The last few months have been crazy busy. If you've been to my main blog over at Life on Purpose and Principle, you know that in the last 2-3 months, I've become a grandmother, moved (drastically downsizing in the process), become a mother in law, helped plan and host my youngest stepson's high school graduation and had company from out of state...twice. Whew. It seriously tires me to reminisce. And in all that busyness, sometimes our food choices were less than optimal. Now that the dust has settled, it's time to re-evaluate what we eat and make some changes.
Looking back, I see how God has gently led me to where I am now. Thanks to my grandmother, I learned how to throw things together, make bread, "get all the goody out" (use a spatula to scrape out every last bit of batter or whatever you've mixed up), and I am thankful for both the instruction and the fond memories of working with my grandma in the kitchen. I began cooking on my own at a young age and loved coming up with my own recipes.
About four years ago, I had my eyes opened by attending a Nourishing Our Children seminar. I was so mad by the end of it, I wanted to go home and throw out all our food! Since that was not practical at all for this one-income family, I gave away the worst offenders (or just threw it away), and gradually used up what was left, replacing what was used up with healthier alternatives. I began to make my own mixes for taco seasoning, onion soup mix (and yes, it can be made without boullion, and therefore without MSG), cookies, breads, and anything else I might have bought in a box at the store.
I eased into fermenting with water kefir, dairy kefir, and eventually sourdough. I have to admit to being afraid of making my own lacto fermented vegetables, and so I have not ventured into that arena, yet. I used to be afraid of balsamic vinegar, because it was so dark. I just had no idea what it would taste like and was afraid to try it. Turns out I've been missing out on one of the most delicious (not to mention healthful) condiments I've ever tried. I put that stuff on anything, even eggs. I'd put it on, or in, more things, but my husband doesn't like vinegar in general, and especially not balsamic. Boo. Sometimes I wonder how we connected...we seem to be polar opposites when it comes to many foods.
Eight months ago, I finally yielded to the Lord's leading and went gluten-free. After sulking for several days, I finally put my Big Girl Panties on and dealt with it. And I'm so glad I did! I've lost 20 pounds without doing anything other than not eating grains with gluten, my blood sugar is better controlled, and I just feel better in general. I've seen improvements in my children - my son no longer has paint-peeling gas, his bowel movements are normal, his bumpy rash on his face is gone, and he is somewhat less hyper; my daughter reported feeling less tired, more clear-headed, and no longer itches constantly. She has also learned to not "cheat" - because she feels so terrible after eating something with gluten. I'm glad she willingly makes the choice!
Lately, God's been nudging me to check out the Paleo thing. At first I thought good heavens, I don't think I can handle any more dietary changes and food restrictions. It's hard enough sometimes, especially when well-meaning family and friends don't quite "get it", or going to a get together and the only thing that is "legal" to eat is on the veggie tray...but no dip, since we don't know what is in it. I'm getting used to bringing our own food, eating what I can and being happy with it, or just not eating, but honestly, it just kind of sucks sometimes. I don't want to have to constantly watch what I'm eating. It's not fair that other people can eat anything and have no health problems! But, then again, perhaps that's what's wrong with the world these days, everyone doing what they want with no thought to the consequences. Maybe it's not such a bad thing to have to be mindful of what you're doing all the time. I'll have to remember that when we go to our daughter's 4H picnic tonight. At least they're having hamburgers, not just hot dogs!
Several years ago, I did the Atkin's diet and lost about 45 pounds. I don't want to do that again (the Atkin's diet...I have NO problem with losing 45 pounds!) because that diet requires the use of artificial sweeteners and soy, but I do know that cutting out carbs (which for me amounts to a lot of grains in general, gluten-free or otherwise) means I feel better and lose weight. I've found that I love love love Miracle Noodles, and am finding a lot of recipes to make tortillas, and other foods traditionally made with grains, with things like cauliflower instead.
A friend of mine and I recently discussed the trend of replacing "off limit" foods with something similar, made with "legal" ingredients. She wondered why do we do that instead of just not eating those things anymore. Why do we feel the need to replace everything with something similar? I see her point, because sometimes we just trade one thing for something else that may not be good for us. I've been thinking about it a lot, and I think that food is, for some people, something that is very intimate - it's a relationship. If you broke up with your boyfriend, you wouldn't want to replace him with a potted plant, even though it may be healthier for you. You want to find another boyfriend, another person to connect with. Someone similar, but without the traits you hated in the guy you dumped.
Humans are also creatures of habit! For some, there is so much comfort in the routine and ordinary it's hard to change. And there's also the fact that some of the things we eat we just don't want to eliminate because we really like them that much. But when your health is compromised, you have to make a choice.
I have seen a gradual improvement in my health, but it's time to take it to the next level. I KNOW I feel better when I don't eat a lot of carbs - I am not ravenously hungry all the time, am satisfied longer between meals, and often have more energy. I'm also on a budget, so "going Paleo" is going to require good planning and stewardship. I know that God provides when He calls us into anything...whether it's overseas missions or just something as mundane as diet (I can't tell you how many times I've been blessed with gluten free foods, either just given to me or finding them dirt-cheap at the store!). I've recently found Miracle Noodles for 30c a bag at a local discount grocery store.
So, what now? Research. Try new recipes. Do the best I can with what I have. Don't beat myself up when the budget says we have to eat rice this week...several times. Be thankful for what I have, and that God loves me so much He wants to help me be healthy. And try not to miss ice cream too much. And keep hoping that after a season of being grain-free, I can try introducing soaked grains again, because I do so love a good sourdough. Sourdough pancakes were a favorite around here...we even named our sourdough - Jack (after "Sourdough Jack" Mabee). I miss Jack. A lot.
My next bunch of posts will likely be Paleo recipes, either that I've tried or want to. I'd love to hear from you and your experiences with the Paleo lifestyle! Please share your stories, recipes and tips in the comment section!