May 20, 2010

Fueling Our Bodies with the Food God Provides

Ever since I came across tons of research regarding the effect of pesticides and certain food additives on the hormones in our bodies (in book, article, and web form) I have been convicted that our family's food choices needed to change. And when I started enacting the tips I outline below, I noticed dramatic differences in my life that have sealed my conviction.

Now don't get me wrong, our family eats pretty darn healthy. Michael jokes that I put flax seed in everything and he won't let me tell him what's in our food because if he knows it's healthy, he "won't" eat it. Fruits and veggies are a normal part of our diet and we are cautious not to go overboard with fat and calories. We always kept Crystal Light and diet soda around because it has no sugar and I would buy healthy "alternatives" to the foods we love. But when looking deeper at the ingredients list of our food and comparing it with the current research regarding pesticides, certain ingredients, and hormonal imbalances I started doing a double take.

(On a side note, I'm no dietitian or doctor. I just know what works for us, and have seen incredible transformations in how I think and feel from this food overhaul...)

Before I became pregnant with Max, I complained that I was tired all the time. I even had my thyroid checked out just to be sure that wasn't the cause. I was also at a standstill with my weight loss (you know, those last 5 pregnancy pounds that just never budge?). I was monitoring everything I ate (not in a crazy, psycho way) and working out 6 days a week. But alas, still tired and sluggish. I blamed it on being a mom to a toddler, even though I got tons of rest and she's a good kid.

When I was pregnant with Max I started having symptoms of reflux and I noticed a culprit was the acidity of the Crystal Light I was drinking. So, in order to not gag every time I laid down, I cut this beverage out of my diet. And this is where my journey began. Over the course of just a couple weeks I started to have tons more energy. I also noticed that, for one of the first times in my life, I didn't have any cravings. I felt completely satisfied after every meal and despite eating enough to sustain a pregnancy (not to mention a 9lb 3oz newborn) I only gained 20lbs during the whole nine months. I then tried a little experiment and noticed that on the days I drank Crystal Light (or even diet soda) I felt bloated, sluggish again and all I wanted to do was munch. I was convinced that, even though these beverages have no calories and no sugar, they are almost worse than full fledged sugar drinks.

Right before I had Max is when I came across all the reseach regarding food and hormones. In an excerpt from Simple Mom in an article I suggest reading called How Noisy is Your Diet? she says,

Pollutant, stimulants, foods that are difficult to digest, and synthetic chemicals are all types of “noisy” foods that disrupt our systems and strain our detox organs.

When we eat whole, real foods, they filter into our body slowly and quietly. Noisy foods bombard our systems and senses, producing intense highs and lows, sending our blood sugar levels, water balance and hormones out of whack.

(Other articles I suggest reading are from Simple Mom: Watch Out for These Health Busters and Building Cathedrals: Pesticides and ADHD...Why we're buying organic)

Here are the main health busters and "noisy foods" and my take on each of them:

1. Chemical Additives and Fake Foods:

  • HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) --> unfortunately this additive is in almost everything. I now look on the ingredients list and if it's there, I don't buy it. Now to convince my hubby to eat organic ketchup...
  • Hydrogenated anything --> again if it's there, I try not to buy it
  • artificial dyes (dyes with #'s after them) --> they can mask as real food
  • My Take: If it doesn't come from the ground, doesn't have a mother, or I can't make what it is I'm eating from the ingredients list provided on a package, I try to avoid purchasing or consuming it. This includes things I once thought healthy: Zone Bars, certain sauces and dressings, and other "healthy" but fake alternatives. It's better to eat the real thing, because our bodies know how to process real foods.

2. Refined Sugars

  • although we don't eat a lot of refined sugars (white bread, etc), I have noticed hidden sugar in other things we eat. For example, there is a teaspoon of sugar in every tablespoon of ketchup and tons of sugar in BBQ sauce. Time to look for better alternatives...or just make my own!
  • I use real sugar instead of no-calorie sweeteners and this has made a HUGE difference in how I feel. Again, even though sugar has calories our bodies recognize these calories and can process them well vs the artificial stuff which tricks our brain and endocrine system. The trick isn't to go overboard with sugar.
  • DRINK WATER! It keeps cravings away and really does give an energy boost!

3. Pesticides

  • More research is coming out about the effect of pesticides on our bodies. You can find an article finding that higher levels of a certain pesticide correlate with ADHD rates in children here.
  • Even though it costs more, I try to buy organic when possible. To offset the cost increase I have cut other things from our diet and I'm actually finding that by being conscious with our food choices, we are spending less! To find a list of the best produce to buy organic (aka: the foods most likely to be contaminated) click here. I simply cut out the list and take it with me shopping.

So, what does this look like for our family? First off, it's not about being nutso over every little thing we eat. You can still find remnants of things with HFCS in our pantry. And we're not going to be food snobs when we venture out of our home. All in all it's about being conscious about what we put into our bodies. It's about understanding that God created our bodies in such an awesome and incredible way and we have to keep them in balance the best we can. Since making these changes, I have been in better moods, treated other people around me better, and felt less emotional - not to mention felt better about myself, have actually lost the baby weight (despite eating more calories, carbs, and real sugar), and I've been treating my body better by not inducing cravings. Along with regular exercise, I also feel this diet change is keeping my Post-Partum Depression at bay.

Since part of my job as a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) is to take care of my family, I don't get frustrated at the extra effort this diet change may include. I see it as my job to take care of my husband and kids the best way I can and to set them up for physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual success. God gave us good foods on this earth to be our fuel and I want it to be those things that sustain us.


Val said...

Yay! We've been doing organic and chemical/pesticide free for a while now. It's so great to know what's in your food and not feel bogged down by eating strange chemicals. Watch out for MSG and soy too! I have to warn you though, this may lead you to start making a lot more things from scratch! We have a really hard time finding bread (that doesn't cost $6 a loaf) that doesn't have HFCS or soy, so I'm making that on my own.

Shelly said...

Great post Christine! We are trying to do all these things too, and it is really a sacrifice of time and effort, especially at first, but I think it really pays off. Bill was very impressed with the Eat Fat Lose Fat book (badly titled) and others providing information on bad oils and the need for good ones (olive, flax, coconut). We also are eliminating the soy and the parabens in cosmetics/lotions. I know it can be overwhelming and never ending but you are doing great with starting the kids off so well! Good job on fitting in exercise with your busy schedule too! I'm glad you're all doing so well!

Bridget said...

Thanks for sharing such valuable information.
Life changing for sure.
So good...

Bill, Amelia and Jack said...

Totally agree with this - doesn't the world just have us suckered in that all those "diet" and "healthy" packaged things are actually GOOD? Horrible, horrible! And they make me feel horrible too!!! Talk to you soon! :)

Bill, Amelia and Jack said...

Totally agree with this - doesn't the world just have us suckered in that all those "diet" and "healthy" packaged things are actually GOOD? Horrible, horrible! And they make me feel horrible too!!! Talk to you soon! :)