Friday, June 15, 2012

Buying Green: Thoughtful Food

Thoughtful Food was started by a mom in response to her family's drastic dietary restrictions due to a variety of problems. You can read about the story behind Thoughtful Food here if you're interested in the whole scoop. Right now they have one product, Giddy Up and Go Granola, and it sounds delicious! I had a chance to interview Jennifer Bielawski to find out more.

1) It sounds like managing your family's diet is pretty much a full-time job! How did you have time to start a company as well?
It certainly was a full-time job in the beginning when our diet was so restricted, but now that we are only eliminating gluten, it has become much more manageable.  I guess there is never a good time to start a business when you have kids at home, but I was so committed to getting better food on the market that I just forged ahead.  It goes without saying that I get little sleep, but lucky for me, I don't require a lot! To be perfectly honest, I've always felt like there was something guiding us along from the very beginning, when we've needed something, it's seemed to materialize. I've never taken a business course and am not sure what a tried-and-true business executive would say about that, but I think I've been very lucky!  As with anything, however, there are only so many hours in the day and because of the business I've had to sacrifice the volunteering that I've been actively doing for the past five years, but do hope I can return to that when the business is off the ground a bit more.
2) Are there other products in the works besides the granola?
There are certainly many products I would like to do immediately, but for now, my main focus is Giddy Up & Go Granola. I plan to revisit this in the beginning of 2013 and hope to bring more snack type products to the markets that will fit closely with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet which eliminates all grain, starch, sugar and most lactose.  This was the diet that my children and I did for six months that had such dramatic affects on our health.  Anything I do after the granola will fill in the gaps for those looking for ways to live life on a very restricted diet. 
3) What advice do you have for parents trying to manage specialized diets due to medical needs?
I would say that it's important to be your own advocate.  When my son was sick, I did a lot of research myself to see what the underlying conditions could be that were the root of the problem.  I remember telling my dad that I couldn't imagine where we would be if I didn't have the internet and the where-with-all to not accept a life time of medication to mask his symptoms.  That said, when we did discover that his diet was the problem, we simply made the changes that had to be done.  I realize how scary and overwhelming that is, but it doesn't have to be.  We explained to our children why it had to be done and to this day, continue to reinforce the idea that it's only food. It seems that every day I explain to my son that even though it only takes a few minutes to eat it, the negative effects can last much, much longer. It's so important to want to do it and have total buy in as a family because it is a commitment.  The bottom line is that if you're like us, there wasn't an option so we forged on!
4) Do your kids still struggle against not being able to have the same treats everyone else can, for example at birthday parties or holidays?
Every day!  There is not a day that goes by that my son doesn't fight me about what he wants to eat.  The reality is that I'm not with him at school or at parties and it's up to him to make the right choices for his health.  We continually discuss the reality that if he makes bad choices, he will have to live with the consequences.  He is very interested in sports so we are able to show him how bad food choices can affect his athletic ability.  I am amazed, however, that at most parties, friends seem to have gluten free options since my son usually isn't the only one being restricted.  Of course, when all else fails, I will offer him a bribe!  I would urge parents to be strong with their children and their friends regarding their wishes and to say that it is ok to take a cupcake or something that you approve of for their treat at a party. 

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