I just bought a mocha and a treat around the corner from work. I used to do that once or twice a week. As well as a meal out a few times a week with my mom or a friend or my husband. And, before motherhood, a routine pig out session at the theatre. I would consume an embarrassing amount with a large popcorn and a family size m&ms. Yes, I, not we. Always accompanied by water to make me feel better. But now we haven't had a movie date in over a year and a half (my arteries thank me). I only eat out once or twice a month, if that. And these beverages worth their weight in gold have stopped. It started as a money-saving necessity and has grown into a learning experience in financial stewardship and prioritization, as well as treating myself better.
What began as no choice has morphed into looking at things differently. That money I just spent on something very temporary could have become a bunch of new songs on iTunes that I could listen to repeatedly. Or a couple dozen photos printed to lovingly send to family. Or maybe a new, cute sun hat for my fair skinned girl. But instead it is gone, other than the sugar flowing through my veins. And the jitters because I haven't had much caffeine lately. Whew, is it hot in here?
I cut out buying fancy drinks that cost too much money. Those six dollar blended mochas made with truffle-chocolate gelato are heavenly. I'll say it again--heavenly. But if I did twice a week (worse case yes, but in an array if other exorbitant splurges), it adds up to fifty dollars in a month. That is enough to support my running shoe turnover. Or to pay for diapers. Or to contribute a hefty chunk to the gas budget to visit family. All to savor a momentary pleasure.
So I replaced those extravagant splurges with something cheaper. Now I have a home made hot cocoa addiction. Over winter I loved to start and end the day with a nice, warm, creamy cup of chocolatey goodness. And my daughter copies my stirring quite frequently. Hot cocoas became a habit I noticeably missed if I tried to evade the watering of my taste buds as the thought entered my mind. "Tonight I wont. Tonight I wont..." Ten o'clock rolls along... "Honey, can you make me a drink?"
It isn't that unhealthy, as it is not a processed package I am consuming and I don't even need to add sugar. Plain old milk and cocoa powder. I worried about my milk consumption but I sifted through all the conflicting evidence and I think I'll stick with it for now, without going overboard. Though I probably down seventy dollars worth of milk a month. Seriously. (I do use higher priced lactose free as I am lactose intolerant. Probably the first hint to not consume so much.) So yes, I am trying to replace one of those cups with a tea.
Is the hormones in milk bad? Am I getting antibiotics the cow consumed? Am I eating too much sugar? Sometimes it is difficult to determine priorities because I want to do the right thing but right isn't always obvious. I'll avoid the unquestionable poor choices, like MacDonald's, gas station slushies, and hydrogenated margarine. And I will try to make educated decisions without being persuaded by propaganda and marketing claims and fads.
Sometimes a fad comes along and I want to eagerly jump aboard because it seems like a fad that is finally a discovery of truth. Like coconut oil. I see it everywhere. Apparently it is used for everything. Is it really that amazing? Will people still think so in twenty years? Maybe I should try it.
Looking back I have seen many different trends. Many different health claims. Many opposite swings of the pendulum. Eggs are bad for your cholesterol. No, eggs are fine. Fat is bad for you so eat all the fat-free you want. Wait--sugar is the bad guy. Fiber from grains is very important. And now, the question of whether grains are even good for us?
No wonder people give up on healthy eating. I worry about my milk consumption when the next person doesn't worry and had a can of pop, a large slush, and a candy bar.
I want my daughter to see me eat healthy and to learn to cook good meals. Maybe this time of financial difficulty is a push to teach me to make more conscious decisions. Instead of just going out and eating whatever I choose off the menu, I am more accountable in making meals with ingredients that I would want to eat.
Yes, I am trying to take a rough time and turn it for good. I am growing and learning from the choices I am forced to make and that will help me have a better future. It will help me give my daughter a better future. Hopefully. At this rate I won't be saving for her college. Surely things will turn around soon, before I try to learn how to sew. From past experience, I know that could be quite tragic.