Our Dietary Changes

Our diet has been evolving for several years, and pregnancy and parenthood only served to accelerate these changes. I thought I would share what our process has been so that hopefully it might help someone else out there.

The key, I believe, has been that these changes have come slowly and gradually, making the changes a true lifestyle change rather than a short-term solution.  

Hopefully this will inspire you to make slow and easy changes for a healthier diet and lifestyle more in sync with the earth.

Dietary Changes for a Healthier Lifestyle

1) No more preservatives

Ok, I don’t want to sound all dramatic, but these are literally poison. I mean yes they are very small amounts, but when the FDA calls something “Generally regarded as safe” (GRAS), it really means “we don’t actually know but it probably won’t kill you”.

But seriously, humans have not evolved to eat this stuff and just because our body can “deal” with it, doesn’t mean we should actually be consuming it. (We’ve actually been vigilant of this for a few years now).   

2) No “fake” sugars:

I don’t think this is new news at all, but high fructose corn syrup is bad for you, and so is aspartame and all the other replacement sugars.

If you’re going to have sugar, just have sugar. (Again an old change for us). [Update: we switched to non processed sugars such as coconut sugar; then switched to only honey as a sweetener on the GAPS diet, more below].

3) No partially hydrogenated oils:

It took one episode of Opera many years ago for me to realize just how gross this stuff is.

The thing is, so many processed foods that seem innocent contain this, for example ritz crackers or (not natural) peanut butter.

This change was definitely a little tougher, but avoiding processed box stuff has been not too bad, and peanut butter I started making at home about 2 years ago.  

4) No more artificial food coloring:

It is astounding how much stuff has food coloring, and we’ve known about adverse effects of them for many, many years now. Even my toddler understands in very rudimentary language that petroleum=yucky.

I find it hard not to “cheat” on this one from time to time because pretty much any candy, birthday cake etc has coloring, but we just do our best to limit it.  

5) Artificial flavors:

It has the word “artificial” so that should be reason enough not to eat it. Again tough because it’s hiding in so many items.  

Up until now, these are things that I think many people know about, even if they choose to ignore that knowledge, so for us these are no-excuses. Now I’m going to go into more recent changes that have been a little harder to implement.  

6) Refined white sugar:

Since I do most of our baking, I always figured that sugar was just fine from time to time.

However, I experimented by cutting it out of our diet for several months (replacing with honey, maple syrup, agave) and boy, can we tell the difference now.

Part of it is that your palette just naturally adapts and refined sugar just tastes too sweet in comparison, the bigger part though, is that when we have sugar we just feel awful. Sugar high, sugar low.

The best comparison I can make is to the glucose test, just sickeningly sweet. From time to time I will still use sugar but overall the yucky feeling we get afterward is just not worth it.

7) Whole wheat bread and pasta:

This was actually a huge change for us, and one that is still in process. Wheat is THE staple in our diet, but in an effort to focus more on whole grains I slowly replaced our white flour products with whole wheat and we feel so much better.

Now when we have white bread or pasta we realize how quickly we become hungry again and just how empty the calories we are consuming. So we have mostly switched to whole wheat bread and pasta, but will still eat the white stuff from time to time. Essentially we get the same feeling as we do from the refined sugar, sluggish.

[Update: Since I did a Whole30, I have been completely gluten free and mostly grain free, except for the rare sour dough].

8) Healthy fats – Cold pressed oils: 

We completely cut out all vegetable oils. Looking at you: canola. Instead we use only cold pressed oil- usually just olive oil.

This also meant that we cut out snacks like potato chips that are fried in toxic vegetable oils such as cottonseed oil, gmo canola oil (also called rapeseed oil), palm oil, sunflower oil, gmo soybean oil and more.

[Update- We use pastured animal fats for cooking, and olive oil for salads!]

9) Organic animal products:

When I stopped being a vegetarian, my “condition” was that we would only eat pastured, happy animals. This was an important change that I feel good about!

Better yet, free range and pastured meat tastes so much better than the conventional, factory farmed meat.

We also got vigilant about buying organic dairy and eggs! Suggestions for sourcing good eggs in this post.

10) Organic vegetables:

Less pesticides is the name of the game. I’ve come to realize how our food system is bathing in toxins, that ARE wreaking havoc on our health.

To source local and organic vegetables we join a farm share wherever we can. Thankfully, there is so much more awareness these days, you can buy many organics even at Costco!

Implementing Dietary Changes

Is this the order of changes you should take? That’s for you to decide. However, I think a great first step is eliminating processed food. Doing this will naturally eliminate bad oils, artificial colors and flavors, and most sugar.

My best suggestion is rather than ravaging your pantry, finish up what you have and don’t buy more. If it’s not in your house, you can’t eat it. Simple as that.

Then move on to transitioning to more organics. You can still shop at grocery stores, and most places have decent organic selection these days. You don’t have to do it all at once. Every step is a step in the right direction.

For fruits and vegetables, if you find organic cost prohibitive, you can focus on buying the dirty dozen. Another option is to just buy the cheap organic options.

Have you made dietary changes in your household? Which ones have made the biggest difference for you?

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