Welcome to another blog! This has been an interesting last two weeks for me. I feel embarrassed to even be admitting this, but I had to go through a major detox the last couple of weeks. Yes you heard that right! Me, a detox! Contrary to popular belief I am not a self controlled health guru, I am susceptible to all the temptations of man, and the last few months has been interesting as far as what I have been eating and putting into my body.
I considered myself a very health conscience individual not too long ago, I worked out several times a week which included lifting heavy weights and running long distances, but something had crept into my life I'd say in the last six months, and do you know what that was? Processed/Refined foods and sugars. Yes, you heard that right, me always physically fit Jen who never ate carbs, only high protein and vegetables Jen. I'm still baffled that I fell into habits of bad eating and high sugar to get through the day, but I suppose I'm no different than the everyday American who struggles with eating processed foods.
So, In this blog we will be going over some of the side effects I experienced, and what I did to correct them. You may be wondering what specifically I'm referring to when I say highly processed foods, and you also may be curious as to how I fell into that deep chasm that was hard to crawl out of.
I have no great reason for choosing to eat highly processed foods other than convenience. Having two kids under the age of 3 that need you every second of the moment they're awake is extremely taxing to your energy levels, and throw in working part/full time, taking care of everything else around our house such as our gazillion chickens and animals, then you have a recipe for burnout. I was experiencing what so many moms especially working moms go through. Then my husband gets home from work hungry and it's on me to prepare the food even though I'm exhausted from working too. A while back I had purchased frozen chicken nuggets, frozen chicken patties, and frozen tater tots for those days that I just couldn't bring myself to prepare a whole meal.
Over time I noticed that instead of every once in a while of having those frozen processed items we were now having them every week, then instead of once a week it became 3 times a week. I was so burned out by 5pm that I was drinking diet soda every evening to get me through the fatigue (I know eek, aspartame, so bad!!). The other days we would eat something easy like pasta, or tortillas, or hotdogs which were still processed. Don't worry there were vegetables too. Most of the processed foods we would eat would also have seed oils like vegetable/canola oil in them also, which is terrible for the body. Lets be clear I didnt knowingly eat seed oils, I just didnt take the time to really look at the labels. I was also picking foods my kids would eat.
What consequences did I experience? Well for starters I was grumpy and irritable all the time. I also started eating more Reese's candy in the evening. After the kids would go to bed, I would eat a whole bag of reese's to myself which is a monumental amount of processed sugar! Subsequently I couldnt sleep very well. I would be waking up every hour or two needing sugar or anything to eat. Then the next day I would wake up and start the cycle all over again of chasing that sugar rush to keep me going. During the day I would fast and only have coffee but for dinner and the rest of the night it was processed refined carbs and sugar.
I can't believe this happened so quick! All of my learned and hard-earned self-control really went out the window. It's difficult to believe that not that long ago I was in the best shape of my life. My skin started to hate me and break out constantly. (What we eat directly correlates with our skin, I know there is a lot of information out there that would have you believe it doesn't. But how can it not? What we eat gets absorbed by the whole body and comes out through our natural sebum oils.) I put on at least 5 pounds that wouldn't budge. I felt terrible all the time, I can only imagine how my kids and husband felt. Thankfully my kids ate a little better than I did because well as a mom you put them first, so you do the extra effort to serve them nutritionally balanced meals, but they too ate a lot of processed stuff along with me.
It's no wonder Americans and people in general struggle with weight, diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, brain damage, hormonal problems, acne, osteoporosis, kidney stones, fatigue, and general health problems. Over 70% of the food in the grocery has added refined sugars or enriched processed starches. It takes major effort to make a real change when you try to remove all these things from your daily diet and life. The majority of restaurants use seed oils in there food, and mostly processed. In our society we work 9-5 5 days a week sometimes more and were all tired!
We listen to the American heart association for our health tips and their advice is terrible. Not all of it, but its outdated and science isn't backing up what they're advising is healthy, but they won't change their recommendations because no one would take them seriously afterwards and they would lose their credibility. They already have in my opinion. But that's neither here nor there.
***These images are from American heart association food recommendations***
Let's break down these images. At the top of this list is 7-8 servings of cereal, bread, and white rice!? Seriously that's all processed enriched carbs! 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy. Well, the problem with that is all dairy in the grocery stores are highly pasteurized. All the vital nutrients are removed during that process. The high fat content is important and by eating low fat we are doing damage. When being processed and the fat content is removed what do you think is put in its place? Sugar! and Notice how the red meat is under the "bad foods" list, also butter and egg yolks. There is so much evidence showing that the opposite is true. Why would the American Heart association be saying that the things that are truly nourishing to us are actually bad for us. Its because they have had a war on fat now for the last 60 years, and they can't go back on everything they originally said. They're recommendations are flat out wrong and dangerous. They are keeping people sick and putting a strain on the American people. Not only that the majority of food manufacturers use processed sugars, refined foods and chemicals to cut down on costs and it keeps their customers coming back and craving more. Sugar is a full-blown addiction, one that I've battled my whole life.
And what's with all the lentils and beans!? Beans contain Oxalates and lectins which are very harmful to the good bacteria in the gut. Oxalates prohibit the absorption of calcium. Seeds and nuts are very high in phytic acid which prohibits the absorption of iron and other minerals. Soybeans are under "Best recommendation" that's crazy, soybeans are extremely damaging.
Its painfully obvious that they really recommend low fat everything and the fact that red meat is listed as a bad food should be a huge red flag. Granted the meat in our grocery stores is probably from grain fed hormone cows, it's still better than tofu! If you can always look for grass fed organic everything, it will be more expensive but it's worth it in the end.
There's a lot of debate on whole grain carbs and whether they are even beneficial due to the gluten they contain. In my life I need carbs, other great options are sweet potatoes, and homemade whole wheat bread, and brown rice the wheat options of course have gluten. I have a theory that preparing bread the old way and allowing it to prove for a period of time changes the molecular makeup of the gluten and proteins in the yeast. Of course, I need to do much more research but for now I'm going to enjoy making homemade bread until I learn otherwise. Fruit is another great way to get energy from the natural sugars they contain If you're avoiding gluten altogether. Certain vegetables can also be problematic depending on their level of oxalates and phytic acid. I personally love squash, and love eating it as often as I can. The number one type of foods we should all be eating are grass fed animal based-eggs, red meat, and beef organs.
I really believe I was on the verge of being diabetic. So here I am a wife, mom, working gal who makes natural skin products, who believes in natural living, who preaches an animals based natural herbal botanical healthy lifestyle, struggling with not living that way at all. I was defeated and knew something had to change.
Like with many things in life you can't have one foot on the fence and one on the other side, you know why? The devil own's the fence too. It's all or nothing and black and white with living a clean healthy lifestyle. You will see maximum benefit when you're all in. You wont see the amazing benefits if your only halfway in. So what did I do?! How do you change when its your whole family that needs to change?
The very first thing I did when this heavy weighted conviction was pushing down on me was, I fasted. I fasted for a full twenty-four hours. For me fasting is not just about not eating, its a way to clear my thoughts and think clearly. During that time I assessed what changes I needed to make. I really thought about the things I needed to do to correct my diet. I had to come to terms with the fact it was going to take extra time and effort on my part. I think thats the greatest hurtle to cross, eating whats available (Processed refined foods) is easy because its so readily available and its a cheaper option for most people. Eating clean on the other hand takes more preparation, and buying groceries with intention.
This was my mental list that I came up with to get myself back on track. To break it down:
1. No more diet soda.
2. look at every label, anything enriched, refined, contains sugars or contains seed/vegetable oils has to go. This is most items in the grocerys.
3. drink detox herbal teas for several days and lots of water to cleanse my system out.
4. Check for any hidden seed oils in the food.
5. Start getting back to making everything homemade. Basic recipes which meant no more pasta, no more tortillas, no more white bread, no more breaded frozen chicken, no more enriched carbs.
6. Learn to make my own homemade whole wheat bread.
7. Increase natural sugars such as fruit/honey.
8. Incorporate more full fat foods such as raw milk, unpasteurized cheeses, butters, and other foods into our diet.
9. Come to terms with the fact that this will take effort, time, and more than likely cost more money.
It has been almost a full two weeks since I've made this change, and my husband and kids of course are naturally eating whatever I make so I have had to get creative with it because 3-year Olds are extremely picky. One more thing that can help you on your quest to better health, start exercising if you don't. All through this season of eating bad foods, I was still exercising 3 to 4 times a week. I believe that's the only reason I didn't put on more weight. It was definitely difficult to continue my normal exercise routine though with the fatigue, but I forced myself. Do what you can, but it's so beneficial to be moving the body as often as you can, this will aid you in making good food choices. You don't have to run 20 miles or lift fifty pounds doing squats although those are great. Do what you are able and what you enjoy. Then incorporate more as you go.
Other changes that have been wonderful: My skin cleared up in two days, the extra five pounds fell aways, I have amazing energy, my mood has gotten better, and my overall sense of wellbeing has improved. It's a work in progress every day. I hope my own struggle can shed some light for others who may be going through the same thing. Just realize you're not alone. I've had long periods of completely clean living only to fall off the wagon depending on my life's circumstances, and just like with any habit we have to choose every day to do things differently. We have to trust the process. Our bodies are amazing at healing themselves, and they let us know when the things were doing aren't good. We just have to listen.
Just to be clear I'm not a doctor by any means, and this is my personal firsthand account of what happened when I decided to remove highly processed foods from my diet. If you're having serious health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure you need to be working with your doctor on any kind of health plan. Preferably a homeopathic type that can help you get to the root issues such as diet, rather than just telling you to take a pill and not make the necessary changes to your lifestyle that can bring long lasting change.
Animal based mama