Q & A: Overwhelmed, but wanting to make changes..

I got an excellent question from Meghan, in an email. She shared how it could be overwhelming and discouraging to try to make all of the changes that Nourishing Traditions outlines in their cookbook.

“I don’t know about you, but I feel so overwhelmed after having read (well, still am reading) the book [Nourishing Traditions]. it takes so much time to try to cook food from scratch. i have three little ones so, I feel like I live in the kitchen…”

I hear you, Meghan.

I was introduced to some of the principles of grain soaking, cultured (or lacto-fermented) foods, healthy fats, and other principles outlined in Nourishing Traditions, a few years ago. It was a little overwhelming reading through all of the information and knowing all the changes I would need to do to follow it. So I know how you feel, Meghan!

It can be even be more overwhelming to those who don’t already cook from scratch, or eat whole grains. It would be to easy to throw up our hands and say “Forget it! There is no way I can do all of those things!”.

But there is hope.

While some have had good success making dramatic changes all at the same time, most of us need to take it step by step. Here’s what’s helped me and others I know change our eating styles.

Learn to plan ahead

What I have found is that most of the concepts, such as soaking grains or making cultured foods, aren’t really that much more time consuming than cooking typical homemade food. It just takes more forethought. For example, Nourishing Tradition style muffins aren’t any harder to make, you just have to start the night before.

Therefore, I have found that it is vital to always plan your menu at least one day head. Even more then that, things go so much more smoothly if you can plan your whole week ahead of time as well! My series on Meal planning is centered on learning to do that better. I am not perfect in this area, myself. But am learning more and more each week!

Take Baby Steps

I did not change everything at once. I added one thing in at a time, got it into a comfortable routine, and then added another thing. It’s really only overwhelming when you try to add in to many things at the same time. For example, you can try to either start soaking your grains, getting rid of cold cereal, purging your pantry of junk food, or culturing food as your first step.
Then, as you get get comfortable with that first step, keeping moving forward in making changes. Before you know it, you will have made many more changes than you ever thought possible!

Center on the Basics

To make it more doable, at first, center on the basics. For my family that has meant I learned how to make homemade chicken stock (I highly recommend this!), making a soaked sourdough bread, figured out healthy breakfasts, and added in plenty of veggies and soaked whole grains. Don’t head straight to figuring out a soaked, sugarless cake to make. Rather, center on the things you eat everyday, and making those more healthy.

Get “Smart” in Your Kitchen Time

This is where I am definitely still learning, but it is an important point to make. Learning to be smart in the kitchen by utilizing your freezer, keeping things simple when needed, making enough at dinner for lunch the next and other “smart” practices can makes all the difference in time spent in the kitchen.

I think that these practices will vary in different families and I am sure you will learn more about what works for you, as you go a long. But I will share more practices that have helped me in the future.

I hope that these four principles will help you as much as they helped me! Press on and good luck, Meghan. You won’t regret the energy you spend learning to excel in providing nourishing and delicious meals for your family! One last thing that you can consider, with three little ones, is trying in involve them in the process whenever you can. While my 18 month old daughter certainly doesn’t speed up the process in the kitchen, I have started to be able to get her involved in cooking (but that’s a topic for another post!).

Have a question for me? Email kimi.harris@gmail.com

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Kirstin says

    Love you tips Kimmie. For us the big thing has been baby steps. Making changes slowly and getting things to be a regular part of our eating.If I make too many changes I get frustrated and want to give up.

  2. Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home says

    Good suggestions, Kimi. This has also been the way that I have implemented NT techniques. Even now, I still don’t do everything, at least not 100% of the time. Slowly and steadily, I have add new techniques, tried new recipes, weeded out old foods, etc. I was already cooking from scratch and had a good idea of how to cook many healthy things, but NT really challenged even many of my previous “healthy” ideas.

    I think the concept of baby steps- mastering one thing at a time before adding more- is so crucial to making this work. I also loved the idea you had a while back about planning out all of the prep that you needed to do throughout the week for your meals (ie. soaking grains the night before, soaking and cooking beans, etc).

    I’m actually planning a series on baby steps towards better nutrition and natural living, so you beat me to it- guess great minds think alike! LOL!

    Loving the more detailed stuff you’re adding to this blog!

  3. Anita says

    Starting out small is what works. Just adding a fresh salad to each dinner and fruits for snacks is a big step toward healthy. Then learn one recipe or one idea at a time and apply it. It can take time, but making small steps is better then making none. Then pretty soon you’ll be an expert!

  4. Debra says

    Hi Kimi,

    One of our sons seems to have issues with dairy, and I think our daughter might too. I try to limit it in their diet.

    I’ve definitely been overwhelmed with the NT book, especially the soaking with whey. Do you know if that is supposed to be okay with people with dairy allergies or not. I would think not.

    I have tried using vinegar (was it vinegar?) or lemon juice, whatever the alternative to whey she has suggested, to soak oats but remember it being pretty noticeable in the finished product.


  5. Anonymous says

    kimi, thanks so much for taking the time to address my question. these are all very helpful tips! i have already started doing all that you mentioned so, i’m encouraged to find that i’m on the right track.

    i think when i first emailed you a few weeks back, i was a mess because i tend to be a radical perfectionist and was thinking that i had to rid my cabinets of all the bad stuff and change everything all at once. lol!

    as for debra’s concern about milk allergy, both my sons (2 yrs. & 14 mos.) have milk allergy. i tried raw milk a couple weeks ago after reading about how those who are allergic to pasteurized milk can drink raw milk. they’ve been drinking it for two weeks now and have not had any reaction to it and are thriving on it! in fact, my older son’s eczema has basically disappeared! but, if raw milk is not possible for your family, i use whole yogurt (commerical) to soak my grains and they both do fine with it. hope that helps.

    thank, again, kimi! i’m lovin’ your blog! such a blessing!


  6. Kimi Harris says

    My in-laws who also have allergies to dairy have used vinegar (they also have lemon allergies, believe it or not). It does make it pretty sour (though whey does as well). So,to counter that, they often rinse off grains thoroughly before cooking, if possible.

    I, however, often just soak in plain water. I feel that this is adequate because grains will sprout by just plain soaking in water (thereby demonstrating that the phytic acid is gone). So that’s what I do most of the time. I never have whey on hand!

  7. Anneatheart says


    You can also try giving your boys kefir. I have heard from a lot of people that are allergic or lactose intolerant, that they do great with kefir. Plus you get all the valuable probiotics.

    I have three little girls, and when I was first introduced to NT cooking I had a 3 year old, 2 year old and a newborn. It took awhile to read it all, but several months later I started putting it into practice. We already ate whole grains, so I made the sourdough starter. Then I started soaking grains and legumes, acquired a kombucha scoby, made saurkraut and broths. We upped our butter intake and began buying coconut oil. Now it’s just become part of my life. If we’re going to eat legumes I soak them the night before without thinking-the same with oatmeal. I make kefir several times a week, make stock once per week, sourdough bread twice a week etc. I’m in the kitchen a good bit, but I enjoy it and feel good about what I’m doing for my family.
    We are eating on a budget as well, but we buy raw goat milk and as much organic produce as we can, as well as some good beef here and there. Small steps is the way to go.


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