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:
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.
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?