Monday, July 07, 2008

A Whole Foods Confession

I have been posting recently on how I am really feeling the push to incorporate more whole grains/foods, and all around healthier eating habits, into our daily meals. This is not a new thing for me. In fact, as I was reflecting on it tonight, I realized that this is the third summer in a row when I have gone through this same phase.

The desire to feed my family this way was initially kicked off by reading The Maker's Diet and Nourishing Traditions. Everything in those books made so much sense to me, and Eric was on board 100%. We both want to eat as healthfully as possible, and to feed our children diets that are healthy and natural, without processing, chemicals, or artificial "stuff." We want to eat food the way God intended it.

So, if that happened 3 years ago, why am I now writing about really wanting to eat this way? Because I have a hard time sticking to this for the long haul. There are a few reasons for this, but the number one reason is that I struggle with feelings of deprivation. Big time! I'd love to figure out a way to get over this. The kids do wonderfully eating this way. They never ask for other things that we are no longer keeping in the house. They actually prefer homemade crackers and chips to store-bought. They even love baked goods made with honey and whole wheat flour instead of white sugar and white flour.

Three years ago was the first time I read The Maker's Diet. I quickly followed that up with reading Nourishing Traditions, which I had previously heard wonderful things about from an online forum I belonged to. All of the pieces just fell into place for me. Eric and I discussed things and he agreed with me that we needed to make serious changes. We agreed we did not have to be as "radical" as the complete Nourishing Traditions style, yet still very similar to the overall theory.

I began experimenting with new recipes and an entirely new way of cooking. We purchased everything organic and made sure that everything we ate was as close to its natural source as possible, although we were not "raw only" eaters. Two weeks went by this way. Nothing I made really turned out the right way. And it seemed like I was spending every waking minute in the kitchen. I got burned out on all the work for food that just didn't taste that great to us. Eric was tired of seeing me struggle. So, I gave up.

However, I did hang on to a few things I learned during this first foray. I decided I would no longer use canned soups, prepackaged mixes, or frozen meals of any kind. I also decided we would only eat whole wheat bread and that I would try to incorporate at least a little whole wheat flour into all of my baking and that everything would be made from scratch. That was great and it is something I have stuck to until this day.

The next summer (last year), I really was feeling the urge to get back to eating how we had the previous year. I remembered it wasn't very successful, but that I did feel good physically while we were eating that way. And I had not lost the feeling that eating that way just made sense. I reread The Maker's Diet and Nourishing Traditions. I also delved into further research on organic food, eating naturally, and homeopathic healthcare. I decided to try incorporating some different elements into our diet. We began drinking kefir (which was awesome) and eating store-bought Ezekiel bread, sprouted tortillas and pasta, raw honey and extra virgin coconut oil. We visited some independent natural food and health stores. But as you can imagine, all of these store-bought products got very expensive quickly.

I decided to try my hand at sprouting grains and failed miserably. I was getting frustrated with myself and feeling like I just would never get the hang of it. I was also suffering with feelings of deprivation. The end of the day would arrive and I would NEED something sweet and bad for me. Most days, I would ask Eric to pick up a twix bar on his way home for me. I felt guilty for that, but it did help. Eventually though, burnout got the better of me once again and we went back to our old ways, although again we hung on to even more new habits.

So, here it is summertime again and I'm back to those same old feelings. Burnout is still a ways away, but making a dinner that turned out to be a flop tonight really has me thinking. I am determined that this year be different. I don't want this to just be another summer phase. I just need to figure out how. How do I get over my own feelings of deprivation? What are some good substitutes for those times when I just want a good old white flour, white sugar chocolate chip cookie? How do I stay motivated when I just can't seem to get the hang of some things?

I feel so blessed this year that I have so many wonderful blogs and online resources that I can turn to. The previous two years this happened we did not have the internet, so I am hopeful it will become a big encouragement that I was lacking.


Michele 12:21 AM  

Kate, this is great! :) It's a wonderful example of what "taking baby steps" looks like.

We've swung a similar pendulum. We went from having very little "health food knowledge" to buying packaged things like Ezekiel bread/tortillas/pasta, etc. Then we, too, got overwhelmed by the cost, and headed back toward the "white flour routine," but still pretty much vegetarian. We ate a lot of soy!

Finally, when Gen was born, she gave us the incentive to purchase organic foods again. We realized how rapidly she was growing, and knew she needed good, healthy sustenance. Reading "Nourishing Traditions" really gave me the information I needed. We've eliminated soy, and started adding more meat into our diet recently, and I'm attempting some Lacto-Fermentation and Sourdough.

I attended a local workshop that was also very inspiring for me to live this way while still maintaining a reasonable food budget. (Some of the main concepts was to make/grow as much as you can, buy locally/seasonally, and use natural/frugal cleaning products.) Reading blogs has really helped, too! :)

Using homemade/natural cleaning/laundry products has really freed up our budget to purchase good food. (For example, Vinegar instead of Fabric Softener, Baking soda instead of Face Scrub, Cloth Napkins/Rags instead of Paper Towels/Napkins.) The health benefits are great, too!

As far as cravings, Calvin has enjoyed buying me good Fair Trade bars of dark chocolate for me as gifts once in awhile. (It's so good, I'll just eat one small square- a bar will last a least a month!) :)

It does take awhile to adjust. I think the sugar cravings finally faded for us after about a month or two. (It was intense, though!) :) We really rationed out a batch of whole wheat molasses cookies, instead of consuming the whole batch in a couple days. Keeping a good balance of protein really seemed to help eliminate the sugar cravings, too. Laura (at Heavenly Homemakers) has a good "healthy" brownie recipe, and "The Vegetarian Mother" cookbook has a fun Carob Cocoa recipe.

Recently, I dumped out the last of our white sugar. It had been in the sugar bowl of my tea set. Without thinking, I added a bit to my tea, and was disgusted at the flavor (that I used to enjoy!)- it tasted almost "chemically" to me! :) Wow. I've also recently been enjoying the amazing flavor of raw honey that we got at the Farmer's Market (and it seems to help with my seasonal allergies!). :)

It is such a journey, isn't it? :) But it's a good one. I love what you said about "food as God intended it." That has exactly been my thoughts, too. I think I'm learning something new everyday!

Michele :)

P.S. I put the book review on my blog for you. :)

Niki 11:18 AM  

I completely understand how you feel. I read these blogs as well and feel like I should be doing more. I keep reminding myself that baby steps are all I have to do and eventually it will all make sense. If I try to do it all at once I will give up as you had. I am making sourdough bread, soaking rice and beans and trying to reduce the amount of sugar by replacing with honey. Have you tried the blender batter waffles by Sue Gregg? That is an easy one that helps with getting some whole grains. Keep forging ahead, every little step counts, keep thinking about how you used to eat and the changes you have made will seem enormous.

Alisa 2:24 PM  

I'm going through a bit of this burn out right now! I'm really fighting it hard though. I know it is so much better and really noticed the difference after eating all that "yuck" food this weekend. I am feeling very tied to the kitchen though and also wondering how to get past that. What a great topic!

ahorne 2:25 PM  

I go through the same cycle. But a few steps in the right direction are better than none at all, right? We just keep going!

Jennifer 9:00 PM  

I think this is a perfect example of baby steps and how they really work. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. If you look back to how you were feeding your family 4 years ago and how you are feeding them now, I bet you will see tremendous improvement.

I like you idea of incorporating one new thing at a time. Kind of like how you have hung on to a few new things after each summer. keep it up and I bet things will fall into place gradually.

I have also heard that chocolate cravings can be a result of not eating enough protein. I have found that when I have a heavy protein lunch I don't "need" my chocolate so much in the afternoon.

Also, have you tried dark chocolate? It is actually good for you with antioxidants and all. I have a piece every day and it really helps keep my chocolate cravings under control and it isn't all bad for you.

Good luck with trying to find a balance, I am right there with you!

Sharon 8:02 PM  

We took the plunge 4 years ago after reading the same two books. I have been faithful only because, at 58 (me) and 61 (my husband) we had come to the place where we were so sick all the time. I could hardly get out of bed in the morning and my husband developed a heart problem.

It is a lot more work, but you will not be sorry when your children grow up and continue to eat the healthy way. I raised all four of my kids on processed food and they are having the same health problems we have had, but 20 years sooner. Many regrets now.

But I make it as easy on myself as possible. We eat hot dogs and hamburgers but with spouted buns and wieners and ground beef without nitrates and nitrites, raised without hormonones, anitbiotics, etc.

I used to bake bread, but now I buy Alvarado St. sprouted breads. We try to eat simply but with unadulterated ingredients.

We feel so good because we made the change. As far as the cost - we have made many sacrifices in other ways. And I make all my cleaning products very cheaply (also some personal hygiene products). Please visit my blog for info, food recipes and home and human hygiene recipes that are really cheap to make.

But I have to tell you that the most important and significant thing you can do is ask the Lord daily for your bread (food). He is honored with that request and He knows better than any of us what "food" is since He created our diet.

We have very little income and yet I have never had to sacrifice cooking this way because God is faithful. He will do it. He is good. Ask Him also for the motivation, the energy, etc.

May He grant this honorable desire for you,

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