Hear Ye, Hear Ye, This is well worth the read!
I have been actively working on a project for weeks now that I feel will be super helpful as you're thinking more diligently about your health. Before I tell you more, let me tell you where the desire to research, write and now publish a guidebook such as this came from.
Growing up, I was well taken care of. We always had food on the table. At times, it came from the Bishop's Storehouse (similar to a food pantry that is funded by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and used in times of need for members of the church). Regardless of the source, I was always well taken care of with adequate food, and for that I am truly grateful.
Most of the food that we could afford and had time to make consisted of canned foods, box prepared items and frozen meals. While there wasn't anything wrong with this, I developed a pallet for such foods. Getting me to eat vegetables was next to impossible and the thought of not having a treat every day was absurd; it was the norm. Oftentimes breakfast would be a trip to the gas station for an orange juice and a chocolate donut. Every kids dream and I was living it.
When I moved out to go to college and start buying my own food, habitually I chose some of the same foods. I roomed with 3 other girls who purchased foods the same way I did, and life went on. I was happy with the foods I was eating, because honestly we only think about if food will make us fat, right? I didn't have to worry about that. I was active and thought that I had 'genes' that would protect me from being anything more than a stick figure. On the outside, I was often accused of being anorexic or bulimic because of my image. If only they knew how much food, mainly bread, I ate! The judgment was harsh and hurtful, but I didn't let it bother me too much because I knew I was eating, I just didn't know that what I wasn't eating would benefit my body much more. I didn't really think about how I felt when I was eating the foods I ate, I just ate what I wanted.
I moved into another apartment where I quickly learned a different style of eating. When I was a teenager living at home, I loved cooking! I went to pampered chef parties, bought all their cool gadgets with my hard earned money and spent a lot of time cooking. I wasn't terribly crafty at creating my own recipes, but I was really good at following recipes and tweaking a little, mainly if I didn't like some of the ingredients it called for. Anyways, these 3 three girls were really good at cooking. Their food tasted good, they spent the time shopping for quality foods and they spent time away from their studies ensuring that the food would be well prepared for the week. I truly enjoyed learning from and pushing myself to think outside of prepared foods and take the time to enjoy cooking again.
One day, I decided to make a 13X9 pan of Peanut Butter Fudge. Me and fudge have a very unhealthy, no pun intended, relationship. I don't enjoy seeing it around, so I eat it....ALL! The recipe didn't quite turn out right, a little on the soft side, so I put it in the fridge. Every day I would come home from class and take a spoon and dip into it. It would remold and look like I hadn't taken any, so it was easy to rationalize eating more. I mean, no one was judging me right, yeah I actually cared if my roommates judged me for what I ate. Anywho....a few days went by and the ENTIRE PAN WAS GONE! I asked if any of my roommates had any, and they all said no. I was shocked that I had eaten all of it by myself. It took some time realizing it, but I was kindly told by my roommates that I had a sugar problem/addiction. We decided to go on a Sugar fast together, processed, added sugars, for an entire week. What I failed to remember when agreeing was that we had a roommate that was getting married that weekend. Yep, you guessed it, it was the worst reception of my LIFE. Chocolate fountains EVERYWHERE! I stayed true to my commitment and committed that I would never let a pan of peanut butter fudge, or any food rather, control my consumption of it. I still eat sugar, but I have more control thanks to wonderful roommates who taught me through their examples.
Fast forward to getting married and having our first child. We were financially struggling as Jeremy was still in school and I chose to be a stay at home mom and not work outside the home. We lived off of student loans, WIC and food stamps. It was hard to sit in the office and be told that we could buy whatever we wanted, $300 worth of Oreos for all they cared. Although grateful for the assistance, we committed to quickly changing our dependence upon a backwards program. We knew the value of food and would later learn just how important it is to our health.
Jeremy has had many health challenges since we've been married. One that we've worked through recently is a gene mutation that affects the production of protein covered red blood cells. This is a problem because his immune system sees it as an invader and quickly kills them off, leaving him with very few, immature red blood cells. This causes jaundice, liver dysfunction, blood in his urine and overall fatigue. We spent weeks, days and hours upon hours at different specialists to finally determine all this with a knowledge that life would be spent administering infusions every 8 weeks to block his immune system from attacking itself. With much uneasiness, we spent a lot of time in prayer and researching alternative paths. (While I grew up believing modern medicine was the only way to heal, cure, correct any physical ailments, I have grown to love how natural medicine, namely vitamins and FOOD, play an essential role in the body's ability to heal, cure or correct physical ailments).
I spent a lot of time researching, taking classes on nutrition, trying what I learned with my family through meals that I would prepare and truly listening to my own body on how it was feeling when I would eat certain foods. I learned for myself that my brain absolutely loves eating a whole loaf of French bread, but my running friends don't exactly appreciate the next day gassy side effects. I learned that my brain didn't like broccoli, salads, and zucchini (unless it was in bread), but my body really appreciates the nutrition.
So I set out to learn more and more and compile it in an easy to read and apply format to share with all of you! There is so much confusion around dieting, counting calories, worrying about what you can and can't eat that it's easier to just not try at all because failing seems inevitable. Shaming yourself or 'cheating' on a diet is unacceptable behavior and my mission is to educate you on the benefits of food and why eating healthy foods leads to a longer life of health than any other act we could perform.
I often get told that eating healthy is so expensive. Yes, truth, it can be! Especially trying to buy fresh fruits and vegetables in the winter time. Have you ever wondered why sickness is stronger in the winter-time? Yep, you guessed it! Our immune systems aren't as strong in the winter because we tend to leave out the healthier foods and stick with the heavier foods like meat and potatoes as the majority. The real truth is that it's MORE expensive to not invest in healthy foods. Doctors bills rack up, time off work for sickness adds up, illness spreads and overall health is declined. Is healthy food really that expensive?
My mission in producing this guidebook is to help you see the necessity of caring for your body by the foods you choose to consume. There is NO diet to follow, NO calorie counting, NO shaming about eating out or eating treats, NO recipes to strictly follow, and NO cutting out of any food group, unless you have allergies, and that's NOT my expertise.
I hope you find my research to be of importance and value in your life. Because of the time and effort I have spent studying food and nutrition, my family experiences less illness, less whining about eating fruits and vegetables, overall health and energy, ALL FROM FOOD!