Tuesday, March 8, 2011

you are what you eat--a journey


If you are what you eat, then I have often resembled a bag of peanut m and m's with a diet coke on the side.   (I call that my breakfast of champions.)

me.
I have (obviously) not been one of  those "healthy" people.   I always thought those people were a little extreme and needed to relax a little.  Let your kid have a happy meal.  Eat the cupcake.  Don't obsess.  Stop drinking vegetables and seaweed and pretending you like it.

Well, life lately has me eating my words.  Something has happened over here in the food department since Christmas.  I didn't plan it, but we've totally altered the way we eat and think about food.  Let me see if I can describe the way a candy-as-a-food-group girl has changed her ways.  My boss likes to talk about "data points" that get filed away...here are some of mine.

Years ago, Pickle was struggling with school, sleep and life.  We were at our wit's end, as was she.  Through the grace of God, and the strong influence of my mom, we consulted a nutritional/educational consultant.  This woman spent an entire day with us and came up with a plan for Pickle that included some therapy to help her "educational glitches" as well as many nutritional changes, including multiple supplements to treat low seratonin.  It was during this time that I started reading labels and realized how much sugar was in EVERYTHING.  Pickle was significantly helped by the regimen--and although we eventually fell off the no-sugar wagon--we were amazed to learn how food makes such a marked difference.  Data point.

Hubby has been frustrated with the many meds he takes to manage depression and ADD and we started researching natural ways to treat mental health issues.  We poured through tons of information, bought a book or two... and became overwhelmed.  Yet, we felt like we were on to something to explore in the future. Data point.

I gained weight.  Weight has not been a major issue for me (aside from the eat-to-stay-awake college years) and so it came by surprise when 15 pounds arrived and my normal "eat a few less m and m's" plan didn't touch it.  Hello middle age.  Blech.  After lamenting a bit, I followed the weight watchers plan that has worked for my mom and sis.   Guess what?  I was reading labels again.  I was choosing higher fiber, higher protein foods and way less sugar.  And, I lost the weight.   More importantly, I felt a ton better.  More energy.  I wasn't riding the sugar roller coaster every afternoon.  I felt more satisfied.  Hmmm...data point.

Then we watched a few documentaries on Netflix.  Supersize Me--so disturbing.  Food, Inc. left us absolutely disgusted with the food industry.  Food Matters was very, very interesting--regarding supplying our bodies what we need to heal rather than just popping pills.  Data point.  Data point.  Data point.

Our good friends began juicing--and it has made a huge difference for them to get all of those nutrients every day.  They have lost weight and have noticed a enormous gain in energy.  Data point.

We were past the point of no return on this food journey.  We decided we needed to change the way we eat.  Considering that three out of the four of us are on daily medication for our brain chemistry, and my hubby's back continues to confound medical solutions, and we already KNOW food makes a difference for our family--it was obvious.  Change was necessary.

We came to the conclusion that our convenience based way of eating was not best for us.  We ate too much fast food, too much processed food, too little vegetables and fruits, and were getting way too little of the nutrients we need to be healthy.  Basically, from a health perspective, we were falling apart.  So, I started reading like crazy--books, blogs, etc.

And then I panicked.  I work outside the home.  Hubby being laid up often left me without his usual help around the house or in driving kids around.  I already needed a personal assistant or a housewife or something to survive--and now I need to rethink the way I cook, shop and feed my family?  And I knew I didn't know half of what I needed to know.  AAAH!

Deep breaths, Dawn.  If this is where I feel God is leading us as a family (and I do for many reasons not even mentioned) then He will provide and grant wisdom.  One way He has provided has been through my mom and sister, who are on this same journey.  We compare notes, and they have a bit more time to do research, scout stores, etc.  They have been a huge  help to me.  Another way He has guided is by providing perspective (this recovering perfectionist needs Divine help when it comes to perspective!).  I don't have to get it all right from the beginning.  Any changes we make in the right direction will help our family.  One step at a time.

So where are we on this journey now?  We are focusing on eating "real food".  Some call it "eating clean".  We have tried to eliminate processed foods.  I try to cook everything from basic ingredients.  We are trying to get to the point where we only eat meat from sources where the animals are fed the diet they were meant to eat, and where they aren't pumped up with hormones and other artificial stuff.  We already were a mostly whole grains family--I haven't bought white bread or crackers or regular pasta or white rice in a long time--but or resolve has increased.  Now we are making sure our treats are also whole grain, and without much sugar.  We are trying to eat more fruits and vegetables.  I am learning about oils and which are best to use and which I need to dispose of.  And I'm becoming interested in things like GMO's (google it) and the benefits of fermented foods.  Wow--who am I??  Pass me a diet coke!

We also decided that at this point we were going to focus on controlling what we eat at home, and the food we prepare here.  We are trying to do this about 80% of the time.  We are cutting way down on eating out, cause it's hard to find places where you can eat real food, prepared well.  However, when with friends who eat differently, we will too.  We are not going to force our convictions on everyone.  My kids can eat junk at birthday parties and friends's homes.  We allow ourselves to eat outside of our guidelines a little, and don't freak out about it.  We absolutely do not judge what others eat or the choices they make.

And, while I'm trying to cut way down, you may have gathered, I still drink diet coke.  I know--hypocritical.  However, I can imagine the day where it's gone or mostly gone.  It's coming.  You wait...

So that's where we are.  On a journey.  Doing the best we can.  We have lots to learn.

If any of this interests you--you may enjoy reading blogs of folks who have had their own food journey:  Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Heavenly Homemakers, Musings of a Housewife, and Nourish MD.  You may also enjoy this short, easy read:  Food Rules by Michael Pollan (your library should have it).  Feel free to send any resources that have helped you my way--I'll have my mom read them and tell me what they say!  {heehee}

And if you are looking for me today, I hopefully will resemble a bowl of oatmeal instead of a bag of peanut m and m's.  And maybe a diet coke...

4 comments:

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I used to be so good about our intake...I don't know if it's laziness or resignation or apathy but lately we've been eating much worse...and we ALL feel it. You're inspiring me to jump back on the wagon. :)

Carmen said...

Way to go WIlkinsons!!! Keep up the good work (and everyone has their "diet coke" and it could definitely be worse)!
Carmen

Karen said...

Dawn, what can I say? I admire you and your stand. That is so good, I wish I had the gumption to follow. Thanks for the links-I'll check'em out.

Lea also known as "CiCi" said...

WOW, I'm certainly impressed to say the least! It would be wise if all of us followed suit. Kudos to you and your family and I know the benefits will be far reaching. Blessings on this journey!

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