food.

>> 10.05.2011

Some of you may know that about 5 months before I got pregnant, I decided to go gluten-free for a number of reasons, the main ones being that I was experiencing intense panic attacks as well as stomach pain that made me want to die. In the beginning, it was one of the most difficult things I'd ever attempted, purely because it meant cutting out all of my favorite foods. No bread, no cake, no muffins, no pancakes, no pasta, etc. Although I eventually found substitutes for these things (and just learned to live without some of them), even a small thing like going out to eat or eating at a friend's house was difficult, because I always had to be on the lookout for gluten-y things.

However, I found my rhythm eventually and was doing pretty well up until I got pregnant. It was at this point that the morning/all-day sickness hit and there were a limited number of things that I even wanted to attempt eating, one of which sadly included Whoppers from Burger King. Hubs tried to hold me off for as long as he could, but eventually the stress of moving to a new country, being pregnant, and not being able to eat anything that I wanted to got to me, and I just gave in. Surprisingly enough, I didn't seem to have the problems with it that I had before, and so I thought, "Well look at that. Pregnancy seems to have cured my digestive problems. Woo-hoo (and please pass the bread plate)!"

Now, three months after giving birth, I'm crawling back on that gluten-free wagon due to a sudden reappearance of that ridiculous stomach pain, coupled with bouts of thrush that won't go away. And can I just say, that even though I've done this before, and even though I hadn't been fully unlimited in my food choices for that long (I only stopped restricting myself all the way pretty much right before J-baby was born), giving it up again is HARD. Not to mention that I keep inadvertently eating gluten because I keep forgetting that I've got to get back on track.

Going back to eating gluten-free has gotten me thinking about all of the food that I am currently feeding my family. All of a sudden, the "hippie" food people have seemed to pop up out of nowhere and I have been confronted by loads of bloggers talking about going Vegan, going on raw diets, and limiting themselves to "real" food. I spent a good hour today reading through one family's journey of cutting out processed foods and sugars completely for 100 days, and it really impacted me. This family saw such an improvement in their overall health, and not only that, but their 5-year old and 3-year old were able to complete this challenge with an extremely small amount of difficulty and simply learned to accept that their family ate differently than other people.

This is not the first time that I've had a twang on my conscience about how our family eats. Hubs and I watched Food Inc. last year, and that was quite the eye-opener. We did adjust our eating habits slightly, but I feel like we've never quite taken the plunge wholeheartedly. To be honest, one of the main reasons for this has always been the cost. Sadly enough, eating "real" food seems to cost almost double the amount of the easy-to-prepare, yet processed-the-heck-out-of food. And although this is a legitimate concern (pretty much every choice we make lately revolves around our budget), today I was struck by the absurdity that is Western culture and our decisions about what we put in our bodies.

I have seen people (and been one of them) agonize over decisions about cameras and cars and computers and things that they "need" in order to get on with their lives. They research for hours, compare the pros and cons of this brand vs. that brand, and so on and so forth. They realize that this thing is going to be an investment, and so they decide that they are willing to make that investment because it will better their life somehow. However, when it comes to the food we put into our bodies to make ourselves work, we are willing to simply buy what is the cheapest without any regard for what is inside of it and what the consequences will be. This is so strangely absurd to me--what a ridiculous paradox. We are willing to take any means necessary to buy the stuff we want to surround us, and yet, when it comes to our body (which we only get one of!) we'll put anything in it depending on our mood or how well the marketing is done. This is not a judgment in any way, since I am completely and totally guilty of the same thing. (Hello. We're talking to the woman who ate Whoppers and whole chocolate cakes by herself during pregnancy. The woman who thinks breakfast foods are the best things on earth.)

I guess, ever since Jameson was born, I've taken a step back and begun to reevaluate all of the things that were so normal to me before. I've kind of become a crunchy-granola-hippie, if you want to know the truth. We're currently cloth diapering (which I am obsessed with. I mean it. I love it.), I'm breastfeeding (which I don't think should be such a big deal, but it can be, apparently), we kind of co-sleep, we wear our baby in a sling, and we're also holding off on vaccinations until he is at least two years old. I'm also planning on doing baby-led weaning with him around 6 months or so, which pretty much involves just feeding him what we eat. However, if I look at our diet right now, I can assure you that there are numerous things (and ingredients) that I DO NOT want to be putting in my son's mouth. And it's not just putting those things into his mouth while he's a baby, it's going to be for his whole life. If I don't want my son consuming something harmful right now, when would my stance on that ever change? And if my stance on that is never going to change, then what am I going to do when he becomes aware that the food that he eats and the food that we eat are different, and he wants to know why? Why am I more willing to look out for my son's health than my own?

Unfortunately, I'm not sure that I'm at the place where I can jump on the "real" food bandwagon completely just yet. Money is tight, and that is a major factor in everything we do. For us, right now, it's not about cutting back in other areas so that we have more to spend in this area, because we simply don't spend in any other area (except for bills, and I can't really justify not having electricity so that we can eat organic). However, I'm not giving up. I think I'm going to take the 10-day Real Food Challenge, just to see what that kind of lifestyle would involve. Also, since I'm gluten-free, my options are limited even further, since one of the main things that real food diets seem to include are whole-wheat everything.

I don't have the answers immediately, and I'm working on not expecting change to happen overnight. However, I do know that I am not currently satisfied with the way that our eating habits are going, which means that something is going to have to change. If anyone out there has ever attempted anything like this on an extremely limited budget, or as gluten-free, I would love to know what you think and what your experience was.

Whew. The end.

4 thoughts:

Rach October 5, 2011 at 2:41 PM  

Woohoo! That's so awesome. This is definitely an area we could work on...we have pizza several times a week *guilty face*. I'll be interested to see how the 10 days goes.

And YAY! for being a crunchy mom. www.GentleChristianMothers.com and the Mothering.com forums are both awesome.

Jonathan and Amy Chin October 5, 2011 at 3:46 PM  

Hey cousin!
So... I have a friend (and very funny blogger) who is on a super-budget and decided to try eating "poorganically"- here's her blog, there's a tab at the top with the poorganicaly posts-

http://thelowryder.com

Enjoy! Good luck!

Loves tea... October 17, 2011 at 9:52 AM  

Wow--nothing from a can or bag with more than five ingredients...I would like to take inventory of those sorts of products carried at Jewel! And as you expressed is your problem, Trader Joe's is a bit too pricey for me to get everything there. This is such a cool challenge though--I hope it goes well for you! Maybe I'll try it?

And regarding the no vaccinations (at least until two): good for you! My brother and sister-in-law are not doing vaccinations and get SO MUCH FLACK. But it probably saved my little nephew (who has almost every food allergy imaginable) from being retarded. So crazy. I haven't done the research myself yet, but I'm pretty sure I'm not gonna do vaccinations either.

Sarah Bolocan October 21, 2011 at 6:28 PM  

This is great Cami. We recently made a huge change in our eating habits as well. We are also on a tight budget and can't afford to buy organic across the board, but we always make sure and buy the "dirty dozen" organic (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/). We also figured out that we can buy twice the produce, and afford the extra cost of organic eggs and milk if we don't buy meat. This was a huge challenge at first, because we were used to eating meat as a protein for lunch and dinner pretty much every day. Now, after two months, we hardly miss it at all. Good luck! I hope the 10 day challenge goes well!

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