My moment of self discovery happened in a series of surprising truths. During the 5 year period of blah, I took a hard look at the things I ate. During this time, I was a personal trainer- helping others come up with healthy meal options. All of the diet choices I was suggesting to my clients were straight from the textbooks. BUT why did I never stop to think about what was IN the “healthy” foods I was eating and recommending? Check out some examples of health food posers from another blog I love: 100 Days of Real Food
These are perfect examples of why you really can’t judge anything by the way it looks on the outside!
|Product||Judging by its cover…||What’s really inside|
|WhiteWheatBread||I used to buy this exact bread up until our real food transition earlier this year. I mean it says “wheat” right on the front so it must be some sort of combination bread or as close to “wheat” as you can get and still be eating white bread, right?||In my opinion this product tackles one of the biggest misconceptions out there when it comes to grains. For some reason “whole-wheat” has been given the nickname “wheat”. But you see, even white flour and white bread are technically made from the wheat plant. It is just ahighly refined version of wheat (after all the good stuff is taken out that is). To truly get the goodness that wheat has to offer it must be “whole-wheat”, and trust me if it is whole it will say it. If something simply says “wheat” then keep on looking.|
|This one is fairly similar to the one above. The front of the box says they are “wheat” and it also says they are made withhoney, which most of us know is a slightly more natural alternative to sugar (although it should still be consumed in moderation).||I don’t want to sound like a broken record so just refer to the product above in regards to the word “wheat” alone not really meaning anything good. Also, when you check the ingredients you won’t even see honey on the list, it does have sugar listed as the third* ingredient though. And make sure you don’t miss the fine print that informs you this product is “artificially flavored” after all. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?|
|Barilla Plus Pasta||Here is another product that I used to fall for as well…thinking it was a great choice for my kids as opposed to just plain white pasta. As it says on the front it is a good source of protein and omega-3. So one could only assume that “non-plus” pasta doesn’t provide these nutrients?||As it turns out the absolute best pasta choice out there is simply just good ol’ whole-wheat (or another whole-grain pasta). There doesn’t need to be any fancy health claims or nutrients added to whole-wheat pasta, because it is naturally packed with the good stuff. This plus pasta product is made with white flour and a few extras, but there is nothingwhole-grain about it.|
|Dole Real Fruit Bites||I actually fell for this one pretty recently…just for a few moments though. The very large words on the front that read “Real Fruit Bites” caught my eye as I am always looking for new real food products that we haven’t tried before.||Once you look a little closer you see the fine print underneath the big words that say “with yogurt” and pretty much any flavored yogurt is full of sugar. It’s not to say that this snack isn’t better than a bag of chips, I am just saying that the wording is a little tricky when the second* ingredient is a yogurt coating that is packed full of sugar!|
I’m living the same life as I was previously, but now I’m empowered. That’s what I want for you, too.
Here’s the story:
All of my life, as you’ve read, I’ve been tremendously lucky to have had the influence of informed parents. I’ve been what our culture would likely label as “healthy”. I ate low fat and fat-free everything. I would exercise every day and wasn’t overweight. However, I suffered from a food allergy which I still haven’t been able to identify (but I don’t need to now!), I felt tired most days, and lacked energy. I had blood tests and the results showed everything was perfectly normal. I just didn’t feel great. This went on for about 5 years. Finally, I felt frustrated with why I never felt quite right. This, coupled with multiple family friends’ recent diagnosis of cancer, made me determined to learn what was going on. So, I started researching, watching documentaries, following blogs of different diet stories, reading success and failure stories, and experimenting with myself. Finally I came to the conclusion: INGREDIENTS!
If you’re like me, I always check the nutrition facts of the food I eat. I would typically pass on things with high cholesterol, fat or calorie content. Which resulted in my eating most things labeled: low sugar, sugar free, fat-free, low fat, high in protein, high in fiber, etc. Never once did I look at the ingredients. I know now, that was very foolish.
Our culture was and is wrong, the things that I grew up hearing and learning are simply not true. Watching Forks Over Knives changed my life. I’m curious about what you think, too!
Ready for another piece of my life that my coworkers would laugh about? I raised cows for years. I’m talking pick a calf when it’s 3-5 months old, break it to lead, feed it every day, put a halter and leash on it, brush it, bathe it, leave the radio on for it, give it a name, learn showmanship tactics, put pictures in your room of it, win some prizes, then sell for $$$. No, you didn’t do this growing up, too? hmmmm…
Well, raising, showing and selling calves eventually lead to helping me put a down payment on my first home! It also helped me gain some serious perspective. Besides the fact that I got to do this with my dad, (which was great since it was the time we spent together) I learned a lot about how to raise an animal fit for human consumption. Have you seen Food, Inc.? Watch it if you haven’t. Then think seriously about how an animal can be raised in those conditions, eating and breathing what it does and then you think eating it is good for you? We’ll talk more about this later.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I also participated on my High School’s FFA (Future Farmers of America) Plant Pathology Team. I won’t bore you with details, but if you care to know what plant path is all about, this article sums it up nicely. The quick and dirty is- I learned about plant diseases, how to create an environment for healthy plants, and the effects of heavy uses of pesticides and insecticides are doing to our soil- and our bodies! Years later, I learned about how we’re producing produce now. Bring on the next documentary: Food Matters!
Little did I know that my formidable years taught me everything I’m so passionate about in my adult life. Very cool.
This post is dedicated to my first show calf, Elvis. I know you made many people’s top 5 burger list…
As aforementioned, my journey to learning what health is started bumpy. As my friends would let me try some of the goodness they brought to school for lunch, I became worldly. I surprised myself though by hating anything carbonated. I thought for a long time something was terribly wrong with me (good thing there wasn’t WebMD in the 90′s) because I couldn’t drink it. I tried desperately to casually sip the fizzy stuff while at birthday parties or friend’s houses- made me gag every.time.
Meanwhile, on the home front, my middle sister had developed enough hand-eye coordination and brain cells that she could do what I asked. This is when she became my minion. Score.
All the while, I continued to eat farm-fresh while at home and just assumed it’s what everyone else did, too (in addition to all the good stuff they brought for lunch). Life went on- I continued eating my packed lunches and on the weekends I spent every second outside. On our farm we raised cows, horses, pheasants (my dad felt the need to re-populate this thinning species), chickens, sheep and a large garden. Plenty to keep me occupied! I loved it all, and learned so much.
A few years pass, we moved from our farm house to a home closer to “town” (approx. 2,311 people make this place). We kept our farm though and visited occasionally. Skipping ahead to my teen years (I posted a pic of me as a teen here, but immediately regretted it and took it down) we became so busy that the time my family might have spent outside was now filled with 3 school-aged girls and their very involved lives. This was the very definite period of switching from Farm-Fresh to Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart graced my small hometown with it’s presence in early 2000- bringing many products to us which previously required travel. A nice convenience. However, my mom, being the health police she is, still ruled with an iron fist. No Little Debbie or Lunchables in my house. Instead, we shopped Wal-Mart’s produce, meat (all skinless, and lean) and dairy (skim milk and low fat cheeses and yogurts). We also bought many of the stores “healthy” packaged snacks, too. We were healthy, right? Not exactly…..
Upon a recent personal quest to discover what the $%^&! is happening to our health as Americans, I stumbled upon some interesting information. Information that can cure us of almost everything that’s wrong with us today. Reverse all causes for medication, gain more energy, and most important- feel GREAT. This is exciting.
So, what is the easy answer to it all you ask? I’ll get there. First, let’s talk about why I began my search. I’ll bet we have some things in common:
I grew up in relatively rural West Virginia. Upon moving to a large city, I’ve gained some insight and realized many of the things I considered as a normal way of life in WV, made me weird in civilization. You ready? First, I was raised on a farm and being the oldest of 3 girls there was about a 5 year span of my life I spent being best friends with an Australian Shepherd and German Short haired Retriever. We had some great times together, exploring the unknown i.e. my mom’s morning glories, hiding from said mother underneath deck ( a whole new world under there!) rolling down hills, riding around on their backs, and general running about. It was a great life!
Around age 5 however, things started to change. I had to go to school, met people who didn’t look like my other friends (now I understand the difference between animals and people, thank you) and ate school lunch. This may not seem like a life-changing event to you, but it was to me- strawberry milk (what the?!?!), pizza for breakfast(!!!), tater tots (???). Even more interesting was what my fellow classmates brought from their homes: lunchables, desserts like I’ve never seen (all with the nice lady, Little Debbie’s face on them), bread without crust, and cans of soda pop!!!