January 16, 2013

Discovering "real" food

My One Word for 2013 is Discovery.  While the intent was to discover more of myself this year, it is also about learning how the world around me effects me as well.   This started last year with me going to the doctor because I was feeling "off".   I had a series of blood work done and saw two specialists, a rheumetolgist and a gastroenterologist.  By the end of this past summer, all my tests had come back "normal" and I was left to figure out why I felt so bad all on my own.

I spoke to a friend about her paleo diet and decided to do some research online.  I didn't think paleo was for me, but soon began to think my diet was hurting me more than I thought.  Somehow, maybe by the grace of God, I stumbled upon a blog by Lisa Leake.  She challenges individuals to only eat "real" food for 100 days, hence the title of her blog, 100daysofrealfood.com.  She has pretty specific list of rules including no refined sugar or flour.

I never really thought our eating habits were all that bad.  After going through my cabinets and pantry, I began to think otherwise.  I am not really sure how I had gotten so far off course.  When my oldest started eating solids, I was very particular about what she ate.  I made my own baby food for her, and only gave her organic milk.  She had little to no sugar in her diet, and almost no juice at all.  She did not try soda until she was almost five years old.  What happened?

Life got hectic.  I really hate to blame it on "life", but I succumbed to convenience and cost.  At the end of my pregnancy with my second daughter, we bought a home that needed some TLC and was over three hours from where we currently lived.  I actually signed the papers for the house in the hospital the day after Miss M was born.   Afterward, we spent a lot of time on the road between the two houses.  We would stay the weekend in the new house fixing what we could.  With only a small dormintory style refrigerator to put food, we ended up eating a LOT of processed food. 

We moved into the new house when Miss M was two months old.  Less than six months later, my husband was laid off.  He was fortunate to find a job again quickly.  His new job was about two hours away, but close to my parents house.  He stayed with them during the week while I stayed in the house until it sold.  I began my "extreme couponing" phase then.  I didn't care how "bad" the food was, if it was free with coupons, I bought it.   I guess it was my way of coping with how scared I felt when my husband was out of work.

We moved into our current home right before Miss M's first birthday.   I couldn't let my couponing ways go and started stockpiling boxes of cereal, granola bars, canned soups, and the like.... all full of sugar and "non-real" ingredients.   We added another daughter into the mix in the fall of 2010.  With a preschooler, a toddler, and a newborn, I pretty much discarded the idea of ever preparing a healthy meal from scratch ever again. 

Fast forward to the end of last summer and my real food discovery.  After poking around on Lisa's blog, I decided to watch the Food, Inc documentary and read Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food.   I was in tears and mad at myself, food manufacturers, and the government.   How did I let myself get fooled into thinking all food was created equal?  How did I let myself think these companies cared about my health instead of their bottom line?   How did I let myself think the government (i.e. the FDA) would protect me from harmful ingredients in my food?

Did you know there are food ingredients banned in other parts of the world because of their harmful effects, yet our government still allows them?  Just look at this recent article from Shape magazine: http://www.shape.com/blogs/shape-your-life/13-banned-foods-still-allowed-us.  The food coloring is the one that bothers me most.  It does nothing but make our food look pretty, especially food that is marketed for children.  Stepping off soap box now, sorry.

We started small, and within a month, I couldn't believe how much better I felt.  In fact, how much better we all felt was amazing.  So, what changes have we made?

Breakfast:  We still need work in this area.  We are a cold cereal and milk family most days.  It is hard to find cereals without added junk ingredients.  We sweeten with honey instead of sugar and my girls love the freeze dried fruit (we get the Target brand) on top too. 

Arrowhead Mills puffed cereals
Barbara's shredded wheat
oatmeal with cinnamon and maple syrup
whole wheat pancakes/waffles
whole wheat muffins

Dairy and eggs
organic whole milk and whole milk yogurt
Hautly cheeses (not organic, but is local to the St. Louis area)
Old Enterprise Farm - eggs
Windcrest Dairy

Live Springs Farm
Cock & Bull Farm
(check out www.eatwild.com or www.localharvest.org for farms near you)

Fruits and Veggies
Community Helpings Coop
Goshen farmer's market (May-October)
our own garden

One huge revelation I have had on this journey is how much "junk" food is offered to my kids outside the home.  I expect to have cake and icecream at a birthday party.  However, this fall, when my daughter was handed a hostess cupcake and a bottle of kool-aid (like pictured above) for an after soccer snack, I was astonished.  Whatever happend to orange slices and water? 

I have to let you know that we do not eat 100% real food 100% of the time.   But,  after taking a break from it all and letting the kids eat whatever they wanted for pretty much the entire month of December, I knew we had to get back on track.   I  could literally FEEL the difference.

I won't lie and say that this lifestyle isn't hard to maintain.  However, I feel fortunate that I am able to stay home with my children.  I enjoy food and cooking.  So, I am pledging to do my best and make the most of those two things by preparing my family food that is REAL.


1 comment:

  1. Inspiring....I think even "healthy" eaters really need to take a look in their cabinets (myself included). I've been feeling a bit "off" too and I think it's high time I take this subject on a little more seriously. :)