I’m a Real Food nerd. As in the glasses wearing, up late at night, armed with my laptop and cup of herbal tea, researching to my heart’s delight, kind of nerd. A “crazy hippie” as my family has lovingly named me. And I truly love talking about and helping others; on their own health journey; but that’s just what it is…a journey. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide that I was only ever eating organic vegetables and grass fed meat for the rest of time….ok, well maybe after a Ben and Jerry’s binge once or twice, but that wore off the next morning…at breakfast. I truly admire you people who can make good health decisions before the crisis happens; I’m just not one of you. It’s my stubborn streak, I suppose – the force runs strong in our family. No, for me it took several “incurable” health crises to rethink things and make adjustments. And for so long, they weren’t even permanent adjustments. I would go back and forth with my diet, hoping that something had changed and I could go back to my beloved processed, sugar-laden, refined carb rich diet. We had been so good together for so long! Why God, why?!? And then I had enough.
I was in pain. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at 17 and the flare ups were wretched. I was sick all of the time to the point my Dr. told me I really couldn’t take any more antibiotics for awhile. My immune system was wrecked. Then the digestive issues, food intolerances, etc started. After going back and forth with my diet for several years, I was done. I was done with the drugs masking the issue; I was done with my stomach being in almost constant pain and distended to the point I looked 4 or 5 months pregnant every time I ate. I was done with the numbness and stabbing pain down my legs every time I had a flare up. So, I finally submitted to the journey and I can honestly tell you I’m not sorry. The fibromyalgia flare ups stopped…it’s been at least 8 years since I had one. I still have stomach issues, but they are so much better today because I know my food triggers. I don’t take any medication and I haven’t been sick in years.
My dietary challenges made me pull back from the food world I was used to and made me really start taking a good look at what was in my food. I’ll admit that at first I was just trying to swap out my box of processed sugar cereal for an organic or gluten free box of…well…processed sugar cereal. And I did that for awhile, but one day I realized that even the ingredients in my gluten free foods read as much like a chemistry experiment as the standard box did. Ingredients I couldn’t pronounce and when I looked up what some of those ingredients even were, they were used to manufacture non-food items. Um, what was I eating and why on earth was I eating it? What was in my food anyways? How was it being produced? Where was it even coming from? Why was food making people so sick? So many questions, so much research…enter my inner nerd. My husband and I watched Food, Inc. one evening and it was like being freed from the Matrix! It was like the exclamation point to all of my own research.
It’s where my food world intersected with Intention. I began researching everything I could about ingredients and searching for what truly healthy food looked like. Not “Low Fat” or “Fat Free” or “Sugar Free” “Low Calorie” food, but food that would nourish my body; food that didn’t make me feel bad. There is soooooo much information our there on what to eat, not eat, etc and everyone has a different opinion. It’s actually pretty overwhelming. And there’s “research” for all of it. And I’ve probably tried most of it. It’s maddening and completely confusing and who has time for that? I have a life to live and I don’t want it revolving around food- it had for so long! So I came up with a couple of “basic principles” if you will, of healthy eating to help cut through all of the craziness. Hopefully they help you too!
1) If God made it, you can eat it. Question all substitutes.
Ok, so that might feel too simplistic to some. Just eat things that were intended to be food and nourish your body. You only get one body! This excludes anything that has chemicals, preservatives, dyes, flavor enhancers, artificial anything (sweeteners, flavors, etc.). Put down the boxed food and run away! It’s likely masquerading as food, but isn’t. Deep down, maybe waaaay deep down, you know it’s not good for you…just back away.
2) In as natural a state as possible. Generally, the less ingredients, the better. The 5 ingredient or less rule (and they shouldn’t read like a science project).
For us, that looks like: Adjectives NOT Additives (don’t bust on me for that – I’m proud of that one!): Grass grazed animals that haven’t been given hormones or antibiotics; Organic fruits and veggies whenever possible; Non-GMO everything (yeah, I really don’t like those). There’s more, but you get the point. This is where we are today. It’s not where we started. It’s been a long journey to get there and it didn’t happen all at once, but there are small changes you can make that will make a big difference in your health and in the way you view food. Maybe you aren’t ready for all the adjectives, but maybe you could simply decide to be intentional in your eating…to nourish your body…to eat real food…whole foods. If so much of our health and well-being depends on the food we put in, shouldn’t we be more intentional about it?
Written by Amy Pino
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