Almost three years ago, my husband was diagnosed with a triglyceride level of someone twice his weight, and was borderline diabetic. Not wanting to be tied down to a lifetime of prescription drugs, he opted to adjust his cholesterol levels by adjusting his diet. Fortunately we had the support of our family doctor in this transition.
I immediately started poaching everything, removed butters and switched to olive oil and margarine, swapped to skim milk from 2%. We removed all cured meats, breads and pasta from our diet, in addition to the few boxed and frozen processed foods like macaroni and cheese that we ate. We added wheat germ and removed egg yolks, in other words – we did everything the American Heart Association suggests in their diet.
Hubby also stopped eating cheeseburgers and french fries at lunch. He started eating vegetarian wraps for lunch and within a short time he lost 30 pounds without exercise. In essence he starved himself. He ate likely less than 1200 calories a day and he had almost no fats or sugars going into his body because we limited ourselves strictly to protein and vegetables. And it showed. Sure, he lost the few pounds he needed, but he looked hollow and weak. His shoulders looked like those of someone twice his age, he had circles under his eyes, and his skin looked sallow. What was important at that time was that his triglycerides were where they belonged.
One year ago our family warily committed itself to the Real Food Challenge. And while I had already introduced organic homemade butter and milk to our diets and we had baby chicks on the way, I don’t think we were quite prepared for the changes the Challenge would make to our lifestyle.
Hubby gained 10 pounds immediately, but his cholesterol levels remained healthy because we added good fats to our diet (no sugar), and he’d long stopped “starving” himself. We didn’t realize that we’d want to keep eating Real Food forever. I thought after that month that I would go back to purchasing some pre-made foods, but even sandwich bread, no matter the brand, tasted flat and dead to me – and all other foods are too sweet or salty.
We’d grown accustomed to the taste and flavors of good, healthy food. Sure there were some flops. My husband didn’t care for my pasta recipe, I’d had homemade wines explode in my storage room, and there were last minute bread baking adventures.
I didn’t know that I’d become an advocate for food in a society where women are supposed to shy away from eating heartily. I wasn’t aware that I’d fear eating processed foods again. I was surprised how much I’d love to cook on a daily basis since now it’s all an experiment. I was amazed at the wonderful flavors Real Food had and appalled at the flavors processed food lacked.
For some odd reason our culture has equated eating tons of meat, large portions of food, dining out too much, eating fast food or processed box meals with the lifestyle to have. Sorry, but if I were to compare my life to the Jones’ I wouldn’t want to be so busy that I would have to resort to eating this way. And if you know someone who eats this way because they cannot afford to eat healthfully, perhaps you could share something from your garden with them this year, or share some knowledge to help them eat and cook better.
As for Hubby and I, the Real Food Challenge is like an anniversary of sorts reminding us why we spend the extra time and money to eat the way we do. We actually decide what we’ll give up in order to afford this lifestyle. We’re always looking for new recipes and trying to stay on top of healthy eating news. If you need some ideas for recipes or information pertaining to the Challenge, be sure to click on the Resource tab at the top of this page. Also, at the end of this month, we’ll be giving a few things away in celebration of the Real Food Challenge.
Be sure to stay with us all month long!
You can find Jennifer at Unearthing this Life where she blargs about raising chickens, a daughter, and gardens; shares recipes and rants; and otherwise discusses life in rural Tennessee, often with a view from the back of a motorcycle.