Health/Fitness
27 Comments

So Is It Really Worth All The Fuss?

whole-food

I know, I know.  It sounds like I’ve lost my marbles.  I had a friend ask me yesterday if I’m still shaving my pits and wearing deodorant, which is an honest question.  I make no guarantees.  No, seriously, my “whole foods initiative” probably sounds more dramatic than it really is.  I’m not even making my own bread yet, although I am fascinated by the prospect of making my own butter from the cream at the top of the raw milk container.  So yeah, for those who think I’ve gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, I hear ya.  I’ve said all the same things at one time or another.

I don’t buy it.  It’s just the latest fad.

We all made it this far just fine, right?

People are living longer than ever these days.  70 is the new 50!

Sounds great, but who can afford it?

In the wild days of my youth, when I used Paul Mitchell Freeze and Shine with reckless abandon, I thought I could eat anything.  I even made careless comments about having a stomach of steel.  Little did I know how ironic that statement was to become.  In college, there were days that I drank 4 cans of Coca Cola a day and had pizza for every meal.  Or when I was really watching my diet, I’d have a meal of Doritos and Coke followed by a Snickers bar for desert.  I thought a veggie was the pickle on my McDonalds cheeseburger.

We all say we’re doing just fine in one breath, but in the next we wonder why food allergies are on the rise, why infertility is so rampant, and what’s up with all the cases of autism and ADD?  Were these conditions always around and we just didn’t talk about them?  Or are they particular to our day and age?

With my son’s tree nut and sesame allergies, people are asking me all the time, “What do they think causes it?  When I was little, I don’t remember all these kids having allergies.”

No one knows for sure.  We say it must be environmental, but what?

In our immediate family alone, we have food allergies, eczema, asthma, seasonal allergies, gastritis, hypothyroidism, IBS, GERD, and possibly ADD.

In my extended family, there is stroke, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cancer.

Sure, infant mortality rates are way down, and we’ve all but eliminated polio, but we’re not exactly fine either.

We ask each other why these conditions are so prevalent.  We look at each other and shrug our shoulders, like it’s a big mystery.  And yet, in the last 100 years, we have reduced the wonderful foods God provided for us to the lowest common denominator.  We’ve created all sorts of unnatural food products, and we’ve added, subtracted, and modified until even most whole foods are barely recognizable.

Did you know that 100 years ago diabetes and heart disease were practically nonexistent? The first recorded heart attack in the U.S. occurred in 1912.  In the early 1900s, Dr. Dudley White (who has been referred to as the founder of cardiology) decided to find out more about the “new disease” reported in European medical literature, but it wasn’t until 1921 that he found his first heart attack patient.  That right there tells me that not all of these diseases have been present forever.  As our food has become more industrialized, heart attacks and cancer have become the second and third major causes of death.  They are often referred to as “diseases of civilization” because they’ve only come about with the industrialization of food that characterizes the Western diet.

There are several examples cited in the books I’ve been reading where certain cultures eating traditional diets turned to the Western diet for some reason or another.  Suddenly these people who were the picture of good health soon developed these diseases of civilization, namely diabetes and heart disease.  One such group of peoples, when returned to their original indigenous diets, regained their health.

When people say, I dunno, we’re all doing okay, I can’t help but think, I’m not.  My stomach is a mess.  I have IBS, GERD, gastritis, and lactose intolerance.  I have children with food allergies, eczema and asthma.  I have family members with heart disease and diabetes and other conditions that I don’t feel comfortable going into here.

We may be living longer, but what about our quality of life?  I’m not interested in living forever.  I’m interested in feeling good.  Food remained pretty much unchanged for centuries.  It’s only in the last 75 years that we’ve been eating refined, processed foods.  I’m willing to try to return to a more traditional diet and see what happens.  I’ll be the first to tell you if I decide it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, but for now I’m going to focus on getting back to basics and see where it takes me.

If you are interested in what I’ve been reading and curious about making some similar changes, here are a few resources to look at:

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Real Food: What To Eat and Why by Nina Planck

Kelly the Kitchen Kop is a self-proclaimed “blogging freak who loves to search out the truth on “politically incorrect” health & nutrition topics.”

Food Renegade is a nutrition & wellness coach and a passionate advocate for what she calls “real food.”

Cheeseslave is dedicated to “cheese. And bacon. And butter. And raw milk. And all those other things we’re not supposed to eat.”  Love that!

Nourished Kitchen is a blog “committed to eating wholesome, sustainably produced food while maintaining a budget.”

That should get you started!

Obligatory disclaimer:  Naturally I don’t agree with every last sentiment expressed on these sites and in these books, but there is a lot of great information in there.  As for my commentary, I am only sharing information I’ve read and my own personal opinions.  I am certainly no expert, and you should do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

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27 thoughts on “So Is It Really Worth All The Fuss?

  1. Thanks, Jo-Lynne. While my husband does not buy into the “organic” lifestyle, I ask those same questions–particularly infertility. I do think it’s tied to all the hormones floating around in our foods.

    I appreciate the wealth of information and your openness in sharing your journey.

    Jessie

  2. Love the Nina Planck book. I went down this slippery slop several years ago and there’s no going back. Baby steps, baby steps, but bit by bit, I’m more confident in what I’m feeding my family. Best wishes with it all! Good for you!

  3. Preach it sister:-)

    Seriously, I have to say I identify so closely with you, and have had the very same thoughts. This was so well said you reminded me why I had these concerns in the first place. Like you, I live a typical suburban lifestyle, and it requires a bit of commitment to live differently, but I am willing. I grew up in an organic family, when it was definitely not cool, but I was perfectly healthy until I went to college and changed my diet. I’ve been taking baby steps the last couple of years, but really feeling convicted recently about being more committed to making changes, so I’m thrilled to join you in this journey.
    Please keep sharing your experience, the information is invaluable!

  4. I absolutely believe that what we take into our bodies (not just food but also the air we breathe, other toxins, etc.) contribute to how we feel and certain diseases.

    We’ve made many changes around here but still aren’t perfect. It’s just SO hard. We do the best we can, right? I hope you start to see some results soon and thanks for the list of resources.

  5. Thanks, Jo-Lynne! I have started trying to buy organic and eat more ‘fresh’ veggies…just having a problem knowing what fresh really is these days.

    I’ve go to do something…suffering from the same disorders you mentioned! Yuuuckkkk!!! Not a good way to live.

    I’ll be with you on this journey…
    Be blessed,
    Susan

  6. Another great post on this topic. Health issues drove me to take these things seriously, too. It’s astouding what you find out when you cut through advertising and clutter and focus on how God intended us to consume – and help produce – real food.

  7. Just wanted to say that your pushed me into the whole foods realm. I was headed there, but you really inspired me to take some of the next steps. Love your posts, love all the real food 🙂 My parents discovered this when they moved to California, and I have no excuse if they could do it.

  8. Thanks for inspiring me to keep on eating as healthy and as naturally as I can. My nephrologist is always shocked that I feel so good even though I have chronic kidney disease (from an inherited disease). I know I’m sick, but I don’t feel sick and I’m sure that it has to do with what I put into my body.

  9. I’m positive that all these diseases are cause by all the crap we eat! The only thing I hate is that it is so hard and expensive to find the good stuff anymore. I wish I had more time to do a huge garden and make my own bread and by the unsullied versions of all the foods we enjoy…

    I think that should be the BIG THING that the government focuses on – making healthy food more readily available and cheaper.

  10. I just finished “Real Food.” Loved it. Made me think about a million different things and really question some facts I used to take at face value.

    I’m hoping to do a post someday soon about my thoughts, although, like you, I’m sure they won’t be able to be contained in just one post. I’ll let you know when it’s published.

  11. Jo-Lynne, I get a lot of those same responses from people for the way we choose to eat, but I have read too much, researched too much and done my homework enough to believe I’m onto something. I have a good collection of books by Don Colbert on eating, detoxing and recipes that are fantastic and I recommend them to add to your collection.
    By the way…you should venture into making your own bread, you will get so use to it, that you won’t believe you ever liked store bought bread, LOL. And butter is pretty easy and definitely FUN to make as well!

  12. FYI: All-natural deodorants are terrible! I tried one (Tom’s of Maine). It worked okay in the winter, but as soon as the weather got warm, I switched. I did look up safer ones online, though…

  13. I don’t know what your reasoning is for the Cod Liver Oil, but I started taking it at my doctor’s recommendation earlier this year to deal with pain in my hands and wrists caused by computer use (not carpal tunnel, which I had years ago during a pregnancy). It has worked miracles. It took a full 7 weeks to make a difference, but I’m a believer. I’m going to write a post about it when I get the chance.

  14. Woo! Hoo! You can sit by me on this train girlfriend. I started reading labels about 10 years ago and it changed my life forever. Now if you read my blog today and see the cakes you may not think so but for the most part I try to eat a very healthy semi organic diet! Somethings we just can’t afford but I really try.
    You go girl!!!
    Hugs.
    Kim

  15. Please keep sharing. I’m still not in the action phase, but the gathering information phase. It all seems so overwhelming. But I know it is not if I just take baby steps. So just keep it up.

  16. Jo-Lynne-

    You know, I do totally think it’s worth all the fuss. And I absolutely believe many of the “foods” we eat today are responsible for the diseases that are so prevalent. Everything has become so “refined” and pasteurized and homogenized and processed that it isn’t even “food” anymore.

    I had hopes of restarting our garden this year but it just didn’t happen, unfortunately. I do have a few things in containers but not anything even close to what I had intended. Hopefully next year.

    For all those out there with kids who have ADD/ADHD and things like autism, I know from personal experience that changing the way you eat along with the foods you eat is a very good starting place.

    My 11 y/o son is autistic and he’s never been on medication for even one minute. We primarily control it with diet – no processed “foods” like hot dogs, soda, chips and the like. And boy, can I tell when he’s had those!

    Although I don’t write much about these things on my blog at this point, I think I may start doing so. It seems that there is a real need out there these days for information and perhaps our experiences will be helpful to someone.

    Keep us posted on things are going! I really enjoy reading about these topics. Makes me feel like I’m not a weird mom. 😉

    ~Annie

  17. I was here looking for a follow up:) How far are you into Real Food? I just got done putting away my Natural By Nature whole milk! It’s a whole lot to sort through though, you know? I think I’m on board with the raw milk and might make a first purchase of that with our next CSA delivery…did you look into that, btw?

  18. Will post an update tomorrow for What I Learned This Week. I have tried the raw milk, but I’m back and forth on it. I do think it’s probably safe, but…

    With Natural By Nature, I feel that it’s kind of the best of both worlds – organic, grass fed cows and only minimal pasteurization.

  19. I borrowed Real Food from my library, and I already feel overwhelmed. I am just like “wow” over this info. I’m going to check out In Defense of Food, too. I never intended to delve into this, but understanding the science of how the vitamins and nutrients of food all process together is very hard to ignore. It’s also very hard to grasp the fact that what health “experts” tout as healthy for us may actually be to our detriment.

    One big question I have is, how do you lose weight? I know that consuming the whole foods, as opposed to all the low-fat/low-carb engineered foods, is going to increase my calorie intake. Did any of your books cover this? Right now that’s my biggest concern as I am involved in a weight-loss/Bible study program, and obviously their diet recommendations are going to differ from this new information I’m learning.

    Thanks, Jo-Lynne. =)

  20. She will address that in Real Food actually. She lost weight when she switched.

    It is overwhelming but the more you read the more it overlaps and it starts to make sense.

  21. Hey Jo-Lynne, just going back and reading some of your old posts that I haven’t read yet. I see you reference eczema in your family. I have a child with that as well. Started when she was about 18 months old. My personal opinion is that it was brought on by vaccinations, but that is a whole other can of worms. Just curious what you do for treatment and to try to keep it in check.
    Marty

    1. Interesting. I never thought of that. Hers is pretty much under control and we don’t really do anything for it anymore. It was mild, I guess. She still gets patches – she has some behind her ears right now. But it’s not gruesome like it used to be when she got it there and it oozed and bled. *shudder*

  22. We keep our home milk, egg and nut free due to allergies. We’ve gone completely organic on most vegetables and all meats. Just took a great cooking class with http://www.cucina-verde.com whose farm and classes are local to philly. I like reading your posts and I especially like the fact that you are doing these great things so that you can feel good, not live forever. Savor the moments!

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