The Vegan Roundup

So, did I end up sticking with the vegan thing?

Drum-roll please…

No.

But I ended up in a great place!

Full disclosure, I didn’t finish up the whole month of purely vegan eating – I ended after 3 weeks. But it was after consulting with Stacy.

After two great weeks of vegan eating where I felt good and full and enjoyed what I was eating, it got much harder. Primarily because my daily life just got harder. Copeland went through (and is still going through) the 4 month sleep regression, Riley started going through potty regression, and Jordan went out of town for 7 days. In my sleep deprived state, constantly nursing an infant and cleaning up toddler potty accidents, it was pretty difficult to keep up with all of the food prep I would need to do to. And what started happening was that if I didn’t already have enough stuff prepared, I just wouldn’t feed myself enough, in order to try and stay faithful to the project. That is no good. I told Stay that I was having a hard time keeping myself fed and was feeling hangry and she said, “hangry = scary.”

She also said, “I’m so glad you committed to this month, but it was a big jump… It’s a big jump for the body, mind, and adjusting to schedule/cooking. I’m all about big jumps – as our bodies need the foods you’ve been fueling them with for good health, but sometimes big jumps can be hard.
After this month I hope that you’ll keep tons of plants in your diet for long-term health (keeping cholesterol low, preventing heart disease, cancer, and remaining low on toxic stuff), but that of course, doesn’t mean you need to be vegan. I adjusted to this lifestyle and can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s what I crave. But, you can be absolutely healthy keeping the base of your diet the way it is and adding in some of your favorites from the past if you desire.”

Talking to Stacy was exactly what I needed. I decided to add a little meat back into my diet and if I was hungry, I would eat even if it meant I wasn’t eating a strictly vegan diet.

I don’t feel that I was unfaithful to the project, I still came away with what I had hoped! Which is a better habit of fueling my body with the right foods. I will eat meat, but much less of it. I am trying to focus on what I do want to eat (more plant foods!), and trying to cook at home more frequently, with whole and nourishing foods.

I will say that I have found many times (even before this project) that dairy seems to have a big affect on me. I have stomach pain any time I consume a beverage with milk or eat anything with a high density of cheese or sour cream. So moving forward, I am going to still try to limit my dairy intake.

Part of why I wanted to go to the extreme of veganism was because I knew that if I could accomplish vegan, then it would seem all the easier to land where I actually wanted to – at a more whole foods, plant based diet than I had been eating. And it happened – since I had adjusted to veganism, it really isn’t hard to now take a few steps back and still stay on the healthy track!

In our last conversation about the project Stacy said:
“I’m beyond happy that you feel as though you have a transformed view on the way you eat and treat your body. That’s exactly what I desire for anyone I work with or simply relate to about food. Like you said, its SO fine you’re not sticking with a vegan diet, because the point is sticking to a sustainable lifestyle where you fuel your body well so you can feel well and perform the responsibilities God has given you each day with greater ease and joy rather than being bogged down with unnecessary health issues.”

And I think that is the perfect summary for this project! Moving forward I am trying to maintain a sustainable lifestyle where I fuel my body well. I’m so grateful to Stay for helping me to get there!

If you have been wanting or trying to work towards a more whole foods, less processed diet but really struggle to get there (like I did), I highly recommend Stacy’s services! Let’s be honest, sometimes these things are just difficult to achieve on our own. To learn more about how consulting with Stacy works, you can read more here.

And even if you’re not interested in enlisting her services, you should check out her blog! I love this article on why counting calories will not serve us.

Again, I just want to point out that this is not a sponsored post. Stacy has not asked me nor paid me to promote her services. I just simply love what she is doing and have benefited from it in my own life, so I want to pass it on! I am also proud of her for taking a long growing passion of hers and turning it into a business that blesses others. Stacy, you are such a gem in this world and I am blessed to know you!

Thanks for following along on this experiment!

KM.

Also: breakfast cookies and combinations of sweet potatoes & black beans are now on constant rotation in this household!

Ruining My Family, One Non-Organic Meal at a Time

This morning, the crazies emerged again.

Picture: Me sobbing to the point where my husband (sweet man that he is) cut his morning routine short in order to console me. He asks what’s wrong, and through sniffles I answer (as if it’s obvious), “I’m ruining our family!” And in that moment, I really believed it.

This particular set of crazies were spawned on by one of those condescending articles that people post on Facebook in order to “educate” Facebook world, particularly moms. You know what I’m talking about:

“You’re ruining your children by not doing enough interacting play with them!”
“You’re ruining your child by doing too much interactive play with them!”
“You’re ruining your children by letting them watch even 3 seconds of TV!”
“You’re ruining your child by swaddling them!”
“You’re ruining your child by not breastfeeding them!”
“You’re ruining your child by sending them to daycare!”
“You’re ruining your child by sleep training!”
“You’re ruining your child by attachment parenting!”
“You’re ruining your child by sending them to public school!”
“You’re ruining your child by sending them to private school!”
“You’re ruining your child by homeschooling them!”
“You’re ruining your child by letting them see you on an iPhone!”
“You’re ruining your child by not feeding them all organic food!”

Mom guilt is such a real and nasty thing. A friend of mine who is about a year and a half into parenting recently admitted that she didn’t understand the whole “mom guilt” thing until she became one. She was surprised by how quickly it snuck up on her.

It’s one thing to be convicted of something you might need to do differently, I mean we could all use some growth and changing in many areas of our lives. But mom guilt is a taunting voice that follows you around, telling you that you are never enough and are never doing enough. It tempts you to believe something wrong about your identity.

Food has always been the one that gets me. I don’t really know why, but my largest area of insecurity in motherhood has always been how I feed my child. From nursing to baby food to solids, I’ve always questioned myself, feeling hard pressed by so many differing opinions.

When Riley was an infant (and once when she was a toddler), there were a couple of months when she dropped weight percentiles and the doctor was concerned about it. I was put on a strict mission to “fatten her up, whatever it takes!” I felt like it was my fault. I must have been accidentally starving my baby! I would get really emotional about it. So I fed my picky eater cheeseburgers and milkshakes, whatever I could do to bring her weight up. And then I would feel guilty for feeding her those foods. So I would try the healthier route, and she wouldn’t eat. So then I would feel like a failure.

I remember being surprised by my own answer when asked what the most surprising difficult thing about motherhood has been. “Feeding her/meal planning.” I would have never expected that.

Thankfully, Riley loves and eats a lot of healthy food now: avocados, blueberries, raspberries, apples, grapes, bananas, peas, greenbeens, greek yogurt, chicken, eggs, almond milk, and smoothies. But just when I start to feel encouraged by that, BAM! I’m whacked over the head with the “you’re ruining your child by not feeding them all organic!”

Now don’t get me wrong, I get it. I understand that our government allows a lot of things to be done to food in America that is not good for us. I know that there are chemicals and pesticides and that processed food can be harmful. I’ve watched Food Inc. I’ve read 2998203982 articles. I’ve done the research. I realize that a grass-fed, cage free, hormone free, organic, local, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet is probably the healthiest way to eat. I even tried it for a little while! The problem is, it costs an arm and a leg (and perhaps even a nose). And we don’t have an arm, leg, and a nose to give right now.

I constantly feel this tension between wanting to feed my family well and wanting to be frugal and honor our budget well.

“You’re not enough.” “You’re not doing enough.” “You’re ruining your child,” the mom guilt taunts.

She’s mean.

Speaking of mean, know what else is mean? Posting these condescending articles on social media. For the love, can we mamas please stop doing this to each other? If there is something you have learned that you care a lot about and are worried for friends or family of yours, will you just send them the link, individually? Will you just have a conversation with them about it?

I am thankful that I do have friends who care about eating organically and healthy who have approached it in such a loving way. I have one friend who has exchanged articles back and forth with me but has never once offended me with the way she talks about it. She even started researching with me on how to eat well on a budget. That is loving. Or another friend who opened up in such a kind manner when I asked her about it and never treated me like I am inferior.

Why do we feel the need to publicly “educate” social media world on something with our finger pointed at everyone else?

On that note, if you see a mom that you care about today, give her a hug and tell her, “good job! Motherhood is tough, and you’re doing your best. Rock it!”

And be comforted that we all get the crazies from time to time ;-).

KM.

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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: http://www.nwedible.com/2012/08/tragedy-healthy-eater.html. Enjoy 🙂

KM.

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