I know so many people who are working to get healthy. They’re concerned about losing weight, controlling blood sugar, blood pressure, or just being here for their kids down the road. This has all certainly been in the back of my mind as we’ve headed down this road to health and I remember starting off nearly 5 years ago and being totally overwhelmed by everything that was being thrown at us. We were learning, quite suddenly, that “healthy” as the modern world sees it was not actually healthy at all. Low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-carb? All really not the best options. Vegan, vegetarian, soy? Not things we wanted to be doing for optimum health. So we came home from our second or third appointment with our chiropractor and naturopathic doctors and had kind of a “What do we eat now?” moment. I was in comfort mode after my husband learned all the things he “couldn’t” eat anymore so I bought some stevia and other odd ingredients and made us the most disgusting sugar, dairy, grain, and egg free pumpkin pie. Looking back I laugh, but at the time it was the only thing I could think to do about our new-found knowledge of our food allergies. It was impossible to think of life without bread, cake, pasta, Dr. Pepper, and more. Impossible and heartbreakingly overwhelming. And so, I spent my days desperately trying to recreate the things I was sure I had lost.
I found so many websites that talked about following the teachings of Weston A. Price. And I got the overwhelming feeling that if I did not do things perfectly, I may as well go choke on my cheeseburger, because there was no point in doing the best that I could. This attitude was never more clear than when Sarah Pope of The Healthy Home Economist tore into breastfeeding moms for their poor diets, indicating that they would be better to feed their babies homemade formula than to feed them the milk that nature intended. With advice such as this available putting people off from making changes, it’s no wonder so many feel alienated by the healthy living community.
My approach is much more moderate and I’d like to share it with you because I feel sometimes as tho too many people think if they can’t do it perfectly that they just can’t do it at all. Start with vegetables. Get as many of them into your diet as you can. I used to consider vegetables a luxury food and sometimes, I still do. It took a lot of work for me to learn how to find the best deals. One thing I found made the biggest difference was eating seasonally which is a wonderful thing to do for your health anyway, but it sounds so fancy and snooty. “Oh I eat only local and in season” sounds like something overheard at Whole Foods. Here’s why it doesn’t need to be that way tho. Seasonal produce will almost always be the cheapest options available. So in the spring, you’ll be seeing radishes, greens, eventually some strawberries, asparagus, and green onions for example are starting to be nicely discounted. If you can find a local farmer’s market (and fortunately we’re seeing a huge resurgence in the popularity of these markets) the things the vendors are selling are the things most likely to be in season in your area right then. And farmers are an amazing resource if you can talk to one. They can often tell you ways to use their produce because they have to find ways to use up what doesn’t sell themselves. So don’t be afraid to tap into that resource.
I’m going to take a moment to digress here tho and ask you to PLEASE not go to the market at the end of the day only in hopes of getting them to sell to you at half-price. They work hard and often for very little profit (some days are a loss if the weather is bad). Just as you need to earn a living, so too do they. Please don’t go just in hopes of free produce. So many of them are above and beyond generous, but please don’t go in expecting them to just hand over anything that’s left. I say this with love of all farmers and customers alike.
So now we’re thinking seasonally. What’s next? Discount grocery stores such as Aldi and Sav-A-Lot are great options for getting veggies into your diet, whether fresh or frozen. They spend less on displaying and storing their products in order to pass on a larger savings to the consumers. Often produce at these stores will need to be used quickly in order to prevent spoilage, so be sure to inspect it closely for spots, mold, bruising, or mushy greens to ensure it will last for you to use it. If you have space in a freezer, many things can be frozen with no extra work. As an example, I often freeze tomatoes fresh from our favorite farm store after removing bad spots and the stems. We invested in a deep freeze specifically for this purpose, but a bag or two of frozen tomatoes squeezes into even a small freezer quite nicely and takes the place of canned tomatoes in most meals while adding a fresher brighter flavor to foods. For me it’s a treat to go to the freezer in December and have fresh tomato taste in my foods in a hurry. I also freeze bell peppers in the summer at the peak of their season when they can be found for cheap from local farms in abundance. Broccoli, cauliflower, celery, onions, cooking greens such as chard and spinach, and many other veggies are perfect candidates for freezing. When it comes to produce, the easier, the better as far as I’m concerned.
This is a lot to chew on so tomorrow we’ll work on the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen and in the meantime, I would love to hear from you where your sticking points are.