Parenthood magnifies the weight of our daily choices, especially when it concerns the well-being of our little ones. Today, let’s embark on an extended journey with Emily and Mark as they venture into the complicated task of understanding food labels.
Grocery shopping. A task so mundane, yet today, it felt like a saga straight out of a storybook. Though usually a pretty straightforward affair, today’s expedition had a fresh twist – my new found determination to understand what we are really eating, especially since I’ve recently discovered that our baby will end up liking the foods I consume today. I picked up a food label and would turn to Mark, “what in the world is aspartame?” He’d shrug, as perplexed as I was, “sounds like a name for a wizard!” Is my baby going to prefer it?” I don’t know!! But I sure am curious!
Each product became a riddle, and I was adamant about solving them. My pace was slow, perhaps painstakingly so for Mark, who’s more of a ‘grab and go’ shopper. I could sense a mix of amusement and mild irritation in his sighs as I scrutinized another item. “Em, do we really need to know about every tiny thing?” he’d joke, trying to lighten the mood.
I just want to do what is best for my baby. I was super thirsty and I kept picking up drinks. Aspartame again! It’s in so many products! MARK! I have to look this up. And then we both dove into a rabbit hole of research.
Oh dear, and then I started reading that some research suggested potential risks associated with aspartame consumption during pregnancy, including potential effects on fetal development. We found out that in mice, aspartame is toxic and may impact the placenta.
On the other hand, Mark would find research saying it was perfectly safe in small quantities and he would brush it off. But what if the research is right and aspartame isn’t good for my growing baby? And ok, small quantities may not hurt, but do you really think I am tracking how many services of aspartame I’m drinking? I didn’t even know what aspartame was before today! And what about our health? Why do we choose to settle without at least being curious about the alternatives? Mark sat in silence, thinking about what we were discovering. The realization hit us hard. How had we been so unaware? All I know is that Aspartane is not worth the risk and just as there are lots and lots of ingredients I cannot pronounce, there are lots that I can and that are better options!
Mark, trying to calm my rising anxiety, squeezed my hand. “It’s a learning curve, Em. We’ll get through it together.” But I could see the worry in his eyes too. Diary, it is just so so confusing and gets so overwhelming! So many mixed messages as to what to do and not to do. At this rate, we won’t be able to eat anything so how do we find what is best for us and our family.
Throughout the rest of our shopping journey, we were more cautious, more discerning. Our cart was filled not just with products, but with a commitment to better understand and prioritize our baby’s health.
Exiting the store, our spirits were a mix of concern, determination, and a strange sense of accomplishment. We might not have all the answers, but today marked the beginning of a more conscious journey towards parenthood.
Reflecting on the day during our drive home, Mark voiced what we both felt, “We’ve got so much to learn, Em. But one thing’s for sure: We’re in this together.”
Grateful for the lessons and the love,