Friday, February 29, 2008

Books on Healthy Eating and Changes We've Made

I would have to say the best book I've ever read regarding a Biblical healthy lifestyle is The Word on Health: A Biblical and Medical Overview of How to Care for Your Body by Michael Jacobson. I think I liked it so much because it is written from a Biblical perspective and encourages those who follow this lifestyle in how to do it with the right attitude. I strongly encourage anyone to read this book who wants to learn more about this topic.

I am really enjoying the Nourishing Traditions book, although I'm not sure that it is from a Biblical perspective as other religions are thrown in there from time to time but not enough to make anyone convert or anything like that. Whether she meant to or not, for the most part it does encourage a Biblical-type diet and goes along the same lines as Michael Jacobson, Jordin Rubin, and others in their category. Everything she says is explained very well and lots of evidence is provided to back up what she says. It is very educating, and I appreciate that.

I think the first book I ever read on this subject was Toxic Relief by Don Colbert. After that, I read Maximum Energy by Ted Broer and Train Up Your Children in the Ways They Should Eat by Sharon Broer. Then of course I had to get the two Jordin Rubin books - The Makers Diet and The Great Physician's Rx.

I could recommend all of these books, but once again, my favorite was the Michael Jacobson book - followed by Sharon Broer and probably Nourishing Traditions (not finished yet).

I became interested in healthier eating about six or seven years ago at the time we started to homeschool. It's funny how when we began homeschooling, I was introduced to a world that I never knew existed. I had never heard of milling your own wheat berries to make delicious, fresh, homemade bread. I was fortunate to belong to a group at that time that introduced me to these concepts, and from that point on, I've been able to learn and grow on my own as I've been able to find time to research.

The first thing we did was switch to filtered water (although I am jealous of you people with that great-tasting, much-needed-minerals-infused well water!).

We also purchased surgical-grade stainless steel cookware. Unfortunately, we weren't as frugal at that time and probably spent way too much money on that. I now know that there are less expensive options that are probably just as good. But nonetheless, we have really enjoyed this cookware, and it has lived up to our expectations. I have seen it on EBay, and I was thinking the other day that I need to add to our collection. I would love to get some high-grade stainless steel bakeware, too. Since a lot of my bakeware has seen better days - muffin pains, cookie sheets - I'm going to have to look into doing that soon.

Next we started milling our own wheat berries and baking our own bread. I first used a milling attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer and a couple of years later was able to upgrade to a stand-alone milling machine - the K-Tec Kitchen Mill, and I love it. A year or two later, I learned the importance of soaking and sprouting wheat before cooking with it, so we added a dehydrator to our collection - the L'Equip Dehydrator. (I've recently had some problems with this dehydrator and am going to have to send it in for repairs, but it comes with a 12-year warranty! You can't beat that.)

During this time, we've tried to buy as much organic produce, meats and other groceries as possible. I guess that's why our grocery budget is what it is and why it's hard to get it much lower. When we first started all this, we realized that it was going to cost more than what we had been accustomed to spending, but my husband made a good point. We can spend more now or spend more in medication and doctor visits later in life! Having said that, I know that doing all of these things is not a guarantee of great health, especially since we are not perfect in this area. I can honestly say, though, that when we do follow the diet that we've been shown, there is a noticeable difference in how much better we feel. Not to mention, organic almost always tastes better! For example, I used to buy a bag of regular apples, and they would sit in the refrigerator until they were about to rot. Now I buy a bag a week of the organic apples as they have all been eaten by the end of the week! Once you taste food the way it's supposed to taste, you won't want anything else.

Another thing we try to avoid is pork products, shellfish, and other "unclean" seafood. I know we're no longer under the "law" so to speak, but I feel like God had a very good reason for not allowing His children to eat these foods. In fact, if you do a search (and it doesn't take long), there is plenty of evidence against eating these things.

We take a few supplements also like Garden of Life Icelandic Cod Liver Oil and a liquid food-based multi-vitamin. We use Peter Gillham's Natural Vitality Liquid Organic Life Vitamins. I can definitely tell a difference when I forget to "drink" my vitamins. I like the liquid form as it allows for better absorption, and sadly I have a hard time swallowing pills! It also makes it easy for my children to take as I just add it to whatever they are drinking for breakfast. I order these from Vitacost at half off of retail. I've yet to find a better deal.

I think it's important to make these changes slowly, especially where children are involved. For example, when I first started making our own bread, I had to use half white flour and half freshly-milled wheat flour. I slowly took away the white flour, and now we only use the milled wheat flour. Had I changed immediately to whole wheat, I think my family would have rebelled because the taste is quite different. This way, they were able to adjust slowly.

Now we've reached a point where we are going to make further changes - or at least try. On occasion, we have purchased raw milk. It's not only better for you, it tastes unbelievably so much better. The place where I buy it is not very convenient, but I think it's important that we make this switch. I visited there today to stock up on wheat, millet, sucanat, and several other things as it has been a while since I've been there, and she had one gallon of fresh milk available. I had hoped to buy at least 3 gallons and freeze the other two. I'll have to visit earlier in the week next time before she sells out. She also had fresh butter and eggs, which I was more than happy to take advantage of.

And last but not least - our BIGGEST problem around here is sweets. Sadly, all the good we do is probably sabotaged by our sugar consumption! We've had a family discussion, and we are going to try to make an effort to do something about this. We cut out soft drinks in the house a long time ago (except on special occasions), but we have allowed them when we're out or visiting in someone's home. I know it will be next to impossible to totally do away with these, but they have got to be cut back on. There is absolutely nothing good to say about soft drinks. If they can take the acid off of a car battery...... And don't get me started on diet drinks! I rarely buy desserts around here either (except when M&Ms are on sale at CVS!), but it seems like they are always available. The Nourishing Traditions book has some great recipes in it for desserts that are sweetened with honey, sucanat, and maple syrup. I've often used honey and sucanat as sweeteners, and I'm looking foward to trying these new recipes.

It has taken several years to make all these changes, but I think we would have gone broke or stressed ourselves way too much if we had tried to do all this at once. One of the most important things I've learned about all this is to not get stressed about it. If I'm at someone's home, and they serve me a pork chop, I'm not going to be rude and refuse it. I don't want to worry about every little thing that goes in my and my family's mouths. Stress can be just as bad on your body as eating a pack of Oreos for supper every night. I love my family dearly, and I feel like it is my job to give them God's best when it comes to the way we eat - but not at the expense of our joy. At this point, as long as we're eating well a majority of the time, that makes me happy, and that seems to be where we're at right now.


Rebecca said...

Great post, Rhonda! We're dealing with some major just-discovered food allergies at our house and it really does make you think about how you might be practically poisoning yourself -- or your children -- with some really common foods.

Keep up the good work!

Rhonda said...

Thanks, Becky. This is one of those posts I could have gone on and on with - actually, I guess I did!

5honeybunns said...

I found your blog after doing a google search for the health benefits of milled wheat. We are new to the world of healthy eating and I am researching as much information as I can on how to do it right, but also do it quickly. Time is of the essence in our house, we, like you, are home schoolers, also.
I am so curious to know what you have found out about the health risks involving diet soda. That seems to be our achilles heel in this house, not the children, just the adults. What do you allow your children to drink?

Rhonda said...

Hi, Sophia - Sorry it took a while to get back to you. With a new little one in the house, things have been a little crazy! As for the milling of the wheat, I would just suggest going slowly so you don't have any revolts - as in gradually remove the white flour and replace with the wheat flour each time you bake. It probably took us a couple of months before we were able to only use wheat.

Besides the high sodium, my biggest problem with soft drinks is the Nutrasweet. Whenever I used to drink it, I would always end up with a headache. With a little research you'll discover that it was never meant to be used as a sweetener, and I often wonder what the longterm effects are of its consumption.

My general rule of thumb is that if God made it, then it is more than likely better for you then something man made or pieced together. I know the sugar in regular soft drinks has no nutrient value whatsoever, but I do allow my children to drink those on occasion. We mostly drink water and sometimes I'll make sweet tea during the week. They also like hot tea and juices. If they have soft drinks, it's usually on the weekend.

Got to run - thought the baby was going to take a nap but he seems to have changed his mind!