Start Somewhere- Winter 2011 Catalog
One Family’s Journey to Healthier Eating
Fourteen years ago, I was 80 pounds overweight and indulged in the fast food drive-thru several times every week. I never exercised, ate mounds of processed foods, and though the organic and “herby” women I knew were fanatics. Even so, I had begun to dabble in healthy habits by purchasing a wheat mill and a mixer with a dough hook, and I amazed myself at how good whole wheat bread could taste. But I had a long way to go.
Then, about four years ago, the problems of our son woke me up to the need for a higher level of concern about dietary health. We had become a family of seven-Dad, Mom and five great kids-and thought of ourselves as healthier than most in many areas of eating and lifestyle. I had been losing the weight I’d gained in those early years of childbearing and was gradually learning more about nutrition and health-and applying what I learned. Reading books and articles and talking to other mothers, I eventually settled us into a basic, well-rounded diet. But something was different about my nine year-old son.
I had long been casually aware that my son was noticeably less robust and vibrant than the rest of my children. When a cold or flu hit, he usually go it first, worst, and longest. His appetite was low. He was thin and would often have dark circles under his eyes or red streaks on his face. I began to fear allergies or intolerances, or some horrid autoimmune problem.
So I threw myself into research-this time to a level I had never gone before. I’d always believed vitamins, herbs, and other supplements were too expensive and not a good use of our money. I also just knew that we could never afford to eat a diet that was mostly organic or natural. I figured we were already eating wholesome foods to a good degree, and I cooked most of our meals at home. I rationalized that the people who ate organic food and took supplements must have a lot more money than the average family-certainly more than we did.
One research step let to another. The more I read about chemicals in foods, the more I saw that harmful chemicals lurked in our personal care and cleaning products. Shampoo, soap, lotion, make-up, and toothpaste all had ingredients that could be subduing the natural health of our family! Laundry soap, bathroom cleaner, dish detergent-the bad stuff was all there. Ack!
Then I met a group of other mothers in an online forum and knew I’d found a place that had answers. These were natural-minded moms, many with several children, which meant several years of experience! It’s one thing to read a research article by a scientist, doctor, or nutrionist, but it’s altogether different to learn from a mom who is in the trenches. I asked a million questions and found a few women who helped tremendously. When I presented my son’s list of symptoms and issues, they pointed me in excellent directions.
A Beeyoutiful Discovery
One of the directions led to a family business called Beeyoutiful! Here was a place that sold supplements, essential oils, and more than anything else, gave free advice and encouragement through their website and catalog. I bought a handful of Beeyoutiful’s top sellers, like SuperKids, SuperMom, Tummy Tune Up, Grapefruit Seed Crush, Berrywell, and Miracle Salve. And today, I don’t go anywhere without Miracle Salve and Tummy Tune Up.
Our whole family started taking supplements regularly. In addition, I learned about things like grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and eggs, and the importance of organic dairy. I’d always been a broth and soup maker, but I didn’t know that the reason it is good for us is the minerals and gelatin extracted from the bones. We’d also been eating good fats for awhile, but I didn’t know why they were good, either. One of my rules of thumb became “if God made it, we’d best be eating it in its most natural state.”
And oh! I became a label-reading fanatic. I decided there were a handful of ingredients that absolutely would not be allowed in our eating plan. Some of them I already knew, and some were new to me. But learning about what these chemicals do to our bodies is what pushed me to make a list of “forbidden fruit.” Here are the main offenders:
1. MSG (monosodium glutamate, and all its secret cousins like yeast extract, autolyzed or hydrolyzed soy protein, spice extract, to name a few)
2. Nitrates or nitrites,
3. High fructose corn syrup
4. Artificial colors,
5. The massive list of preservatives.
The Present, Accounted For
So where is our family today? Most importantly, that son of mine is a changed boy! Energy, attitude, appetite, immune system, are all 150 percent improved! Now he is often the last to succumb, least affected, and quickest to recover from viruses. The rest of the children are strong, robust, and bright-eyed. Everyone from the teen down to our three year-old (there are eight of us now) are thriving.
My 45 year-old husband is a fit and strong man, head and shoulders above many men his age. He plays hockey, skis, runs, bikes, skateboards, and swims with his kids. He sleeps great and manages stress well-oh, and is thankful for a wife that cooks good food for him and his family, of course.
Mom? Well, I’m mostly grateful to have healthy children. My favorite personal benefit is happy hormones. Beeyoutiful’s SuperMom vitamins, along with Cod Liver Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and Vitex all work to keep me balanced. I’ve been able to maintain my size 8-status, all while eating meat, cheese, butter, vegetables, fruit, bread and some sweets. It’s all about quality and portions!
We still get sick sometimes. We had a horrid food-borne bacterial infection this summer, for instance. The worst off, I was down for several days, and I believe that is due to my many prior years of bad diet, multiple antibiotics as a child and young adult, plus the normal wear and tear of a 43 year-old mommy-body. My kids all bounced back, and I’m thankful for the knowledge and products that got us through.
Take a Step in the Right Direction
What can I offer to other families that might just be starting out on their journey to wellness-or are part way there and looking for next steps?
1. Start with a few key books. I highly recommend Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (available at Beeyoutiful). Whether or not you use the recipes (although I don’t know why you wouldn’t!), you’ll glean more information about food, diet, and traditional eating than you can get in any other single resource.
2. Read the articles on Beeyoutiful’s website.
3. Read the Beeyoutiful catalog (see, you’re already on your way), and learn about the products.
4. Make some observations. This might sound bold, but look around your neighborhood, church, or school-their eyes, skin, and zest for life. Are the mothers cheerful? Do the dads stand tall with square shoulders? Do the parents look like they can keep up with their kids? Get to know them-and casually ask about their lifestyle.
5. Read labels. This is non-negotiable. Just because something is labeled “organic” or “natural” does not always mean that it is. I’ve found numerous products at my health food store that did not fit into our family eating regime.
And what does all this really cost? You’ll recall I was skeptical about the practicality of healthy eating, but now I realize there are two important perspectives to keep in mind:
1. When a food is nutrient dense, your body needs less of it in order to benefit from it. When you eat whole foods as opposed to processed foods, your body will be satisfied sooner. An apple versus a big bag of chips? The apple wins every day for satisfaction and fullness.
2. You’ll either pay now or pay later. It doesn’t take many trips to the doctor to add up to a week of groceries-and figure in the lost work hours, prescriptions, and over the counter meds. Don’t forget about long-term results! What you put into your body now will harm or benefit your health later.
Don’t worry if your family isn’t perfect. Ours isn’t. We ate some Skittles the other day, and my kids shared a couple of Cokes at a carnival recently. There are also times when the vegetables simply don’t get past the lips of my younger children.
The path to wellness has a different starting point for each family or individual. We all have the same ultimate goal, but what drives us to begin-and at what speed we travel-depends on the needs, means, and passion behind our stories.
You may have a child as I did, with some sort of health complaint or issue. But start somewhere-and go easy. I’ve seen women get all fired up about good eating and railroad their children and husbands into a steady diet of all sorts of foreign and sometimes nasty tasting stuff. Give your journey some time. Pray about it. And absolutely make sure you’re in unity with your spouse. Then you can both encourage your children gently along this new adventure.
Jill Krantz lives in the suburbs near Minneapolis. She’s been married to her best friend, Eric, for 19 years, and they have six children. Other than homeschooling, gardening, and literature, Jill’s great passions are gourmet cooking and healthy living.