Saturday, May 01, 2010

Food Evolution

Even before I left for Ghana 3 weeks ago the Lord was putting my family's food habits on my heart. It wasn't really a formed conviction at that time--just something I knew I needed to pray about. Are we spending too much? What sort of crap am I putting on my table each day? How much might our diet be affecting our behaviors and health? How do I get a handle on the low salt diet Eric should be eating when 95% of the food we eat is processed (and therefore mostly high sodium)?

As the Lord saw fit, he put me in Ghana with people who like their veggies! One day I sat and looked with envy as the folks around me talked about how the cucumber and tomato sandwiches they had made themselves were "the best sandwich ever." Really? How could a sandwich with no meat be the best ever?! Not in my world! LOL! I don't know why I don't like very many veggies (and even less raw veggies) but I don't. Did my mother not give me enough veggies as a child? Am I just pre-dispositioned not to like them? No clue. But I don't like them. I WANT to like them. I love the thought of crunching into a raw veggie and liking it. I keep trying , but it doesn't work for me.

Anyway, the people I was with in Ghana liked their veggies. One couple eats vegan most of the time and talked about all of the health benefits of their diets (not in a judgemental way). They even got me wondering if I could ever eat Tofu and like it! LOL!

Something I've noticed before is that when I'm in Ghana, for some reason, my Fibromyalgia is much less active. Honestly, I feel about 25% of my usual pain when I'm in Ghana. Could it be because I'm not eating near as many processed foods in Ghana? Hmm... I don't know, but it's a thought that's crossed my mind.

When I came home from Ghana last week Eric started telling me about this great little grocery store his parents had started going to--Aldi. I had heard of Aldi and had friends that shop there, but didn't know what the big deal was. Didn't know about their unique business plan to sell generic brands (and fewer items in the store) in order to offer much lower prices.

This week my conviction to provide better food for my family, and at a lower cost (hopefully!) really ramped up. We started off the changes by making a trip to Whole Foods. It was an exploration trip! Of course we loaded up on organic fruits and veggies, but also purchased several other products to try. The kids thought it was totally cool to grind their own peanut butter. =-)

On Friday we made a trip to Aldi and managed to find a whole cart full of inexpensive AND minimally processed foods.

We finished off our week of food evolution by renting BOTH "Food Inc" and "Super-Size Me." If watching those two movies in one night doesn't make you want to move away from the "typical American diet" I don't know what will! The kids watched Food Inc with us and were quite interested to learn about the behind-the-scenes of food distribution in America.

I'm not unrealistic about this. We will never be a vegan family. We'll never be a family that eats completely organic and unprocessed foods. I can't imagine a time when a fast food meal won't sound good for a treat ( when I come home from Ghana and have a hankering for American food)! But maybe I can change things for the better. I can put more time and energy into our food budgeting. I can greatly reduce the number of processed foods we eat. Hey! It might not always be low-fat low calorie unprocessed food--but I can make more meals that don't include a box!

So here's a few things I want to do for my family:

**Plan ahead. When things are on sale or when there is a good coupon, go and stock up.

**Buy from Aldi, focusing on their organic and/or unprocessed products.

**Fruits and veggies from the local Farmer's Market, or from Whole Foods.

**Try to buy fruits and veggies in season in order to support local food production.

**Look into purchasing dairy, eggs, and meat from local farms. Haven't gotten too far with this yet.

**Bake bread. Do you know how many unnatural ingredients are in the typical grocery store loaf of bread? Wow! I don't know how successful I'll be at baking 100% of our bread, but every bit I can bake will take some of the "gunk" out of our diets.

In a somewhat unrelated matter, we are, as a family, walking every evening. The kids LOVE it. They run (or ride) ahead while Eric and I have time to hold hands and stroll behind them. I guess it's a bit of exercise, but mostly it's just a nice way to wind down from each day without any interruptions.

Hopefully in six months this will not have all gone by the wayside. I WANT to make healthy changes for our family and I want them to stick.



Bingaling 8:01 PM  

Good for you! My mom has fibromyalgia and when she was diagnosed, her doctor was a very non-traditional kind of doctor. He told her to eat a gluten-free diet. She says her symptoms are VERY few when she eats a strictly gluten-free diet. She doesn't eat gluten-free now since her symptoms seem to be mostly under control. But, I know she cuts back drastically on gluten when her symptoms start rearing their ugly heads.

When I was in Taiwan for a couple of months, my diet was very different than the "typical american diet" and I felt much better. And I did eat lots of tofu. And I LIKED it! Of has to be cooked just right! ;)

Renee 9:51 PM  

Hi Anita,

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and I follow a strict vegan diet. Doing so allows me to be pain free and med free. I have a friend with fibro who has found the same results from a vegan diet. We have both found dairy to be the worst culprit for flares. Do you eat dairy while in Ghana?

Do you like hummus? It is easy to make and very yummy with raw veggies.

I have a goal to have our kiddies eat a fruit and veg at every meal. This makes it so easy for them to get in their daily allowance and more..

Breakfast is english muffins with hummus or cream cheese (our kids have dairy-I don't) chives and cucumber slices. It's very yummy.

You are a great wife and Mom. I know you were such a blessing to everyone in Ghana :o)

p.s. Did you see Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? You can watch it on Hulu. Very inspiring!

A. Gillispie 10:04 PM  

Chanda...ugh...don't say gluten free! ;-) I do love me some bread! But I will keep it in mind to avoid the gluten on bad days.

Renee, actually the diary might be a huge culprit. Eric mentioned it earlier this week because I'd eaten no processed foods and still had a horrible fribro day (was discouraged). Dairy is much reduced while in Ghana, although I use evaporated milk in Milo each morning for breakfast (like hot chocolate) and do enjoy the pizza at Frankie's when I get a chance. Here in the US I drink skim milk and or/eat yogurt (plus more cheese) most every day. Urgh. I will play around with it. Milk is something I crave big time, which is usually the first sign that you are allergic/sensitive to something!

Ironically, we were on GFCF diet for Samren at one point and were milk, soy, egg, and dye free for Taevy at one point. Hard stuff!

Vicky 10:06 PM  

Hi Anita,

I, too, have been trying to make changes to my eating habits. And, I also don't like veggies. I WISH I did... but I don't.

For me, I've started giving myself a lot of flexibility as I'm making changes. Rather than go all-out and be really strict, I'm trying to stay focused on the long-term. I don't beat myself up when I don't follow my rules, and I allow myself to "cheat". I tend to be big on rule-following, but then when I fail I get discouraged and quit. So, this time around, I'm giving myself grace and allowing some treats along the way.

I started blogging about it and hope to continue to do so. I don't have my blog linked to my profile, but here's a link if you want to check it out: Not much on there yet, but I'm going to try to keep it up.

Please continue sharing about the changes you're making and the ideas/ tricks you've found. I could use some new ideas! :)


Amanda 4:35 AM  

Yay, Anita! Being food conscious is so important and seemingly so simple, but in reality so difficult! Congrats! My kids loved dried fruit so we put handfuls of it in their oatmeal, cereal, etc. Another favorite food of mine is tortillas filled with fresh veggies (sprouts, tomatoes, onions, garlic, spinach) and cheese and nuked for about one minute. That is my favorite breakfast - almost tastes like pizza.

Have fun finding out what your family loves to eat!


Heather A. 8:49 AM  

Good for you! Yeah! The steps you're taking are great steps. You don't have to have a strict vegan/vegetarian/whole food diet to see the benefits!

Nathan and the girls don't eat a whole lot of raw veggies either., BUT I usually make sure that dinner has tons of veggies included in the meal. I'm a huge fan of the cookbook 1,000 Vegan recipes by Robin Robertson and The Ethnic Vegetarian by Angela Medearis is AWESOME!

With that said, I'm going to cheat this morning on our vegan diet with biscuits and gravy!

The Hullingers 4:36 PM  

Hi Anita,
I don't know if this site will have any of your local stores, but it has helped me a TON with trying to make more homemade meals for my family, on a smaller budget. It is also great for stocking up and storing food if you want to do that.

I notice a big difference in the health of all of us when we eat better. But it is not easy sometimes! Like you said, though, every little bit you can make yourself helps. I am excited for summer, when you can find any fruit or veggie you can imagine at the local farmer's markets!

Amy 7:14 PM  

I am so proud of you, Anita! I hope everyone feels so awesome! I am laughing about the cucumber and tomato sandwich!!! was the best thing GHANA!! :)

BTW - I'd kill for a Whole Foods in my area!! Lucky Ducks, I say!!
xoxo a

Robin Dodd Photography 1:02 AM  

Go Anita! I love the way I feel after eating "NO BREAD" for almost 5 months, and I'm almost 3o pounds lighter : ) We eat very little meat except when Shawn decides to roast a chicken, or when we go for Mexican and I will eat the chicken fajitas with corn torillas and no chips.. that was so hard.. but truly I found bread to be the biggest addiction... and now that I no longer eat it, I don't crave it whatsoever.

Very brave to watch Super Size me and Food Inc..on the same night.. so intense.. but a must see.

Something else you might get from whole foods which I've found to be such a great healer are the Kombucha drinks. I get mine here in the neighborhood in a gallon jug, by a woman who makes it, but you can get them at Whole Foods, they're made by Synergy, the blueberry or gingerade is great.. Appetite suppressent and such an boost to your immune sugar either..
Just call me Robin "OZ"



Sister Beta 8:46 AM  

I hear that! Food Inc. was very eye opening! We have been blessed with a Sprouts recently and it is so great! Do you have one? We are able to buy really good foods for much LESS than we would at Whole Foods. Ditto to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution-it was great!