Food Safety vs Nourishment

There are two completely different philosophies when it comes to food. Of course there are those who don’t think much about food at all, which I find rather sad. Yesterday I listened to this presentation by Joel Salatin called Dancing With Dinner, where he expounded upon that exact topic. If you haven’t heard him speak you are in for a treat, I’m telling you!!! Listen to it. I just had it playing in the background as I worked around the house.

But this post isn’t about our lost reverence for food.

What I’ve been contemplating lately is how those of us who take food issues seriously take one of two basic approaches to the topic :: Food Safety or Nourishment.

Safety is crucial of course — although what that means varies from person to person. I am all for safe food and I commend those who are fighting to keep our food supply safe, even if I don’t always agree with the methodology.

But those of us who buy into this “real food movement” — which is really just about getting back to a more traditional way of eating — believe that food should be much more than just safe.

I propose that food should be nourishing. In fact, I would go so far as to say that food should be our medicine — or at least our first line of defense.

Food shouldn’t just keep us from starving. Food should nourish our bodies and minds. And it should be cherished and enjoyed. That is what it was designed for, after all.

But with the industrialization of our food supply,  it seems we have lost all appreciation for what food can do. Instead, we’ve reduced it to the lowest common denominator, and our chief goal is to make sure it is free of bacteria and foreign organisms — and by so doing, we eliminate most healthful benefits it might have ever had.

pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later

I am still learning. I’m a product of a typical American home, although my mom was more conscientious than most when it came to our food. But I still didn’t really have an appreciation or even a basic understanding of the depth and breadth of the benefits of whole foods until I discovered Nina Planck and Joel Salatin and Sally Fallon.

For example, did you know?

1. Onions boost good cholesterol, help thin blood & ward off blood clots, help prevent coronary heart diseases, lower high blood pressure, and protect against cancer.

2. Raw garlic reduces risk of cancer, thins the blood (who needs an aspirin a day??), boosts good cholesterol, helps control blood sugar levels, acts as a decongestant, and kills infection-causing bacteria.

3. Carrots boost the immune system and fight lung, colon, esophageal & skin cancers. By the way, carrots are better digested and absorbed when they are cooked and eaten with butter.

4. Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts are cruciferous veggies. These little wonders fight breast, uterine & colon cancers; help ease asthma, arthritis, and hyperthyroidism; and prevent stomach ulcers, osteoporosis, and even morning sickness. (Word of warning: cruciferous veggies are best digested when cooked lightly.)

5. Yogurt and other fermented foods work as antibiotics and immunity boosters, sooth ulcers, and fight yeast infections.

6. Red peppers have twice the vitamin C of an orange, and their high levels of antioxidants that help protect against lung cancer. They also help prevent high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. (These are also highly sprayed and part of the Dirty Dozen, so buying organic is very important. Yes, they’ll set you back a pretty penny. Stock up when they are in season.)

7. Olive oil lowers high blood pressure, helps regulate blood sugar levels, lowers the bad LDL blood cholesterol while boosting good HDL cholesterol, an protects against heart disease. (Quality and a clean source is important.)

8. Brazil nuts have high levels of the important mineral, selenium, which protects against lead and mercury toxicity, and also helps thyroid function. (Some say you should soak your nuts to break down anti-nutrients.)

9. Cinnamon has antimicrobial qualities and combats nausea and upset stomach. It also can stimulate the performance of insulin, helping the body process sugar.

[source] I don’t agree with everything this article says, specifically about replacing animal fats such as lard and butter with olive oil) but there is a lot of great info in here!

10. Butter is rich in an easily absorbable form of Vitamin A, which helps maintain good thyroid and adrenal health. It’s a great source of vitamins E and K and the mineral selenium and helps prevent tooth decay. Add to that, Vitamin D found in butter is essential to absorption of calcium. So butter your veggies! [source]

11. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. FOR REALZ. Apples are rich in dietary fiber, which helps keep you regular. *grin* They also have antioxidant properties, protecting the body from cell damage that leads to heart disease and cancer. They may even protect brain cells against Alzheimer’s. [source] (Also, #1 in the Dirty Dozen. BUY ORGANIC, please. They are easy to find.)

12. Coconut oil benefits the hair and skin, provides stress relief, and helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels. It also aids in digestion and helps the metabolism function effectively. Due to the presence of lauric acid, it has antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing properties. [source] Quality is key. I buy Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil*. In fact, I have it on subscription through Amazon.

13. Raw milk . . . I know. Hold onto your hats! Clean, raw milk from grass-fed cows was actually used as a medicine in the early part of the last century to treat, and frequently cure some serious chronic diseases. I’m dead serious; it is well documented. Read more at The Milk Diet.

14. Organ meats from grass-fed animals are one of the most nutrient-dense foods available and are packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients. Liver is an excellent source of folic acid and iron as well as vitamins A and B; and it contains CoQ10, which is important for cardiovascular function. It protects against cancer adn emphysema, boosts the immune system, provides bone and colon support, improves vision and enhances joint mobility. [source]

It wasn’t that long ago that organ meats were considered a delicacy. I am always amazed at what foods our ancestors prized. I wonder if they knew instinctively how nourishing they were.

15. Fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, lower heart disease risk, improve vision and neural development, and help fight cancer. [source] They may also may also protect against symptoms of depression, dementia, cancer, and arthritis. [source]

16. Chicken stock (ideally homemade from organically raised, pastured chickens) can help reduce inflammation in nasal cells, supports muscle building, and possibly helps reduce abdominal fat. [source] There’s a reason your momma made you chicken soup when you were sick! I try to keep some on hand at all times.

There are SO many more foods that I could mention. I could go on and on and on.

You might notice a theme:

There is no sugar in this list, no processed foods, no imitation or low-fat foods. These are by in large foods that can be found in nature and require very little in the way of preparation.

Don’t get me wrong, we eat our fair share of processed foods in my house. I’m of the opinion that we all have to pick and choose what we are willing and able to do and then come to peace with the rest of it. Very few of us are “doing it all” when it comes to the real food lifestyle, and those who are probably do little else.

Here is what we try to do.

I cook most of our meals from scratch, but there are those nights when I just don’t have it in me to cook so we order a pizza or hoagies. This happens at least once a week.

When I buy processed foods, I buy organic whenever possible and try to select products that have short, recognizable ingredient lists such as tortilla chips and pretzels and Triscuits and pasta.

I make my own bread, but I buy crackers.

I make my own granola, but I buy granola bars and an occasional box of cookies.

I make my own popcorn but I buy cheeses and spreads.

I make my chicken stock but I buy the beef.

I often make my own ice cream but sometime I buy Breyers.

I have a yogurt maker but I’ve never used it. (I buy our yogurt from a local farm.)

I DO refuse to buy soda or fruit juice. You’ve gotta draw the line somewhere!

But I don’t ferment my foods, soak my grains or grind my own wheat. And I don’t cook with organ meats.

Would I like to do all of those those things? Sure!

COULD I do all of those things? Of course I could. But I haven’t made them priorities, and I am at peace with that. For now. Only time will tell.

It’s a process, and we’re all at a different point, and we all have different priorities. I don’t write this post to sound like I have arrived, or to make anyone feel like lesser of a wife or mom or person because they aren’t where I am on this journey.

But I do think this information is important and worth thinking about.

And I do think we can all stand to do better (myself included . . . oh how I am included!!!)

With so much prepared food readily available, why bother?

I have seen so many of my family’s medical issues improve with our diet changes over the past couple of years, that I just can’t keep quiet about it. It has been gradual . . . so gradual that I almost forget how sick some of us were.

My son’s asthma is pretty much gone. There was a time when he was almost hospitalized for it every winter.

My digestive issues are in remission. (I don’t dare say cured . . . every time I say that, they crop up again, but they have been NO WHERE NEAR as bad as they once were . . . when I was so debilitated that some days I was unable to care for my family.)

My depression issues are gone. (I believe this is due largely to exercise, more so than our eating habits.)

I used to be sick off and on throughout the winter. I caught every respiratory bug that came down the pike. I also battled chronic bronchitis. These days I only get sick once or twice a year, and it’s usually fairly mild and short-lived — but nothing like the severe, prolonged viruses that would keep me home from work for a week at a time. (Why do I have this horrible feeling that I am jinxing myself here?)

With the notable exception of my husband’s bout with Lyme’s Disease last fall, we haven’t had an antibiotic in this house for years.

Not only does eating well help build a healthy immune system that fights off those nasty germs we come in contact with ever day. But sugar actually depletes the immune system! Seriously. It works AGAINST you. (Not to say that I avoid sugar at all costs, she says as she swallows the last of her Udi’s chocolate muffin . . . ) But it’s a good thing to keep in mind, especially during cold and flu season.

All this to say, I believe our eating habits have SO VERY MUCH to do with our general health and well being. We would all do well to make food purchases and preparations a high priority in our lives.

I’d love to hear from you.

Do you eat for nourishment or just to make it through the day?

If you’re on this real food journey with me, how do you make time for the preparations that are necessary to keep it up? How do you fit it into your budget?

Have you noticed a difference in your health and overall quality of life since making changes in your eating habits?

I’m always encouraged when I hear stories about how food has healed people or improved their quality of life in some way.

*Affiliate link.

Join the Conversation

78 thoughts on “Food Safety vs Nourishment

  1. Love this! I’m bookmarking this as a quick reference guide. I totally agree that food should be our medicine first before reaching for anything that is in a bottle. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I am saving this, as well. Can I just say that I so appreciate your willingness to discuss topics like these without being preachy and while providing helpful links? I think I’ve learned more from you than almost anywhere else. I spend a lot of time researching food these days and that is in part, due to you. We were in a very good place with overhauling the way our family eats and then we moved to a new country. I’m starting over trying to figure out where to get all of the things we want/need here. We’ll get there…..then, we’ll move again 🙂

  3. Great info here!! I agree that our eating habits have a lot to do with our health.
    We have always tried to eat as healthy as we can and since we had our girls it has been more important for us to eat healthy although I have a very picky eater on my hands that will only eat about 5 things while my other daughter will usually eat what we eat. I try my hardest to plan out my meals and cook from scratch as well. I find if I cook a couple meals on Sunday it’s much easier for me. Thanks for the great info.

  4. Fabulous article! I am 53 years old and have been eating organic foods since I was 5! My mom was way ahead of her time, thankfully. I do most of the things you do and we are hardly ever sick with the normal flus and colds. God’s ways are so good.

  5. Hi Jo-Lynne. I just wanted to say, first and foremost, these kinds of posts on your blog are my absolute favorite. When I see your posts about food/nutrition in my timeline, I get all happy. I believe the same things you do about food and how it should be our first line of defense. However, as a mom to a toddler & someone who works f/t outside the home, I find myself still reliant upon a few processed foods on the rushed nights and I definitely struggle to find the time to prepare the kinds of meals I so want to feed my family. It is incredibly hard, but I’m trying to be kind to myself and remember that baby steps are still steps in the right direction and that someday I will get where I want to be.

    I remember, too, that the way my son eats now is vastly different from (better than) the way I ate as a child, so hopefully he will eat well as an adult–in other words, when he’s choosing his own meals and feeding his own family.

    My favorite cookbook right now, as a busy mom of a toddler, is The Six O’Clock Scramble. I’m trying to incorporate one or two meals from it per week. I’m also learning how to use my new juicer. And I’m trying to buy more things organic, even though it means I have to drive far from where I live to do it and thus takes extra time (and money) I don’t really have–until spring when the farmers’ markets start back up again.

    I apologize for the book of a comment, but I just wanted to say thanks for this post & all of your posts like it. I really look forward to them & learn a lot from them.

    1. I’ll check out that book. Even though I’m at home, I’d love to simplify my dinnertime routine. I make a lot of time consuming recipes, just b/c I like them, but I am realizing that I should try to incorporate some easier things too. It makes the whole lifestyle more sustainable, ya know?

  6. i’m somewhere in the middle on this – although i am closer to the nourishment side. i just bought raw milk for the first time ever and really liked. but hubby didnt and marcus didn’t seem to react well to it. plus, it’s illegal to buy/sell in maryland so there’s that 😉 overall though, i TOTALLY agree with you. people have gotten so amped up over “safe” food that they’re getting little nutrition from what they take in. i would even argue that obesity wouldn’t be much of an issue if we all were more concerned with eating more “real food”.

    1. Yeah, if it were illegal, I wouldn’t drink it. And while I am thoroughly convinced of its health benefits, I am also not sure it is worth the very teensy tiny risk of getting very, very ill. I do buy my milk from a farmer I trust, but it comes from 2 hours away, so you have to trust the truck drivers and store workers too. I prefer to drive to a farm (a different, closer one) but it just isn’t always practical.

      And yes, obesity is definitely a serious consideration in all this. We fortunately don’t fight that battle in our family but I know some who do and it is concerning because of the health problems it can cause.

  7. I enjoyed this article. I am looking into foods that fight inflammation these days to help with aches, digestion and weight loss. It is amazing how what we eat affects so much of how we live. Thank you!

    1. There are a lot of foods that fight inflammation (and those that increase it) and I am reading more and more that lead me to believe it is inflammation that is causing heart disease, so it’s definitely worth researching!! Good luck!

  8. Ok….now this? I’m saving. My favorite thing about this article Jo-Lynne is your ability to give me a place to start AND remind me I don’t have to do it ALL right now. I think one of the challenges when you begin to make monumental switches in family eating habits is doing it all at once. Some of the items you have listed seem simple – I can incorporate them or remove them from our diet easily, while others will take some work. If I felt I had to do it all TOMORROW and I would have to battle an unwilling family, I would likely give up.

    We aren’t horrible eaters, but we could be MUCH better. And we need to be.

    You have given me motivation and a starting point. Thank you.

    1. Oh good! That is good to hear, b/c I am an “all or nothing” and “jump in with both feet” kinda gal and I don’t want to overwhelm anyone. I did a lot at first, and then I’ve settled into my rhythm. I had to give up on some things. I wanted to ferment stuff and make kefir and yogurt and grind and soak grains and… I just am not willing to spend THAT much time in the kitchen.

      But doing a pantry clean out (or just letting yourself run out and not replacing some things) and buying more organics and whole foods… that stuff is do-able and doesn’t require you to run all over creation to different stores.

      I also love to order a side of beef and a big order of chickens from a local farm. I stock my freezer and then I don’t have to worry about meat for months AND I know it’s good quality.

      Good luck!

  9. I am so with you! Since discovering I am gluten intolerant, I’ve made dramatic changes to my diet. We’ve always eaten a really healthy diet, but now it is even healthier. Most processed foods aren’t even an option any more. Can I just say I am LOVING how much better I feel, how much healthier my kids are, and how much more I am enjoying what we eat. It was hard to make the adjustments at first, but we’ve all settled into it now and there’s no going back. We haven’t made the switch to getting milk from a farm yet. But I’ve found a delightful market in Orlando that sells hormone and antibiotic free pastured chicken that is killed the day before they sell it. This same market has a wonderful selection of fresh produce–much of it local and organic–and the prices are fantastic! For anyone else who reads this, I hope I can encourage you to take Jo-Lynne’s advice to heart. Eating this way is so much better.

  10. I just have to chime in and say that I appreciate these posts and they are not preachy! Whenever I see a recipe with cream of…. soup in it I immediately substitute “chemical” and I think it’s because of reading that phrase here first! It’s been at least a couple of years since I’ve had any in my cabinet and I’ve found that I prefer a casserole that would have had that in it much better when you make your own white sauce or cream sauce or whatever sauce and replace that other ingredient with homemade. I’d like to try raw milk but it’s illegal here so I’ve been reluctant to buy it. We do buy Organic milk (at the grocery store) from a local farm that’s just a couple of hours away – that change has been awesome!

    Hubby has just been diagnosed with severe Acid Reflux and all the side effects from having that untreated for decades – so we’re having to make some extreme changes around here – no more tomatoes, no more hot peppers (which we all like), no more citrus… that has been a challenge, but the library just emailed that the cook books and info books I put on hold are ready to pickup so glad!

    1. Jenn, I have a lot of issues with that. I am happy to talk to you more. I find that carbs (esp glutenous ones) really bother my reflux. As well as tomato sauce dishes.

      I do keep it at bay without meds. Apple Cider Vinegar – the raw, organic kind by Braggs – a Tbsp in a glass of water always knocks it out. The advice to treat it with that was from my doctor.

      Feel free to email me anytime.

  11. Love this post and how real you are. Your blog was one of the main reasons we made huge food changes. A lot of the others I read scared me and were VERY preachy. You, as always, keep it real. Since we have changed the way we eat I am in awe of how healthy my family is. It is a journey, but one so worth taking!!

  12. Awesome post! I am probably at just about the same place in the journey as you are.. I haven’t checked out raw milk yet but it’s on my list of things to do. Our family is mostly very healthy and I know that it’s because of our diet. I cook most of our meals from scratch and try hard to keep fruits and vegetables as our go-to snack. I love your comments about butter :)! and I’m working on the sugar issue, that is the hardest thing for us!

  13. I love this post. So much information and for a real food newbie like me, definitely a bookmark! I was diagnosised back in August of 2011 with thyroid cancer and went through 2 surgeries, life on no meds for a month, radiation, and now I am doing thyroid suppression therapy (which will be life long) which causes lots of symptoms. I started about 5 weeks ago eating only real foods…since then 90% of my symptoms have disappeared, my hair is growing like a week, nails are getting stronger, and I have dropped about 13 lbs. A stomach bug hit our house last week and I always get what comes around and didn’t this time! I am slowly introducing the real food only meals to my children and husband. They are not doing it as strict as I am, but I am trying to find recipes for their dinners where they can’t tell the difference. If that makes sense. For myself, I am cooking a lot on the weekends, making big batches and dividing them out to meals for me for the week. This has been saving me a lot of time. How to stay on budget? This I have to work on more. Right now, I have been eating the same thing over and over again a week at a time in order to keep the budget low. Cheaper for me to make big batches of something. I’ve been changing it up each week. Now, if I could only figure out how to cook or incorporate carrots into my meals and actually like it, I’ll be doing good! Thanks for the great post and information!

    1. Wow, Carrie, that is quite a testimony to diet changes, especially since they are so recent! Carrots… I’m not a fan but I do eat them roasted without complaint. Have you tried that?

      1. Thanks! I was pretty shocked myself how quickly the symptoms started going way. The first week I did feel quite ill, probably a detoxing of my body? But, then it was pretty amazing. I look forward to checking out your recipes to add some variety to my meals. I’m not a cook and having to learn HOW to cook pretty quickly. I have not tried roasted carrots, I will give that a try tonight for dinner. I have loads of carrots in the fridge and been trying to come up with a way to eat them and not turn up my nose 🙂 Thanks!

  14. So, this is not what you want to hear, and really I know we are the exception, but: our family does not eat spectacularly well and we are by and large very healthy. I know that is rare though, and is not a pass to keep eating crap. We are very lucky to get eggs for $1 a dozen from a coworker of my husband–cage-free chickens! So that is huge. I have finally started buying organic apples because that is something my family eats like crazy. I have greatly reduced our use of “cream of” soups. We usually eat natural peanut butter (Travis bough crappy store brand recently). We’re down to cereal about once a week. But I still rely heavily on stocks (I’ll probably never make my own–time is not worth it right now at least) and convenience snacks and regular milk (whole, no hormones, but from the store).

    I think a huge part of being successful in making these changes is being a team about it. My husband doesn’t want us to get sick and rely on processed foods, but at the same time he cringes at the potential cost (I know it does not all have to be expensive) and is not really able to help out with the added time that goes into making some of these changes. We’re going through 3 gallons of milk every 5 days or so–I can’t afford raw milk! I think I am much more aware of this stuff than he is, so it is just not a big deal to him. We’re working on it, but I don’t know when we’ll really achieve what I would think is a better food lifestyle. So I’ll just keep reading and trying to make small changes as I can. I do appreciate you sharing all that you have learned and how you make it work. I know you’re not trying to condemn those of us who aren’t there yet and just want to encourage us to do what we can. So keep it up!

    1. Yeah, there are always those families who are fairly healthy and eat crap (NOT saying you eat crap, lol) and those that eat well and seem sick a lot. So I know it is no guarantee. And it truly is expensive, I will always admit to that. I know some do it on a strict budget, but I can’t see how. I guess i’d have to do a lot more from scratch. My husband and I agreed some time ago that I’m better off working more and paying the high prices b/c I get so discouraged when I’m in the kitchen all day. Everyone has to find their rhythm. No condemnation here! 🙂

  15. It can be expensive, especially the meat, but I was grocery shopping recently and realized that a pound of sweet red peppers ($3.99) is the same as a bag of chips (unless your a supercouponer and their free 😉 ).. It’s the most expensive when your actually trying to make the change because then you might be buying processed food and whole foods your bill can be double..

    1. I agree, right now I am eating whole foods and the rest of my family is still eating their normal diet (with me trying to add in a couple dinners a night of whole foods…slowly). It’s been tricky trying to prepare meals for myself and for them and stay in a budget. Hopefully, as I gradually get them eating more whole foods (and liking it) the grocery bill will start going down.

  16. Hi Jo-Lynne,
    I love your approach. I’ve been on this journery a little over a year now and you have provided lots of great info. It can be overwhelming when you really start researching the “real food” lifestyle. I do grind my own grain and make all our bread items. (Though in a pinch I read lables and try to make a better choice of the items on the grocery shelves) My family in coverd up in cancer and diabeties. I don’t know that I can keep those things from happening to me, I was diabetic during pregnancy) but I know that if I am healthy I can fight a better fight against such things. The biggest change is in my 10 year old son. He suffered with major headaches. 2 to 3 times a week or more ending with going to bed and then throwing up. Now maybe 1 or 2 times a month he has a headache, 90 percent of the time its the day after we’ve allowed “bad” food, like a soda or fast food. He now doesn’t ask for those things when we are out. He’s learning that diet has a giant effect on how he feels. I don’t say no to everything for him, sometimes he’s allowed to make his own decision, but he’s also learning for himself, without Mom always being the food cop, that his decisions carry consequences. (A good life lesson for us all)
    Thanks so much. I will be forwarding this on to friends!!!

    1. Wow, it’s amazing that he has such strong reactions. Unfortunately (or fortunately – depending on how you look at it) my kids don’t seem to notice any adverse reactions when they eat crap. I always ask them, too, and they look at me like I have 2 heads and say no, they feel fine. Well, I did too – for years and years. And then it caught up with me. But they don’t want to hear that. I guess they’ll learn for themselves.

  17. Jo-Lynne I need lots of help in this area but I have started trying to do better. I have stopped diet cokes completely (yeah!) and I’m going to bookmark this page to have for reference. Thanks for the help!
    P.s. I eat a lot of microwave popcorn. Is that not good to eat?

    1. Hey Cyndi. Yeah, I’ve gotta be straight up and tell you there are tons of chemicals and crap in microwave popcorn AND the bag. I won’t touch the stuff with a 10-foot pole. Besides, after you start making your own, it won’t even taste good to you anymore! I have this and I make it with coconut oil and butter and sea salt.

  18. Love this post, Jo-Lynne. I’m definitely bookmarking and coming back as a reference! Another one – my acupuncturist recently told me to add Cayenne pepper to my diet. Just a tad to sprinkle in my food (not too much as you know I have a sensitive stomach). Apparently it really helps with blood circulation (good for someone like me with an auto-immune issue), which is prob good for anyone trying to be healthy!

  19. I believe food is for fuel for my body. I eat what I feel a pretty clean diet (75% organic), I consume no processed foods, I juice daily, have a smoothie daily, and eat lots of salads, veggies and nuts as snacks. But heres the kicker…My GERD is getting much worse over the last year! I take Prevacid OTC daily (for ten years) because whenever I try to get off of it I wanna die from the rebound acid. Maybe I am modifying my diet too much? But I cant figure out what I am eating that is causing my condition. Maybe its not food related at all, and I just have a lousy LES! Maybe I have food sensitivies. I know you used to take nexium and got off of it, but did you have GERD?

    1. Kelly, I wrote a whole long diatribe, lol, about how I got off Nexium and how it actually creates more problems than it cures. I didn’t have GERD until after I was on Nexium for something else, and when I tried to go off, I had GERD.

      My doctor advised me to drink apple cider vinegar in water (about 1 Tbs to a cup of water) and I do that every time I have GERD and it helps a lot. It was hard to wean off the meds, but now I manage it with diet.

      there’s a lot more info here and in the comments.

  20. 3-4 years ago I adopted an anti-inflammatory diet (AID, my acronym), which follows a lot of these guidelines. We as a family eat very little processed food. I used to take Tums every night. About a year after starting the AID, I realized I had not taken Tums in about 9 months. It was a huge revelation in how much my body did not like what I had been feeding it.

  21. I have written to you before about my son and tourettes syndrome. My food prep time has increased dramatically, my grocery bill has skyrocketed, but all of his symptoms have disappeared! He also cannot have any corn, wheat,egg or peanut products. It can be tricky! Our other 3 kids are teenagers and complain relentlessly that there is nothing to eat in our house. Well there is plenty to eat, but it takes effort. They are annoyed that there are no preservative filled chips and cookies in the house. I have learned to make “healthy” treats, which the little guy thinks is awesome! Teenagers….not so much! I have learned so much about diseases,immune disorders,conditions, that can be cured/avoided with awesome nutrition. There are times it is really hard…little guy is going to a birthday/slumber party. I want him to have fun and not be the weird guy that has to bring his own food. I know when I get him back his symptoms will be dramatic. I try to just let things like that go and accept it and know that he will get back on track nutritionally.

  22. Sent this to a few, friends and family, as you’ve said it so much better than I ever could. I so appreciate all the work you do in research and education on real foods. Has helped me and my family tremendously! Thanks!

  23. Nice article. I’m trying my best, too. Thanks for sharing how you are NOT perfect! I just made chicken stock from a whole organic chicken so I could then make chicken soup with roasted garlic. It took almost the entire afternoon and early evening. It was so good, though. And, some day I will look harder and pay more for a pastured organic chicken. Anyway, I really enjoy eating chocolate and I found this incredible chocolate banana muffin from
    I used cocoa instead of tapioca to make them chocolate and I used Xylitol instead of honey. The bananas were very ripe, and I’m guessing I could have skipped the Stevia. I also made them into muffins instead of a loaf of bread. Very good for a chocolate fix!

    1. That sounds good.

      As far as the chicken stock goes, I do a chicken every week. It really doesn’t seem to take long b/c for most of the time, it is just happily boiling away on the stove. You might find you get used to the process if you do it more often. I do hate picking the meat off, but if you wait till he’s cooled off some, even that isn’t too awfully bad. Good luck!

      1. If you do your chicken on low in the crock pot (eight hours, maybe?), the meat falls off the bone like magic 🙂

  24. I loooooove this post. All of the information you provided AND your honest thoughts and choices are so refreshing to read. This is my first time reading your blog, and I’m excited to read more 😉

  25. Thank you so much for this post. I have been wanting to get rid of preservatives and processed foods and I had contacted a W.A. Price friend who more or less made me feel like if I didn’t go all the way and right away I was falling behind. I don’t know how to explain that better… but it’s nice to hear someone whose goals are to feed your family good, real, nutritional foods but also understand that sometimes it’s nice to have dinner out and that there is a healthy way to eat that allows for life to happen (especially with kids!!) Thanks again!! And, please keep up such great posts (I pinned this so I could find it again easily!!)

    1. Yeah, it is hard to know those people and read those blogs and not feel discouraged sometimes, but we are all different and have different needs and different amounts of time to spend on this lifestyle, so you have to come to peace with what you’re willing and able to do. (Thanks for pinning! I created that image for that very purpose. :-))

  26. So much great info! I love it. Over the last several years I have done a lot of reading and studying on nutrition. I had to seek the help of a natural clinic (nutritionist and MD and natural doc) to fix the health problems I was having. I was really in a lot of pain daily. Came to find out I’m gluten and dairy intolerant. Wow, what a difference. Also I had adrenal fatigue that was throwing me into pre-menopause. I took out the offending foods, avoided all sugar, caffeine, processed and got onto bio-identical hormone therapy and big Vit D doses and had to exercise at least 30 min a day to heal my adrenals. It was all done via nutrition and natural supplements – no drugs. Amazing.

    I also discovered Green Smoothies around this time and it made a huge difference for us and our kids. The digestive issues one child had reversed itself within a only a few weeks of smoothies. Our pediatrician refused to believe it and wanted to medicate! Another child has some speech and sensory issues that clear right up when he is off gluten, colorings, preservatives.

    I know people just want to say “oh it doesn’t make that much of a difference” but for me, what I eat makes ALL the difference in how I feel!! Night and day! Also, like you mentioned, just because you don’t feel the effects now, doesn’t mean you won’t later – it’s cumulative and adding up in your body and may come to haunt you later in life by crazy unexplained symptoms. “let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food”- thanks Hippocrates.

    It is totally harder to eat this way than “pre-made” but so worth it. I try to make things in batches- use Sunday afternoons to make up big salads, healthy snacks, homemade granola, etc. that we can eat from all week. To stick to the budget, I love our new Fresh & Easy where I take advantage of all the fresh produce markdowns – I buy them at 1/3 their original cost- organic too! I also get their organic and grass fed meats marked down and plan my meals around what I’m able to score at the sale section. I rely on Costco for juicing veggies at a cheaper price. Jason Vale’s website Juicemaster is invaluable!

    1. also wanted to say I picked up a book today at the library that looks great about kid’s nutrition -written by Kelly Dorfman MS, LND – “What’s Eating Your Child” – the hidden connections between food and childhood ailments: Anxiety, Recurrent Ear Infections, Stomachaches, Picky Eating, Rashes, ADHD and more – AND what every parent can DO about it! Have you read it yet?

  27. Wow! Lots of comments, I bet they’re good but I didn’t have time to look through them right now. (That might have something to do with the 22mo old sprinkling water all over the table.) I loved this. So informative. I’ve been working up to a more traditional diet. You got me hooked on coconut oil in my coffee and that helped me ditch the sugar. Um, just the sugar in my coffee, I wish I could say I’ve ditched it all together. I do at least use unrefined sweeteners usually now in baking. I’ve got a beef liver in my freezer that just today I was thinking I should bust out and figure out what to do with it. I need to get my kids off O’s and on to eggs in the morning! And with that I really need to get going on dinner prep!

  28. “Lost reverence for food” — you know, it was interesting to me how some of what you’ve written has almost a spiritual feel to it. Isn’t that cool!? B/c food is a very spiritual thing, and I think food is very, very important to God. What’s one of the first things we’ll do when we get to the New Earth? Eat a meal with the Lord. Jesus was all into eating with people. What sacrament — of all the things that God could leave for us to do, to remember Him –does He choose? A meal. So you’re on the definite right track with this line of thinking. Food is not utilitarian. And it should be so much more than just safe. That’s like saying you choose to marry your spouse because he’s healthy. haha!

    On another line, have you ever watched the documentary, “Vanishing of the Bee”? It’s a watch-it-now on Netflix, and well worth your time. It is from 2009, but colony collapse is still an issue for beekeepers, and the EPA is still ruled by Big Agriculture.

    1. “That’s like saying you choose to marry your spouse because he’s healthy. haha!” LOL!!!!!

      I have not seen that documentary but I believe I know the premise. I have heard about the issue of the bees and it is highly discouraging. I am definitely adding this to my Netflix queue.

  29. I found this post through Pinterest, thanks for such an informative and encouraging post for those of us who are taking baby steps to a healthier diet! About three years ago I decided that dieting just did NOT work for me (both my husband and I are overweight) and I thought, “forget dieting, I just need to take baby steps towards eating better and being more active.” That began an unforgettable journey for me – I am definitely not perfect but I have seen so much improvement while still being able to be kind to myself, my budget, and my time!

    Every year my company does a wellness screening and this year when I got the results I had to laugh. My cholesterol has improved by 30% over the past 2-3 years, and in that time I have INCREASED the amount of butter, eggs, and beef that I eat! I buy all of our meat from a local butcher, we can’t afford their grass-fed beef but everything I buy is hormone-free and comes from local farms. I’ve been moving away from processed foods but like you I just don’t have the time to move away from EVERYTHING. So I make what I enjoy from scratch (chicken stock, pizza crust, cream of…soup), buy a few premade things, and try to have whole foods on hand for snacking. This year my husband and I started bringing our lunches to work, this usually includes premade/processed stuff but I figure that one or two processed things per day is so much better than eating fast food every day!!

    I also try to sneak as many veggies into our dinners as possible, including shredded carrots in tomato-based meals (chili, spaghetti, etc.), and bell peppers in a lot of stuff because we all like bell peppers. I try to prepare a variety of veggies on the weekend – wash, cut up, and put them in a bag in the fridge – for easy snacking throughout the week and it is is so easy to grab a handful of them, chop them up and throw them into whatever I’m making for dinner that night.

    We are certainly not perfect but out eating habits are much better than they were three years ago. It really is about making small changes, being kind to yourself, and staying committed to the journey of improvement. There are times when we step of the path but there is always opportunity to get right back on!

  30. The constantly moving “Gluten-free” banner on the sidebar is very distracting and made it impossible for me to read the post without resizing the browser to hide it. Please consider changing it.

  31. Great post. Since going on full-GAPS last March, my health has dramatically improved. I believe 100% that what we eat causes (but also can cure) so many of our health issues. I am sure your exercise is helping your depression, but I bet the food is also playing a role. I was running and exercising plenty, but still struggled with severe anxiety and depression. When I eliminated grains, it completely went away. I bet your gluten-free diet has something to do with it! My reflux, which bothered me all. day. long. is better, and my sinus issues are no more. I still have improvements to make and more healing to go, but It’s amazing what a difference food makes! Thanks for this great post.

    1. Sometimes it is really hard to know what exactly is changing your symptoms. And of course, it’s probably a combination of things. I have not done anything as strict as GAPS, so I bet you do see a huge improvement. My symptoms have improved gradually, so gradually in fact that sometimes I don’t even notice until I have a set-back and I remember how bad it was before.

      Even some things that I thought were normal before are gone now. And again, I kind of forget about them until they reoccur. Our bodies are truly amazing machines.

  32. Lots of good information, Jolynne, thank you! May I add one thing though? If you’re buying organic processed foods (ie, cookies) there is often very little difference between them and conventional store brands. So, watch your ingredient lists. There might be an equally “healthy” alternative that is WAY cheaper!
    Also, I am definitely in favor of the idea of making food our first line of defense for our health, and that we should be eating to support our well-being, and meal-planning as such. As well as eating strategically when you are ill. BUT, on the whole, I do let some things go so I can enjoy my food. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting we take a Paula Deen approach here!!! But, I will enjoy the occasional junk food and dinner out because I wanna. I just try not to make it too frequent 🙂
    I think you’ve struck a great balance between good flavor, comforting foods, and health-conscious eating. Great job!

    1. I totally agree about occasional junk food and dinner out. We do eat out some, and I don’t worry about whether it’s grass fed or organic or whatnot. I do like to eat at places that cook real food, just b/c it tastes better.

      And I do believe you’re right about the boxed foods, except I do worry about GMOs in the non-organic stuff. Thanks for your encouragement!

  33. This was such an encouraging article to read! I am a 4-month-old-newly-wed and since being married have COMPLETELY changed my eating habits as well as improved my husband’s! I was always sick growing up…I mean SICK! I had mono in the THIRD grade! I grew up on fruit roll ups, swiss cake rolls, Lucky Charms every morning for breakfast (better yet, alternated with cinnamon toast crunch), Lunchables, etc. etc. etc. The list does not end. Chronic sinus infections, the flu every single year, ear aches, anemia….it makes me wonder why my mom allowed me to eat the way I did…or even would provide all of that food! Bless her heart, she just wanted to give me things I liked and she always cooked yummy dinners…chicken n’ dumplings, lasagna, etc. She worked and raised my sisters and me. I definitely give her a lot of credit. Thus, I am very thankful for the journey that began a few months before getting married with painful and annoying digestive issues…I feel in a way that it was a divine intervention…and in His sovereignty God placed ideas and people with advice into my head and life about “whole foods.” As an adult I have eaten better than growing up of course….but I have learned SO much (especially from your site) about the simplicity of just switching some ingredients….white enriched flour to whole wheat flour….things like that. I love being a steward of these foods and providing my husband with healthy things that he needs to be nourished and ready for his crazy days at work. My digestive issues have subsided, I have more energy, my iron levels are back up (I bet if we could afford meat from a farm then it would improve even more). I have found my new best friend, Kefir, which has helped with some feminine “issues.” I could go on and on. I think my point has been made….I completely agree with everything you have said! I have been working on a list of health benefits for different foods so I can show some friends who are interested in changing up the way they eat…so I will definitely be referencing the list you wrote up above! Thank you for your inspiration!

    P.S…..when you say “raw garlic”…how do consume that? I am constantly putting minced garlic into spaghetti sauces, stir fry, etc…I want to eat more of it though- and I usually cook it which makes me wonder if I should be eating it raw?

    1. I love hearing success stories like this!! Thanks for sharing.

      The only way I know to eat raw garlic is in salad dressings. I load mine up (it helps that I love it.) I also will eat it on bread in a garlic butter – most people put it on and heat it up, but I will dip the bread right in it and eat it that way. LOL. It’s got a bit of a zing, but it’s yummy. I probably don’t eat it enough to get health benefits, but if I had more salads with homemade dressing, that would help.

  34. love, love, love this! You are SO aligned with the lifestyle my husband and I lead when it comes to food and it’s so refreshing because at my office I’m surrounded by people who make jokes about the way I eat and how picky I am with restraunts, etc. and it drives me crazy! I stay thin, I almost never get sick and somehow people still want to defend their lifestyles and give me a hard time about mine…at least we know what’s up, lol. Oh, we love our vibrams too 🙂

Want More?