Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A lifestyle change

It's been a while since I've really updated. We've been on a "journey to healthiness". I had been having headaches, feeling very sluggish, and having asthma issues as well. This was not surprising as I had a major addiction to sugar and was consuming it in large amounts.

I also found that any time Keagan drank sugary drinks (tea, soda, juice) or cow's milk his digestive system was messed up for days, even weeks, and could only be "righted" by drinking lots of water and fresh fruit/vegetable smoothies. We replaced cow's milk with hemp, almond, and rice milk. (There is usually a sale on at least one of them, so I buy whichever is cheapest.)

A little over a year ago, I was eating a 95% raw vegan diet (fresh, whole plant-based foods) and feeling so much better. My migraines disappeared, I had loads of energy, and, even though I had several miscarriages (after a year of hoping and praying for a baby), my body healed quickly.

Here are the basics in a nutshell, though simplified for easy understanding. A raw foodist is someone that eats 75-100% live, nutritionally-dense organic uncooked and unprocessed food (and drinks pure, live water), enjoying delicious meals that optimize your health by alkalizing your body. At that rate your elimination system can get rid of the toxins created when you cook. But when you eat more cooked food you are consuming acidic toxins faster than your body can eliminate them so they back up, disrupting your body's delicate acid/alkaline balance, a major cause of excess weight and disease. Heating food above 118 degrees F. causes the chemical changes that create acidic toxins, including the carcinogens, mutagens and free-radicals associated with diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Cooking also destroys the live enzymes that aid in digestion and health.

I knew I needed to get back on track with my health and my family's as well. My husband and I also wanted to lose weight and get within a healthier range for our size.

I had become severely addicted to junk food, especially fast food, since having the baby. We were eating at McDonald's at least twice a week, and I would always feel ultra-crummy afterward. After coming down with food poisoning twice in one month (once from Sonic, then from McDonald's), I was pretty much turned off of fast food. Researching the processes and ingredients in the foods I was eating regularly put the nail on the coffin. GMO's (Genetically modified organisms/food), bleached flours, refined sugar..... I was poisoning my body. Not only was I loaded with toxins, but, because I am nursing, I knew my baby was not getting the optimum nutrition. I had eaten so healthfully during my pregnancy, but afterward, I had gone absolutely bonkers on junk food. Something had to change.

Researching and getting down to the basics really helped. When I saw how the meat I consumed was mistreated, pumped full of hormones, antibiotics, and improperly fed (more on that to come), I knew we needed to change our source of meat. We began purchasing organic, grass-fed beef along with other organic, naturally raised and fed meat (chicken, lamb, deer). We also cut down the portion size of our meat and included more fresh foods (usually a large salad).

We found that we really loved Greek food (and Mediterranean food in general). I'm not a seafood person, but I've actually found myself enjoying a tuna steak here and there.

[Pictured: Greek Pasta Salad]

We try to buy mostly local, seasonal, organic produce (although we do consume some things out of season) and I shop around for the best prices (because, let's face it, sometimes organic is greatly over priced).

In the beginning, it seemed very pricey. Afterall, we were trying new things and figuring out what we liked and didn't like. Now that we have figured out what the staples are in our organic diet (and found the cheapest place to purchase these items- most of which comes from a Phoenician market in Houston or Whole Foods), it's not as expensive. We also buy some things in bulk from Sam's like Bolthouse Farms beverages, Feta cheese, organic yogurt, and grape tomatoes. I am not a big fan of Wal-mart companies, but with a growing family and a limited budget, it's often the best choice, especially since my kids consume a 32 ounce container of grape tomatoes in less than 24 hours and our family can empty out a large container of Greek yogurt just for breakfast.

I began making our breads instead of buying them from the store. It helps to make things yourself and know exactly what is in it, even if it's not always cheaper to do so. (Honestly, we know that the 99 cent bread at the grocery store is not usually the healthiest choice.)

A friend of mine, hearing that we were doing a complete lifestyle change, asked if I had watched certain documentaries. I watched Food Matters, Food Inc, Tapped, The Gerson Miracle, Fuel and loads of other great eye-opening documentaries on Netflix and realized our health extended far beyond what we were eating.

We already cloth diaper (Evangeline) which has been a great money saver. Seeing the impact our garbage has on the environment made me realize we needed to make other changes as well. I made up more cloth napkins and towels to use instead of paper products. I stopped purchasing bottled water. I try to use cloth grocery bags or ask for paper bags instead (which we can use for all sorts of things and then recycle when we are done). I became more aware of how we were using electricity and such.

I know it sounds like we went absolutely crazy, but I began to realize that God has made us (man) steward over the earth, and we are greatly abusing it. We have become very wasteful people, not appreciating what we have. We are a disposable nation- we want quick, cheap, and easy... yet we fail to realize the true cost and impact such things have on the earth (and our bodies as well).

A friend once told me, "When you start changing your lifestyle, people will hate you for it. They will debate you on every issue." A while back, I had a long discussion with someone who did not care for our choice in (home) schooling our children. She was greatly offended, yet I had to remind her, "I'm not judging your choices. My husband and I are responsible for our family." I truly believe that in the end, I'll have to stand before God and give account for how I raised them. You aren't accountable for my children... I am. We do what we do because we believe it is our calling and our duty for our children, for our family. Obviously we believe it is what is best for our family or we wouldn't do it, but I am not claiming we are better than anyone else because of our beliefs or practices. It is not my place to place restrictions and rules upon others and say, "This is what you must do." (Or even, "This is what you must do to be saved or loved by God.") I do, however, believe it is what we (my husband and I) must do in response to what God has revealed to us (not to "earn" His grace, but because we love the Lord and want to be good stewards of all the blessings He has bestowed upon us).

I have hesitated to post about this, but it's such a large part of our life and, well, it is my blog. However, I know such subjects seem to be highly controversial, and some people may twist my words (especially those who like to stir the pot and argue for the sake of arguing).

This is something I will be talking about quite a bit on my blog (posting recipes, links, videos, information, etc) so if this is not something you care to consider, then I suggest you stop reading this blog, or ignore such entries. Quite frankly, I'm not interested in debate for debate's sake and will not entertain it. That being said, I do enjoy researching and digging deeper (and I always look at both sides of the coin), so feel free to share your own research with me!


Pam... said...

We have been doing many of the same things. My body was reacting pretty bad and so a few months ago I stopped mostly all sugar, pop, and added a mostly fruit and veggie diet. With the Wii fit, I am accountable of my BMI, exercising over 40 minutes a day, and feeling much better. I did a detox with prayer, and added seeds, nuts, etc. It's been really good. I slipped a few times and felt horrible, which is how it should be. It is more expensive with my large family. So I am always looking for ideas to save and be healthy. You will keep me in good accountability, so thanks.

Arlene said...

I see you're doing the Daniel diet. My daughter is doing it now and says her stomach issues have pretty much gone away. I too decided enough was enough and cut out fast foods, all sugary drinks (I have one cup of coffee in the morning, then only water the rest of the day), and greatly reduced our salt intake. The result has been amazing. I eat lots of salads and veggies, good portions of food, yet lost 14 pounds and have kept it off. My hubby lost over 20 pounds, got his blood pressure back to normal and his cholesterol down. Daniel was right: a healthy diet will make you stronger!

amy D said...

this is awesome! no judgements here. my hubby and i do many of these same things. the whole eating thing is hard right now with me working, but when our little one comes, i'm staying home so hopefully i can dedicate some more time to our diet!
like you, we've also taken the steps of cloth napkins, rags instead of paper towels, reusuable grocery bags, etc. (and we plan to cloth diaper!!!) i totally agree with you about being good stewards of what God has given us! basically, i could have just said ditto to your whole post :)
i'm looking forward to hearing you share more!!!! :) God bless!

Leah said...

Great! I am on this same "journey" as well, and feeling like I'm dragging my husband and daughter with me because they don't understand the importance yet :-/ Keep writing about it! I've enjoyed your posts about it so far and looking forward to many more tips!