Friday, April 6, 2012

Why I believe in REAL FOOD

As I began my post about days 3 & 4 for the Real Food Challenge, I began digressing into where I've seen the benefits of certain choices. It was turning into a tangent; so I decided to make it a separate post. If you have any doubts that your food choices can influence your health, I encourage you to read this. I share this as a concerned mom and have no affiliation with any of the products mentioned here.

Last month I decided to prepare at least one dinner vegetarian and to cut down on our meat consumption by half (same dishes but using less meat.) Why? If you haven't seen the documentary Forks Over Knives, I recommend it. I saw it for free on Netflix. They do a good job of laying out the science of why a plant-based diet is better for you and the price we are paying as a society for eating so much meat and dairy. The concept was nothing new to me but seeing the radical change in people's health based on their food choices was. And it didn't matter if someone had eaten poorly for decades; they could still turn it around with a few choices.

Now I admit I love meat: chicken, beef, pork, lamb, fish, you name it. And I don't plan to become a vegetarian any time soon. But I do believe there are benefits to returning to a more traditional diet higher in grains, fruits, and vegetables and lower in meat and dairy. That's where I am on my food journey.

My first experience in seeing the connection of food to health came out of trying to fix some issues with our kids. Last spring our son Bobby was having daily stomach aches and our daughter Brooke was having severe ear infections. After ruling out gluten as an offender, we switched from cow's milk to almond milk.

I was initially nervous about this switch because my family was consuming 3-4 gallons of milk a week! Yes, you read that correctly. Since almond and soy milk is about twice as expensive, I was reticent. But taking that leap of faith paid off tremendously and it hasn't impacted my budget. Here's why. Though everyone in the family except Devin likes almond milk, we don't drink nearly as much of it as cow's milk (about half). So between coupons, sales, and less consumption, we are paying the same.

Now the benefits. Bobby's stomach aches disappeared within days and never returned. Brooke hasn't had an ear infection in a year. Other than well visits, we didn't visit the doctor's office once this winter; not once! She had a few runny noses, but a scoop of local honey or saline nasal mists seemed to help. And Bobby at 7, nearly 8 years old, was still wetting the bed at night. After switching to almond milk, he never wet the bed again. They still get ice cream, cheese, and yogurt, but I'm a believer we should all be consuming less dairy milk.

If we can see that much improvement with one food change, I'm looking forward to how we'll feel with less meat and more homemade bread in our diet. My wheat arrives next week! Baby steps.

How have you seen food change your health?

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