Finding our [food] Groove

I’ve really been into nutrition lately. I’ve been doing all sorts of research on food. On the one hand, it has been really fun and interesting; on the other, it’s about as frustrating and unhelpful as infant advice when you are a first time parent. Everything you read seems to contradict each other, even though each source has valid points and seemingly extensive research. So I’ve just been kind of taking it all in, talking to Jordan, praying, and trying to figure out where we stand in regards to how we eat and how I should feed my family. I’ve been fascinated to talk to all sorts of people about their views on food, what they think about some of the latest food trends (Paleo, Whole30, Gluten Free, etc). I love learning about what other people have processed regarding this topic! I enjoy being challenged in some of the view points I have come across, and have probably considered each one.

Over the past year I have gone sugar-free for awhile, I did gluten-free, and dairy-free for a little bit. I did Weight Watchers for a few months last fall (which is actually what launched me into finally losing the baby weight). I’ve read about Paleo, G-free, dairy-free, eating whole foods, homemade and DIY everything, etc. I’ve watched Food Inc., read articles about foods banned in other countries that are allowed in the US, have read and used the More-with-Less cookbook; I have looked into Nourishing Traditions, shopped at an Amish market, and have read some stuff on the opposing end too (meaning stuff that says processed food is ok, organic is a way to make money, etc).

Phew. I certainly have not exhausted my resources, but I wanted to share where we’ve landed, at least for now. I know that there will be judgies who read this, and I half-expect preachy comments. But I decided that I wanted to be able to look back on this one day, and want to share it with others in hopes to encourage. I would love to hear or read someone share some of this stuff, so maybe this will help someone else out there today.

I also wanted to follow up a bit from this blog post, where I talked about my mission to kind of “clean up” our eating and make nutritious, holistic efforts to care for our health and build our immune systems.

So here is what I have/haven’t stuck to, results we’ve seen, and what we have ultimately decided about our food theory:

I have made my own cleaning products and laundry detergent. I think I will keep doing this, simply because it is so much cheaper!! (However, if anyone has any advice as to how to make laundry detergent without having to shave a bar of soap, I gladly welcome it.)

I have been taking a daily super-food multivitamin from Whole Foods. I haven’t gotten sick even once in the past 3 months since I started this, so that is something! Riley and I were getting sick every other week for months straight. But you know, it is summer (aka not sick season), so that could be why. Regardless, I will keep taking these vitamins.

I haven’t made anything fermented.

I have quit using self tanner (for the most part). But that has less to do with chemicals and more to do with working through my tanorexia ;). I had purchased a couple of all natural self tanners on discount in the beginning though through Lavera, but they made my skin itch!

Eating more organic/local is what has been the toughest debate for us. It is so crazy expensive! I know that people say it’s worth the cost because you are saving long term on health expenses, and I get that. I even agree with it. But… that is easier to live by when you have a substantial salary. When you actually can afford it. Even in my most modest grocery trips and simple meals, the truth of the matter is that we just cannot afford to eat this way all the time.

After much stressing over our budget, I had to think about the choices that we’ve made and the sacrifices that come with it.

Even before we got pregnant with Riley, Jordan and I decided that I would stay home full time as a mom. This is not what is the best choice for everyone; I’m not saying that is the way everyone should do it. But I do know without a doubt that it is the absolute best choice for us. And with that choice comes sacrifices. Families that have working moms and/or two working parents have to make sacrifices too. That is kind of what choices are about anyway. We make choices for or against certain things and that comes with consequence, sacrifice, or compromise.

One of the ways that we have sacrificed for me to stay home with Riley is obviously income. We live off one ministry salary, so we have to make several different adjustments for that to work. One example is that we live in a small two bedroom apartment instead of owning a house. Another example is that we vacation through airbnb or generous friends offering their homes – we look for ways to save money on vacation. But another way that we are going to have to sacrifice is that I am not going to be able to feed my family the way that I ideally would like to.

This is what life is like. We count the costs and move forward with our choices, knowing what they imply. Sometimes we don’t have a choice and life is just about survival. But sometimes (especially for those of us in America) we decide which sacrifices we are or are not willing to make in order to live a certain way.

The way we eat is a sacrifice that I am willing to make in order to stay home and keep Jordan working in ministry.

We cannot live on a ministry salary, renting a small apartment, trying to get out of school debt, and eat grass fed beef. We just can’t.

In order to eat more local/organic/raw/homemade (can we just refer to it as LORH?) long term, we are going to have to lower our food standards a little bit short term in order to get to a more financially free place to eat and shop like that. As we save money on food, we put it towards debt and savings, and one day we will hopefully be free to purchase LORH food regularly.

All I can do is the best that I can with what we have. I can’t do the best I can in a way that is living outside of our means.

So what I will do is this:

I will still visit the local farmer’s market and will buy a few things here and there. Not enough to break our budget, but at least I’m supporting our local farmers in some way.

I will try to make my own bread. I haven’t attempted this yet, but I have high hopes! So long as they are not shattered, this is actually a hobby I would like to take on and it will be healthy for our family :).

I will try to limit our intake of white refined sugar and convenience foods, but I’m ok with us eating them in moderation.

I will feed my family as many vegetables and fruit as I possibly can.

I will shop at Aldi and get major bang for our buck. I mean, seriously. My grocery bill yesterday was $74, and that included TONS of produce (squash, cucumbers, celery, green bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, 2 packs of strawberries, grapes, watermelon, pears, and kiwi), a few different meats, snacks, canned goods, AND toiletries! I know, I know: pesticides! chemicals! But I bought some produce wash from Trader Joes, so hopefully that will help. We couldn’t afford to eat this much produce organic, so I count it a gift and I am thankful for Aldi and it’s incredible prices.

I will try to find the balance between not becoming a conspiracy theorist, assuming the FDA is the devil; but also not just blinding accepting all the “approved” foods and ingredients in the US and trusting whatever they say.

And who knows, maybe in a few years from now you will find me making my own butter and cheese, with a refrigerator full of local produce and a freezer that holds nothing but grass fed meat.

For those of you who have been doing research and figuring out your food groove too, I provide this for your entertainment: Enjoy 🙂