Rhyah's comment in my last post got me to thinking..."How did we get to the point that we're at now?" I know that our changes in eating habits didn't happen overnight and Shawn certainly wasn't turning down Doritos at the beginning of this food conversion. So, I've been trying to think back...
I would have to say that our food conversion officially started on Christmas 2007. From my parents, I received the NutriMill grain mill, hard white wheat, hard red wheat, soft white wheat, Sucanat (to replace brown sugar), Sucanat with Honey (to replace white sugar), and some raw honey. Prior to receiving the grain mill, I would bake cakes, brownies, and waffles from scratch on occasion, but I was using bleached flour and white refined sugar. If I made pancakes it would've been from a box of mix bought from Aldi. I started playing around with my recipes and converting them over. After much trial and error, I eventually found a bread recipe using freshly ground hard white wheat that we all really enjoyed.
Shortly after that, I stopped purchasing artificially flavored pancake syrup and we started only using real maple syrup. Also, around this time (early 2008) I stopped purchasing margarine and switched over to plain ol' butter. At this point we were still eating boxed scalloped potatoes, boxed breakfast cereals, Hamburger Helper, canned beans, canned cream of mushroom/chicken soups, canned chili, Velveeta... There was still a lot of processed foods in our diet, most were bought from Aldi because I was trying to keep our food budget down. Later that year, I stopped purchasing microwave popcorn. Instead, we purchased a big bag of popcorn from Sam's Club and borrowed an old popcorn popper from my mom. The baby steps happened little by little.
We kept this pattern of eating for quite a while. I continued to bake a lot and alter my recipes to use freshly ground flour, Sucanat, and Sucanat with honey. I would make small changes..like making my own spaghetti sauce instead of buying it ready-made in a jar or finding a local source of raw honey instead of purchasing it online from another state.
When Andrew developed eczema around three months of age (around February 2009) I started researching how my diet could be effecting him. I was exclusively nursing at the time. Up until this point, I had never really thought about how the food we ate effected more than just our waistlines. I soaked up every bit of knowledge I could find on food allergies and food sensitivities. I started omitting certain foods from my diet in order to try to give my baby some relief from the itchy rash. First I gave up wheat, then I gave up wheat and dairy. I was willing to do anything to keep my baby from scratching himself until he bled.
So, while I was doing this trial and error change in my diet, the rest of the family kept on eating as normal. One day a friend of mine (Hi Amanda!) witnessed one of Sam's awful meltdowns. She knew that we had issues with Sam exhibiting autistic-like behaviors, one of which was the "meltdown over nothing" behavior that came on a daily basis. She recommended that we look into the Feingold Diet. I did, and when I read about the symptoms that could be helped, I cried. This diet gave me hope that I could help Sam through changing our eating habits.
So, in July 2009 the whole family switched over to the Feingold Diet. The Feingold Diet eliminated all artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives from our diet. In the beginning stages, it also eliminated salicylates. The changes we saw were amazing! We saw an immediate improvement in Sam. He no longer would wake up screaming from his naps and he was finally able to be fully potty-trained. The autistic-behaviors did not go away entirely, but they did noticably improve. Drew's eczema, however, went away totally and completely! We were only on the diet for a week before his skin was beautiful and clear. This was my turning point. It was easy for me to see how the food we eat can drastically effect so many aspects of our lives.
I became a woman on a mission. In the week before beginning the Feingold Diet, I was serving the kids Froot Loops and Sunny D Smoothies for breakfast. I'm not exaggerating at all here. I remember serving it to them and being proud that I had gotten the Froot Loops for free with coupons and I actually made money, using coupons, by buying the Sunny D Smoothies. This is when our family's eating went through drastic changes. I had made a lot of food from scratch before, but I did even MORE now. I started trying out recipes for homemade granola instead of purchasing boxed cereals. I started making our own lemonade instead of using the CountryTime drink mix. I stopped using the cream of whatever soups and started making my own. I stopped purchasing cans of chicken broth and made my own. I tried and succeeded in making homemade marshmallows so the kids would fit in at Vacation Bible School. I found organic lollipops online to have on hand for spur-of-the-moment treats. We ate out so much less since there were very few restaurants that offered food without artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives. Home-cooked meals that were made from scratch became our new normal.
After being on the Feingold Diet for a month or two, I also decided to remove MSG, corn syrup, and sodium benzoates from our diet. In my mind, it just started to make more sense to eat foods that had been messed with as little as possible. I could see that, when our family ate foods that were closest to God's design, we felt better and were healthier.
Around September 2009 I found a farm two hours away that offered raw milk. We started making the trip there and began purchasing raw milk, farm fresh eggs, and free-range antibiotic/hormone free chickens.
In October we purchased our first grass-fed beef.
In November I started purchasing things with the organic label...organic fruits and vegetables, organic coconut flakes and I made my first purchase of unrefined coconut oil. Up until this point I still considered and regularly used canola oil as a healthy oil. I also purchased some cod liver oil at this time.
In January 2010 I started trying to switch over my recipes from using white/brown refined sugar and instead using only raw honey or real maple syrup as my sweeteners. This is still an ongoing process. I also began researching and experimenting with culturing dairy.
In February 2010 I joined the Weston A. Price Foundation. I succeeded in making my own butter, buttermilk, cream cheese, and whey from the raw milk that we purchase from the farm.
Now we're at March 2010 and my goal for this month is to work at soaking grains before preparing them. I've already made soaked bread, muffins, and oats. Tonight I'll be trying to make soaked tortillas for the first time.
When I look and compare our family's current way of eating to the way we ate prior to December 2007, there's a drastic change. If I had made that change overnight, Shawn would probably be in a fetal position in the corner. However, by making this change gradually (it's been over two years!) it's easier to accept. The biggest issue for us is becoming accustomed to a new normal. I remember when I first started making bread from scratch..Shawn missed WonderBread terribly. Now, when I mention trying out a new bread recipe so I can make bread from soaked grains the first thing Shawn said was, "So, are we not going to be able to have your bread anymore? It's really good bread."
I try to imagine what our new normal will be a year from now.
This post is part of Real Food Wednesday over at http://www.cheeseslave.com/2010/03/03/real-food-wednesday-march-3-2010/