**Please Note** This post is NOT referring to people who must be on certain diets because of allergies or health problems. I fully acknowledge that is a different issue entirely.
I’ve been noticing an interesting phenomenon lately…
If you want to start a debate online, mention either religion or politics.
But if you want to start an all-out war, start talking about food.
I suppose I understand it to a certain extent…
Food IS important. We ARE indeed what we eat. And in some cases, the proper food CAN mean the difference between life or death for certain folks.
Can I just say I’m growing a wee bit weary of all the different dietary bandwagons?
Vegetarian, vegan, paleo, primal, raw, Weston A. Price, Trim Healthy Mama, and the list goes on. And on. And on…
Most everyone who is a member of those different “camps” is passionately, adamantly convinced that their diet is the ONLY way to eat.
They all contradict each other… So doesn’t that mean somebody, somewhere, has to be “wrong”?
My husband and I often joke that if you look long enough, you’ll find someone that is “against” pretty much every single thing a human can put into their mouth.
Depending on who you talk to:
- Meat is bad.
- Dairy products are bad.
- Eggs are bad.
- Whole grains are bad.
- White flour is bad.
- Actually, all grains are bad.
- And don’t forget the legumes. They’re bad too.
- Potatoes are bad.
- Carbs are bad.
- Cooked food is bad.
- But certain raw vegetables aren’t great for you either.
- Fruit is bad because of the sugar.
- And of course, sugar is bad–even unrefined sugars.
- Honey isn’t good either– especially if it’s been heated.
- Fat is bad. Of course.
- Vegetables are good, but only if they are uber-organic, non-GMO, and grown in your own backyard– (Providing no one has sprayed pesticides within 30 miles of where you live… but wait– what if there are chemtrails in the sky?!)
- Don’t eat too many nuts because they contain phytic acid (and that’s bad.)
- Water is OK. (But only if it’s filtered, fluoride-free, chlorine-free, purified, NOT bottled in plastic, and comes from a crystal-clear mountain spring and run through your Berkey filter first.)
OK, yes, I was being a little silly there, but there’s actually a sobering amount of truth to that list… If we were to listen to ALL of the dietary “experts” at once, there wouldn’t be anything “good” left for us to eat–other than maybe an organic, home-grown carrot and some spring water. (Actually– never mind. Carrots contain sugar. So you get purified spring water in a glass bottle. That’s it.)
So… I’m left scratching my head and wondering if maybe we’ve gone a little overboard in our quest for the “perfect” diet?
But, don’t think I’m shaking my finger at anyone, because not so long ago, I was that person.
My All-or-Nothin’ Journey to Real Food…
I tend to have an all-or-nothing personality, so when I first started my dietary transformation, I was SO excited about my newfound knowledge, that I went a little, um, overboard…
One day I was eating “pasteurized-processed cheese product” and cup o’ noodles, and the next day I was purging my cupboards, making soaked whole wheat bread, buying dairy goats (for raw milk), and making things like black bean brownies (or as I call them, “marriage counseling brownies”… I’m pretty sure my husband still hasn’t forgiven me for that…).
But it didn’t end there… And I fell deeper and deeper into this food “obsession” until it was running my life.
I would worry about what we were eating at restaurants… I would worry about what we were eating at other peoples’ houses. I would worry if I used an ingredient in my from-scratch cooking that wasn’t perfectly organic and sourced locally. And I would feel like a failure if I fed my kid something that I didn’t deem to be “perfect.”
Are we healthier because of this dietary transformation I went through? You bet! I’m so thankful that we have changed our diet from what it used to be (bye-bye frozen burritos...)
But I’ve also learned to mellow out a little… And it’s a good thing. A very, very good thing. I’m pretty sure that stressing out every single day about what you are going to eat will kill you just as quickly as those non-organic vegetables will.
Now don’t get me wrong. Food is still very important to me–and our homesteading activities still revolve around food production. I’m still passionately in love with gardening, and milk cows, and raising grassfed beef. But I’m rather enjoying my slightly-mellowed outlook on food…
What’s important to me:
- Making sure that we have access to fresh, raw milk that we can use to make things like yogurt, butter, and cheese.
- Growing as many of our own vegetables as possible in the summer or buying from the farmer’s market when we can.
- Having fresh eggs from free-range chickens.
- Cooking from scratch–homemade food tastes better, doesn’t contain the junk, and I want my kids to learn how to cook too.
- Making, canning and preserving the things I use on a regular basis, like pickles, broth, tomato sauce, fruit, and applesauce.
- Avoiding as many boxed, bagged, and canned items as possible from the grocery store.
- Eating healthy amounts of good quality fats like butter, coconut oil, and lard (yes, I said lard).
- Raising our own pork, beef, and chicken meat.
- Avoiding ingredients such as MSG, artificial sweeteners, and hydrogenated oils when we can.
So as you can see, we aren’t exactly eating TV dinners around here. BUT, I am happily following the 80/20 rule now. That means we make an effort to eat well 80 percent of the time– and the other 20 percent? Well, I just don’t sweat it.
Let’s face it: we live in an imperfect world. Even if, by some miracle, I was eating the perfect diet, I’d still be exposed to toxins in the air or environment around me. It’s impossible to control everything. Therefore, I’ve decided to eat the best I can, with as little stress as possible, and trust God with the rest.
Things That I No Longer Stress About
- Eating out. We don’t eat out very much, so I have no problem happily saying ‘yes’ if a friend wants to grab a quick burger on a Friday night. And no– I don’t spend 20 minutes tormenting the waiter and asking about every single ingredient in every single dish.
- Potlucks. Canned cream soups and Jell-O salads are staples of potlucks around here–and if that is all there is to eat? I eat it anyway. And it’s OK.
- Buying the occasional item that saves my sanity. Case in point? Tortilla chips. I know how to make homemade chips, and yes, they are delicious. However, nachos are one of our “fall-back” meals that I rely on when the schedule is too crazy to make a full meal. So on those busy nights, bagged tortilla chips are pretty amazing, if I do say so myself… And yes, sometimes I used pre-made pasta noodles too. I just don’t care, y’all.
- Buying 100% organic. Do I prefer organic fruits/veggies? Absolutely! But sometimes that’s not an option. So yes, I do confess: My kids eat non-organic bananas on a regular basis.
And Grains… Don’t Forget the Grains…
Grains are a super hot-button topic these days… There was a time I used to feel ashamed and guilty every time I would feed my family any sort of bread-product–especially if it wasn’t “soaked” or “soured” first (i.e. proper preparation if you are following the Weston A. Price diet). I even seriously considered going completely grain-free (mostly because all of my friends were doing it…)
I’ve spent hours researching grains and have read many different schools-of-thought on the topic.
I’ve seen every opinion you can imagine:
- Only eat whole wheat
- Don’t eat whole wheat–it’s bad for your gut!
- White flour will make you die a horrible, slow death
- All grains are evil.
- You can eat *some* grains–but only ancient varieties. Modern wheat is bad.
- You should only eat spelt.
- You should only eat Einkorn wheat.
- You should only consume soaked grains.
- But actually, we aren’t sure if soaking really does much.
- Sourdough is the best.
- But if you really want to be cool, you should use sourdough made with white flour–it’s the best.
- You should sift your whole wheat flours to remove the bran.
- Wait, don’t do that! The bran is important!
So, do you want to know what all that research did to me?
It turned me into a rebel.
A grain-eating rebel.
We don’t eat grains every single day, but I do enjoy baking–and yes, I even cook with that sinful white flour (And yes–several of you have written me with concerns over that–but please know that all of the recipes on this blog can be made with whole wheat too). I feel completely and totally fine when I eat grains. I know that isn’t the case for everyone, but they just don’t bother me.
May I make a little confession? I did soak/sour our homemade grain products for a quite a while, but honestly? We hated the results. Most of the soaked grain recipes I made were dry, crumbly, and less-than-appetizing. And I would spend hours preparing a recipe that I would end up giving to the chickens. Not to mention that we never felt any different eating soaked grains versus unsoaked grains.
When it comes to grains for my family, I truly believe that moderation is the key for us. I know that’s not a popular stance right now, but I’m at complete and total peace with it. (so please don’t send me any hate mail, m’kay?)
Is My Way the Only Way?
Of course not. I know there will be people who passionately disagree with pretty much everything I’ve written in this post. However, the more I learn about food, the more I am convinced that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all diet that works for every person.
I’ve decided that I’m going to stick with eating quality, whole food as much as I possibly can, and not stress out if things aren’t exactly perfect all the time. And if that means having a handful of tortilla chips alongside my raw milk on occasion, well, you can bet I’ll enjoy every bite. 🙂