“Hey, Carrie, you’re crazy about food, right? Where do I find…” People are always asking me this, kinda’ like they’re giving me a complement and asking my advice… but not really. If you mean, I’m conscience of the things I feed myself and my family, then… yes. Yes, I am.
Food has always been “a thing” for me. Lactose intolerant at 8, vegetarian at 14, ulcerative colitis at 17, diagnosed with a metabolic disorder at 22, peanut allergic at 26. Food has not always been my friend. About 15 years ago, food and I made a truce. I would respect it, and it would take care of me.
Organic, clean, eating and living has become a very easy way of life for me. I enjoy eating healthy, and I like how it makes me feel. My children don’t know the difference, and my husband (who has had his own fights with food, and who loves the environment) is a very equal partner in this lifestyle. Most importantly, after a childhood of constantly being sick, I can comfortably say that I can eat just about anything now. Clean eating and living has help me manage all of my childhood ailments.
It’s not that hard. And, once you get into a pattern it becomes second nature. Yet, people are often quite nervous about embarking on this lifestyle. People don’t know where to start, and are afraid of looking and sounding crazy. But, I think there’s a very pragmatic way to go about it; and you won’t look crazy at all.
Read Labels: Quickly. Don’t scour over the labels in the supermarket. Take a quick look at the list of ingredients. If you can’t pronounce what’s in it, put it back. If the list covers the whole side of the box, put it back. Food should be simple. You should know what you’re eating. If it sounds like a chemical, it’s a chemical. Don’t put it in your body.
Eat Real Food: Don’t eat substitutes. Eat butter, not “I Can’t Believe it’s Not…” Eat sugar, not the newest fad substitute. Eat food that’s the proper color. Butter and sugar are not your enemies. If you use the real thing, you are much more likely to use less of it.
Same holds true for things that are “lite” or “low-calorie”. There is no natural way to make orange juice “lite”er. Something had to have been done to that poor orange to make it have less calories. If you’re concerned about caloric intake, just eat less of the things you love. Have one scoop of that wonderfully decadent small batch ice cream with real cream and sugar, instead of a whole bowl of that low-fat ice cream of questionable origin.
Set Your Meat Free: I was a vegetarian for ten years. I stopped eating meat when I was 14 because it seemed like the cool thing to do. By the time I was 24, I found that I was sneaking slices of turkey from the fridge and licking bacon juice off of the pizza box. My body needed the protein, and was craving it every day. I have no problem with vegetarianism, it just wasn’t for me.
But, right around the time that I returned to the world of carnivores there was an interesting report on the news. Somewhere in rural New Hampshire, a chicken coop went up in flames. The reporters talked about the loss of revenue and damage to the area while a helicopter flew over the airplane hanger sized coop. All I heard was, “Tens of thousands chickens died in the flames.” It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that’s disgusting!!
Meat should be allowed to move. Meat should be fed food you’d feel comfortable putting into your own body. You are eating everything that goes through the meat and dairy and eggs that you eat. That’s why you want to look for animal products that are “grassfed”, “hormone free”, “free range”. Quite simply, you are what you eat.
Buy Local: Not only is buying local good for the environment and for your community, but it’s also better for you. Food that is transported across the planet must be treated to last longer. Food that has only had to travel down the street is fresher and cleaner.
Also, tomatoes ripen at the end of the summer, not in the dead of winter. If you buy food in the proper season, less energy and resources are expended in producing that food. Even in “food deserts,’ local farm stands and farmer’s markets are very accessible. Because much of this food is freshly picked, your veggies are likely to be treated less and are likely to last longer.
Think About Organic: Not all of your food needs to be organic. It can be hard to find, and prohibitively expensive. Buy organic on the edges of your supermarket, not the middle. Veggies, fruits, meats, dairy are worth the investment, the middle aisles can often trick you into spending extra money for the “organic” label. And, not all of your fruits and veggies need to be organic. If you have to make a choice, choose the one’s where you eat the outside. It’s pretty logical actually. If you don’t eat the skin, you are less likely to ingest chemicals from your veggies. The thicker the skin the better. No need to buy organic watermelon or bananas, but certainly try to buy organic strawberries or grapes.
Whenever Possible, Make it Yourself: When you can’t find what you want just make it yourself. It’s not as daunting as it sounds. And, often I make a things in bulk and freeze the leftovers. Soup, turkey burgers, cookie dough. I make half to eat now, the other half gets frozen for later. Whenever possible I make things myself, and I make time for this endeavor. But, you needn’t dedicate a day stocking up the freezer with organic cookies and cakes. For example, When I make homemade pancakes I multiply the dry ingredients by twenty and throw it all into a big tupperware container. When it’s time to make pancakes, I take a scoop of the mix and add the wet ingredients. Done. Doesn’t take a moment longer than bisquick.
Don’t Sweat It: No need to conquer all these hints, or do them all all of the time. No reason to beat yourself up if you just want a box of chicken nuggets. No need to jump on every trend that comes done the nutrition road. Quinoa is not for everyone. Kale tastes like dirt. And, if you were meant to eat like a caveman, you’d be chased by sabertooth tigers.
And, there’s just certain things that have to be ungreen or unclean. I’ll eat pineapples all year long, no matter how far they have to travel. Rum and Coke is served with Coca-Cola, no substitutions. And, if there’s such a thing as home-made candy corns, I don’t want to know about them. I don’t want to live in that world.
Given some time, and a little bit of thought, you’re likely to find that living this way becomes second nature. You’ll find that you’re healthier, and happier, and you’ll feel the difference when you don’t eat clean. It’s actually all quite logical and not crazy in the least.