Photo Credit: docentjoyce (Creative Commons)

Eating right. Is it possible? If so, where do you start?

There’s so many health claims out there. How do you know who can you trust? Dr. Oz, Jamie Oliver, or the FDA (cause they sure seem to be doing a good job)?

When I find out about poisonous  ingredients in everyday foods I get infuriated and feel like there’s a conspiracy going on all around us. I can’t help but think of how many kids with a host of medical and behavioral issues, women with infertility complications, young people with cancer, the list of health problems goes on and on. How can food makers knowingly put ingredients in a product that is known to cause cancer and then market it to kids? I don’t understand how you could do that and still sleep at night.

The fact of the matter is, there is a health crisis in our society today- and it starts with the food that we eat. How are we going to respond to it?

A couple years ago I shared a few things we do in our house. After watching the movie, Food Inc. I became more conscious of the food industry and what we buy. Raising three kids has added to my desire to focus on our heath and establish (& maintain) good eating habits.

At first glance, it is overwhelming- especially if you’ve never thought about the food you eat and where it comes from.

Pick up any box of food in your cabinet and read the label. How many ingredients are in your box of cereal or a loaf of bread? After you’ve counted, how many ingredients there are, how many do you recognize (apart from chemistry class)? How many can you even pronounce?

I told you it’s overwhelming.

The biggest area we care about in our family is artificial ingredients. Our kids are already on the bandwagon with us and I’m shocked at how receptive they are. I’ll never forget one of the first conversations we had around the dinner table.

My husband was drinking one of his favorite childhood yogurt drinks. As he was drinking it, he noticed the ingredient list contained the dreaded phrase “artificial flavors”. He was horrified and appalled. My oldest daughter asked, “What is artificial?” Filipe went on to explain that artificial means that it’s fake, it’s not the real thing. “Ewww…”, she responded (and she stopped drinking her yogurt too). She was four at the time. A four year old doesn’t have to be convinced that we shouldn’t eat something that’s fake- it just made sense to her.

Now while I was excited to hear her response, the true test came when she was faced with something she likes and finds out that it’s artificial. Would she still consider it to be gross? Much to my amazement, she does. We will be in the grocery store and she will point to something that wants. I’ll point out to her that it has artificial stuff in it and she responds with “gross” and she walks on by. It’s great that she can read now; she knows how to look for the word “artificial” on her own. This sure does keep her from asking for things too.

A few weeks ago she came home from her kindergarten graduation with a huge bag of candy. Filipe sat down with both of our the girls at the table and they sorted through all the candy. They threw away about 90% of it. Why? Because it was all artificial. They were more sad that “someone” would put something artificial in their candy than having to throw it away.

There are two other areas I’ve been working on lately.

  1. Meat– I care much more about where our beef and chicken is coming from (especially after watching Food Inc). While I haven’t always been buying local meat, I’m trying to move that way. I have been buying more organic than not, but it’s still challenging and expensive. Today is an exciting day for us. Our cow is being delivered today. Okay, not a whole cow- a split-half (87-100 lbs of beef that’s been cut and wrapped) . It’s grass-fed and local. If anyone in the Bay area has any good leads on local chicken, I would love some tips/leads.
  2. Sugar– This past spring I took part in a 21-day fast (12 of which were juice only). While the focus was completely spiritual, the physical impact was startling. Afterward, I became overly sensitive to the sugar content in everything. It’s hard to cut out sugar when just about EVERYTHING we eat is full of it. But, the first step is awareness, right? While I haven’t completely cut out sugar from our diet, I’ve been working toward lowering it greatly. One of the reasons I loved the strawberry jam recipe last week is that it has NO sugar. One of my favorite pancake recipes is made without sugar too. Score.

Yes, there is so much more to be concerned about (grains, milk, soy, etc.), but I’m just taking it one step at a time. How about you? Have you taken any steps to change your eating habits?

If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend the 100 Days of Real Food blog. It’s straight forward and easy to understand.

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