Eating better as a family in two easy steps

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Written by Amida of Journey Into Unschooling.

A few years ago, I had the most horrible rash known to mankind. It started as a small, itchy patch that I took for bug bites. But then it grew bigger and other patches started popping up until my whole body was covered with it.

I went to the doctor, who quizzed me and determined that I was allergic to the new dog living in my home.

I went to the allergist, who examined me under a microscope, and declared I had scabies.

I went to the dermatologist, who took one look at my arms, and he said it was obviously eczema. While they all prescribed me ointments (I declined the scabies treatment) that offered relief of my symptoms, not one of them offered any long term solutions to the problem. I was still breaking out and scratching myself bloody. Something had to be done.

In desperation, I took the advice of a friend and went on a 3-week elimination diet.

For three weeks, I cut out all wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, and processed foods from my diet. I thought my diet was going to consist of rice cakes with almond butter, but in actuality, there was a wide variety of foods that were still quite “edible.” Rice, vegetables, meat, and even potato chips were good to go.

Within the first week, my rash stopped flaring up. By the second, it started drying up. By the third, I was definitely on my way to healing.

Finally! After months of agony, I did not itch one bit. It was a miracle and all I did was change my diet.

I started adding food back and noted that the big reaction was caused by any food that contained additives. Too much take out and processed foods had obviously built up within me and my health suffered for it. As soon as I removed the culprit, I started healing.

To this day, I believe in the healing powers of food and try to make smarter choices within my family.

This is not to say we are total health nuts and eat clean every day. I love bacon as much as the next person. I just try to eat smarter most of the time. By just making a couple changes here and there, we can all eat healthier and feel better:

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Step 1: Buy organic as much as possible

I realize we can’t always afford organic, but I try to buy it as much as possible.

Farmer’s markets are a fantastic source of locally grown produce, and an awesome choice if you have one nearby. Or if you prefer the one stop shop, just head to your neighborhood grocery store.

Luckily, my local supermarket has regular sales on organic produce and I try to stock up on those weekly and base my meals and fruit choices around those items. This is an easy and affordable way to incorporate organic foods into your family’s diet.

Just recently, I started purchasing only organic meats. Apparently, it is not only more nutritious and less fattening, you’re not unwittingly eating the excess hormones or antibiotics that might have been fed to the animal. We raise chickens in our backyard and I know that if they were injected with unknown chemicals or fed junk food, I wouldn’t even consider eating their meat or eggs.

Just remember, you are what you eat, so choose wisely (most of the time), but at the same time, find stuff you would actually like.

Go for snacks and treats with recognizable ingredients and cereal products made of whole grains. Try new products and find the ones that speak to your palate. I personally find gluten-free bread disgusting and would rather purchase plain whole wheat bread. On the other hand, I prefer the taste of gluten-free pasta over the whole wheat variety, so that is what I usually buy.

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Step 2: Cook at home

With summer in full swing here, we will be spending much of our time outdoors, which means we will also be eating breakfast or lunch on the go.

To make life easier, I like to prep multiple meals at once, often assembling entire loaves of bread into sandwiches, boiling a dozen eggs, or wrapping all ten tortillas into burritos, for grab and go lunches.

Another favorite go-to lunch staple is rice, be it mixed with some meat and vegetables, or stuffed and rolled up in seaweed for a yummy sushi roll.

If I’m short on time, I fry up a quick egg sandwich breakfast or pack a variety of pre-cut veggies and nuts for lunch that are ready in 5 minutes. These are almost always supplemented with a fruit and snack for a satisfying meal.

When you have the time and feel inspired, it’s great fun to experiment with new healthy recipes.

I love making “super” salads (made up of mostly chopped crunchy fruits and vegetables, with a few leafy ones), and green smoothies. I distinctly remember my first green smoothie — it was made up of frozen mangoes, pineapples, and peach, with just a few leaves of spinach. These days, I go all out and mix up all sorts of crazy concoctions — nut butter? avocado? chia seeds? Bring it on.

As mentioned earlier, I am not a total health nut, and will still feed myself and my family bad stuff when the situation arises. Sometimes, we make bad choices and that’s ok. I just make sure to make better choices at the next meal (or even the next, next meal).

These days, I can eat the occasional junk food and not break out in a rash. I believe this is because I’ve cleansed my system enough that it doesn’t immediately react to processed foods, which is why I’m ok with the occasional “slip.”

The aim isn’t perfection, after all. It’s a journey to better awareness, better health, and better choices, most of the time.

When I see my 8-year-old mixing up a green smoothie for her younger sibling, complete with almond butter, spinach, and chia seeds, I can rest assured knowing we are at least heading in the right direction.

What are your tips for healthier food choices?

About Amida

Amida is the mom to three darn kids. She used to stress about state standards and test scores but has since come to her senses and enjoys blogging about her family’s journey into unschooling.

Comments

  1. melanie lawn says:

    I had a similar experience ! I have Psoriasis. Also a couple of years ago my face broke out in a nasty, tight, red, painful rash. The doctors couldn’t agree what it actually was and inevitably gave me a collection of creams and lotions. Summer was arriving and It hurt so much I couldn’t even stand to have fresh air blowing on it, so no outdoors for me that summer 🙁
    I looked like someone had thrown a pot of boiling oil into my face.
    I knew then that I had to get serious about cleaning up my diet. I had half heartedly done some previous research because of my Psoriasis. I found the Autoimmune Paleo diet. It was extreme !! and hard work but I was desperate. In about 8 weeks my skin was almost completely clear , my face was healed and my psoriasis was all but gone.
    As a bonus my joints no longer ached in the mornings, I jumped out of bed full of energy, I lost about 20 pounds, I looked 10 years younger, and I felt on top of the world. Everyday was a good day !! LOL
    I eventually fell off the paleo wagon because it is hard work to keep it up. I consider myself a total convert though, and am now again trying to stick with a much less vigorous version so I don’t end up there again. My skin has stayed reasonably manageable, but the aches and tiredness returned pretty smartly LOL.
    Personal circumstances have had be feeling very down lately, bordering on depression ( of which I have had some experience with post partum) I knew in my heart that I needed to give myself the best chance of feeling well by cleaning up my diet again. I am about 2 weeks into a cleanse ( the whole30) and although my situation is still not great, I am starting to feel like I have the reserves to deal with it until it is resolved.
    I absolutely 100% believe that our food choices affect our well being, mental and physical.
    I am almost grateful that I experienced that awful rash because I would not know what know now, had I not needed to do something desperate.

  2. We’ve discovered some gluten sensitivities in our family. How do you handle putting wheat back into your diet? Right now, we’re essentially no gluten unless we’re out to eat and can’t find other good alternatives. But it’s tough when you’re not allergic to it, just sensitive.
    Maggie’s latest post: Summer Day 3

    • The first day I put wheat back in my diet, I ate a LOT of it, mostly to test if it affected me. It was the worst feeling ever — bloated, stomach pains — I didn’t want to test any other food after that. But I did and just introduced everything more slowly. I can definitely tolerate wheat in moderation and I guess that is what worked for me. Like T33CH advised, find the amount that works for you.
      Amida’s latest post: Finally, A Use For Orphaned Socks!

  3. I am glad you took your health into your own hands and experimented with your diet. An old school nutritionist or doctor would have warned you to not eliminate food groups because you might develop nutritional deficiencies. This type of fear mongering has really hurt a lot of people and has kept the power to heal firmly entrenched in the medical communities’ hands.

    @Maggie
    Wheat doesn’t make me feel well, but I still enjoy eating it. I have to treat it as a dessert vs a staple. Find the right amount that works for you.

  4. We went for a long period where my husband was unemployed, and I learned to cook healthy meals on a very, very small budget. He’s since got a job, and I’ve been able to apply those skills to actual food. I buy organic hamburger, because we eat a lot of it (hamburgers, tacos, Mexican dips, casseroles, meatloaf). Also regular hamburger was starting to go straight through me, due to the additives. My kids are picky about veggies, so I blend up kale and carrots in a smoothie, disguised under yogurt and whatever seasonal berries are on sale. I’ve never really liked bread, but we order pizza every so often, and the kids love toast, and jelly sandwiches. We don’t eat much processed food. My kids have very little knowledge of breakfast cereals. We recently got a box given to us, and they put it in snack bags and eat it dry.
    So we eat a basic Anerican diet, with really good mineral/vit supplements at bedtime. 🙂
    Kessie’s latest post: The Superstition Mountains – don’t read at night

  5. We are passionate about preparing and sharing our own food at home so this post was very encouraging…
    We went onto a carb free (no wheat, potatoes, sugar) a few years ago to see how it would improve our health. Although I found it hard to sustain, I definitely had more energy. Now we are back to eating carbs again but are much more aware of staying away from processed foods.
    The two foodstyle changes we have made permanently are to being a water drinking family (juice and alchohol are real treats) and to all enjoying a salad once a day.

    • Salads are awesome. Yes, I also find it difficult to completely eliminate a food group, so I don’t. It has worked better to just be aware of what we’re eating within a week, as opposed to a single meal. I don’t mind the occasional fairground food when the rest of the week is “good” food.
      Amida’s latest post: Finally, A Use For Orphaned Socks!

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