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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eating Clean

Some of you asked after my muffin post, so I will try to share what I have learned. First, I'm going to admit that I am a beginner at this. So I'm still researching and trying to get a good grasp on this nutrition stuff and the changes I want my family to make. Baby steps. I normally tend to see things black and white. Go hard or go home. I don't inch slowly towards something that I want. I jump into it with both feet. But this change was overwhelming. So as my sister (who planted her own organic garden this past year) kept whispering to me "baby steps, baby steps", I knew she was onto something. This was not a change I could make in 1 day.

So it started about 9 months ago. I recorded an Oprah show because I read that it was on nutrition. I have an interest in all things fitness and nutrition related. I majored in it in college just because I loved it. Though I haven't always followed the rules like a passionate lover of it. And I only worked in the field for less than 1 year, and that includes my internship. Unfortunately, typically, the money made in this field will barely pay your rent. Much less student loans from my beloved, but way too pricey Christian college. But my interest in reading and learning of it has never left me. So I recorded the Oprah show to watch it later. My eyes were opened. I almost felt convicted, dare I even use that word, at the way we feed ourselves so conveniently. So I decided to have Jeremy watch the Oprah show. I figured he would blow it off and no changes would be made. Surprisingly, he was as hooked as I was. We were hooked, but so overwhlelmed. So you know what happened? Not a whole lot. Michael Pollan, the brains behind Food Inc (which I highly recommend you renting tonight!) explained how we eat so much meat these days. So that was a change we made. Less meat. We both realized we could enjoy some filling dinners without meat on our plate. But other than that, no changes were made. We didn't know where to begin. We didn't know anyone knowledgable in the subject. We just had no clue as to what the next step should be. So we didn't take one. We continued with our normal eating. Which included lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats, whole wheat pasta and bread. Generally healthy. But still lots of processed foods such as "healthy" cereal and granola bars, goldfish crackers, cream soups and canned goods to help me out in the kitchen, non-organic milk, eggs and meat. Just a typical diet, I think, that most would call generally healthy.

Fast forward to just 5 months ago. I had a giftcard from my birthday to Barnes and Nobles that I was dying to use. I decided to order online rather than take my 2 babies shopping for books. Having just received the 30 Day Shred video for my birthday, I started looking through Jillian Michael's books. And there I found what began our little baby steps. Here it is. The part that stated "naturally balancing your hormones" is what caught my attention. For obvious reasons, mine are screwed up. And so for me, this was just a weight loss book. I had no clue what the "3 Diet Secrets" would be. Had I known that the subject would revolve around organics and living chemical-free, I probably never would have bought it. Because again, to me that looked overwhelming and crazy expensive! But I made the purchase, immediately began reading and felt so enlightened. Simple things. Things that should have been common knowledge to me. It made perfect sense now. She broke it down and explained it for me. And I ate it up. I read the good stuff to Jeremy. He ate it up. And as simple as that, we were ready for the change. Even if it cost us more dollars. We felt that the health benefits were more than worth it for our family. One little snippet from the book that I loved:

Take our Power Nutrient food tomatoes. God created tomatoes and they have all the cancer-fighting health benefits mentioned above - the best form of medicine with no harmful side effects. Now let's take our little tomato and see what happens to it in the name of capitalism. The tomato is grown conventionally, and sprayed with up to seven kinds of pesticides. Then it is picked too early because it must make the long journey across the country - or across the world - from its original location to your supermarket. Yes, you are now polluting the environment with all the gas used to transport the tomato. But there's more. The tomato is still green because it was picked too early, so now it is sprayed with argon gas (also used to euthanize dogs) to make it turn red prematurely. WOW! We have just taken God's natural medicine and turned it into poison - for us and for our environment. That is why we simply must make efforts to go organic.

The life of a tomato. This one has stuck in my brain. Argon gas? Are you kidding me? If that doesn't make you twinge a bit, then I don't know what to tell you. And we can say things like "I've been eating this way my whole life and I'm fine." Well, I can't actually say that since I was infertile by age 26. Maybe even earlier. And my guess is that most of you can think of 3 others with similar issues. Most of us can count 5 people without spending much time pondering it that are terminally ill with cancer or that have already died from this disease. A disease that was extremely uncommon 50 years ago. But my theory on this whole nutrition thing is To each his own. I do feel a little passionate about it. But it's what I'm choosing for my family. Not anyone else. Eat your Fruit Loops and Doritos until the cows come home. And I'll even partake with you on occasion. :)

And at age 18 my children may decide to eat like CRAP for the rest of their lives. I hope that's not the case, but it's possible. My thinking is that at least they had a foundation of healthy eating. My parents had that foundation also. That was before we shot up our animals with hormones and antibiotics and sprayed our crops with pesticides. Life has changed in the past 50 years. And my generation got screwed from the get-go. Many of us grew up on convenience foods. Thus, my slight feeling of urgency, to begin making positive changes now. 30 years later. And that's where I'm at with clean eating. Learning as I go and still just trying to figure it all out. A friend of mine has recently pointed me towards Tosca Reno. An author of many books/cookbooks on eating clean. So I am just now cracking those open. If I come across some tasty, healthy recipes, you will be the first to know. And as a side note (as if I haven't had enough side notes), we haven't been spending more money since we began buying organic. Amazing how it balances out when you change the way you shop. You take out the processed stuff, spend a little more on the fresh organic foods and it seems to balance itself out.

So my recommendations if you're interested in learning:
1) Come to my house and watch the Oprah show. I still have it recorded. :)
2) Read the book.
3) Watch the documentary.
4) Then you can decide for yourself. And at the end of it all, feel free to stick your head back in the sand. It's always a viable option. :)


The Coopers said...

I LOVED THIS POST OF COURSE!! I love that we are on this journey together. Someones(Mel) a little ahead of others(me) because I believe in those baby steps and still do some processed but only if its organic! Love you!

Bonky's Mom said...

Thanks for sharing! When you have the time, I'd love to hear about your meal planning and what a typical week or even a few days looks like.

Alisa N. said...

That's great Melodie! Thanks for the inspiration! I agree, I would love to hear about your meal planning/typical week. And do you know the name of the Oprah episode? I would like to find it on her archives if I can, or maybe Hulu. Thanks!

Melodie said...

Amy, I totally still do processed things. We are only about 85% there. Tonight we had company for dinner so we had brisket tacos with a store bought marinade. Layered dip with all kinds of processed things. Completely unhealthy and very opposite of organic eating. See we aren't hard core on this. Just learning and trying new things out. And still flexible!

Alisa, the Oprah show was episode 3888. It's titled "Before you grocery shop". You will love it! And you'll love Michael Pollan.

Michael said...

Thanks for the post, we have been looking for some inspiration for a better meal plan. We will try to watch the video soon.

everyday graces said...

Love this post! You rocked it! I REALLY need to watch Food Inc. (sigh) I'm just a little scared. I think you should post some of your meals whether it's breakfast lunch or dinner! I've fallen off the wagon a little. I'm trying to regain my composure and get to it!

Brett and Erin said...

so interesting-- I look forward to more posts on this subject =)

adrianne + will said...

Great post! We've stalled out on going to the grocery store for the past week and now I am pumped to head to the farmer's market instead. Hoping to follow in this path of eating more organics and more healthfully so that we can set our children on the right path from the start.

Lindsey said...

Yes, I'm with you. It's baby-steps here. Definitely not 80 or90 percent, but I do at least have my concscience at play. I've seen Food Inc and King Corn, and read Animal Vegetable Mineral (Barbara Kingsolver). I agree with much of what's presented in those and your post. Our organic and local options feel pretty limited but I know they are better than what's available in some places. We buy farm-fresh eggs and I at least make an effort to purchase "ground in store" meat (I haven't made it as far as plunking down hundreds for a 1/4 side of organic beef yet).

I will look forward to your recipes. One thing I've cut out almost entirely is convenience foods like boxed dinners and canned soups. I also make a conscious effort to avoid HFCS and items loaded with tons of preservatives and food colorings.

Michael said...

Just watched Food Inc. Wow...We will definitely be making changes in our grocery shopping and meal plans.