August 20, 2014

My Evolution to Real Foods, Organic, Junk & in between

Feb22

(Edited to add: Don’t miss reading the comments. It’s so fascinating to hear everyone’s story.)

Meandering the dicey waters of healthy eating is often a struggle for me. I think back on my early days of mothering and so distinctly remember our second’s son first bite of solids.

Any guesses?  Lovely chunks of plain tofu graced his highchair. Then I think ahead to our fifth child and her first bite of solids…a spoon full of vanilla ice cream. Now many would say it’s just the difference as we add on more children, but I beg to differ. For me, it’s an evolution of our family’s eating habits…the good, bad and ugly.

That second son wasn’t given any candy until his second birthday. (With the fifth, I’m pretty sure she was fist pumpin’ licorice at 12 months). When our first children were young, it was a time in our lives when I was extremely “crunchy” and cooked primarily vegetarian during the week, so that I could splurge with a burger on the weekend. I leaned towards as much organic as possible with whole foods being served across the board. Processed stuff virtually didn’t enter the house.

This was also a time when my sister in law was battling breast cancer. She was the healthiest eater I know, and I’m sure not one little preservative lived in that body. She choose an alternative medicine route and our entire extended family rallied around, especially in the eating department. If there were any extreme measures to research nutritionally, we knew them. I am well versed in healthy eating, whole foods, real foods, organic, vegetarian living etc. etc. and yet when she died, I went through a re-evaluation of sorts. Not that I didn’t believe that caring for our bodies was of vital importance, I still understood the nutritional need. Not that my convictions died about the extra pesticides and preservatives that can cause cancer building agents, or the facts surrounding early menstrual cycles with girls caused by all the junk we have in processed foods. No, I still believe all that, but I guess I just realized that some times we can do everything in our power nutritionally to lead our family, feed our family and serve our family the best, and the end result is still out of our control.

So does that mean I throw caution to the wind and say, “To each his own…eat, drink and be merry…” – absolutely not, but I think it does come down to balance.

And balance is a tough one in the world of healthy eating, especially for me. For years, I was more anal about our eating choices. It caused me stress, and so I believe my evolution was a healthy one. Not necessarily literally, because we do eat much more junk, but definitely emotionally.

So how do we meander the roads of healthy choices?

How much should we add into our food budget to choose organic, or is that really important? (I will be sharing my list on what I do choose…stay tuned.) Should I avoid all processed foods? (Well, if you’ve seen my grocery guru posts, you know I don’t.)

How do I choose which foods to say “yes” to and which foods just never enter our bodies (if there is a line that you can draw in the sand for that one?)

At this moment in my fridge, the picture above shows beverages I stockpiled. I have rice milk, almond milk, organic milk (all with coupons or marked down, I might add), and right next to those ultra healthy items, I have soda and fruit punch.

Some may call me a horrible mother for allowing red dye into my childrens bodies, while others call me extreme for ordering half a cow from a local farmer to ensure higher quality grain fed beef, or grinding my own grain, only to eat an Oreo as the bread rises on the counter.

It’s those daily decisions that are never going to be perfect, yet we educate ourselves and do what is right for our family. Sometimes that means making difficult decisions. Often, it means a higher grocery budget, but every once in awhile, it just means we throw caution to the wind and enjoy.

Do you have an evolution of eating? I’d love to hear in the comments.

TastyTuesday200pix Can You Freeze Soda?

Simple Rules for Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods – If you’re joining in with a recipe link, two simple requests. As always, Please link directly to your recipe post and not your blog URL, so that everyone can find the recipe months from now.

Also, link back here so that everyone can join in the fun, it’s just common courtesy of blog carnivals. Please do not link up a recipe meme that you have started. While I love to support new bloggers, many are using this as a marketing arena for personal reasons, and that is not its intent.  Thanks for your understanding.


Comments

  1. I definitely agree with you, that you can do and do–but that won’t necessarily mean you are immune from disease/sickness. We go back and forth on a lot of our food decisions, mostly because we live in a very rural area–so buying organic things at a reasonable price is sometimes impossible. And, due to time. When life is nuts, I just don’t find it top priority to make every snack and bread product from scratch. Family is important, too, and I don’t want my kids to look back in 20 years and say I only spent time in the kitchen, and not with them.

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  2. Kassandra Wood says:

    We are going through something VERY similar. I was raised by a working mother and father. Many times my meals were cooked from scratch, sometimes we ate at McDonald’s for a “treat” and other times my Dad fed me from a box. When my mother-in-law died of cancer while my father-in-law was battling 2 forms of cancer, I assumed it was their lifestyle or perhaps it was something environmentally. However, when I researched, I realized that cancer is RAMPID in my husband’s family. Not to mention, it is a familiar cause of death and illness in my family. My husband’s maternal grandmother died from cancer, his paternal grandmother suffered from breast cancer and now, 20 years later, is battling bone cancer. My husband’s paternal grandfather has seen his fair share of skin cancer and my grandfather and great-aunt died from cancer. I’ve come to realize that our children are at an incredibly high risk for cancer. So, we eat out… but only about once a month… I choose to buy all natural chicken, organic when it is on sale. We stay away from red meat as much as possible… we eat it on occasion… usually when we are “out to eat”. I do my best to buy local or organic produce. Sometimes, it is simply out of our budget and in those cases I focus on staying away from the non-organic “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies. I try to live by the “if it swims or has wings” rule for meat… and all of our eggs are all natural or organic. Our daughter is lactose intolerant, so Almond Milk and veggie ‘cheese’ can be found in our home… LOL Our milk is organic… However… we eat processed foods. Usually I stock up on things such as rice, pastas, sauces and some soups… I have been known to feed our children a cheese pizza out of a box… and, I love, love, love Chex mix. I want our children to understand what is VITAL in regards to their nutrition… but I also want to treat them in a way so that they don’t feel like they have to go ‘no-holds-bar, crazy, junk-food lunatic’ when it is time for them to make their own dietary choices. I am with you… I will say our daughter is in the 4th grade and she is the ONLY little girl in her class that does not wear a bra (this could also be because her mother is an “A on a good day”… j/k)… and I’ve recognized a higher energy level in our children as well as slight changes in their behavior since making more cautious decisions about the foods they eat. I say balance is exactly what we search for. A ton of healthy, whole foods with a splash of fun works for us! I am glad to hear I am not the only one that walks this line! Thanks for sharing! XOXOXOXO

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    Jen Reply:

    Kassandra – as always, thanks so much for sharing this. It was great finding out a bit more about your food choices.

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  3. I try to eat healthy and serve my family healthy foods, but I’m by no means a purist and I have an occasional Oreo too. I buy organic produce through a local CSA, drink only organic milk and am now looking for a local meat/poultry source, but I don’t have a problem if my kids have an occasional hot dog and mac-n-cheese for dinner. For the most part we eat healthy, non-processed foods, so I don’t get too stressed anymore on those occasions when we don’t.

    thanks for the link-up.

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  4. I think all moms go through an evolution of some sort at different times of life and for different reasons. Through our secondary infertility struggles and weight loss struggles, I decided to go back to God given foods – whole foods. We still eat primarily whole, real foods. Not necessarily organic. I prefer local over organic and if I can get organic food local reasonably priced – great! I definitely still splurge on an Oreo, pastries made by relatives and more. You definitely have to find what works for your individual family and your peace of mind. I found stressing about everything just wasn’t worth it, at this time in my life. I do what I can, where I can.

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  5. You are absolutely right. It is all about balance. I’m glad you wrote this post for those who may be beating themselves up for not eating perfect all the time. The truth is, God is in control of the outcome in the end. We try to eat as healthy as we can and I buy organic foods from the dirty dozen list. We do the best we can… and that’s all we can do right? Thanks again for this!

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  6. Great post and you’ve made some wonderful points that I totally agree with. I grew up in a very rural area and we ate what we grew and our meat came from other families in our area. I look back in awe of how lucky I was to be raised in such a healthy eating environment….and we didn’t even know we were doing anything “crunchy”. Now that I live in the burbs of Chicago, I truly appreciate all that I learned growing up. We have a small container garden each summer and I still get meat from farmers back home. Now that I’m home full time, I’ve been inspired to can tomatoes and make bread from scratch, much like my mom did when she was home with us. However, its truly a balance. There wasn’t a McD’s within 15 + miles of my childhood home, so it was a treat to go there. Now we have several within a few blocks of our house. Of course I take my kids there….and then they come home and enjoy homemade treats, yummy fruits and veg, etc. Thanks for this post….many of us DO stress out on this subject and need to pat ourselves on the back for the steps we already take.

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  7. We went from a lot of canned, pre packaged, refined white flour foods; to more from scratch, veggie and fruit filled dinner and whole wheat products. I still open a can of this and that occasionally, to make my life easier, but if I can make it from scratch, I try to.

    I grew up with Crohn’s disease, and couldn’t process many foods such as seeds, skins and whole wheat, so I was use to eating refined white flour and not a huge variety of fruits and veggies. I recently had to get an Ileostomy and I am so happy to be able to eat more healthily and a wider variety of fruits and veggies, which I love. The first thing I ate, when I was able to again, was a huge salad full of veggies!!!

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  8. Thanks for sharing your evolution of eating :) I’m like you, somewhere in the middle of the road. I like to feed my family healthy foods, but I also don’t want to be a food nazi and spend my life worrying about it all the time. My grandpa had bacon and eggs for breakfast every single day and he lived to be 90. I figure all things in moderation is my motto.
    Thanks for hosting the recipe swap and have a nice day.
    Katie

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  9. I’ve been working on deciding what is worth it and not. Dh is the only one that drinks soda. I do drink my 1 big cup of java in the morning. We eat the dirty dozen organic and am most recently buying organic meats and a few dairy products. It is so expensive to eat organically. I’m hoping that when we move I can find it more easily by getting some from a farm possibly.

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  10. I eat a little bit of everything in moderation. I strive to eat healthy but having a food blog and cravings usually throw me off. Now that I’m in my mid 40′s, I put on weight much easier so I have to be careful. I don’t believe in depriving myself. Life is too short.

    BTW…I added my Pepperoni Palmiers. Thanks for hosting!

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  11. Due to recent health scares with my husband, and now his body not being able to process water or sodium properly without the help of some serious medicines, I am re-evaluating our eating habits. While I know we will never go all organic, and definitely not vegetarian (hubby is a meat and potatoes guy), I am trying to change some of our eating habits. I try to change one small area at a time.
    I noticed you mentioned grinding your own wheat berries, what are the health benefits of that? Right now healthier breads is what I’m trying.
    Yes we love our junk food too and an occasional splurge I think is ok.
    Thanks for your post, it seems you always post what I need to hear when I need to hear it. God Bless.

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  12. Jen, I love your raw honesty. Personally, I think it’s unhealthy to consume a lot of junk, but I think it’s equally unhealthy to obsess and live in fear over everything that enters our bodies. I do my best, listen for God’s leading, and pray over my food.

    I only have two kids, but the first one never tasted junky food until he was two, and then only as a rare treat. At his first birthday party we had banana bread and fresh strawberries. My second child’s first birthday was a slice of ooey gooey cake slathered in pure sugar icing. Today they are 18 and 15. My son, the first child, eats way more junk food than his younger sister and she eats more vegetables and a much more balanced diet. Go figure.

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  13. Great Tuesday Link up! I linked up a crock pot chicken that is healthy. Overall when I cook I try and cook on the healthy side when I can. Sometimes you just can and those are the special treats. I love a good fried chicken but I don’t like to fry so we never have it. Instead a few times a year I’ll eat it out.

    Thanks for the link up! Susie

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  14. Great post. Great questions and thoughts. I have grown up on a dairy farm, eat grain fed beef the at I buy by the side from my brother, and buy pigs from our neighbors farm, where he raises 25,000 pigs a year, to butcher. I don’t worry about labels like organic or all natural, especially when I am buying whole foods like milk, meat, or eggs. What isn’t natural about milk, meat and eggs? And I have visited organic farms and non organic farms. Both are raising cows in a manner to serve a certain market. Most of the time organic farmers feel they can make more by being able to label their product organic. However, finding organic feed for their cows is really tough sometimes. I love that they are offering choice to consumers, but the end product has zero nutritional or safety advantages.

    I go with the motto, everything is fine in moderation. Americans didn’t get fat from an occasional soda, fast food stop, or candy bar. They got fat for only eating that. To limit ourselves entirely may lead to our kids not learning self control and moderation when they do do get access to this junk food.

    Looking forward to your follow up.

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  15. he…broccoli for the first bite of firstborn (which she still loves this day, 20 hears later) and then for the boy, I think it was oatmeal which he revolted against, and still does, 18 years later. Picky eater he is.
    We don’t make a big deal about organic BUT have started pushing towards healthier eating, such as wheat, whole grains, etc. The kids (well, mini adults now) are pushing towards healthier eating now too which I think has probably made ME more aware of what foods are. We do eat junk, don’t get me wrong, but we are all trying to be a little healthier in our choices. :) Like Jane said above, Hubby and I are in our mid and late 40′s and well, metabolism just isn’t what it used to be (not to mention joints, mental clarity, etc!) so that gives us a little extra incentive!

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  16. I am really struggling with this issue right now. I find it so hard to know what is best for our family–where to push the issue and where to just relax and let some processed but well liked food in. Which changes make the most difference, what will our budget allow, what will people actually eat, etc? I get pretty discouraged too when changes are flat out rejected. How on earth can you prefer processed peanut butter that tastes like peanut flavored shortening over pure ground peanut butter with salt (that I grew up with, I should add, so of course I like it)???? This issue is one where I need some more evolving to a less stressful, frustrated point! And it wouldn’t hurt if some people in my house would just get over their texture issues also. :)

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  17. True story: I “swore” when my first child was born that my kids would never have sugar/cookies/junk food. When he was a toddler, he put an M & M {NO clue where he got it :) } in his mouth & his entire face changed! Fast forward a few years when one of my sisters was over at our house: one kid asked me for a cookie & I handed it to him without hesitation. My sister about fell off her chair, and when she reminded me of my “vow” I couldn’t even remember it! My, how things change!

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  18. I think if you’re constantly moving forward and evolving on the healthy front is more important than militant adherance. I also think it’s CRUCIAL to involve your family in the WHY behind changes, new stuff etc…
    Thanks for the link up!
    Blessings!

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  19. I definitely have gone through an evolution! I used to coupon heavily in order to keep our grocery budget low. But then I became convicted about feeding my young children foods with preservatives and other ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. From there I shifted to including more fresh fruits and vegetables into our diet. I still couponed, but only for non-food items. Once I started on the path to more fresh, I moved towards including more organic foods as our budget allowed. Then, once I started reading blogs devoted to real food/Nourishing Traditions, I became more focused not only on organic foods, but local foods. Our diet now is 95% organic/organically-grown and/or local. Our beef is local, grass-fed and our chicken, pork and eggs are local and pastured. I also shop at our local farmer’s market and health foods stores now, cook from scratch and have started gardening. But we aren’t perfect! Everything in moderation!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

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  20. This is an excellent post, and I look forward to reading your organic shopping list. My husband & I are always working on finding that balance, especially since we both work fulltime jobs and I can’t always pull off a wholefoods meal every night! Yes, there are tater tots and fish sticks in my freezer. And ice cream. But there is organic almond milk in my fridge, homemade granola, lots of Flax, Chia, coconut oil… and Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup next to the Natural peanut butter. Hahaha I do what I can, with what I have, and trust the results up to God. I think we give ourselves far too much credit if we think we have control over our future (life, death, illness), yet at the same time, I do believe my body is the “temple” and God wants us to treat it wisely. Plus we feel better when we eat “healthier” and have more energy! So the balance continues. Thanks for posting about this and sharing your thoughts!

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  21. Great post. This is a struggle I have with myself as well. I used to not care, at all, what we ate. It was just a matter of ease and convenience. But lately, I’ve started caring quite a bit more. It is still finding the balance. Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution was so good for me. While he encourages healthy, whole foods, he also has recipes for scones and cakes–definitely not healthy, but at least it’s made at home. We also buy candy on occasion (which seems like there’s been an “occasion” going since Halloween!), and comparing my shopping to what it used to be, I’ve come a long way :) It’s also cheaper! Bonus.

    blessings,
    Beth

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  22. Also moving backwards and forwards in diet depending on how crazy our life is at any given time. I so agree that balance is key and no matter how hard we strive to we can never by our actions completely protect ourselves from for example cancer.
    I am considereing milling my own wheat and am curious to know your recommendations as to mills.

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  23. My eating continues to evolve. I still eat healthier than most people around me, but I swing back and forth between “too tired/ lazy to want to think about it” to “we have got to ditch the sugar and other processed junk”. I am currently on the Daniel Fast and really enjoy the simplicity and natural foods, but don’t enjoy the hassle factor of having to peel, dice, chop, or blend everything I want to eat. Where’s my protein bar? :-)

    As far as my kids — it sounds as if we are similar. I have raised them to make healthy choices (they are now 15 and 13). Of course my poor daughter struggles with her weight while my son struggles to hold onto any weight. But I don’t restrict them too much in what I bring into the house — but I do refuse to pay for sodas (to stay in the house — sometimes I’ll buy one out to eat). Occasionally if they are with me at the grocery store, they will buy their own 12-pack of sodas, even selling one to the other sibling at an inflated rate in a moment of desperation. That is between them and their allowance.

    To me, the whole thing is a matter of stewardship: of our finances, and of the body that we’ve been given. Is what I am putting in my body enabling me to be a good steward of this vessel the Lord has given me? Does it fuel my workout, as well as my day, well? Does it allow me to think clearly and feel well, or does it simply taste really good right now, but make me feel crummy later? It all goes hand in hand.

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  24. Jen,
    I miss coming by and haven’t talked to you in a while. I decided to link up today :)
    Your writting is amazing and I can totally relate. For me it involved a personal health crisis that led me down the totally organic path. One summer it was so extreme that all I did was juice orgainic produce. Organic wasn’t as easy to come by in those days. We did the meat thing too. Now I’m not strict in the organic dept but still buy organic veges and do the purified water. I’m on a whole new path to wellness that has really helped and fits our family. Thank the Lord…I actually found out about it through blogging:)

    Blessings…

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  25. When my three boys were younger (they are now 8 1/2 and 11 1/2), they ate a lot healthier than they do now. Partly because one of them had food allergies which he has outgrown. Unfortunately, now that they are older they don’t eat as healthy as I would like them to.

    I do offer the healthy stuff but often it gets wasted by two of them. And with this economy the way it is, I can’t afford to waste any food. One of them does love cukes, watermelon, broccoli, etc. I used to sneak the veggies and fruit in by putting baby food carrots in Spaghetti-os or fruit puree in brownies, but in the last year I got away from that for some reason.

    I do try to buy food that has no high fructose corn syrup when I can and when there is a choice. For example, Nesquik chocolate syrup has no high fructose corn syrup compared to the other brands. So that’s what we buy even if it’s not on sale or there’s no coupon. W also only buy Eggland’s Best eggs because they have more Omega-3s and less saturate fat in them than generic eggs. We also try to do whole grain white bread for the two boys who don’t like wheat bread.

    So yes definitely a food evolution in our house. And like yours not as healthy as it could be, but it could be much worse.

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  26. Excellent post! I went from eating lots of junk to eating low fat/high fiber to eating low fat/low fiber (IBS diet) to eating no sugar/gluten-free/dairy-free/low carb/low fiber (FODMAP diet) to now just enjoying what I eat, no matter what it is. I like to avoid processed foods, especially since the homemade versions are generally so much better, but I don’t freak out if we eat them. We enjoy eating out, and we do like desserts a little too much. Part of my new freedom is finding out that I don’t have IBS or fructose malabsorption like the doctors told me I did and learning how to take control of my digestion. Since then, I’ve enjoyed my freedom with a few too many cookies. :-) But, I plan on getting back to the 80/20 plan. Eat well 80% of the time and enjoy the other 20% when you don’t.

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  27. “but I guess I just realized that some times we can do everything in our power nutritionally to lead our family, feed our family and serve our family the best, and the end result is still out of our control.”

    I appreciate your take on balance with food and as a mom with 4 boys from 10-20 I am right there with you. This statement jumped at me because you can also trade out the word’nutritionally’ with ‘spiritually’ and have an equally accurate statement. I think too many of us moms think we can control things so much that there are then guaranteed outcomes. I know at one time I thought that, but the statement I tell my guys frequently keeps coming back to me ” You can only control yourself, no one else.” In food and in many areas of life we can provide good choices, model good behavior, but ultimately know everyone has to choose for themselves.

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    Jen Reply:

    Jen K – I am right there saying “amen” to each line of this. When I wrote this post, the same thought went through my mind, but it was a “food” post. :) Right now, I am on my knees for our children (some making better choices than others)..and to think that just a few years ago I may have thought that their were some “guaranteed” outcomes. ;)

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  28. Great post! I don’t have kids but I can imagine how much I would want to feed them the perfect food all of the time!
    My main goal is I am trying to consume a lot more vegies. I am home alone a lot so many times I get lazy about fixing something for myself because I don’t want to stop whatever I am working on. I had hoped that by starting a blog it would push me to cook more all of the time- it’s working!
    Now I have to find time to do my jewelry again. I am so bad at balancing what I do!
    This week I shared my recipe for Lemon Mousse. It is incredible tasting- like a combination of the filling and the meringue of a Lemon Meringue Pie!
    Thanks for hosting!

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  29. Well said! It’s all about balance. I serve my family the best food that I can afford. No quilt. No apologies.

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  30. Yes! I grew up in a family that believed that the less time we spent in the kitchen preparing meals, the better. I had no clue about cooking when I got married, and most of our food came from boxes for a long time.

    As time went on, I began to really think about nutrition and learn how to cook more. A few years ago, I fell into anxiety about how we were eating and started to feel almost obsessive about getting it all “right.” But we couldn’t afford to make some changes, and some things took a lot more time.

    In the end, I fell like I have found a much better balance. I was reminded that God is in control–no matter what. Nothing I do is going to add one day to the time I’ve been given. But, if I let my anxiety about food some between me and the ministry to which I’ve been called, then that’s a big deal. I didn’t have the mental energy to think about serving others when I was obsessing about food.

    We’ve landed sort of in place where we do a lot of cooking from scratch, and we eat a lot of whole foods, but we definitely compromise. I want to teach my children about healthful foods, but I don’t want to pass on the anxiety I have experienced.

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  31. Just linked up a recipe featuring lamb chops, as that is the themed ingredient on this months “Iron chef Challenge” I didn’t know if you have ever cooked with lamb or not, but we have some great recipes to share this week.

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  32. I have to laugh that you posted this on the day that I blogged about bacon. :) I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who goes back and forth on the whole eating thing. When DH and I were first married I was in school full time and working part time on top of it while he was working 12 hour days so we ate a lot of junk. At some point I realized that we might go a week without any fruits or veggies, just meat and pasta so I signed us up for a CSA. We started in the winter (where we are we have a year round growing season) so we got a ton of greens and root veggies. Many of the things we got I had never heard of, but by that point we’d moved closer to DH’s work and I was only doing school part time so I did my best to figure out how to cook everything. When I got pregnant I was sure that I wanted to make sure to eat nothing but whole, local foods for the good of myself and my growing baby. However, I didn’t know about the nausea and extreme fatigue. Before long we were back to processed foods. Once my daughter was born she was really colicy and we discovered when she was 2 months old that she had an extreme dairy allergy so I had to cut cows milk from my diet. Before long we discovered that her allergies extended to soy and corn as well. Needless to say at that point I made my own everything and was shopping at the co-op, etc all while dealing with a high needs infant. I was exhausted and got to where I hated cooking, reading labels, etc. When she outgrew her allergies 6 months later it was one of the happiest days of my life, I celebrated with pizza! We still eat pretty healthy, but our grocery budget has shrunk due to all of our daughter’s medical bills so now I have to make more choices. We try to focus heavily on fresh fruits and veggies and homemade bread, but sometimes I just decide it isn’t worth it that day and we go out to eat or I whip up something tasty and less than healthy. At this point my daughter loves fruits and veggies and whole grains, but she also likes doughnuts (this is what happens when you leave a daddy in charge) and cookies. I have friends that still try to do 100% organic, mostly vegetarian, no sugar, etc and most of their kids don’t really like solid food even at a year and a half while my daughter will happily eat fruit or whole wheat bread or whatever we’ve made for dinner. At this point my goal is to practice moderation and save the unhealthy stuff for treats, but not to beat myself up if we have mac&cheese from a box with our homemade applesauce for dinner once in a while.

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  33. I agree. I try to eat 80% organic, but we do eat some junk food. I don’t see any problem with this at all.

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  34. Wow, what a wonderful discussion going on here! My entire blog, A Moderate Life is all about living life in the middle of the road because I have been so far afield when it came to nutrition protocols trying to heal from Lyme Disease more naturally. The truth is this, you could put 100 people on the same diet and some will do well and other’s wont. You can poll folks over 100 years of age and most will tell you they eat like crap, smoke and drink. The point is this, genetics, environment, mentality, emotions and belief all play a part in your health. I know a woman who just passed away from a rare cancer and she exercised and ate organically her whole life, but her biggest issue was fear of illness and fear of “bad foods” that fear will affect you FAR more than the occasional treat. I say, eat intuitively, follow your heart when it comes to the occasional craving, hug someone every day and laugh and you will be just fine! I am linking up some whole wheat hamburger buns that I used the kitchenaid mixer to make much easier! They have some white flour in them. Oh GASP! :) They were delicious and my kids loved em. All the best, Alex

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  35. Organic or not is really NOT an issue for most people in terms of health. Let’s face it most don’t even eat 6 servings of fruit/veggies never mind the recommended 7-9 for health. You have to eat well for many many years to see the benefits but they are so worth it. I don’t worry so much about organic but we eat green smoothies and lots of fruit/veg everyday.
    Your sister in laws health was much more impacted with what she had eaten for the last ten years than what she ate after diagnosis…although that matters as well just not as much once you actually have cancer. To PREVENT disease means eating lots and lots of veggies…most people don’t even come close.

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  36. I so appreciate this post. This is a constant struggle for me — and I’m always seeking to find balance! I’ve read Nourishing Traditions several times — and then, I get overwhelmed!

    So, I’m trying to make small changes. A few at a time…like making our own yogurt, making more of our food from scratch, etc.

    But I still like to eat a few processed things once in a while. Truly, I know many people who have eaten well throughout their life and still faced disease and affliction. I’ve also known some who eat terribly and live to be older than most.

    We must never forget where we live (a sinful world)! Life isn’t “fair”, and though I think we should try to eat as well as we can — ultimately, we are not in control. But I’m thankful I know the One who is!! :)

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  37. We raise the beef that goes to your market, and we freeze our corn, and we make applesauce from our trees without any sugar. I also have Oreos in the pantry. To live a healthy life is to make good choices and create balance. I am healthier when I eat lean meat, vegetables steamed or raw, fresh fruit, and healthy carbs, BUT I also need to exercise and try very hard not to let stress rule my life.
    The pressure is really on moms to raise healthy children, especially in the wake of increasing numbers of obese children and adults in our world. Food is an integral part of living a healthy life, but let’s not leave out the benefits of exercise and happiness. Moms need to have a basic healthy game plan that gives kids a nutritious meal and healthy choices of snacks, but let’s also allow the donuts and bacon on the weekend. Smiling and laughter are just as good if not better for the soul than a continuous meal of broccoli and tofu.

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  38. Personally, I feel like if I am cooking a warm meal for my family, I have had a successful day.

    In the summer, I do garden with my family–despite my brown thumbs– and can/freeze what I can.

    I don’t spend my money on organic or the other labels that are popular today because I personally believe they are more about marketing than any nutritional or health value. I’d rather shoot for whole food that I can use to make a healthy meal we will enjoy.

    I also don’t shy away from treats in moderation in either eating out or in.

    We can’t control what happens in this world and I don’t want to live my life in fear of my food or anything else or create that type of environment for my family.

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    Jolene S. Reply:

    “We can’t control what happens in this world and I don’t want to live my life in fear of my food or anything else or create that type of environment for my family.”
    AMEN! :)

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  39. I agree – it’s everything in moderation. I prefer to bake and cook from scratch but there are frozen pizzas in my freezer and boxed mac and cheese in my pantry. I prefer to buy produce locally and seasonally when possible but it doesn’t always happen. I enjoy participating in a CSA but dread the weekly drives out to the farm so I skip some seasons. If I have a source for farm fresh eggs, I buy them but they can be hard to find. The one place I do not compromise is on meat. I only buy locally raised grass fed beef and pork. It tastes so much better! I’d buy chicken locally, too, if I didn’t have to buy the whole bird every time – that just doesn’t work for us.

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  40. A friend just posted this on Facebook, so it’s my first visit to your blog. Boy, can I relate to all that you said. However until 6 years ago (when our two oldest girls were diagnosed with autism) I was completely oblivious to the meaning of whole foods. After lots of prayer for direction and wisdom, our journey led us to some amazing holistic practitioners and my eyes were opened for the first time. Because we were in the fight of our lives for our kids, we followed a very strict dietary regimen for two years. But it was only one aspect of the multi-faceted protocol.

    About two years ago as I was once again asking God for wisdom, I simply felt a “release” and peace in my soul about easing up on our diet. I don’t regret a single made-from-scratch, allergen-free snack. For me, I just want us to eat in “faith” and not “fear.” You can eat super healthy but do it in fear — fear of getting sick. That’s counterproductive and defeats the whole purpose because that very worry will weaken our immune system.

    I’d say your post describes my current approach to a “T” and if I ever sense God steering our family back to a more strict diet for a season I hope and trust I’ll be obedient again.

    Looking forward to following your blog now. =)

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  41. I am the mother who will buy grows a summer garden, using no pessticides, buy organic bananas from the store and stockpile a load of day-old doughnuts in the cart to serve for breakfast the next day. Yeah, I’m that mom.

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    We’re that mom together, sweet Amy. :)

    [Reply]

  42. I’ve come along way too, beginning with my second child, 8 yrs ago. I started elminating processed foods and slowly started freezer cooking and now I shop my freezer for nearly every meal at momonamission.me I freezer cook so I can make large quanitites and still have preservative free food. I also use coupons and buy organic when I can and my goal is to buy local meat this year and grind my own flour. Isn’t God’s food wonderful?

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  43. I am a farmer’s wife and have worked in the nutrition and food arena for 5 years.

    I think we need to acknowledge that we have one of the most safe, affordable and abundant food supplies in the world. Hence why we are having this conversation in the first place regarding organic, local and fill in any other food buzz word out there.

    I also think we need to understand that you can be unhealthy and overweight while eating an organic, local, etc. diet.

    I think we should really be concerned that our society doesn’t understand portion control and size. A friend of mine that moved here from Holland made this point over the weekend that in America everything involving food is biggie sized.

    Do we know how many servings of meat, dairy, fruits and veggies our kids and we are supposed to consumer? Do we know how much of x, y and z equals a serving?

    Maybe this could merit a post?

    And don’t get me started about how much time kids spend in front of the tv or computer and not outside playing or moving.

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    Oh trust me, you are spot on in terms of portion control, lack of restraint, and lack of exercise. I absolutely agree. That would need to be a whole different topic in terms of portion control, although I do think this is still a very important topic.

    You again are right that we may have one of the largest food supplies, but we are heading down a slippery slope with all the “fake” food being offered. Your hubby grows his own food, and you are completely educated in this arena, but the families that live off all processed foods daily, without incorporating whole foods and produce into their diets, even if it’s in moderation are still living unhealthy lifestyles.

    But yes, much more emphasis on portion control and turning off the TV. I have definitely written about that before because it gets me riled too. :)

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  44. Sarah in Indiana says:

    We should be thankful to even have the luxury of this conversation. I have visited places where people are hungry. They don’t sit around talking about these issues. Instead, they are focused on finding their next meal.

    We live in a country with an abundant food supply. Because none of us have experienced true hunger, I think it’s easy to take our resources for granted. No matter what you choose to purchase (organic, not organic, healthy or junk), just be thankful to have the opportunity to purchase it at all.

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    Jen Reply:

    Absolutely – it is a true blessing to be able to discuss these choices. We plan on taking our children on a third world trip this year to open their eyes to precisely this topic. We work with refugees in the area and it’s amazing to see this through their experience.

    With that being said, I am so grateful for the country we live in and want to make the best choices for our family with the resources we have. I know we all feel the same.

    [Reply]

    Sarah in Indiana Reply:

    Jen,

    Thanks for the reply. I think the comments I posted came off as being more judgmental than they were intended to be.

    The conversation within the context of America is legitimate. As a mother I struggle with the same things. It’s just that our farmers (and I know many of them personally) have had to spend a lot of time in recent years defending what they do while trying not to be legislated out of business by unrealistic expectations built on elitist ideas about raising food.

    I just find it all terribly hard to stomach when considering the much larger picture.

    Thanks for the post!

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    No worries. It’s often hard to have a heart to heart online…doesn’t always translate, but trust me, I agree with all you have said. (Now the legislation issues of our leaning towards the big government would definitely be a diff. post..and I agree, much of what farmers are being legislated into is crazy. ;) )

  45. Jen, I love your blog – and you come up with the best posts! Your & the other Jen’s comments about control, I fight with this one. I am a big control freak, even though I’m trying to conquer it, and we just lost my Dad to brain tumors (cancerous, of course) so over the last 15 months, all our focus (and especially my focus) has been on making the day we have the best. When he was diagnosed we all said, “Dad? No!” because he was a healthy eater, a runner, never overweight… I dealt with the loss then, knowing he wouldn’t be around forever, and then my hubby & I looked for a way to make a memory each day.

    That is the best advice I can offer to anyone, whether you’re facing disease or dietary challenges or just life with crazy children or a job you don’t love: live for today, and make today the best it can be, and give up the control of the future. Of course we can’t control it, but it’s hard to remember that when your calendar is out and you’re looking at next Christmas to figure out who needs a home-made gift and who needs a purchase….

    As to our eating habits, we have definitely not gotten all the way to healthy! My kids love Oreos, and Pizza Rolls (disgusting cardboard things), and candy; and I’m still trying to find a vegetable they eat more than one tiny bite of; but it’s a process. :) Right? We have to keep getting up in the morning and doing it again, so I might as well keep trying! As the fish in Finding Nemo says, “Just keep swimming…swimming…swimming…”
    :) Thanks for a great blog, and I think you’re a great mom and cook!!!

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  46. Jen, a HUGE thanks for your honesty. I can’t get enough of real.

    As a dietitian, I daily see folks that have “eaten, drank and be merry” and are now paying for it. However, I also see how a lack of freedom with food has ruined health as well. So, the way I eat is 80% of the time is whole foods. But 20% of the time is not. Freedom and good nutrition in balance is a good thing!

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