Here I pick up with what I learned from my research into lowcarb dieting. I learned many things. I learned about how our body releases insulin and about the insulin rollercoaster. I learned more about how important protein is. I learned about the glycemic index and how we can lower the glycemic index of the carbs that we eat by including fat and/or fiber. But the thing that was most enlightening was that fat is not evil!!! This thrilled me, to say the least—I do love my butter! I learned that there are good fats and bad fats and I learned what trans fats are.
This information made me feel great that I was raised on the good fats, butter, cream, and red meat, so I wanted to know more. I picked up a book called, Know Your Fats, by Dr. Mary Enig. This is the definitive guide to fat. I learned about Omega-3s, Omega-6s, saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated oils; and much more. Everything you wanted to know about fatty acids can be found in this book. Dr. Enig was pushing the FDA to include trans fats on food labels YEARS before they actually did. She is a champion of healthy fats. It was all starting to make sense to me. As a child I was told that hydrogenated oils were bad, but now I was learning why.
This started an obsession for me. I kept reading and researching and learning, I couldn’t get enough! This is the point that I started to make changes to my diet. I threw out all the margarine, Smart Select butter, shortening, trans fat peanut butter (Skippy, Jif, Peter Pan), and starting scrutinizing labels. At this point trans fats were not labeled on food labels. I checked out the book, The Trans Fat Solution by Kim Severson and Cindy Burke. This is a really short informative book that tells you why trans fats are bad, but also how to tell if food contains it. With this knowledge, now I know the REAL way to tell if an item has trans fats in it and guess what? It’s not by looking at the gram listings.
Some time after this I found the book, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. This book is really big, most of it being recipes. The first time I checked it out from my library I just read the nutrition information, it was really eye opening. I kept checking it out from our library and kept reading new things in it. After borrowing it from the library about ten times I decided it was time to buy it. This book opened my eyes to phytates, the substance that is in grains that leaches minerals from our bodies. I then started playing around with whole-wheat sourdough. I learned all about raw dairy in this book and then quit buying pasteurized dairy products and started making my own yogurt. From this book I learned how important animal protein is so I started making my son eat meat at dinnertime. He never liked meat very much and I convinced myself he was healthy if he had peanut butter and eggs. Not so after reading Sally Fallon’s book. (He enjoys most meat now.) J
About a year ago I joined the Yahoo group discussingnt; these are all folks that have read Nourishing Traditions. This really helped me along in my changes. I started making a lot more changes when I joined that group. There is something to be said for support, whether that is a friend, or an Internet discussion board, or even a private journal (this at least helps with accountability). Anyway, I saw that there are so many real foods that we’re missing out on because of mass marketing. According to FDA safety guidelines, food must be sealed in order to be shipped and sold on a mass scale. This is good because it prevents rotten food from being sold, but the bad news is that this process kills the nutrients in those items. (Moral: We should be getting our food locally.) So I started making my own naturally fermented sauerkraut, dill pickles, ginger carrots, and beet kvass. When these items are let to naturally ferment and then stored in the refrigerator instead of heat-sealed through traditional canning methods they are alive and full of nutrients and beneficial bacteria. Also while I was a part of that discussion group I started making Kombucha and still drink it practically every day.
Other changes I have made include less cooking with olive oil, I do use it on salad, on pasta, and to dip bread in. It is a very healthy oil when it is cold, but it will get damaged when heated. I do most of my cooking with butter and some with coconut oil. When I switched to lowcarb eating I learned to like a lot more veggies, since veggies have a lower glycemic index than breads and pastas. Thankfully when my husband went on his diet we cleared the cupboards of the snack cakes and boxed macaroni and cheese. He had quit drinking soda and Kool-Aid many years before. He switched to Baked Lays in his diet days and I have since got him to switch to plain corn chips (Baked Lays are about as processed as you can get). I have since got him off the granola bars; I now make him muffins to take to work for breakfast. I now make our own lunchmeat from boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rather than buying processed lunchmeat. He lost his weight by really watching his portion intake and cutting most fat out. Since I learned all about healthy fat, I now feed him lots of fat in his meals and he hasn’t gained any of the weight back. He still watches his sugar intake. I take coconut oil daily now. I started taking cod liver oil last fall. I occasionally take a probiotic supplement, but I feel I am getting a lot of beneficial bacteria from my homemade yogurt, Kombucha, and naturally fermented veggies. I started making my own sour cream and buttermilk (more beneficial bacteria). I have switched to aluminum-free baking powder (Rumford). About a year ago I stopped using commercial shampoo, conditioner, bar soaps, shower gels, lotions, and facial cleansing products (I’ll give more details in a later post) because of the chemical content. I switched from drinking distilled water to filtered water (spring is best, we’re just not there yet). And I use plastics a lot less now, I’m not completely away from them, but I am taking my babysteps.
Now keep in mind that all these babysteps I took were over a period of years, this really all started about 6 years ago. I’m just hoping that my list will inspire you and encourage you in your changes.
Looking back over my food journey shows me 1) I ate pretty good as a child, but there was a high level of phytates, which I think accounts for my dealings with mineral deficiencies now and 2) it is SO important to teach your kids about healthy eating and why you choose to eat what you eat. I wasn’t taught and had to educate myself as an adult after eating poorly for about 10 years. It may look like I have come full circle and now eat the way I did as a kid, but there are a few differences. I watch my carb intake; I don’t eat a lot of breads and pastas. Even if you’re choosing all whole-grain bread products you can still go overboard, remember, balance is key. We ate a LOT of grains in our family; my blood sugar just can’t handle that now. I feed my kids more carbs than I eat, but I do make sure they are getting animal protein every day.
The journey doesn’t end here—it goes on and on. We all should never stop growing, never stop learning, and never stop changing!
Update: I forgot to mention that I have started soaking some grains, we eat soaked old fashioned oatmeal once a week and soaked multi-grain pancakes on occasion.