue and am awaiting a response.

P.S. I have not been paid to write about this brand. I simply felt it was time to talk about kid-related food choices and so far, I’m really happy with the switch in my household. I would love to share some of your stories. Have you made any lasting changes to your children’s eating habits that you’d be willing to share, here? Let me know and maybe this could become a regular feature.

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  • melissa

    good tips estelle. thank you for bringing carrageenan to my attention. it is so important to read the labels and offer more ‘natural’ foods as treats. you know i am a huge proponent of kids eating healthy!!! i have never been a fan of trader joe’s. don’t get me wrong, there are a few items that seem good, but for the most part, i feel all the aisles are filled with processed, boxed ‘food’, and the produce always seems so sad.

    like you said, let’s just keep it simple. mindful practices in purchasing food is essential.

    now, can you tell me about your favorite pair of jeans? ;)

  • Estelle Hayes

    Well, my sweet Melissa I’m so glad you asked. Seriously, Madewell makes my favorite jeans. They are always going on sale and their fit is amazing (just a tiny bit of stretch goes a long way). And yes, TJ’s is mostly highly processed junk, but they’re got good prices on some organic produce, cheese and nuts.

    • melissa

      totally agree about the organic nuts at tj’s! cool..i’ll check out madewell jeans. thanks lovely!

  • Mary

    First of all, let me just say that although I don’t comment often, I do read your blog regularly and love it. It’s inspiring and you often hit on topics that I have been thinking about that week. I loved the post on Mindful Drinking, and I had been going through the same thing with regards to alcohol.

    I have always been focused on keeping my kid’s diet as healthy as possible, but there is always room for improvement. I’ve been focused on trying to make most things homemade instead of buying boxes. I make homemade chicken fingers and fish sticks, for example. I make my own popsicles in the summer. Annie’s mac & cheese is probably the biggest exception to this. I always serve it with kale or peas mixed in, which makes me feel better. :-)

    I had heard about carrageenan, but I haven’t been vigilant about eliminating it – I honestly get overwhelmed. I’m hoping Stonyfield will remove it soon – in the meantime I will check out alternatives.

    From not commenting to all this! Thanks!

  • Estelle Hayes

    Hi Mary! It’s great to hear from you. Thank you for commenting. It’s always nice to extend the conversation and I know we all have so much to offer and learn from one another. I hear you on the boxed foods and Annie’s is our regular indulgence, too. Baby steps to better health for the whole family, right? :)

  • Cara Crowley

    I love Siggi’s for myself and I’ll have to look for it for the boys. Thank you for sharing :)

    Feeding and selecting food for my boys is one of the hardest battles I fight on a daily basis, especially as they grow older. I’m up against companies that are spending millions of dollars to market to the boys and I have to always be on the look out how they are sneak their products into my home. One of my biggiest pet peeves are children’s menus at resteraunts. Why does there have to be a separate menu for children? 99% of the time I refuse the children’s menu since it normally only has bland, processed, high carb choices. That generally makes me the “bad guy” in my nephews eyes and leads to a few unhappy moments before we can get back on track. We usually end up splitting a well selected adult entree, to which we are generally penalized for and have to pay a split plate charge. I’m ok with having to override the system but sometimes, especially when I am tired, I get extremely frustrated that the system for feeding children (and adults) is so broken.