Steps to a Whole Foods Diet
Before getting into specific foods, I would like to take a look some basic areas of our lives to help us decide the best course of action for our eating. It can be so easy to get caught up in the latest fad diets and to look around and see what everyone else is doing, but we need to stay grounded and determine what is best for our family. God has created each of us as individuals and placed us together in a family. As the mother, and usually the primary meal provider, it is our responsibility to look to the needs of those the Lord has entrusted us with.
Also, our goals should reflect a lifetime of stewardship with our bodies. Although losing a quick 10 pounds would be nice, our goals should be long-term. With that in mind, there are several questions we can ask ourselves to determine a healthy diet for our families.
1. What Has God Allowed?
I like to start at the beginning and look at what God has created and allowed his children to eat. Because we are no longer under the law, we are allowed to eat plants and animals. However, there are great health benefits to eating the clean animals over the unclean. I love crisp pan-fried bacon with eggs, but I try to greatly limit the amount of pork I consume because it is an unclean animal and not the healthiest choice. And if you choose to eat animal protein, it is wise to limit the amount of animal protein you consume. It is more difficult for your body to digest.
2. Eliminating Items of Concern
These could be items that family members are allergic to or foods that exasperate illnesses (ie, dairy during cold). I personally use the following list I have adapted from Shonda Parker’s (Excerpted from Naturally Healthy Family Herbalist Course) red flag list of items to avoid:
- white or enriched flour (look for this in the ingredients): devoid of all nutrients, high glycemic index, slows digestion and elimination
- sugar or corn syrup: suppresses immune system, raises blood sugar levels
- processed foods: the more processing involved=less nutrients + more additives
- preservatives: BHT, BHA, sodium nitrite and nitrates, propyl gallate, sulfur dioxide, sodium bisulfate
- caffeine, alcohol, tobacco (I would also add in sodas): depletes essential nutrients, alcohol and sodas causing weight gain
- artificial colorings and flavorings: dyes, MSG
- chemicals: artificial sweeteners (saccharine, aspartame)
- natural additives: sorbitol
3. Determining What is Most Beneficial for Individual/Family Health
Just as you will want to eliminate foods that are of concern for particular members of your family, you will also want to add in foods that have particular benefits your family may need. For our family which has a high incidence of cancers, I wanted to make sure I included foods that help fight off cancer. These include salmon (high levels of omega-3 fatty acids), flaxseed, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Recently, I have also increased our consumption of legumes while at the same time decreasing our consumption of meat.
4. What Has the Lord Provided (or not provided)?
For most of us, there are times in our lives when we cannot afford to eat the healthiest food possible. Our family prefers to eat grass-fed beef, but sometimes it is unavailable and other times we can’t afford to. One thing I have tried to do, knowing that the price of beef, especially grass-fed beef, is high, is to extend the meat (for example, I will use only a small amount of beef in the chili and add lots of beans) or eat meals that don’t utilize meat (potato cauliflower soup with fresh baked wheat bread). When I can, I choose the healthiest of what I have available to me. And no matter what it is, I am thankful.
5. What Has the Head of the Home Allowed?
My husband is a picky eater. When we married, the only vegetables he would eat were corn and potatoes. Over the years, he has slowly come around and willingly eats several vegetables now. The key word is “slowly”! And although my husband doesn’t share my enthusiasm for eating healthy, he has allowed me to provide healthy meals for the kids and myself…he has even learned to eat a few of them as well.
One thing I have tried to do, is to make the really healthy foods at lunch when he is not home, then cook some of his favorites for dinner. Or I will make several items for dinner so that I can serve him something he likes and then serve us something healthier. Whatever the choice your husband allows, be gracious and do the best you can without complaint. Most meals can be made much healthier just by making them at home!
6. What Does Your Family Enjoy?
God gave us food to enjoy and to be blessed by. Meal time shouldn’t arrive with dreadful anticipation. Granted we can’t have our favorites at every meal, but we can strive to serve food that is pleasant. One of the things we have done is to look for healthier ways to create the foods we love. This may mean making desserts with farm fresh eggs, raw milk, and fresh ground wheat. It may mean substituting honey for processed sugar.
Join me tomorrow as I share how I got started making sourdough bread! It is a great way to add in whole grains to your diet, while at the same time building up a healthy gut (and a healthy gut means greater immunity against illness and disease!).