14 August 2012

Eating Real(ly Good) Food

About six months ago, i decided to set out on a new life goal. Eating Clean as i like to call it. I started something similar in my late teens/ early 20s but never had the income to follow through. I really struggled with my weight starting my freshman year in college (as soon as my soccer season ended). Some of this was lifestyle (partying), but a great deal of it was not knowing how to eat, and making poor nutritional choices. All you can eat cafeterias will do that to wide eyed 18 year olds. I definitely struggled with my weight, at least in my mind. I may have never been termed "obese" but i was not comfortable in my skin. These two pictures are of my sister and myself BEFORE we made some major changes. (taken in 2004 and 2002)

My sister became a vegan a year or so ago, a lot of it as a result of the research she did as she tried to help understand her youngest son's diet restrictions and allergies. (He is allergic to a LOT of stuff and was constantly sick because of this). The more she researched, the more she learned about how wrong we really have it. "Diet" Foods are just crap fillers.  The things we (the human race in general) are putting into our bodies and calling "food" is not even food but chemicals and manufactured fluff made to taste like food. It goes so much further and deeper than that.

Lori has a great website and has helped many people lose weight by making major life changes.  Not just weight loss but kicking bad habits such as sugar or salt addictions, go look for yourself and contact her for your own good!

Anyone that has tried to diet knows that quick fix and FAD diets only last as long as your will to follow them. Look at Atkins. How long can you really go without eating complex carbohydrates? The brain fuels on them and without them your brain will suffer. Same for a liquid diet. Can you really eat only liquids for the rest of your life? What happens to you when you start to eat three whole meals a day again. There are other "diets" out there but as most people know, unless you make a complete change in lifestyle, the weight always comes back. My sister planted some good seeds in me, but I had to take baby steps and I wasn't ready for her changes yet.

I hoped and prayed my body would absorb most of the toxins I was consuming while I was pregnant (mostly sugar - yes refined processed sugar IS TOXIC). Rick bought me a book in December 2010 when I came to see him in Dubai: Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven which was very eye opening but a little much to start you out, for me anyways. I sort of followed some general guidelines but not rigidly. Then I had the baby and six months later, started feeding her Real Food. Not just breast milk, but solids. And everything changed. I always cared about what i was feeding her but i guess with the breast milk, i was just hoping my body took all the bad and only gave her the good of what I was consuming. I probably screwed that one up royally (again sugar), but I can only fix the present. So once I started making all of Sloan's food from scratch, I started reading labels. On the rare occasion I would buy her some Plum Organics baby food ( like when we would travel ) I made rice cereal from brown rice using my food processor to make it real fine. Everything I put into her body was homemade organic goodness and it was real food. I mostly ate "real food" but once i started feeding Sloan, i started thinking about my own health.

I stumbled across a website a friend of mine "LIKED" on facebook http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/ and decided to take their 10 day challenge, along with Sloan. Rick was not interested though he has made huge leaps and bounds as far as his diet is concerned- i can safely leave him to eat his broccoli without hovering to make sure it doesn't go to the dog!  So for 10 days, Sloan and I ate nothing but real food. The website I have included above has a little less rigid guidelines that I myself would follow. It required some work but nothing too intense. But this website , while helpful, doesn't go the extra mile, but was definitely a good start for me.

The difference between myself and what the 100 days of real food pushes, for example, would be things like whole grain pasta and bread and dairy. Pasta and flours are binding. Even whole grain or brown rice pasta, sticks to your insides like glue. Don't believe me? cook some pasta and sit it in a cup of water for a day and tell me what happens to the pasta. Does it dissolve? Probably not. When I tried this, it got very sticky and glue like. And this was with brown rice, organic, pasta.

My sister does this thing with her boys that sort of stuck with me. They call it a "sometimes" food. Sometimes it is ok to have it. Sort of like potato chips. Those are a sometimes food, though not very often. If you completely restrict your/ or your child's diet, that's all they will want to eat when you're not around because it is forbidden. So by making it a sometimes food, you don't totally deny them, and you hope the healthier choices are what they crave.

Don't believe me yet? Watch this
This is somewhat related to my post yesterday in that I am still nursing my daughter (and because of her milk protein intolerance refuse to give her any dairy). But what if she didn't have this intolerance, what about dairy? It is a real food, that is correct, but do you wonder why so many people are lactose intolerant? Have you ever thought about the fact that milk comes from the nipple of a lactating cow, full of her hormones, that may be perfectly safe for her baby calf, but maybe not as safe for a baby human.  Having experienced this first hand being the relative of a dairy farm owner - a dairy farm that my father grew up on, I have seen udders dipped in ointment because they are inflamed. I have seen infected udders. I have had milk straight from a cow (well, in a cup). Its unpasteurized and warm. I still don't really like milk. These cows seem happy but so what? Goat milk in the raw state (unpasteurized) is the safer alternative. Nutritionally children don't need cow's milk. They need breast milk, and water. And once she is weaned, she will get water and freshly squeezed juices when I can manage.

Here are some links that sum it up for me. I encourage you to do some research yourself on what you are putting into your body.Cow's Milk: Dangers,  False Promises. I personally agree that dairy, at best, should be consumed in moderation, always organic, or even better "RAW",  I think something happens in all foods when they are pasteurized, which kills the enzymes and healthy properties. Similarly, the fat in milk is what slows the absorption of the sugar in milk, so if you drink skim milk, you're drinking sugar that causes spikes in your insulin levels. The fat in milk is what helps your body tolerate the natural sugars. Similarly fats and proteins do that for all foods, which is why i serve protein to my diabetic husband with his starch.

In summary, if you drink milk, drink organic raw milk. And if you must drink milk then, drink it in moderation. There is a lot of compelling evidence out there to support why dairy is not the best. Did you know it takes 10 pounds of full fat milk to make one pound of cheese? Cheese is much worse than milk, and should be avoided. I have grown to tolerate soy cheese, but i typically just go without. Every now and again I'll go to Whole Foods and walk around to sample the cheese to satisfy my cravings, but rarely do i purchase cheese for myself (Rick is another story)

As for fats, there are plenty of healthy fats in avocados, flax, nuts and fish like salmon. There are an abundance of places to get your daily intake of fats without consuming dairy. We have cut out most processed foods. We eat Ezekiel Bread. We buy organic when we can, especially the Dirty Dozen.

On a typical day we eat fruit and cereal for breakfast. By cereal i mean, oats mixed with organic ground flax seed and almond milk. Sometimes cooked, sometimes raw. Fruit for a snack. Beans and vegetables for lunch, sometimes chicken or wild caught fish, milk for a snack after nap, (i eat another fruit or raw almond snack), and for dinner I make a starch (quinoa is my favorite but rick likes organic white potatoes though i'm more a sweet potato girl - much healthier), a protein, and a vegetable (baby spinach is a favorite to everyone) and Sloan loves broccoli. We broil our potatoes cut into small wedges to satisfy someone's french fry cravings. They do serve Sloan lunch at school, but i try to send in organic and fresh alternatives to compliment what they are serving. I cannot control what they serve at the school, but i can control what she eats.

Finally, the last step in the right direction is knowing where your meat comes from. I became a vegetarian for about a year and a half in college. It all started because I ate a steak and then went to play soccer and felt so lethargic. Later on, I was on the freeway and a chicken truck was near me, all crammed in the boxes, and it made me sad. So i vowed to abstain from chicken, pork and beef. I still ate fish.  While my diet today is largely vegetarian, i am by no means a vegetarian. I love meat, so does my family. My grandfather raised beef cattle, grass fed of course. He recently sold his cows due to the fact he is aging (84). It made him very sad. Me too. At least with his steaks I knew they were grass fed and hormone free. Feeding Sloan hormone free food is important to me. I am happy that she hasn't been to McDonald's to eat (YET).

We try, when we can afford it, to buy free range organic chicken, grass fed beef, and wild caught fish that comply with these guidelines. Monterey Bay. Animals, be it land or sea, raised in captivity are much cheaper on the pocket book, but you are what you eat eats as well as what you eat. Did you get that?

Last I checked it wasn't natural for animals to eat corn. Especially genetically modified corn. I would recommend watching Forks over Knives,  Food Inc, and Food Matters. It can be eye opening but also overwhelming. I recommend starting small. Focus on eating food that is acutally food. Read labels. Boycott high fructose corn syrup, eat real food, repeat. My biggest struggle is with refined sugar, like sweet tarts, laffy taffy, and the like. These are a few of my favorite things that I have mostly given up but I have a soft spot for candy.

I am happy that Sloan loves fruit and vegetables. I am happy that my husband is slowly getting on board and at least trying the meals i prepare (we had black bean and quinoa enchiladas the other day, he was less than pleased but managed to eat half albeit covered in cheese). Rome wasn't built in a day, and i can only control what i put into my body. And for now, my daughters body.  But i sure do feel great, my body is performing like it should, and we all sleep peacefully at night. I am pretty good at hiding healthy food inside "normal food" to bulk it up. Who knew beans would double my "meat" for spaghetti and take on the flavor of the beef. Little by little we are evolving and eating the way nature intended.

There are other things that we are slowly working on. Like i said, it is overwhelming and cannot be done overnight. We have committed to stop using our microwave and are almost there! My sister actually built her kitchen without one! She is much braver than me, but we are about 85% microwave free. Here is some information I would suggest you read.

I might have botched this blog or goofed in some way, but these are things I believe to be true about health and nutrition based on my experiences and the research of others. This is my sister now. She has two children and is in the best shape of her life. Also (to be fair to my sister) i have included a pic of myself from late May near the end of our Hawaiian vacation. I'm not as thin/fit as I prefer but we are doing all right and i really cannot complain about how well my body has bounced back from my first pregnancy! Most importantly, I want Sloan to have the tools to know how to eat well and exercise for health, so that she never has to diet or stress about her weight a single day of her life.



  1. I couldn't agree more about organic foods, cow's milk, and meat. I gave up meat because of the way I felt and because of the antibiotics and hormones. I then later read that even organically-raised animals are often treated inhumanely when they go to be butchered, so that sealed the deal for me. I do still eat fish. I was vegan for a while (after reading the original Skinny Bitch book) about 6 years ago, but I couldn't get past the soy cheeses. I remember reminding myself that I was going backward somewhat by eating something so processed. I am usually happy to go without, like you mentioned, but every now and then I'll indulge in something cheesy.

    Fast food is the worst. I ate so much of it as a kid, and I shudder to think of it now!

    I subscribe to the Healthy Bitch Daily emails, and they have some good vegan recipes. After I considered what I put IN my body, I started to consider what I use on the outside as well and switched to organic & natural beauty products. It sucks that most of our everyday products are made with crap. :(

  2. I've been off dairy for almost 12 weeks. I still miss cheese. :) I'm hoping the addiction will eventually die.

    I don't do soy cheese because so much of it has casein in it, which is cow's milk protein. It's one of those hidden dairy sources that can wreak havoc on folks who are sensitive to it. Of course, I also avoid soy because of the conversion to estrogen-like hormones in the body.

    Eating healthy is so hard sometimes, but it is worth it. :)