“You are what you eat” is so very true. Most Americans eat what is on the shelves at the grocery store based on what they are familiar with, what is on sale, or what is the latest fad (think South Beach) without giving much thought to what is actually in the food. Why would you need to wonder what is in the food anyway, the USDA and the FDA makes sure the food is good for you, right?
It didn't take much digging around for me to decide the USDA is about the last entity I want to trust in deciding what I am willing to put into my body. With my research and learning over the years, the way I see food, and therefore the way I feed my family has changed dramatically. I no longer walk into a grocery store looking for the best deals. With effort and planning, I have figured out how to feed my large family well, with foods that nourish instead of break down. I believe that many of our health problems today are caused by a combination of misinformation, ignorance, and laziness.
I believe our bodies are a gift from the Lord, and a temple to the Holy Spirit. While I believe that all things are available to us, as in food is no longer unclean (1 Corinthians 10:2), I still believe we are held accountable for what we choose to do with that body. Let me be clear here: I do not believe you have to eat a certain way to be a “good Christian” but I do believe there are consequences for every action we take.
In the beginning were given a garden full of beautiful fruits and vegetables to eat of, and enjoy. Or bodies haven't changed, they haven't “adapted” to eat non living things created by man in chemistry labs out of convenience. If you read the labels on almost any item in the aisles of your favorite grocery store, you will find a plethora of man created non-living ingredients. We eat them with little thought of what they are doing to our guts, or what they are storing up inside for us. We eat them because they are convenient now, but will they be convenient later? I am not trying to live forever, I can't even extend my life by one day, but I can make an effort to affect the quality of it.
“But I can't afford to eat healthy” is the number one rejection I hear. It was also my biggest hindrance on my journey to grasping a more healthy lifestyle. It does take effort, but I assure you, it can be done. Proverbs 31 says: “she gets her food from afar.” I am thinking Lemuel's mother wasn't talking about Jack-in-the-Box. There are many resources from which to purchase good food. I am currently stationed in a beautiful farm country, so I have farmer's markets and local co-ops at my disposal, but I realize that isn't always the case. In Mississippi, I was convinced they had never heard the word organic. I had to get the things that were most important to me from afar, (think Amazon.com.)
When I first started to make changes, I was overwhelmed. Before this posts turns into a book, I'll just share a few pointers that might get you going in the right direction. Baby steps!
- Read up, do some research. Ignorance is not bliss! Take some time to read a couple of articles from some alternative (as in not USDA approved) sites. Borrow a book from the library about living foods. Ask the butcher at your grocer where the meat comes from. Check out the movie Food Inc. from the Redbox/Library/Blockbuster near you. It came out a few years ago, but I only watched it for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It is very beneficial to understanding where the food at the grocery store comes from and will inspire you to make some changes.
- Make small changes. Don't shock your family and your system by going from Stouffer's to salad and quinoa in one day. Figure out the products you consume the most of and start purchasing differently there. Fruits and veggies are an easy choice, almost every grocery store carries organic options for comparable prices. If your family drinks a lot of milk, start there. Organic milk is more expensive, but you don't need to drink as much to get the benefits.
- Slow down. Microwave worlds don't mix well with healthy bodies or minds. Take the time to plan out meals, and make them at home. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, how do you want to spend yours? Always rushed, stressed, and eating dead things does not make for a thriving and vibrant life. If you eat cereal in the morning, buy organic granola instead. Too expensive? Homemade granola is super easy to make (my children take turns making it for us), and cheaper than commercial “cardboard-sugar-puffs.” If you typically eat out 3 times a week, try planning and eating out only once, work your way down.
- Search out one item that you can buy local. Anything grown or produced locally is going to be far more fresh, and more beneficial for your economy. It is worth it to pay an extra dollar per dozen of eggs that comes from your neighbor's back yard. It is worth it to drive 45 minutes to get milk from the local cow. A vine ripened tomato tastes amazing to that thing in the store that was picked green and trucked across the country and then sprayed with gas to make it turn red and be labeled tomato.
We noticed after awhile we no longer wanted that candy-bar, and that much needed soda suddenly make us feel sick. Just a handful of blueberries will become your new sweet treat. You never even knew what you were missing!
Start small. Make it fun. Taste the difference.