We are now well into our sixth month of drastic food changes in our household. I though it’s a good time to check in, and assess our progress.
So, where are we in this journey?
The easiest description would be, somewhere between Feingold and “Real Food”.
What does that mean?
Beginning in January we quickly and successfully eliminated all artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners and petrochemical preservatives from our shopping list. That began our implementation of the Feingold Diet in order to help behavior and focus in our son (see Finding Gold In Feingold). At the time it seemed quite overwhelming, it seemed like these things were in sooo much stuff. But on the other hand, I was armed with a 300 page list of items that were acceptable. With that as my guide, I found my way and it became easier and easier. At that time I was still able to rely on a lot of packaged and processed items.
As I read and learned more about our foods and food system, it was an easy decision that this is not something just for our son, we would all start eating this way (see All On Board).
As we began our changes, I kept a food/behavior diary for our son. It took no time at all to go a step beyond Feingold and eliminate corn sweeteners.
At the beginning of March, I became aware of GMOs and finally pinpointed our son’s reactions to them. (see Hidden Blessings In Our “Bad Kid“). From there we started to remove more items from our shopping list. And I thought the first step was difficult, removing GMOs had been much more difficult. They are everywhere! That’s when we started leaning more and more towards real food. Because real food is just that…food. It comes from nature, not from a box. This is when our reliance on “homemade” kicked in. Which means I have had to learn how to do homemade on a lot of things.
What has changed in our kitchen?
I used to spend little time in my kitchen, I cooked a lot from boxes and cans. Now we have eliminated most all packaged/processed foods from our pantry. Some cereal, chips, Cliff Bars and Annie’s snacks and mac and cheese are about the extent of the exceptions. I make most everything from scratch.
We used to eat out quite a bit, especially fast food. Now we eat out exclusively for date nights (the kids have not eaten out at all). I can’t even tell you the last time I ate fast food.
I used to not even buy eggs or milk at times because I would end up throwing them away spoiled. Now, we never seem to have enough of either.
We used to use refined sugar beet sugar as our only sweetener. Now it has been removed from our home and has been replaced with organic cane sugar and honey.
I used to buy little produce period and what I did buy was never organic . Now I buy lots of produce and most of it is organic.
I used to shop at the “cheap” meat store. I mean, I stocked up on $1/lb meat deals weekly. Now I shudder at the thought. We are now shopping around for a grass fed side of beef, and other organic meats in bulk to restock our freezer.
I used to buy white eggs from the grocery store, while my inlaws tried giving us fresh eggs from their chickens all the time. For some reason, I mentally had a problem with brown eggs laid in the backyard. Now, I laugh at how ridiculously backwards my thinking was on the matter. Now I get all our eggs from my in-law’s chickens or other local farms.
I used to always buy the store brand 2% milk. Now I buy low pasteurized, non homogenized, full fat milk delivered to my door. We have yet to make a transition to raw milk. It simply hasn’t made it to the top of the to-do list yet…one step at a time.
I used to spend what seemed like forever at the grocery store every week. Now I rarely go there and when I do, it’s a quick trip for a couple things (mostly produce).
We used to drink quite a bit of diet soda. Now, it has been replaced with water and iced tea.
We used to order pizza deals once a week. Now we have homemade pizza Fridays every week.
I used to feed my kids cereal or portable packaged snacks every morning as we rushed out the door. Now, I cook them a real breakfast (usually eggs and meat) most every morning. On quick “portable” mornings, it’s a smoothie instead.
I used to buy all of our breads at the bread outlet, now I bake all our breads.
We used to use regular “table salt”, now it has all been replaced with sea salt and Himalayan pink salt (I love that stuff freshly ground).
I used to only make instant mashed potatoes (the just add water kind), now I make “real” mashed potatoes.
I hope you are beginning to get the picture…a lot has changed in a short amount of time. When I say “I used to”, I mean 6 months ago or less. We’ve come a long way, yet still have a ways to go.
Is it worth it?
I could never have dreamed of the changes we would experience, and it just keeps getting better.
Our son is so much easier to deal with around the house. He is able to focus on doing his homework. He helps out around the house. Yes, he gets wound up on occasion, especially when he is with other boys. But those things that I see in him now are mostly him just being a boy (see Is It Just Being A Boy?). When he is under the influence of chemicals in his food, I can see the reaction in his eyes…his eyes tell me so much. I rarely see that look in his eyes anymore. And when I do, it’s usually when a GMO slips through my radar.
I used to be so exhausted every day. I could not get myself out of bed. All I thought about from the time I woke up in the morning was taking a nap. I had no energy and craved sleep so much, even when I got plenty of it. Well, I hadn’t even realized the changes going on in me until after we ate out one evening. As soon as our car ride home, I was hit with an extreme exhaustion out of nowhere. It didn’t take me long to realize “Wait a minute…this is how I used to feel ALL the time!” It just then hit me how much better I had been feeling on a day to day basis. But since the improvements came about gradually as my body had detoxed from all the crap I had been overloading it with, I hadn’t even taken note of the changes. That is until I ate junk for dinner and I could now pick up on my body’s sensitivity to it.
My husband’s story is similar. He too is now super sensitive to the junk foods that we used to eat all the time. His body responds with an upset stomach and exhaustion when we eat outside of the home.
One of my biggest concerns jumping into this was cost. Especially the cost to feed my big appetite husband good food. One of the biggest advantages to this concern is that since we are actually eating more nutrients that our body wants and needs, it craves less food. We actually find ourselves getting full faster and not snacking as much. The better we are eating, the less we are eating! I also, shop around, stretch the more expensive items and simply repeat cheaper meals more often. Yes, some organic produce and pastured meats are not cheap, but neither was all the processed foods we used to eat. As I make more and more items from scratch, it starts to even out closer to what we were used to spending before.
I never could have imagined our life changing so drastically, so fast. But the results we see and feel within all of us are so rewarding, I don’t think I could ever turn back. We just keep chugging along, learning more and making changes. It’s been an adventure and I look forward to where our journey takes us next.
Please stay tuned as the journey continues.