Monday, July 25, 2011

Changing the family diet

About a month ago, my husband and I decided to do something rather drastic - we cut almost all grains from our family's diet.

I had run across Wellness Mama a while back, and read some of her articles, but I largely dismissed them. I'd heard of people eating "paleo" or following the "cave man diet", but I thought it sounded gimicky and weird. Of course, I'd come to this conclusion without having actually ever read anything about it. Then I read her post on grains in the Bible, which was featured at Conversion Diary in the Lord's Prayer series, focusing on the word "bread". I read this, and thought... ok, I need to look at her website and see what she has to say.

I put my skepticism (and deep love of bread) aside, and dug in. I read many of her articles, as well as articles by others. And what I found was rather compelling. It made a lot of sense. But it was rather overwhelming.

I was not the least bit surprised to realize that most of what we've been taught about nutrition is totally unsubstantiated by science, and in many cases completely wrong. It seems crazy, but I've seen this happening in other areas as well. We did a lot of research a few years back on cholesterol and statin drugs, when my husband was diagnosed with high cholesterol and his doctor wanted him to take medication. He did, for a time, and found it was damaging his short term memory. Scary! So we did a lot of digging, and found out a lot about how the guidelines for cholesterol levels were formed, the truth about what studies are showing, and what those drugs really do. We read a lot that also dealt with nutrition and diet, so as I started researching again, much of what I learned wasn't completely new. A lot of it was just worse than I realized.

I had to take a hard look at how I feed my kids. I've told myself for a long time that I feed them "well enough," because they eat what we eat for dinner and I don't make them "kid food" all the time. But what about the rest of the day? Cereal, cereal bars, crackers, pretzels, toast, chicken nuggets, corn dogs.... the list of what they ate and snacked on during the day was pretty dismal. I may as well have been handing them bowls of sugar.

I knew we needed to make a change. I started talking to my husband about it and he agreed it made a lot of sense. It wasn't necessarily going to be easy, but we felt like it was the right thing to do.

We quite literally cleaned out our entire fridge and pantry. We tossed and donated all the boxes of cereal, crackers, boxed dinners, and all the other nutritional garbage we were eating that posed as food. We researched new recipes, got ideas for meals and snacks that the kids would probably eat, and went for it.

We've been eating this way for about a month now and really getting into a groove. I think my kids miss their cereal bars (especially my oldest - he's the picky one and really the only one who has complained of not having the things we used to have), but they've adjusted very well. We go through eggs and produce like crazy, eat meat, and butter, and bacon and all sorts of yummy stuff. Amazingly enough, I don't feel like I've given up anything. I was a total cereal addict and I loved bread, but I haven't felt the least bit deprived. I don't crave things anymore, I don't get those drops in blood sugar that have me reeling, and I don't feel starving an hour after I've eaten. There's definitely something to this.

And I've really discovered the amazing flavor of REAL food. So much of what we typically eat isn't really food - it's edible, but it isn't FOOD. It is ground up, processed, deodorized, pumped with fillers, and artificial chemicals designed to make it approximate what food tastes like. Real food is delicious!

For example, I made some real whipped cream to have on top of some fresh berries (oh how I love berries in summer!). We were total cool whip addicts before, but I'll never buy that junk again. It was easy to make (yes, I am 34 and had never made fresh whipped cream before), and tasted absolutely amazing. Cool whip tastes like chemicals by comparison (probably because it is).

I'm really glad we made this change and I'm so much happier with what my kids are eating. Even my oldest will come around, although he still barely touches his fruits and veggies. But he's getting there. It's been amazing to watch as they dig into our dinners, devoid of the slice of bread or roll I used to often serve. That was often all they ate, but now, they slurp up their soups and chili, take cautious nibbles of grilled vegetables, and seem to be realizing that the bread and crackers that once dominated their diet aren't coming back.

Good riddance, I say! I'll give up bread for bacon and butter and fresh vegetables any day!


Calah said...

Oh, Claire, we did that too! I loved it, while we were doing it. Unfortunately we're living with my parents now and it's impossible to do here without asking them to change their entire way of living. I'm looking forward to moving out in December and getting back to real foods!

Jamie said...

Good for you, Claire! I should follow your lead. I know how to eat well and I know why and I love it. It's my husband that always pulls me back in...he is worse than my kids!

Claire said...

Jamie, I'm so thankful my husband is on board. It would have been impossible without him. He is usually the "bad guy" though when it comes to unhealthy eating. He has such a sweet tooth and so loves his treats. It's hard to keep him from cheating too much, and tempting me in the process!

Calah, that would be hard, not having your own space. Real foods are so good!! :)