I don’t know how many of the people who subscribe to my blog have actually read my “About” page, but when I wrote it a couple of years ago, I had gone through a period of watching a lot of documentaries about our food supply: Food Inc., SuperSize Me, and King Corn are the ones that come immediately to mind but I think there were others, too. Armed with new knowledge about the importance of whole, unprocessed foods, I began to do some searching in my area for CSAs and grass-fed beef. Apparently, it was during this search for local healthy food sources for my family that I decided to revise my About page and thus added the following bullet point (one of my “antiquated notions” that I valued): food that’s whole and real.
It sounded good, but if truth be told, it was a value that resonated with me–not one that I actually adopted and lived out. As I began to do research, I quickly found out that it would be infinitely harder to follow through with than I’d ever imagined. Turns out, it’s expensive to eat grass-fed meat and organic food (something I knew already) and because my lifestyle didn’t change to support this lofty goal of eating “whole, real food,” our habits didn’t change, either. My memories of the documentaries faded, along with any plans to revolutionize my family’s eating habits.
Fast-forward to the latter part of this year, sometime around Thanksgiving 2013, and for whatever reason, I found myself reexamining my family’s diet: cereal for breakfast every morning; PB&J sandwiches with chips for lunch; spaghetti for dinner on Mondays; casseroles, bread, and desserts at church on Wednesdays; homemade pizza (with beer for the grownups) on Fridays; and hotdogs on Saturdays. Yes, I really have been that predictable, and yes, I knew all along it wasn’t healthy. I justified it–if you could call it that–by telling myself repeatedly that I just didn’t have time to do it all. I was homeschooling my kids, had started a new homeschool group in my community, and was juggling multiple part-time jobs from home each afternoon in addition to trying to manage daily and weekly household tasks. There just wasn’t time to plan, prepare, and serve “food that’s whole and real” to my family.
But my husband’s complaints kept getting louder and louder: knees that hurt almost all the time, a sore back upon waking up tired (again!), no clothes that fit…pretty much my own set of complaints. In addition, our oldest son–who has Asperger’s and Tourette’s syndromes–had begun to be seriously overweight and unusually sluggish. His tics and OCD/ADHD symptoms also seemed to be getting worse: very little ability to focus, poor executive organization, compulsive rituals. As I contemplated where we were headed and the example we were setting for all of the kids by doing nothing, I knew I couldn’t put it off or ignore the problem any longer. I felt on a gut level that whole foods held the answer and when I discovered the Paleo diet, it was like being given a prescription that was tailor made for my family.
I’m not going to lie: when I saw that paleo = gluten-free, I had a moment of hesitation. I’ve always heard that a gluten-free diet helped some kids on the autism spectrum but had never been committed enough to give it a try. I was too lazy in my habits (ability to purchase convenience foods) and didn’t want to face the rage of a child who could no longer eat pizza, bagels, hamburgers, hotdogs…all the food he loved best in the world. It just seemed too HARD. But reading testimonial after testimonial of the benefits of eliminating grains and dairy convinced me that we need to at least give it a try.
I’ve been overweight for most of my adult life and know myself well enough to know where I generally fail when it comes to diet. To help set myself up for the great level of success, I knew that I’d need to:
- be super organized with meal planning, especially with food budgeting and shopping because of food costs that are very different from what we’ve spent in the past (how much coconut oil does one use in a month? how often will we need to shop for fresh veggies? Where will we shop for the foods we’ll be eating?)
- make sure that I had meals prepared ahead of time (or at least a plan!) so that I wouldn’t fall prey to throwing together some spaghetti and calling it good
- make sure that I had snacks planned and prepared so that the kids wouldn’t revolt
- remove every single thing in the refrigerator and the pantry that didn’t adhere to a paleo diet
I started by purchasing a couple of cookbooks for the Kindle that I could read on my iPad, as well as a paleo recipe app from Nom Nom Paleo. I got some great recommendations from friends for websites with paleo-friendly recipes and just kept reading. The more I read and the more I shared with other people, the more encouragement I got. I broke the news to the kids and to my great surprise, got not the least bit of resistence from any of them. I thank God for that because I feel pretty confident that had I attempted to go gluten-free a couple of years ago, it would have been MUCH harder. I wanted to give them time to get used to the idea that our food was going to change pretty drastically, and so I am giving us this December to eat the remainder of the foods in our fridge and pantry that will be off-limits come January. It’s opened up lots of discussion at the dinner table and at the supermarket and I’m thankful for that. In about a week, I’ll start cleaning out the fridge/pantry and restocking both with foods that we can eat. I’ve subscribed to Plan to Eat and am slowly typing in some of the recipes that I think my family will enjoy most. I think this tool is going to be a huge help to me as I try to better budget my money and time with regard to food and meal prep.
So all of that is a very long, drawn out way of saying that in the coming months, I will likely be posting as much on the topic of food as I do on the topic of homeschooling (and CC and Essentials specifically). I wanted to warn my little group of readers just so you won’t be too surprised. I’m really looking forward to using my blog to share information on all things paleo and will be honest in sharing info about how it affects each of the members of my clan–hopefully in a positive way! I’m especially optimistic that it will be most beneficial to my son on the spectrum and that’s been as motivating to me as any of my own health concerns. He seems super committed to giving it his best shot. And really, what more could I ask for?