Our Real Food Journey (Week 1)

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Well, we survived our first week of non-processed food! I thought I’d share some general observations from our first week. But first, I will recap our “rules.”

Our Rules

(For now). We are not doing the 100 Days of Real Food pledge, but we are following similar rules as far as what constitutes “real food,” with a few exceptions.

1. We didn’t throw out everything. Though we got rid of 95% of the processed ingredients in our home, there are a few things we kept. Things that aren’t so bad, or things we eat a lot and just couldn’t bare to waste. These are things like peanut butter, cheese (with mold inhibitor and/or coloring), a loaf of whole wheat bread, and maybe 2-3 more things. We won’t be purchasing any of these again, but we didn’t throw them out yet.

2. We are making exceptions for social events. We are making exceptions for all social things. So, we will eat at church fellowship meals which is good food, but not completely whole, real food. Our kids still have treats at Sunday school and AWANA, and if we are invited to eat at a restaurant with someone, we’ll do the best we can but not stress about it. These type of things really aren’t that frequent for us, so we feel fine about these exceptions.

3. We aren’t eating all local yet. We’re working toward it, but we have a VERY tight budget, and we need to ease into some things budget wise. Eating all local meats is a goal, but not a reality just yet.

Positive Things

1. Now that we are being more conscientious about what we put into our bodies, it’s kind of hard to ignore all those yucky chemically, manufactured ingredients. One of the things we’d saved to eat until we run out and then not buy again, was some garlic bread that I had literally just purchased before we decided to start this.  The other night, we had a long day and I threw together some spaghetti and salad with garlic bread. We ate it, but it was hard for us to get past the fact that the ingredients list was a mile long.

2. Our kids are on board. For years, I have been the mom who says no to a lot of sweets, candy, etc. My oldest didn’t have his first sugary treat until he was 2. I am so thankful for that now! My younger son has my sweet tooth and he asked for candy one time and I reminded him that we’re eating healthier now, and offered him fruit. He was happy with that. Yesterday, I pulled out one of the things hubby and I decided not to throw away–homemade pancakes made with white flour, sugar, and a sprinkling of mini-chocolate chips from our freezer. Both of my children commented on how we aren’t supposed to be eating these anymore because they aren’t healthy. (I promise I’m not trying to turn them against treats all together!) I’m glad they have a base of healthy eating to make this easier for them, and glad they understand what we are doing. Though they still happily accept their processed treats at Awana and Sunday School.

3. It has been easier than I thought. I have to give God the praise here for helping me through it. It really is amazing how when I give up things during Lent it’s like a whole new outlook. It’s so interesting how much easier things get, mentally, when it’s completely off the table. Maybe one day I will try and share the extent of my food addiction, but it has been a major stronghold in my life. Obviously, there are things that each of us still miss, but overall it has been easier and without cravings.

Challenges

I’d be lying if I said everything about this is easy! It’s possible. But it hasn’t been completely easy.

1. The budget thing is super hard. We’ve always cooked with mostly real foods, but had snacks and some lunch things (lunch meat, etc.) that were processed, along with having white flour and refined sugar as staples in our cabinets. The white flour goes on sale here every few months for $1.50, and I would stock up at that time. The whole wheat isn’t even available in my town, I have to travel half an hour to the next town over to get it and pay $3.69.  A 4 lb bag of sugar which would last me 3-4 weeks usually, depending on how much I’m baking, regularly goes on sale here for $1.50. A 32 oz. jar of honey that will last us probably half that time is $9. And 16 oz. of maple syrup is $7. That is a HUGE difference! I’m trying not to be a nazi about it, but for a girl who has been conditioned to be very frugal in order to make ends meet, it’s hard. I have found myself asking my husband things like “what? You put maple syrup all over your toast this morning? Do you know how much that stuff costs?” and “How much did you put in your oatmeal?” Need some more prayers on this one because my poor hubby works very hard and has been a great support in this HUGE lifestyle change and he really doesn’t deserve to be grilled about putting maple syrup in his oatmeal in the morning by a crazy person! Also, I know God led us to make this change, and therefore, He will provide for it. I’m super thankful for our maple syrup, too!

2. Trying to keep snacks available is hard. I’ve been so used to falling back on semi-healthy processed things–store bought granola bars, storebought popsicles, graham crackers, gummies, etc. They’ve always had some better things like fruit and cheese for snacks as well, but now we’re trying to replace all of those other snacks with new things for 2 boys who have bottomless stomachs! I have found some great recipes which I’ve added to my Real Food Ideas & Recipes pinterest board. But I haven’t tried them all out yet, and I have been so busy that we’ve mostly been having fruit or triscuits for all snacks, which means that they are probably eating too much fruit (I’ve been conditioned to limit fruit because of the natural sugar content…any thoughts on this?), and I’m running to the store several times a week instead of my usual once. This week I’m planning to get a better handle on the snack thing, so hopefully I can have a better report on this next week. My kids are usually super good eaters, but they do not like any raw veggies at all.

3. We are always hungry! I’m not sure if it is a part of the sugar detox or what, but we are always hungry. All of us. My boys are begging for snacks in between meals (healthy ones, but still) even more than usual and my husband and I have felt hungry more as well. I’m hoping that as our bodies continue to adjust, this will get better. I’m having a hard time keeping up!

4. Sugar Detox. For a junkfood junkie (and sugar addict) like me, this has been rough. I have felt absolutely miserable, physically. I have had even less energy than normal, have had horrible headaches, and just felt overall yucky. But, I have ever confidence that I will feel much better after I cross this hurdle.

5. Buying Local, farm fresh! Just yesterday, I bought my first farm-fresh milk! I’m very excited about that. We’ve also been buying farm fresh eggs, which honestly we didn’t make a priority before because it is so much more convenient to just grab them at the store than it is to drive all over creation to the house with fresh eggs. But, we’re just going to start doing it, because it’s important to us. Next on the list is to find local meat suppliers if possible. We are in a tiny town, so some things are more difficult in that area.

6. It’s a ton of work. It really is a lot more work in the kitchen when you are making literally EVERYTHING from scratch! I have always made most things from scratch, but that step from most to everything is a big one. When you eat every meal at home and from scratch there is a lot of cooking, cleaning, dishes, etc. But, again, it’s just getting into a better routine and I feel like next week I’ll be able to have a better report about this.

So, that’s the report from our first week! Sorry this is so long. I apparently had more to say on the subject than I though!

Comments

  1. ann says

    Wow, good job. We have recently done a strict diet to bring healing to our bodies. It is interesting to watch kids do this.
    To feel fuller – up your fat intake. Fat is really important for kids and adults and challenging since we have been taught for decades to avoid it.
    The fats should be healthy though – coconut oil (ie: in oatmeal), butter from grass fed cattle, lard from pastured pigs (this took some getting used to, but I add a couple of tablespoons for the onions when I start a soup) and olive oil. My kids eat frozen peas and started dousing them in olive oil.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Thanks for the tip about fat. I’ve never gone out of my way to avoid fats, though I haven’t gone out of my way to especially add them either. Maybe I should? I am going to have to try the frozen peas though. Lisa from 100 days of real food says that her children enjoy frozen peas (uncooked) as a snack, so I’m hoping that my boys will like them as well. Thanks so much for your comment :)

  2. says

    You’ll feel SO much better soon! The previous comment about fats is so true. I love coconut oil and Kerrygold butter for cooking and extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil for salad dressings, but I still try to limit these kinds of extracted fats because it is so easy to go overboard. Avocados and unsalted nuts are amazing and super-filling fat sources. My husband had a hard time getting used to unsalted nuts, but I insisted because it’s way too hard to stop eating the salted ones, and even he loves the plain ones now.

    As for fruits, my philosophy is that (unless you are diabetic or have serious blood-sugar issues) it’s better to load up on as much as you want than to limit them, because they are probably healthier than anything else you’re likely to eat instead. And since most of them are loaded with fiber and micronutrients that truly fill your body’s cravings, you’ll get full a lot sooner than you think. Just make sure you’re eating a good mix of fruits, not just super-sugary ones like bananas!

    • Crystal Brothers says

      We’ve been eating healthy fats. I’ve never really tried to limit them, though we can probably try and fit more in. And thanks for weighing in about the fruits as well. I tend to agree. They do love a good mix of fruits –oranges, apples, grapes, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, etc. I’m definitely hoping to feel better soon! The headaches seem to be getting a bit better now, 1 week in.

  3. Nikki says

    great job! i too do the best that i can w/ eating whole foods. try grocery shrink plus menu planning to help w/ whole foods menu planning. snacks: i too have a hard time keeping up w/ making whole food snacks. suggestion: make 2 snacks a wk that they can snack on. then sub w/ pre packaged items or fruit – take baby steps. dont try to kill yourself making all these drastic chgs all together. tropical traditions is a great place to find healthy fats – look for gold label. expensive suggestion: i have sweet fangs. i truly believe tht for me sugar is a drug. I also know that as a SAHM where your home all day, around all that food, its hard not to graze all day. I had to get on an apetite depressant in order to stay sane. You can eat healthy all you want but if you are cnstantly hurgry, constantly looking for sweet foods, its very difficult to make the right choices. eating is more of a habit rather than for nutrition. Anyway, i use advocare msn3. it totally cuts my sugar cravings to NOTHING! i cant believe tht. ill go into the kitchen & my brain tells me to eat (b/c its a habit) but my mouth/taste buds dont want anything. im in no way assoc w/ advocare. i dont sell it, etc. i buy mine off ebay. it is very expensive – im just telling you what works for me. i also stopped baking….i would eat way much baked goods.

  4. says

    I’m really thinking about looking for quiet ways to make changes here and there for the overall health and well being of our family. Perhaps if I do this in baby steps it won’t even be noticed. :)

    • Crystal Brothers says

      I definitely think that would be possible, Rosann! Especially if your family already eats mostly healthy/homemade stuff. It could definitely be done at a slower pace than we are doing it, and I think for most people that would probably be the preferable way :)

  5. says

    Crystal, you’re doing amazing! I don’t think you’re crazy either about being a maple syrup nazi :) I’m the same way! It IS expensive. But still I understand. Snacks are definitely the hardest for me too. It is so much easier to have granola bars and fruit snacks. Instead, we’ve been eating lots of apples with peanut butter. I think you mentioned PB as something you weren’t buying any more but what about natural PB- without all the preservatives and sugar. My kids love it and the protein stays with them.

    I love this series! It’s motivating me to make more changes in our diet too. Keep it up!

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Yes, we do buy natural peanut butter. I meant that I had kept our regular peanut butter that we’d bought before, but we won’t be buying that kind anymore. My family actually prefers the real food kind :) I have found a lot of real food recipes that I’ve been making for some snacks as well (homemade granola bars, etc.). lol…glad to know I’m not alone about the maple syrup! lol

  6. says

    I think you are being a little hard on yourself. If you are trying to get away from all the junk in the food, buying organic is the way to go. We did so a year ago, and we are not as hungry as we were before. We have found great chips that we like, and my favorite is gluten free, and comes in a variety of flavors.

    Annie’s has a product similar to Hamburger Helper we started using, along with her graham crackers. We purchase the majority of our organic food through a local food co-op which uses Azure Standard. Great prices, I can buy in bulk, and this family is happy. You can go to there web site to see if there is a drop near you, and while you are there take a look at all they have to offer. Eating healthy should not leave you hungry, oh and check out some raw organic cane sugar.

    Check out Real Food Fridays, for recipes, and share your post, so it might inspire others.
    http://yourlife7.blogspot.com/2014/03/real-food-fridays-30-link-up.html

    May the Father guide your path.

  7. says

    Hi Crystal,
    I am so glad you documented your inspiring real food journey with us. I can definitely relate to many of your experiences and challenges! Thank you so much for sharing this valuable post on the Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Blog Hop! I appreciate it!

  8. Jayla says

    Crystal, I don’t even know you, but I am SO proud of your family for moving toward a real/whole food lifestyle. It *is* a bit difficult at the outset, but soon you will wonder how you ever got yourself to eat the chemical sludge called “food”. For example, I can’t even eat bottled salad dressing these days….can actually taste the chemicals in it. Processed, additive-laden foods just taste really gross to me now. As Morgan Crumm said above, you will soon feel so much better. Your body is literally detoxing (and going through withdrawal, too!), and will adjust to its new, healthier normal. Hang in there! :-)

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