Friday, September 4, 2009

Becoming Better

As part of today's Fight Back Friday I wanted to talk about how we're becoming better with our nutrition. I’ve known for years that my nutrition is less than adequate, yet strangely enough, I didn’t feel compelled to do anything about it. As I mentioned before, I did the South Beach Diet for a while a few years ago, but that was the biggest effort I had made up until recently to improve my health. I have a very hard time with delayed gratification. I knew that if I didn’t improve my health that I would be paying for it down the road, but somehow that didn’t seem very real to me. I like my sweets and changing our lifestyle seemed way too complicated. But this summer has been a hard one for me. For several weeks in a row I was so fatigued I could accomplish very little of what needed to be done. I’ve gained weight, I’m cold when everyone else is hot, and so on. When I decided to start making bread to help save us money, I began reading about bread making on the internet which in turn lead to other articles related to nutrition. I’ve become fascinated. I came across the Weston A. Price Foundation and the Bread Beckers website, and I was astounded to find out that a lot of the information that I thought I knew about nutrition was false, but I wasn’t offended. The explanations behind what I was learning made a lot of sense and I have become motivated to make some changes. My in-laws have followed the Hallelujah Acres diet for several years, and my mother-in-law is always very quick to share what they have learned, but I was never convinced. But now that I’m taking my own journey of discovery, I’ve decided to make some changes.

A few weeks ago, shortly after I started learning the real truth about nutrition (not the version the media, drug companies, food industry, & even the US government want you to believe), I came across this passage in my daily devotional, Come Away My Beloved, by Frances Roberts:

My people are hungering…. I would that you feed them. Give no inedible substitutes…. Why should you hunger when plenty is at hand? And why should you be deprived of… nourishment when a table is spread before you? Some of the foods may be strange to you. Despise nothing that I offer you. You need it, or else I would not provide it. Partake of it, even if it is strange to your taste. You will soon come to relish it with delight, and even more so because it is a new experience for you. (p. 242, emphasis mine)

Obviously since this passage comes out of a devotional it’s intended for spiritual application (and the parts I left out were the overtly spiritual parts), but just as practical things have a spiritual application, I believe spiritual things can have a practical application as well. (By the way, that book is amazing, and I highly recommend it.) I believe the timing of me coming across this passage was no coincidence and that it was confirmation that God wants us to pursue a lifestyle that is rich in nourishment.

I want to reverse this trend in my body, I want my husband and children to have the utmost nutrition, and I want to conquer ADHD without drugs. I mentioned yesterday that nutrition is a powerful tool in the battle against ADHD. One of the nutritional approaches I’m taking is getting processed foods out of our diet. There’s a lot of food additives out there that contribute to ADHD: red food dye, yellow food dye, MSG, and high-fructose corn syrup, just to name a few. Plus, processed foods tend to be stripped of the nutrients that our brains need to function properly. I feel like most processed foods are “inedible substitutes” that fill our stomachs, but contain none of the real nutrition that God designed our bodies to require.

My husband is on board with these changes, too, which helps a lot with the motivation thing. The implementation of what we are learning is very challenging, though. We’re nowhere close to rich (at least not in the financial department), so we can’t just go out and replace all the food in our pantry and refrigerator. There are a lot of different approaches to take, so it’s hard to know just where to start. And some of the changes have large upfront costs, and require that we save money over a period of time. It’s good to know that these things will save us money in the long run, but in the meantime there’s not a lot we can do till we have the money saved. I’m hoping to meet someone in our area who is like-minded that can help me get started. We want to save up for a freezer, a grain mill, and a side or quarter of beef. We’ve started eating less meat, white sugar, and processed foods, and when we went to our in-laws we scored a bunch of deer meat, courtesy of my brother-in-law. We want to join a CSA or a co-op and shop at the Farmers Market more often. We want to stop getting “conventional” meats, eggs, and produce from the grocery store and start getting more local and organic goods. We want to grow a garden next spring, start using coconut oil, and my husband hopes to get a deer this coming hunting season. And the proposed changes go on and on… The trick, I think, is to implement these things slowly so we don’t burn out our wallets, and ourselves, adopting changes one at a time until they become second nature. It’s amazing the awareness I have now. I’ll go to the store, or look at the school lunch menu, or pull something out of the pantry and wonder how much real nutrition is in my hand. So, I’m thankful for this newfound awareness and the new challenge we face. The trick is coming up with a strategy to make all this reality, but as we do, step-by-step, we are taking charge of our lives and our health, and we are becoming better!


Anonymous said...

What an encouraging story! I think you hit the nail on the head with your desire to move slowly so you don't burn out your wallet or your taste buds. Remember to give yourself lots of grace and focus on making one lasting change at a time, rather than tackling them all at once.

Thanks for participating in today's Fight Back Fridays carnival.

(AKA FoodRenegade)

Rachel said...

Slowly changing your diet is the key! You can't do it quickly! It just doesn't work, you end up running out of food at the end of the period, being frustrated in not knowing what to cook, etc! Try to pick 1 or 2 things (if you can do more that's great) a week (or every two weeks) to swap out. Like Pop-Tarts for a healthy alternative, white bread for make your own whole wheat (or do without!!), etc. Make a goal to read EVERY SINGLE label on what you're buying. Definitely avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup, MSG, etc! Begin by eliminating those and then start on eliminating white and brown sugar and turning to more natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, stevia, etc. Lots and lots of work, but WORTH IT! Don't eat less meat though, the protein is GOOD for you! Eat less grains and sugars and more veggies, meats/eggs and fruit. Good for you for changing your diet! You can overcome serious health challenges JUST by
changing your diet! I (through God's help) overcame Chronic Fatigue through change of diet! IT WORKS! If you need recipes contact me or search the internet :) I have lots of resources I'd love to share and help you out with!

Jen said...

I found you through Fight Back Fridays, and wanted to encourage you on this journey. It is so rewarding! My husband tells me frequently how much better he feels now that we've changed our diets to real food.

You've got the right idea to go slowly. Change one thing at a time, and when that becomes natural, then add something else.

The first thing we did was buy grass fed beef, pastured pork and chicken in bulk from a local farm... and a freezer of course. It is a big expense up front, but it has lasted us a year! Next I found a raw milk and dairy source, and began to switch to 100% organic fruits and veggies (CSA and organic delivery service). I switched to coconut oil, lard and olive oil for cooking. I've dabbled with lacto fermentation, and want to do more with that. We still need to buy a grain mill as well.

Food seems more expensive this way, but buying in bulk helps. Once the larger one time expenses are out of the way, the cost is comparable to shopping in the regular grocery store. And we've found that we eat a lot less now that our nutritional needs are being met from real, whole foods.

Sorry for the long post, but I'm really happy you've decided to make this change. I wish you the very best of luck!


Millie said...

Excellent post! Don't you just love it when you realize that all of the 'stuff' that we have been conditioned to learn (eat low fat, eat less meat, drink skim milk, blah, blah) suddenly doesn't make sense any longer. And we discover that eating butter (like our ancestors did) and meat (like our ancestors did) and milk right out of the cow (like our ancestors did)and lots of other wonderful things is actually how we can have the best health. It is so simple.

I think taking it one step at a time is super smart (that's what we are doing) and that way lasting changes can be made. What a blessing that your husband is on board too.