Here on our little hillside, in WV, we try to live a simple life. One where we can try to make the best decisions in regards to what we feed our family, and where we source our foods. We try to make green decision that are not only good for our family but for our community and planet as well. There is no place I would rather raise a family, than these WV hills! So I guess it is our responsibility to preserve them, and our heritage.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Stop cheating on your health!!

I have always been very interested in the types of foods in which I eat.  Until I had my daughter, I could always justify "cheating" and eating something I knew to be unhealthy.   I have ate it before, one time won't hurt, everyone else eats it and they are fine, every excuse you could imagine, I used.  I knew that no one was really watching what I consumed and holding me accountable, but me.  I could easily fall victim to advertisements that said I should be eating this new cool food that everyone else has tried, or indicated that I am either the weird one or cheap one, because I had not given in yet.   I only bought organic in stores when I could afford to, and still ate foods I knew were harmful to my health, like processed meats and the fast food.
Since having my daughter, I have someone who I am accountable for.  She holds me accountable for myself, and because I have to make decisions that are in her best interest,  how can I justify eating something bad.  It is okay if mommy hurts herself by eating something bad, but I can't let baby have a taste because it is so bad.  What a yummy prepackaged processed cream filled snack cake, sorry baby!  How hypocritical!   Since I have cleaned up my eating, not only have I lost all my pregnancy weight, I have lost an additional 30 lbs.  That is 65 lbs. total in the last year.  
We eat from our yard when possible, from our local farmer, and buy the staples at the local grocer.  I try not to buy anything that I can make myself.  This includes mac and cheese, pancake, brownie or cake mixes, frozen meals or pizzas, etc.  I make almost everything from scratch, and try to eat whole foods as much as possible.  I normally leave the store with dairy, meat and veggies, with a few extras here and there.  I still have some items I purchase because I have yet to find a replacement for them, like certain toddler friendly finger foods, but I will!  
We grow, forage, or hunt for whatever foods we can throughout the year.  We purchase other foods for canning from a local farmer who is a good friend.  We purchase pork from a local 4-Her, beef from my cousins farm down the road, and eggs from local farms.  We are very lucky to be able to do this, but we also sacrifice our time to ensure we feed our family the best we can.  We can keep our grocery bill fairly low thanks to our preservation efforts.  I prefer to know what is in my food.  Now thanks to the new BPA free Ball Canning lids, we don't have to worry BPA in our veggies.  I purchase what is out of season at the store if I need to or if we run out of something before the next years season rolls around.  For the most part I can purchase all the groceries we need plus the staples (diapers,soap, toilet paper, paper towels, etc)  for about $50-$60 a week.  It is amazing how much you save when you stop buying junk!  Junk adds up fast...soda, chips, cookies, snacks, frozen meals, boxed goodies, processed meats....there is about $40 worth of junk in this list!
We don't skip the sweets, they are just homemade!

Some people think I am too strict, other think I am crazy.  I just think I am trying to make informed healthy decisions for my family.  I try to limit preservatives, GMO's, MSG, sodium nitrate, excess sodium, dyes, fake sugars, etc.  We can't avoid everything, especially in our very rural area, with few grocery stores.  We do have the rare meal out, and we do buy the occasional treat.  We have made a lifestyle change.  We have always known what foods to eat, but always gave into convenience.  Since I am accountable for the health and well being of the entire family, not just myself, I can't use price and convenience as an excuse anymore. When I saw this article,  and another where it showed families around the worlds weekly grocery bills ranging from ~$30 to $500+.  I was a little more aware of my choices, and those of others around the world.  I know that as long as we are capable of providing our family plenty of nutritious foods, we are blessed!  We shouldn't be made to feel ashamed because we are not giving our kids the latest juice box, or sugary treat.  We need to be more cautious of what is in the food we provide and where it comes from.  I understand convenience, cost and time, but we have to start making informed choices as consumers or the market is never going to change.  It is vital to our health and future even more now with the introduction of Genetically Modified foods into the market place.  (foods manipulated with the DNA of bacteria, viruses, or animals)
I had worked the last 5 years, prior to having my daughter, in a Pre-K classroom.  As part of the curriculum, we had to eat "family style" meals with our students.  This included sitting around the table with them, sharing the same food that was provided by the school system.  Over these 5 years, I saw my weight gradually rise, and my health get progressively worse.  My cholesterol was going up, my triglycerides were raising, I was becoming pre-diabetic!  This was a requirement of my job, and could only be avoided with a doctors note.  Seeing as processed foods have been linked to Auto immune disorders, I think we need to take a serious look at the school lunches provided for our children.  Whole foods are served as sides and on a salad bar that is not accessible to all students.  The farm to school initiative is a great start, but we need to educate our children on the importance of good wholesome foods.  I personally saw very few parents who packed a healthy well balanced lunch for their kids.  I know in this day and age, it is hard to get your child to eat something good for them when they are subjected to endless TV commercials that tell them how cool the junk they eat is.   Yes, a lunchable is easy, but the only healthy thing it offers is the cheese.
Not only is this food being pushed on our children, it is highly addictive.  It is not nutritious, and completely unhealthy.  They know it, we know it, but we keep buying it!  Why?    Isn't our health worth the time and effort?  If your health and eating habits affect your children, both genetically and by influence, shouldn't we make it a priority?   What you make a habit of eating can influence the health of your grandchildren.  We need to start breaking this cycle of addiction.  Start buying whole healthy foods for your family.  Maybe start introducing new fruits, to your kids, maybe try a new food a week until you can phase out the junk.  Instead of hotdogs, try a new crock pot recipe with whole meats and veggies, or go meatless for a night a week.  That would be far healthier than eating the processed, nitrate ridden hotdog on a nutrient depleted bun, with a gob of GMO laced HFCS and sodium loaded ketchup.  Swap the soda for water.  I know it is hard to find time to prepare and cook healthy meals and snacks in our busy hectic worlds, but this really should be a priority.  Educate yourself on the negative effects of the foods you eat.  Take a serious look at the health problems in your family.  We are sometimes even told by a Doctor to change our diets, but we don't because we are addicted to the sweet/ salty, convenience of the junk.  Stop giving in to media pressure to eat out and buy crap.  Spend some time in the produce isle, or better yet local farmers market.  Or heck, take the kids to visit a farm.  Read your labels.  Learn about the effects of GMO's and fight for your right to know if you are eating any, demand labeling!
If we rely on these big corporations to provide us with wholesome nutritious foods for our families, we are in big trouble.  To them the dollar, and stock prices are far more important than the health of your family.  So quit abusing the authority and power we have as consumers.  If we stop buying bad foods and start supporting your local farmer.  You as a consumer can make the change needed.  Start by changing your eating habits, and your families.  Lead by example.  Forget the snickers and grab a banana.  (and I am by no means asking anyone to give up chocolate!)  I have found that eliminating the temptation helps.  If healthy food is the only option it is easier to choose.  Be strong!  You have an addiction you are trying to break, and breaking that addiction in a child can take extreme patience and strength.  Read labels, and support organic brands.  I have been buying my daughter the Annie's Homegrown cheddar bunnies, they contain far better ingredients than goldfish, and no GMO's.  Just be aware of your decisions and know that your hard earned dollar speaks volumes when you spend it.  Sacrifice an hour worth of reality TV a night and find new healthy recipes your family can try, or cook together.  Start a family recipe book, let the kids help plan the weekly menu to help encourage their healthy changes.  Let your kids plant some veggies, if they grow it, they might be more tempted to try it.  If you prep all your fruits and veggies and have them ready to eat in containers, it makes snacking and cooking easy.  Made some homemade dips for them too, to change up the flavors.   Just be informed and aware, and make an effort to eat better.  We owe it to the future generations.  Fighting the junk is hard.  I know, but your family is worth it.  Here's a small glimpse at how some of our healthy eating looks

This weeks dinner menu included....
Monday: Roast ( with the last of the venison, local potatoes, carrots & garlic, and celery & onion from our garden)  
Tuesday: leftovers
Wednesday: Tacos with venison burger, homemade taco seasoning, garden tomatoes & lettuce, and homemade taco sauce.
Thursday: Taco pizza with homemade crust ( great use of leftovers)
Friday: Pork chops local potatoes and local broccoli

What could be found on my grocery list:  
cheese ( cheddar, cottage, cream, mozzarella, etc)
butter (not margarine)
spices/ baking soda/powder
yogurt (organic)
peanut butter
organic snacks

What we provide for the year: (we grow, get locally, hunt or purchase locally)
green beans
tomato products (spaghetti sauce, pizza & taco sauce, ketchup, salsa)
pickles, pickled peppers/cauliflower

Any small change is good and always leads to another good healthy choice. Good Luck!