Three years ago we began our very SLOW transition to real food. I have blogged about the overall Benefits of Real Food and now wanted to share the benefits that have directly impacted my family.
My kids are now 5 and 7 and know more about food and nutrition than most adults. They are surrounded by processed foods at school and at their activities. They have a lot of questions about what other kids are eating and why so we speak often about food and nutrition in our home. My daughter has actually asked me if she can hand out flyers in school so that her friends will know more about the foods they are eating.
I love that my kids are learning about and appreciating whole foods at such a young age. Early eating habits will follow them into adulthood and I want to build a healthy foundation. Involving kids in the meal planning and cooking is key to getting them interested in food. They are actually asking to try new foods, even fruits and veggies . My kids have always been picky eaters so this is a huge benefit. They love to cut veggies in fun shapes and bake our weekly treats. This also gives me a chance to bond with my kids while teaching them a vital life skill.
One of the biggest benefits of eating real food has been a noticeable decrease in sicknesses. I might not have even noticed except that in 2013 I decided to start our first health savings account. I maxed out the amount we were allowed to contribute. It seemed like we were always at the doctor with stomach problem, allergies and whatever was circulating around the playground at that time. Surprisingly, by the end of the year we had so much left in the account it completely paid for the foot surgery I needed (and had been putting off for 3 years). I couldn’t believe how much our medical expenses had decreased.
We are no longer visiting the doctor every month. Both my children had trouble with bowel movements and my daughter was on Mirilax for years. Everything now goes in and comes out as it should. Her constant stomach pains are gone. While we are certainly not immune to common illnesses, what I have noticed is that we are never down for long. If the kids or I do “catch” something we never take more than a day or two to recover.
One of my completely unexpected benefits was weight loss. I lost a total of 20 pounds after cutting out processed foods and transitioning to real foods. I now, even after two kids weigh the same as I did when I graduated high school 20 years ago. Ironically eating real butter and bacon did not lead to weight gain, but just the opposite. Hmm! Food for thought!
Another benefit has been my relationship with my kitchen. I now actually have one. I have finally navigated my way around and realized its not so scary in there. I have found a love for cooking, baking and just making my own food. There’s a feeling of accomplishment that comes with making your own pancakes from scratch or fettuccine alfredo without the assistance of a jar. Something I would have never even tried before.
The biggest shock has been the loss of cravings. I have a bit of a sweet tooth – that’s severely understated! Since cutting out all the processed foods and sugar I no longer crave those foods. My afternoon pick me up always consisted of chocolate or something very sugary. I no longer get that craving. I will admit it took me a while to get to that point but I just don’t crave the same foods. My palate has changed completely and I find myself truly wanting a veggie plate for dinner instead of convincing myself that I “should” eat it. I have eaten quite a bit of fast food in my lifetime but it no longer calls my name.
It all goes back to the quality of the foods we eat. Real food fills your body with what it needs and the hunger subsides. Processed foods fill your body with empty calories so you don’t stay full and you are more susceptible to cravings. I don’t want to sound like a robot, I understand cravings and have lost many battles to them. The thought of going a day without chocolate would have given me an anxiety attack. I do still eat chocolate on some days, but not every day and I don’t feel like I NEED it. The more that I expose myself to whole foods the more I truly want these foods.
A real benefit for my family has been getting closer to our community. Once a week we head to the farmers market or to a local farm. We have gotten to know so many like minded people with a true passion for real food. We know the farmer that grows our fruits and veggies, the beekeeper that makes our honey, and the baker that supplies our bread and gives my kids a treat each week. We support our local farmers and growers and in turn we have the good fortune of knowing where our food comes from. This a luxury no longer afforded to many.
This is how real food has had a real impact on my family. I am thankful that we have come so far on our real food journey. Though there were and still are obstacles to overcome, the benefits have truly been life changing.