Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's a Journey

I'm not really one to follow trends.

Boots were in style 2 years before I bought a pair to wear in the winter.

I love Facebook, but I can't seem to get the hang of Twitter.

I wear my hair a little past my shoulders, graying at the temples, and straight, just like God made it.

I debated the usefulness of the flip flop for an entire summer before I bought a pair.

I think that's the key. Trends are here today and gone next week. If I'm going to spend my hard earned cash on something, I want to know that I'll be using it for a while. I don't want to love it one summer and feel like a dork wearing it the next.

So...bear with me as I tread lightly and move at my own "Jenni pace".

This summer I began to really think about the foods I'm putting in to my body and in the bodies of my kids. Not in a calorie counting sort of way, but in a "what does this do for my body?" sort of way. I wondered if there was any merit to all of those conspiracy theories you read on the forwarded e-mails about man made, packed with preservatives, never seems to mold, always causes cancer food we eat.

I did what I always do and I asked Google. There were a ton of links because organic, and whole foods, and anti-McDonald's are all very trendy right now. I learned a little bit. But mostly? I was really overwhelmed.

And then I e-mailed a friend, a girlfriend that has been there and done that. She's tried and failed and had success and has found a system that works...so, I wanted to copy her.

But she didn't let me copy. She mentioned some things that had worked for her family and then gave me the best advice...

prioritize. Decide what is important to your family and change those habits.

Eureka! Just what my "Jenni-paced" mind needed to hear. Don't do it because all the cool kids are doing it. Do it because you believe it's the right thing for your family.

I don't care what anybody says, Google will never replace the advice of a trusted girlfriend.

After some time, I began to come up with some basic things I wanted to change about our diet that I believe will make us healthier.

1. Under no circumstances will anyone we come in contact with feel judged or out-of-place or inferior because they are not making the same decisions we are. I hate bringing it up in conversation and have hesitated to even blog about it because I just don't want to alienate anyone. We still eat cheeseburgers. The once a week we go to Sonic, I will still order Diet Dr. Pepper. The occasional order of chips and queso will not kill us. We are not fanatics. We're just changing the choices we make in our every day routines.

2. One of the biggest things I wanted to change was our consumption of high fructose corn syrup. I stopped buying pre-packaged snacks and sweets. The kids threatened mutiny, but came around to the new snack regime pretty quickly. I have a list on the fridge and they get to choose 2 things from the list after school. Drinks were a non-issue for us. We just don't drink the sugary drinks that often.

3. The other big thing I wanted to change was the way we purchase dairy. Milk, eggs, and cheese make up a huge part of our diet. I started buying organic milk. I quit buying processed cheese products. I started buying eggs from cage free, natural fed chickens. It's a little more expensive, but the grocery budget can take it since I stopped buying the expensive, pre-packaged snacks.

4. I've also changed the way we buy meat, particularly chicken and beef. I buy meat that is raised without cages or sheds and is allowed to eat a natural diet instead of "animal feed". Again, it's a little more expensive, but for us, worth it.

5. Right now I'm in the process of strictly limiting our use of fake, man-made sweeteners. This has been the hardest change for me. In almost every drink I consume I've been known to add a fake sweetener of some sort. For months, following the Weight Watchers plan, I've relied on the artificial sweeteners to satisfy my sweet tooth. I'm sure these sweets are in more foods than I care to know or have even thought of, but we're making progress.

6. Generally speaking, we eat out twice a week. I know that's a lot for some of you, but for us, that's practically never. It's just easier to control what goes in to your body if you prepare it. Incidentally, our eat out budget has gone down and we've added the surplus to our grocery budget, so all of this buying more expensive food hasn't really changed the amount of money we spend on food each month.

That's it, so far. I wouldn't call us tree-huggers, or food snobs, or picky. We're just trying to make the best choices for our family.

What about you? How do you weigh in on this organic/whole living thing that seems to be everywhere we turn?


Ashley said...

You go girl!!
We've done a lot of the same changes- 'cept we only "get" to eat out 2-3 times a month. That's what happens when your hubby is in grad school and doesn't have a job.
I've had a similar post half way written for 2 months and just haven't had the time to finish it.
It's very overwhelming. And hard to give up DP.
I'll finish the post soon so you can see where we're at.
Keep up the good work!!

Shelly@Sweet Journey said...

We have some friends whose daughter is highly alergic to lots of things, so they totally revamped how they eat. Everything whole foods, no preservatives. The parents have lost weight and they are very healthy. I can get you connected if you have questions for her. She would probably tell you about it. Healthy is good. Keep up the good work!

It is hard for me to keep fresh fruits and veggies because we live so far from the store, and everything close is way more expensive. But I need to get over that and just be healthier.

Su said...

You should totally hug trees. It's good for your stress level. :)

valerie in TX said...

I have a good friend who is totally gung-ho, all-out, 100% organic {in more ways than you care to know :) }. She won't eat pork. Won't eat mushrooms. Won't use a microwave. I can't go there. Too overwhelming. And yes, I do feel "less than" around her.

We've made some small changes, but we don't have a set plan anywhere near as organized as yours. Mostly I just "try" to make better choices on the fly. I do try to eliminate HFCS anywhere I can and buy organic when monetarily feasible, especially produce. I don't buy organic milk (WAY expensive!) but I do buy a name brand (vs. store brand) that has no added hormones or antibiotics. Same with eggs. I'm making more things from scratch (like pancakes) instead of buying premade packages. Oh, and we've cut out red dye as much as possible (i.e., candy, kool-aid, icing, etc). I hear terrible things about that stuff.

Out of curiosity - do you get your meat and dairy from a grocery store, or from a local producer? I've been looking at Paidom locally, but just haven't ever gotten over my laziness enough to contact them. Also - what kinds of snacks have you switched to? We've never really bought many pre-packaged snacks, but that's always a hard one for me. My kids are already tired of apples and bananas. :)

valerie in TX said...

Oh, and we've gone more natural on cleaning products and personal care products, too. Mrs. Meyer's and Seventh Generation for cleaning. Make my own laundry soap. Lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash with no chemicals.

The Binkley Family said...

About five years ago, I was where you were. At first, I just went head first into the craze, but then I stepped back and decided I had gone off the deep end. I pretty much line up now where you do. I will tell you that I LOVE the Sun Crystals sweetener, which in my opinion is the best of both worlds, because I feel you on needing the sweet without paying for it. (Green box by the splenda, sweet n low, etc)

And you are way ahead of me on some of those other things. I am still debating on buying boots for winter, and I am not on Facebook at all!!! :)

Gayle said...

I read this post when you first put it up, but didn't have time to comment then... but I've been thinking about it.
I will never be a "crunchy" mama, but at the same time, I think being consciencious about what we are putting into our bodies is VERY important. I have such a hard time moving away from the ease of processed stuff, BUT have made great progress as of late.
I wish I could afford to go "all out", but eating extremely healthy does seem to be a burden on the pocketbook, sadly.