Kristen Bell is championing a cause close to our hearts and wallets—affordable healthy eats. As a working mom on screen and off (Bell stars in Bad Moms, in theaters Friday, and is the mother of two girls), her enthusiasm for seeing families flourish in the nutritious living column more than matches our own. That's why when she reached out in support of a new petition that implores the USDA to allow food stamps to be used online, we were more than game to connect.
At present, low-income families and individuals on the American food stamp program are unable to purchase groceries online. Over 23.5 million Americans living in low-income areas reside more than one mile from a large grocery store. While 74% of low-income Americans have access to the internet, only 30% have access to a car.
These astounding statistics inspired Bell to galvanize behind a petition started by Thrive Market, the venerable all-natural online health food grocer. With over 200,000 signatures already in place, the movement hopes to bring about a streamlined, simple solution to the "food desert" epidemic.
Wildly down to earth and charmingly candid, Bell easily ranks among our favorite leading ladies. The House of Lies star is set to topline Michael Shur's (The Office, Parks and Recreation) new NBC television comedy, The Good Place. Bell plays Eleanor, a New Jersey woman looking to turn over a new leaf upon realizing she may not be all that "good" of a person. In her personal life, Bell is equally grounded in self-betterment and well-being. We caught up with the mother and actress to talk being good, being bad, and everything in between—including her personal tips on empowering morning routines for toddlers (they're good).
MYDOMAINE: How did you discover Thrive Market?
KRISTEN BELL: Word of mouth. My girlfriends were all using it. I try to stay up to date with new, healthy happenings. Thrive makes it incredibly easy as a working mom to order healthy food for my kitchen online.
MD: What’s your favorite part about the site?
KB: The search engine possibilities. The selection is great. They really do have everything. You’re able to isolate the products that are right for you. For example, when my husband was going gluten-free, it was a simple search. You’re not standing at the grocery store reading the backs of the boxes to see if they contain gluten. The experience is so easy.
MD: Tell us how you got involved with the petition.
KB: The petition’s goal is to get the USDA to allow food stamps to be used online. It’s a simple solution to a variety of problems. First off, I think it’s absurd that people can’t buy what is probably the one thing they are most in need of on food stamps—which is healthy food. Healthy food creates fewer medical problems later in life. To me, it seems like the most obvious thing on the planet. I am incredibly grateful that I can feed my family organic produce. I want that for every family. It is your right to have access to healthy food.
MD: As a working mom, do you have any morning routines you can share?
KB: Lately, since my daughter is 3, we are working on preparing her own breakfast. If we’re having cereal, I’ll help her grab the milk and let her pour it. We just deal with the mess! The practice is what helps her feel empowered. She now does it for her little sister. I like letting her know she can have a variety of things for breakfast. Starting the day off with a choice, for a toddler, is really important. They are smaller. They’re slower. They’re less adept and less intelligent than everyone around them. So they’re losing all day. To start the day off with an empowering choice of what do you want for breakfast is great. Of course, she usually says sugar. I talk her out of it by saying, “Sugar will make you feel really yucky later. What’s a growing food?”
MD: Is there a trick to balancing parenthood and career?
KB: It’s so individual for every person. How I do it is I set a standard for optimism for myself. How I get there on any given day varies. Some days I’ll need more rest. Some days I’ll say to my husband, “I need an hour to run or I need to go have lunch with my girlfriends.” Some days you’re simply more stressed than others. I don’t beat myself up over that. Not beating yourself up is the key to balancing it all. The other part is recognizing you’ll never feel completely balanced. It’s a losing battle, so just knock it off. Be present where you are, and understand what you need.
MD: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned from being a mom?
KB: When I had my second, I was surprised that the love I had for my children didn’t divide—it multiplied. That’s a hard thing to wrap your head around. You love your first kid so much. You’re thinking, I will never love another human the way I love this kid. It’s just not possible. Then it just gets better.
MD: Bad Moms hits theaters this week. Got any vices you might consider a “bad mom” habit?
KB: For many years now, I have convinced myself that “vices” should be things that are just for me, not necessarily bad for me. What things are going to make me feel good in the long run? Saying in the evening, I need to go stretch and meditate. My husband is very supportive of that. It’s not really a vice. I suppose depending on your semantics, some might say if you need to take time away from your kids—that’s a vice. I have no hesitation in putting myself first because I know it makes me a better mom.
MD: Do you think there’s still pressure for parenting and motherhood to look a certain way?
KB: Oh, god yeah. It’s so unrealistic. Having something unattainable looming over our heads, as parents, is not fair. That’s what this movie is all about. Till my dying day, I will hope to shatter this idea we’ve all accepted that perfection is attainable. I think it’s worthwhile to strive for perfection. Hope in perfection and betterment is important. It keeps us moving as humans. That belief has to go hand in hand with an ability to accept failure. You have to be okay with not doing it the first time, with not being perfect.
MD: It’s not a competition. You have to find what works for you.
KB: Here’s my take. Whether it’s with a group of 20-somethings where you can get a comparison hangover by saying, I didn’t have as good as an Instagram selfie as her or whether it’s I didn’t pack kale in my kids lunch every day, you can spend your entire life blaming the herd for putting that upon you. Alternatively, you can wake up in the morning and go I’m not going to be a part of this. My personal responsibility is what I choose to lead with.
Look at a baby picture of yourself, and say, What would I tell this girl to feel about her body if it changes in ways she didn’t expect? What would I tell this girl about motherhood? Once you extract yourself from the situation, things become a lot easier. People want to be good, but they have a really hard time being good to themselves. I’m tough. I say, It’s on you, girl. You are choosing to participate. Listen, if you want to be miserable for the rest of your life, then godspeed! I don’t. You have to find the solution. The solution is not in comparing yourself to other moms or telling yourself you did it wrong.
MD: Is there any one secret to great parenting?
KB: I think it’s really individual. Some people need more alone time. Some people need to be surrounded by others. There’s not one solution that works for everyone. There are different kinds of parents because there are a lot of different kinds of kids. That’s why listening and staying in tune with your inner voice become so critical.
MD: So work/life balance: real or myth?
KB: Oh, myth! That said, you can find happiness in wherever you are. It’s just like going to the gym. The media is constantly writing about “quick fixes” to get a better body. News flash: There’s not. Go to the gym and eat right. That’s the only one. We can actually cancel the rest of the news coverage on the subject. We figured it out! We just don’t want to accept it. The balance is trying to be present with where you are and prioritizing your life the way you want to. Maybe that means you work a little more. Maybe that means you prioritize your family, and you work a little less.
To learn more about the USDA petition, head to ThriveAction.org. Shop our favorite Thrive essentials below, and then watch Kristen run down her ultimate internet wish list.