Health/Fitness
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When You Can’t Do It All

If you’re anything like me, when you read all those real food blogs, you get totally inspired. You read all about the benefits of the kefir and the organ meats and the fermenting and the sprouting and the soaking . . . and you WANT to do it all. You really, really do. In fact, you are GOING to do it all, by golly!

So you get started.

And soon you discover how time consuming and mentally exhausting it is to do everything the “right” way.

So you throw up your hands in defeat. The end.

Sound familiar?

I have finally come to the conclusion that I just can’t do it all.

I want to do it all, you see. I fully believe in the value of a traditional whole foods diet, and I want to give those benefits to my family. But I have finally decided that I will never get there — at least not all the way there.

HONESTLY? I just don’t want to spend that much time in the kitchen.

And I don’t want to make the sacrifices of time and effort that I would have to make to do all of that. It’s a personal decision that I have finally come to terms with. Everyone draws the line somewhere, and I think I have reached the point at which I’m doing all I am willing to do. At least for now.

Notice I didn’t say I’m doing all I can do. Sure, I could do more. We can always do more. People do real food on a tight budget, with full time jobs, while homeschooling 8 kids, and on and on. We all have the same amount of hours in a day or a week, and we all make choices about how to spend that time. But right now, I have committed all the time and energy I’m willing to commit to the real food lifestyle.

Many friends and acquaintances have shared with me their similar struggle. Once you start reading and realize how completely and totally derailed the SAD (Standard American Diet) has become and how far from nourishing it truly is, you get overwhelmed. There is just SO much to change about our diets if we want to “do it right”.

I’ve talked about the cost of eating well and how to do it on a budget and where to start . . . okay, I thought I had a post on where to start but I can’t find it. But I am writing this post today to tell you that a year and a half after discovering Michael Pollan and Nina Planck and Sally Fallon and Joel Salatin and Kelly the Kitchen Kop (hey, Kel! did you ever think you’d see your name in the same sentence with those guys!!?) and revamping our family’s eating habits one step at a time, I have realized something.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

I think I’ve come into my own in this real food journey, and I am comfortable with where I stand at the moment.

So I thought I’d share with you a list of the Top 5 Real Food Habits that I am committed to. I’m not saying that this is the list YOU should be committed to. This is MY list. Everyone will prioritize things differently, and everyone will draw the line somewhere as far as the time and energy they want to commit to their diets. This is mine, and I hope it’s helpful to see where I place my priorities and where I’ve drawn the line.

So here are 5 {real food} things I am committed to doing for my family. Everything else is bonus.

1) organic, grass-fed milk (NOT ultra-pasteurized)

UPDATE 1/2/14: We used to do the raw milk thing until we got sick. I am still convinced that raw milk from healthy cows that are raised on pasture is one of the most nutrient-dense and beneficial foods we can feed my families. However, I have come to the conclusion that it was never intended for mass production. There’s just too much chance of it getting contaminated, and it is a delicate food.

Of course, we can get sick from any food, but some foods are more susceptible than others and raw milk is one of them. I wish I had a cow in my backyard, but I don’t. So for now, we buy milk from a local dairy that raises their cows on grass and uses a low-temp pasteurization method that hopefully keeps some of the nutrients and enzymes in tact. Not everyone will have a resource like that, but my best advice is to try to find milk with no rBST and that is pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized. Read more about milk that is Pasteurized vs. Ultra-Pasteurized.

2) homemade chicken stock and lots of soups

Making your own chicken stock is not that difficult, and it is soooooo good for you. Here is how I do it.

If your family likes soups, the recipe possibilities using chicken stock are endless. Chicken stock is chock full of health benefits and it doesn’t require any special equipment or a huge time commitment. Of course, the healthiest chicken stock comes from pastured chickens.

3) homemade bread with sprouted or soaked grains

This one, I realize, is a big commitment. Trust me. I’m getting tired of it. There, I said it. I am tired of making bread!

One day a week, I make 4 loaves of whole wheat sandwich bread for my family’s lunches. Not only is this a sacrifice of time and energy, but now that I am gluten-free, the smell of that freshly baking bread about does me in every. single. time.

If your family doesn’t eat a lot of bread, this may not be high on your list of priorities, but I send sandwiches in my kids’ and husband’s lunches every day of the week, and there is so much junk in store bought bread that I can’t stomach it. Plus, with my digestive issues, I feel better knowing that I am giving my family properly prepared grains.

If you soak the flour yourself, homemade bread is way cheaper than buying good quality store bread. However, I have begun purchasing organic sprouted flour (to save time) and it is not so cheap.

Again, I think I’m more committed to this than the average health-conscious individual because of my own digestive issues and gluten intolerance.

UPDATE 1/1/14: I don’t make homemade bread much anymore. I do buy the pricey organic loaves from the grocery store, but I’d like to get back to making bread more often.

4) grass-fed poultry, meat and eggs

Yes, that’s a lot — a lot of money, truth be told. If I couldn’t do the meat or poultry, I would at the very least find a source for farm-fresh pastured eggs. I am at the point where this is as much of a political decision as it is a health decision. I simply do not want to put my money in the pockets of Big Ag. If that meant I had to eat less meat, I would.

I’m fortunate to live in an area where there are plenty of farms that raise their animals humanely and sustainably on grass, and I buy in bulk to reduce the cost. Lots of people do this on a tight budget; I know because I read their blogs. There are many tricks to make your meat go further, and of course meatless meals are always an option. I urge you to research Big Ag and CAFOs and face the truth about how the meat at the grocery store is raised and then come to your own conclusions.

If you don’t know where to find good grass-fed meat in your area, start by checking out Local Harvest and EatWild.com. And Google is your friend. There are lots of sites like Eat Local Philly cropping up all over the country.

5) organic veggies from the dirty dozen

I try to downplay the whole “organic” thing because real food is so much more than organic. But when it comes to fruits and veggies, organic is a good place to start, and the Dirty Dozen is a list put out every year that targets the fruits and vegetables most likely to have high pesticide residue.

This does not mean that all organic produce is good for you. Often it is far from fresh, which is unfortunate. It just doesn’t get bought as quickly and tends to sit on store shelves for way too long.

And it is not necessary to have an organic certification to guarantee that the produce was grown without pesticides. As always, if you can get your produce from a local farmer, you are way ahead of the game. Of course, not all local farms will be using organic farming methods, so you have to ask, but many ARE using organic methods and don’t bother to get the certification because it is so costly. So ask around.

Disclaimer: Ideally, I would only buy fruit locally and in season, but my kids like apples and bananas far too much and it seems crazy to deprive them, especially when I’m trying to cut down on the amount of processed snacks I bring into the house. I figure apples trucked from Washington State are far better than boxed crackers and granola bars. It’s a compromise.

I realize this list is still daunting to some. Again, I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad that they aren’t where I am, but more to say there are so many things I’m still not doing that I’d like to be doing, but this is all I can handle at the moment, and these are the parts that are most important to me. Also, remember it took me a year and a half to get here. It’s all about baby steps.

As usual, I can’t stop there.

I realize this post is getting long, but here is a quick list of a few things I refuse to buy. Ever. This is not to say that my kids never eat these things. When they are at school parties and friends’ houses, I don’t mind if they have them on occasion. I just don’t keep them in the house. I figure that way, they are getting a whole lot less of this stuff than they would if they were in the pantry, and it frees up money to spend on those things in that Top 5 list up there.

1. boxed cereal (there are so many BETTER options for breakfast)
2. products with GMO ingredients (google GMO for more info – again, this is first and foremost a political decision for me)
3. salad dressing (so easy and better for you to make your own, and I can control what oil goes in it)
4. industrial vegetable oils (see #3)
5. unfermented soy (Dr. Mercola explains why)
6. products with HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)
7. artificial sweeteners
8. soda (that’s not to say that my husband never buys it; it’s a rare treat for our kids to have a root beer. Bleh.)
9. juice boxes (sugar, sugar, sugar – that’s all it is, even “100% juice” ones are just full of empty calories)
10. canned soup
11. microwave popcorn

I have a feeling I’ll be adding to that list as the day goes on.

How about you? Where do you draw the line? What foods and food habits are you committed to and which items do you refuse to buy?

No judgement, just curiosity.

Join the Conversation

61 thoughts on “When You Can’t Do It All

  1. What a great post and so true! Our family’s food journey is very similar to yours. The quickest way I found to get off processed foods is to simply stop buying them. If they’re not there then I’m not tempted by laziness to use them. No more juice boxes, Kraft mac & cheese, fish sticks, fries, chicken nuggest, canned soups, store-bought bread, white sugar/flour for us. These are the foods that have marked the biggest change for us. My biggest helpers in the kitchen are my bread maker, food processor, mixer, good cook books and perserverance! You simply have to stick with your guns. Thank you for sharing your families food journey, your honesty, and the inspiration we all need 🙂

  2. I am with you! I have hit a thresh hold for right now. I am doing all I can and still have a life that has some sense of order.

    We are not big bread eaters – like 2 loafs a month will do us and then part of it will have to be ground into bread crumbs. So I am thankful for that. Cuz I do soak the grains, etc.

    I learned some tricks from Kelly’s online class that save time and I am appreciative of that because spending 20-25 hours a week in the kitchen is nuts. I love it but not 20 hours worth.

    1. I need to go back and finish Kelly’s class. I think I watched the first few and then got too busy. I wonder if I can find my loggin.

      1. I can look it up for you easily if you need me to. Takes me 5 seconds. Email me.

        Yeah, so you got me thinking, I’ve reeeeally got to get back into making homemade bread. It’s so easy and CHEAP, but I got lazy and out of the habit…

        And NO, I never DID think I’d be in a sentence like that and still know that I don’t belong there, but it was sweet of you to make a girl feel good anyway. 🙂

        Kel

  3. Hi,

    I just started following your blog, mainly for a lot of your recipes, as well as information about healthy eating and I have to admit, you’ve opened my eyes to some health choices I’ve never considered. My fiance and I just purchased our first quarter of a cow that we had been debating about for the last several months, and we have been getting a farm share of veggies for over a year now. When we started the farm share we were amazed at how much better tasting all of the produce was! I don’t think we can ever go back, and after discovering the dirty dozen list (thanks to you), we’ve started rethinking some of our non-organic vs. organic produce purchases.

    Salad dressings are something I have been wanting to try for the past few months – I’ve found even some of my favorite natural/organic brands still have large amounts of sodium and I’d like to have more control over that. I agree with you that the biggest hurdle is time. I just discovered a very quick granola recipe, and I can never go back to $4.00 a box granola when I don’t mind spending 25 minutes making a weeks worth of breakfast. Thank you for sharing, you’ve definitely inspired me to start making some changes.

  4. So true, thanks for this post!
    I also think that eliminating processed foods is the most important step in the real food adventure. This saves a lot of money, and why do you need to eat refined cookies and chips anyways?? Lots of junk food eating is associated with boredom or other emotional eating, and not due to time saving solution necessarily!
    I am all for easy, simple real food meals. I do not like recipes with lots of ingredients at this point, since I want to spend more time with my family or doing things I love (cooking is one of these, but not 20 hours a week!). For some suppers, we have sunny side up free range eggs and either some shrimp or a roasted chicken, and this supper does not take a lot to prepare – 1.5 hour for the chicken in the oven (oven with a timer will let you know when it is done), 10 minues for scrambled eggs, and a few minutes to cut up some fresh veggies or a second to take out saurekraut from the fridge (we dont’ make it becaus of time, but buy it from big barels in a polish store, it is soo good and raw!)

    1. Yeah, I purposefully didn’t say eliminate processed foods b/c we do still purchase some – mostly organic, but I do like to have crackers in the house and we occasionally get stuff at Trader Joes for the kids to snack on. But I hardly ever buy processed snack foods at the grocery store. Oh, we also keep tortilla chips on hand to have with salsa or to make nachos.

      We have eggs so much for breakfast that it sort of puts them out of the running for dinners, but I do miss having that easy meal to fall back on.

      Nowadays my easy go-to meal is burgers (grilled, or fried if it’s cold out) with veggies. I could use a few more quickie meals. Many of my recipes are time consuming.

      1. I don’t want to be one of those bloggers who post a link to their blog in every comment, so I’m not going to link to it here (I think I used to do this way back when, it’s a new blogger thing maybe), but I have to say, my list of “fast food meals” is SO helpful. I seem to use those meals a LOT – most are ones my family love, too, so why not choose those that are fast, ya know?

        1. Actually, that would be incredibly helpful! I went to your site and couldn’t find the list. I know I’ve seen it, but it didn’t come up when I did a search. It’s not listed in the Recipe section either.

  5. This is really helpful! We are just beginning our journey and I find the whole thing overwhelming. I go back and forth on decisions based on time and money…it’s tricky. I think it’s good to land where you want to and can be at a particular time and just embrace it. Your “bare minimum” list is still daunting to me to be honest…but I’ll get there. Thanks for modeling doing what you are willing to do.

    1. I almost addressed that – I realize that list is daunting to some. But it did take me 1.5 years to get here. 🙂 And we were already avoiding a lot of the basics – HFCS and trans fats and I already cooked most dinners from scratch. So I think I started ahead of the game.

      Again, no comparisons! Everyone has to fine their “bare minimum” ya know?

  6. If I had more money, there’s more I would do. Right now, I make my own bread (but with store-bought flour, King Arthur), get fresh farm eggs whenever I can, and buy milk without growth hormones. I know that’s not much. We also don’t eat out (again, b/c of $$), or buy many processed foods. We cook from scratch. I buy organic chickens at the store. I use olive and coconut oil.

    Later, I’d love to add grass-fed beef and raw milk to our diet. When I live somewhere where they are available, and i can afford them, that’s a change I’d like to make.

    1. Unfortunately, it does often come down to money. I went to order more sprouted flour today, realized that it was $15 for a 5-lb bag and closed the window. I’ll just buy organic at the whole foods store and try to remember to soak it the night before I make bread. GADS. I forgot I paid that much.

      It really is frustrating sometimes.

  7. Hey Jo-Lynne,

    It’s been forever since I commented! You may have done a post like this before, so forgive me if you have, but I was wondering what y’all DO do for snacks, lunches and breakfast. I see a lot of your dinner recipes that look yummy, but I’ll be honest, I’m such a novice cook, I’ve been too intimidated to try any. “Real food” for us is not eating cereal or sandwiches or frozen pizza for supper. Baby steps, right 😉 Thanks so much!

    1. I think I do have a post on each of those topics, but in summary…

      Breakfasts are old school. Eggs, pancakes, waffles, french toast, oatmeal or homemade granola. I often make sausage or bacon to go along with.

      Lunches are sandwiches and apple slices with cheese or carrot slices or yogurt. My kids eat the same thing almost every day although I did pack them chicken noodle soup today.

      Snacks are fresh fruit or cheese or yogurt, and I do often buy boxed snackfoods at Trader Joes but they go fast and when they’re gone, they’re gone. I don’t get over there but maybe once or twice a month.

      It’s easier in the summer, with all the fresh local fruit available. My kids love berries. Also, homemade ice cream or popsicles are always a hit.

  8. I’m struggling with this a bit. It does take a lot of work, both in the kitchen and finding the food. I have found some buying clubs, but, it’s still some work. I am fortunate to have a huge garden and 2 huge freezers for stocking up.

    I still buy organic cereal from time to time, and some other processed foods have crept into my pantry so I can make cupcakes for school quickly. For us, I try really hard to buy whole foods, even if we’re not buying the dirty dozen organically.

    Also, cost does play a big role in what I do buy.

    I’d say that we’re a work in progress, and reading posts like yours and coming up for air after several months of non-stop illnesses (nothing minor, just lots of crankiness), I’m ready to try again.

    1. Yeah, it IS work, unfortunately. And cost is a huge issue.

      I wish I had a garden. It’s just not my thing. We were thinking of doing one this spring, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  9. Great reminder and encouragement! I see so many moms on forums obsessing over every little thing and whether they are doing everything “right” and all that stress isn’t helping them do better for their families.

    Personally, I make all the bread and baked products in our house, brew kombucha and kvass, make all types of stock, and ferment veggies. I don’t have an affordable source of raw milk and haven’t gotten my husband on board with it, so I avoid drinking it without first culturing it into kefir. I also compromise on chicken, not having a good source for pastured birds, but instead buy organic free-range. We did buy a quarter of a grass-fed cow and some local wild salmon so I tend to focus on those as my proteins instead of chicken.
    As for produce, we are part of a CSA, which I find helps focus my meal planning and keeps me from buying a bunch of random produce at the store that I end up wasting. I hardly buy anything at the grocery store, and that keeps my costs down.

    1. Yeah, see kombucha and kvass and kefir are all things I WANTED to do but I just haven’t found time to figure it out. And I don’t know anyone who does that stuff, so it all seems rather overwhelming. I wish I could at least try it first to see if I’d like it.

      I’m thinking of doing a CSA this summer, although I do like going to the local farms and markets during the summer months. Maybe I’ll just do a half share.

      1. Oddly enough, once you get past the idea that those things are overwhelming (I certainly didn’t do them right away in my real food journey) you find that they are some of the easiest things to do. It’s a few minutes of chopping or stirring and then you just leave them on a shelf! Kvass takes about five minutes, two days of fermenting, and then it lasts a couple weeks. Kefir can be a daily thing-mix the grains into milk, let it sit 24 hours, then strain and start another batch-or you can just do it once a week. And kombucha takes 7-10 days to ferment, so I spend about 15 mins a week on that. But I didn’t start all at once-I picked one and got comfortable with it, and after it had become part of my routine and felt easy, then I tried another one.

        1. I really need to find one of those I can do because my digestive issues have been flaring up again. I think I had gluten on Sunday, eating out, and all week I’ve felt bloated and miserable. My doctor told me I need to eat more fermented foods, and I really do none of them.

          I tried Kefir once – ordered the grains and all, and it didn’t take. I have no idea why. Since then I’ve just kind of written it off – along with the other fermented drinks. 🙁

          1. Ditto what Rebecca said … they are all very easy to do and only require a little time up front. I recommend getting some kefir grains that are established and producing from a friend or someone local if possible ( I just gave a scoby and some kefir grains to a gal that requested them on Freecycle!) The times I’ve tried to reconstitute dried grains it hasn’t worked as well. Same for the scoby. I will also say that we LOVE kefir smoothies but I don’t think I’d be so keen on plain kefir — so make sure you’ve got something you will enjoy. We’ve experimented with adding juices to our kombucha to switch up the flavor (I do a 2nd ferment). I love your post about not being able to do it all (and struggle with just a tad of perfectionism!) — so I was gratified to see that I am pretty much doing what you are doing. Yay!! This has been a multi-year journey and I am still learning new things and putting these on my “to do” list.

        2. I love your comment on picking one and getting comfortable with that, and then moving on to the next one.

          I did try kombucha which wasn’t difficult to do. However, my scoby gave up the ghost after about 6 months and I haven’t tried it again. I also tried the kefir, but had no success with that. Since I have a ton of ice tea bags in the pantry plus an unopened bag of white sugar left over from Christmas baking, I’ll start with the kombucha again. My kids loved the kombucha, and kept calling it “bucha.”

  10. This is a great list of some basic steps! I’m like you…I try to do it all for a while, then get burnt out, and the processed stuff starts creeping back in. I’m not quite as on top of things as you, but I’m doing about two thirds of the things on your list and aspire to do the others (including raw milk). I’m actually off to buy some some coconut oil and grass fed beef this afternoon! I LOVE LOVE homemade bread, but if I make it, I will want to eat all of it (as I’m sure you well know, now that you are avoiding gluten!).

    1. Yeah, the bread was a HUGE temptation at first. I soon noticed how bloated and full I felt after eating it and was able to control myself a big, but at first, I felt I had to try it, to find a recipe that I wanted to stick with. Tough job. 😉

  11. Just wanted to say again how much I enjoy your real food posts. You are the one who got me going down that road in the first place. But ALL of it IS so overwhelming. I’ve done the same thing–selected a few no compromise areas and then do the best I can/afford with everything else.

    I have considered getting a grain mill–I don’t think that you’ve said you do grind your own flour, but I am intrigued b/c everyone who does swears up and down it is so much better. I’d be willing to sacrifice more time if it made that much of a difference, but I don’t know anyone personally who does/to try it out before investing. What are your thoughts and have you considered that?

    1. At one time I thought I wanted one but now I cannot imagine adding one more commitment. I’m sure it is better, but I’d rather do a couple more blog designs and buy the sprouted wheat already ground, lol.

  12. I like your list. I get overwhelmed very easily. I am a working mom, so time is limited. Also, with the members of my family we have to avoid gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, and some fruits. It all gets overwhelming. We have a farm in our town that sells raw milk, but I am a little afraid to try it.
    I do buy pasutrized milk from a local farm, and eggs, and chicken. unfortunately the nearest whole foods or trader joes is 45 mins away from me, luckily we have lots of farms nearby so produce isn’t an issue (except in the winter months) and for snacks i buy organic cookies and crackers at the store. breakfast is always oatmeal for me and fruit smoothie for hubby and child. i am interested in trying kelly’s class too.
    sorry this is kind of long!
    Katie

  13. It is overwhelming, and, like you, I come across people with way more on their plate (more kids, homeschooling, hobby farming, etc) that seem to do so much more than me. I try to get good at something and then move onto the next challenge. Next up for me is sprouting greens. I”ve sprouted quinoa, but that’s it. I’d like to move onto alfalfa and radish sprouts.

    1. Hey, my mom used to sprout alfalfa when I was little. I almost forgot that. Next for me, I’d like to make use of the yogurt maker my dear husband got me for Christmas. I want to make it with the raw milk.

  14. The much awaited, world changing awesomeness. 😉

    I didn’t much care about food until I saw Jamie Oliver make a chicken nugget last year, then omagash, I went a little crazy.

    My plan was whole, raw food grown by fairies. My family, not so much excited to give up the Cheetos. So, it’s been a process.

    Right now my plan is 60-20-10-10. 60% of our food starts whole, and raw fruits, veggies, plants, seeds, nuts, beans. 20% is minimally processed like oils, frozen fruits/veggies, hand made corn tortillas. 10% is animal and 10% is pure processed crap.

    Now, where I have compromised there is, I don’t obsess over the source yet. I’m trying to get everyone on board with the change. I’ll take the bananas from the other side of the world, or the chicken plant chicken (for now, but it will change). I try to buy pastured eggs, and if grass fed meat is available I’ll get it but don’t change my day if it’s not.

    I’ve found that with all the fruits, veggies, seeds, plants and nuts, we are eating less grain. I really want to find whole raw milk, but haven’t put any effort into it just yet.

    I don’t keep too much processed crap in the house, I have not given up Coke yet, but will not keep it in the house when the hoard is gone. I do have some big name preserves and canned beans for “emergencies” but no more frozen fdinners, or microwave meals, chips, cookies, or ice cream. If I buy any of that it, I buy just enough for one serving for each.

    Once I get more into the swing of creating all my meals from raw, I’ll worry more about “in season” and origination. Right now, I’m happy with better than before.

    1. “My plan was whole, raw food grown by fairies. My family, not so much excited to give up the Cheetos. So, it’s been a process.”

      OMG. ROTFLOL.

      It sounds like you are well on your way. Everyone has a different journey and finds different ways of prioritizing. I’m just glad to know that it’s becoming a common topic of conversation, ya know? People need to be aware of where their food comes from and how it’s produced.

      *delicately steps off soapbox*

  15. Great, great post. I just began reading animal vegetable miracle (saw your review) and I stopped when she was going to force her family tolive only off what the produced. For us we buy the dirty dozen organically. We love the upper merion farmers market. We do only grass fed meats. We use soy and rice milk bc of allergies. Sad to say, but we eat fruits and veg out of season because of the variety I can get into my toddlers pallets now. I do all the sweet baking (again because of allergies) and would like to do more of the bread baking. After reading Michael pollan we avoid processed stuff, but my kids still beg for wheat thins and things like that. You are inspiring, and your post today was real…which inspired me to do my own stocks and bread. Thanks!

    1. My kids asked for Wheat Thins and Goldfish for a long time but they finally are over it. It takes time. 🙂

  16. I love this post. I am of the same mindset – it can’t be all-or-nothing, I’d burn out. I do what I can. Right now I’ve got a preschooler and a toddler, so my time is pretty limited. My food priorities are: eat seasonally, eat locally, buy direct from the farmers/producers as much as possible. I’m trying to teach myself to cook with this mindset, and with the VERY active toddler, I don’t exactly have tons of free time for this. So I do what I can, when I can, and I don’t stress too much about what I’m not doing, (Well – I try not to.)

  17. I 100% agree with this post (and I’m pretty sure I need to link to it on my blog. I hope you don’t mind.) We have been making a lot of the same changes in our family and I know I’m always going to continue making changes, but those changes don’t have to happen all at once. That’s way too overwhelming. Right now we’re buying bread from a local bakery that soaks all of their grain, but I want to start making my own. That’s the next change on the list.

    I just took a class through my local Weston-Price chapter that explained all the kombucha and kefir and all of that other stuff. It was such a great class and they used the book “Nourishing Traditions” as their textbook. I highly recommend finding something like that near you!

    One interesting thing is that usually people with gluten issues don’t with properly prepared grains and wheats. They advise slowly introducing them into your diet, but usually after about two years people can still eat (properly prepared) breads. They said if you eat something that isn’t properly prepared then you’ll be back to square one. That was interesting to me!

    1. I really should seek out a local WAPF Chapter. That might help me over the hurdle of fermenting foods.

      I believe I really need them for my digestion. Every time I see my doctor she reminds me to get fermented foods into my diet. I still struggle with some mild reflux and gas and bloating and if I’m going to stay off meds, I think I need to be more proactive about getting fermented foods into my diet. SIGH. Such a pain.

      I really don’t get why some of us are so sensitive and others seem to eat crap and feel fine. But then again, it seems that half the population is on some type of prescription for reflux, and they are prescribing it to kids now which is SO upsetting. So I will keep on keeping on!

  18. Sing it, sister.

    I find the easiest way for me to deal is to a) offer a LOT of raw fruits and veggies as sides- that’s something that’s essentially prep free b) I always double the recipe so we have leftovers once or twice a week, or in lunches c) the kids shoulder cooking once or twice a week and d) I always set aside Sunday for making big, elaborate dishes that the kids and hubby help me with. When it’s a new recipe, or even a tried-and-true one that takes a little extra something, I do enjoy making it. I really only have to “cook for reals” twice a week.

    I still drink a Pepsi a day. *cringe*

    What you do is incredible and forever changing your kids’ relationship with food. So totally worth it!

  19. I could have written this post myself. I’m coming to the exact same conclusions. On one hand, I almost feel like I know too much and a trip to the grocery store can drive me insane…reading labels, trying to decide whether to get organic zucchini from Mexico or regular zucchini from Canada or whether to skip the zucchini until it’s actually in season…Ughh!! I need a glass of wine just to get through the produce section!

    I literally just whined to my husband the other day that I’m so tired of making bread. For heaven sakes, I have a grain grinder and a bread maker…can’t get much easier, yet, I’m tired of it. But, the bread aisle…yikes. Anyway, I’m in the same boat, all the way down to the list of items you refuse to buy…EXCEPT…cereal. Looking through my sleep-deprived haze in the morning, I have to admit it’s nice seeing the 8-year-old fix breakfast for the 2 and 4 -year -olds. It’s awful…I know about the evil “extrusion”, it’s expensive, and we can even go through two small boxes in one morning. I just can’t get over this puffed-wheat hump.

    Thanks so much. This is why I keep coming back to your blog. It’s real, and I can relate.

  20. I am right there with on this one!! I just don’t have the time during the week to ferment and bake everything.
    We also one have one income and are building a house, so I am on a tight budget. I had to cancel the milk delivery. I miss that milk it was delicious! But for now I have to adjust my priorities. I do all the cooking we rarely eat out. But Mommy just cannot do it all.

  21. Oh my goodness, what a helpful post. I was all about the craze and then because of finances got right back on the processed chain. Thanks for the helpful lists, so manageable. I got on the couponing bandwagon and then started buying the crap again. Your journey is a great testimony, thank you for sharing!

  22. “It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.”

    That says it all for me! I just try to do things that I feel more strongly about, and do not fret over the other stuff so much.
    We are fortunate that we raise our own chickens and have a large garden, so eat plentifully from that throughout a good part of the year. This year we are bartering with a friend who raises cow, pigs and other fowl so we can get some better meat into our diet and less reliance on the grocery store fare. We also frequent the farmers markets for things we do not grow, and I would like to find a raw milk source to try this year.
    I recently started to go low-carb and will gradually reduce what the boys have for bad carbs as well. Luckily we are not soda drinkers, but do have some juice regularly, so I’d like to cut that back a little, too.

    It has been interesting reading all your posts on your eating adventures, and it has sparked my interest to try things, the coconut oil comes to mind.
    Thanks for sharing!

  23. My line is a lot lower than yours! Hehe. We have cut out a lot of the sugary foods that we used to do for breakfast. Instead, those are treats that they get once in a blue moon. The most frustrating thing is that the money is just.not.there to do what I’d like to do and I’m just not very talented when it comes to spending time in the kitchen or growing a garden. I have never been Susie Homemaker. BUT I’m working on it. Especially because I can see, in my oldest, how the processed foods (and I’m pretty sure gluten) are affecting him and I know he would be MUCH better off if I could get a more whole foods diet into our house.

    For now though we are really working on taking carbs out of our diets, as much as possible and focusing on meats and fruits/veggies as the main part of our meals.

    So far the only things that are absolutely banned are HFCS.

    So we have a Veeeery slow journey we are on, but we’re on it. I love to read all of your posts, I like how you do all the research for me LOL

  24. It has been a year since we started the Real Food journey. Lately I have been feeling much the same as you and have come a similar conclusion. The important things for me are fresh milk and pastured meats and as “organic” as I can do. I would love to be a garden person and have a garden but I just can’t seem to get there. I’ve tried yogurt but it never works out so I just buy it. So I do what I can. I am looking for to the farmer’s market reopening and the wonderful fresh produce.

  25. This is a really good list! I’m still trying to figure out what I want my food spectrum to look like. Right now, I’m still trying to “do it all”, although I’m just starting out with trying to eat healthier, and for me I tend to do things all-or-nothing when I first start something. I know eventually I’ll probably settle into a happy medium, but it’s good to have something to shoot for.

    One “rule” I’m trying to really stick to is to not buy something with ingredients that I can’t pronounce. This cuts out most processed foods and really helps me stick with “whole” foods. I’m not a particularly good cook yet, but reading ingredients lists on things has made me realize that I need to learn to be a cook for health’s sake! If I don’t know what’s going into my body, who’s to say that that’s not inadvertently killing me?

    xoxo
    Jennifer
    The Art of Being You

  26. We are now buying eggs from a friend that is raising his own chickens. They live in an area where they can have a whole lot of them and my FIL picks them up for us. We are getting 5 dozen for 12.50 I think. He said he is planning to buy more chickens to start raising them for butchering and eating, so I’m hopeful we’ll get in on that too. Travis and I have decided to buy grass-fed beef, we just haven’t figured out how much at a time and such. We do still eat cereal, but only Cheerios and not nearly as much as we used to eat. I have spells where I get really committed to doing better and then the craziness of life takes over and I have to start all over. I’m just taking it one day at a time, like so much else. I like this post though–great starting points.

  27. This is a really great post! Thanks so much for being honest and not judgemental!

    Things I do NOT buy:
    -Any grocery store/CAFO/factory meat (including at restaurants, which makes many people think I’m a vegetarian) — I totally agree that this is a health AND political decision. It is so tempting though, especially with pork chops for $1 and so on…
    -Canned anything.
    -Skim milk. I am recently getting to raw milk, but the first change was to switch to whole milk. Sad, I know. 🙂
    -Pop.
    -Cereal. My husband still buys it because he loves it, but as I make better breakfasts (omelets! smoothies!) in the morning, he doesn’t think to eat it. yay!
    -Non-organic berries and things from the dirty dozen list. (Non-certified organically grown is fine with me.)
    -Most packaged fish…which is really disappointing, but if you look closely, lots of frozen fish lists CARBON MONOXIDE as an INGREDIENT. What is going on in this food system?? (That was one of my first wake-up calls to be a label reader, actually!) I get *some* wild salmon and scallops, checking labels carefully, but many of the sustainable fishes are too expensive.
    -Microwave popcorn! We can’t stand the stuff anymore!
    -Most crackers and chips…there are some OK brands, but they’re pricey, so I try to make our own crackers and such.
    -BBQ sauce. Mostly it’s full of sugar!
    -Crisco, margarine, canola…any fat that was recently ‘invented’!

    1. Great list. So what do you order at restaurants? I still order the meat because I am gluten free and I can’t get pasta. Salads get really old. Other ideas? What about fish?

      1. Lots of places will have veggie burgers (you could probably order it over a salad instead of getting the bun?). Or I might order pasta and hold the chicken, add extra mushrooms, etc. I do eat scallops if I can find them. And truly wild salmon would be a good choice for sure. And there are times where I break down and get a bit of meat. But it’s very rare.

        The problem is, we rarely eat out unless invited by our families, and the places they usually choose to eat are mass-chain places where responsible food is scarcely found. I’m trying to figure out how to remedy this trend…

        1. I have this problem too, when going out with friends. As a family, we hardly ever eat out. I do eat out on my own a lot – meeting friends and so on, but I can usually go to a place like Seasons 52 and other nicer places that use locally sourced foods, but again, with the gluten thing, sometimes my choices are limited. A burger or steak or salmon is usually the saftest for staying gluten free, and I guess at this point I am willing to sacrifice quality of meat to keep gluten out. It’s encouraging, though, that grassfed meats are more commonly found at higher scale eateries.

          1. I have a couple of close friends with celiac, and our family is always careful to choose places that have GF menus! There is a growing number of them, especially the larger chains (sigh)…you can’t win them all! Yes, you definitely have to think about your sensitivities first.

            It’d be nice to have a selection of locally-oriented places to eat…there is one in our town, and it’s always my choice. 🙂 Best of luck to you!

  28. With the exception of the bread I am right there with you! And I have opened the bread link to see if I can work that in!:)

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