I have been wanting to share more about our journey into real food and away from all things processed, but honestly I sit down and have no idea where to start. The Lord has woven lots of resources together for us over the past few months and each one has been critical in learning and growing and understanding the importance of real food in our lives.
I am going to try to nutshell it for you in a bird’s-eye view format. For anyone that may be curious and needs that little nudge forward, I am hoping this will help. There is no lack of info out there on real food but sometimes it can be hard to figure out what will actually be a practical help to you with YOUR family and in YOUR kitchen. I am no expert, in fact I am really new to all this. Just four months ago I was a fast food loving, non organic shopping mama. But this journey has really opened my eyes to nutritional stewardship and how it impacts both our bodies and spirits as we seek to honor Him in what we feed ourselves.
So… I am going to share a few of my BIRD’s EYE VIEW thoughts on REAL FOOD. Just some bullets of the most profound things I have learned over the past few months. In the next session I will give you links to resources that have been key for us, and then finally my hope is to create a FIND and REPLACE list. This is honestly the easiest way to begin to change the way your family eats. Find the key items that are easy to replace with whole food items and then just switch over. Most of your family will never know the difference in taste and it will go a long way in giving you a kick-start to a healthier life. This is exactly how we started and it helped me to simplify and add healthy alternatives without the overwhelm of changing everything all at once.
A BIRDS EYE VIEW of real food:
- 1. Most “food” in the grocery store is not actual food, it is food product created in a laboratory not in a kitchen. Anything boxed or pre-prepared has to be significantly altered in order to give it shelf life and wide-spread taste appeal. This is also where your money goes- to the scientist, product designer, and marketing consultant – not to the actual purchase of “nutrition”
- 2. Anything that is low-fat, reduced calorie, low carb, etc. has been altered significantly from its original form in order to make it look and taste like the real thing. Chemicals not meant for consumption and other dangerous additives have been added to it to make it seem appealing.
- 3. All dairy products are most healthy in their whole fat organic form. While there is lots of debate about cow’s milk and raw vs. pasteurized etc., the best place to start is eliminating the low-fat versions of these foods that contain additives like powdered cholesterol. We have switched to all whole organic versions of milk, yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, and cheese. In order to reduce your fat intake and still eat the whole stuff simply adjust the amount you eat of these in a day. We also drink almond milk to help with calories and to get additional nutrition. More details and great info on this topic here
- 4. I no longer buy pre shredded cheese because it contains cellulose, even in the organic brands. Cellulose is added to prevent clumping and is made out of wood pulp. Yummy huh? Save yourself money and buy organic block cheese and shredded and slice it yourself. You can read more in-depth info on this here
- 5. Most non organic meat sold in groceries throughout the US, along with meat from most restaurants is produced by only 3 corporations. These cows are raised on huge feed lots that are not sanitary or humane and the animals are fed genetically modified corn and dead animal by products not to mention all the hormones and antibiotics they are pumped full of. The conditions are so grotesque and unhealthy that the only way the animals can survive is the vast amounts of antibiotics they are given and even so many of them die from conditions alone. The meat that is produced is not actual meat because God designed cows to eat grass. When you feed them corn it alters their body composition and their meat. So what we are eating is not “meat” as it was designed to be.
- 6. Even meat labeled “organic” can be meat from cows that are just fed organic corn instead of regular corn. For meat to be in its most natural healthy state it must be from cows that are “grass-fed”. As for chicken meat it should be “free range” so that the chickens are allowed to forage for their food which includes grass, bugs, worms, grains, etc.
- 7. In order to afford this kind of meat we have reduced our consumption by filling in the gaps with vegetables, whole grains, eggs, and beans and nuts. Usually 2-3 meals a week include actual meat and the others are bean, rice, veggie, and egg based. This allows us to get more vegetables into our diet and allows us to buy the good meat and enjoy it a few times a week.
- 8. There are many harmful pesticides and chemicals found on all types of fruits and vegetables. Some more than others, but they are still present across the board. This is hard because you can’t see the pesticides, so it can seem like a waste to buy organic, but they are there! They even absorb into the soil and become part of the actual plant, so you can’t just wash it off. There is a list here called the dirty dozen. It lists the most contaminated fruits and veggies that should be bought organically. This is how we began switching over. I only bought the things on this list organically in order to afford it. But now that I have seen my grocery bill go down eating this way, I have switched to mostly ALL organic fruits and veggies. Now the bulk of what I spend each week is on produce.
- 9. A chemical company named Monsanto (they are the makers of round-up pesticide) now owns the right to soy beans. Their beans are genetically modified and are taking over the industry because they are cheap and used in billions of packaged food products. They are forcing farmers to buy their seeds by not allowing them to save their own seed. Most corn is now also genetically modified or GMO. So when buying corn or products that use soy in any form you want to be sure to buy NON-GMO to ensure its safety for your family. You can read more about this disturbing truth here.
- 10. The FDA is run by lots of “formers” former heads of food companies that made millions selling the consumer unhealthy products. I am not one to get political, but we have learned that trusting the FDA to modify the safety of food is unfortunately not possible anymore. We have to be the ones informing ourselves of truth and then using our dollars to “vote” for what is healthy.
- 11. We try to stay away from the middle aisles of the grocery store where the boxes and cans are. My cart consists of mainly: organic fruits and veggies, 1 grass-fed beef pack, 1 free range chicken pack, oats, whole wheat flour, honey, and nuts.
- 12. Because we don’t buy boxed, we have to make what we once bought boxed. This is where time comes in to play. If you aren’t buying frozen waffles or boxed cereal you need to make muffins and granola. If you aren’t buying granola bars you need to make energy balls instead. There is a give and take here and you have to find what works for you. I am in the kitchen a good deal more than I was before, but we ALL are. It has become more of a family affair, a way of life. We have chosen to invest here because we feel that it is important and worth it. In the end it is about choice. Is it worth some added time to raise a healthy family? I say YES!
- 13. Simplicity is key. I used to have several snack choices on hand at all times. Now each week we usually have one or two choices. Either fruit with nut butter or whatever we have made, like energy balls or homemade granola. Less is more. And it keeps it interesting, when the next week comes you can change it up and make something new. The kids look forward to it and it keeps life easier.