It appears now more than ever, Americans are extremely concerned with diet and nutrition. We have a vast array of different diets with everything from Vegan to Primal and the Organic Food Revolution is running rampant. And yet, as a nation we are the sickest. More than a third of adult population is considered obese. Americans are diagnosed with degenerative diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, intestinal disorders, among others at an alarming rate. In the past, these diseases were prevalent among the old, but tragically, they now strike the young as well. According to CDC, childhood and adolescent obesity has nearly doubled and quadrupled, respectively in the last 30 years.
What are we doing wrong?
According to this USDA research, Americans are consuming less calories in the form of saturated fat and cholesterol and are overall more conscientious with their choice of food. While it's always a good thing to have people realize the importance of food and nutrition, the USDA My Plate leaves something to be desired. And even though through the USDA’s Know Your Farmer program, we saw a 67% increase in farmer’s markets throughout the country, the strict standards and regulations being set for these vendors is becoming increasingly challenging for them to jump through the red tape to get certified.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for the safety requirements that these farmers must adhere to but the money they are charged in fees and taxes by the government to continue to bring wholesome and nutritious foods to us, eventually trickles down to the consumer. Furthermore, the health problem still remains.
I don’t claim to know everything in nutrition and medicine – in fact - my knowledge on this topic barely skims the surface. But I believe this health crisis in America is partly the result of low-fat, processed foods frenzy stemming from the industrial revolution. Americans are simply too busy and too tired to cook nourishing meals from scratch, to prepare foods in their kitchen with real ingredients. We opt instead to stock our freezers with frozen meals made haphazardly by a conveyer belt.
Instead of focusing on the quality of food, we make feeble attempt to solve the problem by eliminating or significantly reducing healthy fats. The kind of fat that provide the building blocks for cells and hormones. The kind of fat that are superbly important especially to human brains where the content of fat is 60%.
I wasn’t really into the low-fat revolution simply because I found it tasteless. But I also wasn’t intentional at incorporating healthy fats such as grass-fed cultured butter and coconut oil into our diets either. Just as I wasn’t intentional in grinding up liver, from grass-fed and pastured animals of course, to add to our hamburgers. And forget about soaking grains for 12 hours and more. The only soaking I partook in was in the bath…with chemicals too hard to pronounce bubble bath and scented candles that were similar in quality. But I truly believe, we all have the ability to change our health for the better when we take great care to provide meals with the most nutrition.
Below, I lay out 11 rules we strive to live by in our home. It will be different for your family. Even if you make one small change a month, you will have completely changed your family's diet in a year's time.
1) Source the best quality food: organic produce not grown in depleted soil, dairy products from grass-fed and pastured animals, meats from same category, eggs from chickens roaming the yard picking up bugs from the ground, fish caught in the wild and not a fish farm.
2) Be liberal with healthy fats such as ghee, grass fed butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, lard, and tallow. They all provide building blocks of cells and help with mineral and vitamin assimilation. This is necessary for a healthy and robust body and mind.
3) Milk warrants its own separate line. Well, all dairy for that matter. Raw milk is best but not all states legalize the sale of raw milk, at the very least I would go with not ultra-pasteurized, non-homogenized milk. Your local dairy farmer is your friend.
4) Incorporate organ meats into meals few times a week. Because cow’s tongue, is delicious. And liver and onions are to die for. Well, maybe you'll have some adjusting to do when it comes to liver.
5) Drink your broth daily. And not the canned stuff from the grocery store. We prefer to have soup on an almost daily basis but on days when we don’t, I make sure the kids drink at least one cup of bone broth as it is extremely nutritious. Bone broth contains the minerals of bone, marrow, cartilage, and vegetables for proper assimilation.
6) Cultured foods: I naturally love love love sauerkraut, kimchi and anything pickled and fermented. They are chock-full of naturally occurring probiotics and should be a staple in your diet.
7) Fermented drinks such as milk kefir, kvass, kombucha and the like should be filling your counter space and your fridge. Also provide you with different strains of probiotics.
9) Don’t buy or consume products that are highly processed and contain more than 5 ingredients (that’s my threshold but you are free to set your own standards).
10) Don’t put on your body whatever you wouldn’t put inside. Skin is the largest organ and it absorbs everything. That includes your toxic makeup, deodorant, lotion, bath products, and perfume. Thankfully more and more companies are coming up with great, clean products.
11) Don’t make this an idol. DO the best you can and be content with the small changes you are making to better the health of you and your family. We have a 80/20 rule in our home. We cook and prepare nourishing meals 80% of the time so the remaining 20% I can let my guard down. We teach our kids the same thing.
I truly believe the last one is the most important rule. In the beginning of our food transformation, I was definitely more in the 100/0 camp but have since scaled down a notch simply because I cannot control everything that my kids put into their mouths. I can teach them to make wise choices when it comes to food, but kids will be kids and that cinnamon roll in Sunday School class was just way too enticing. I say this with much sensitivity as I know there are people who absolutely must adhere to a certain diet for health reasons, whether it’s GAPS or SCD or Paleo or something else. And if you’re in the middle of some major healing through this said diet, my hat is off to the incredible you. It’s tough to be limited in our choices but sometimes that is warranted and I want to acknowledge that.
I think we owe it to our children and our children’s children to provide the best start to them. Let’s prepare and nourish our bodies and our minds with God’s good gifts in the form of wholesome and nutrient-dense foods.