The most common complaint I get about changing to traditional food, as outlined in Nourishing Traditions, is getting overwhelmed with all of the changes that need to be made.
I have two things to say to that before I let our Panel take over. One, you are not alone. All of us who have changed our eating habits have at certain points felt like it wasn’t possible to do! Two, we succeeded in making changes because we did one thing at a time over a period of time. Even if you just make one change a month, you will have drastically changed your eating habits over a year.
All of these women on the panel also at one time or another faced making huge changes to their diet. They succeeded and you can too.
This week I asked the Panelists: What advice do you have to offer to a newbie wanting to make changes in their diet?
Make sure to check out the Q & A’s from the panelists earlier, if you haven’t already! Read part one: Where did your interest start?Part Two: How did you get started? part three: What were the results?
And, I would love to hear your advice for the newbie as well!
Amy, a real life friend
*Make a plan. Write out some goals, then figure out how often you want to tackle a new one (weekly, monthly, etc.). Put them on your calender!
*I have found it helpful to have one morning a week that is alloted for extra cooking. During that time I prepare things we have run out of, or food items that needed to be made on a weekly basis. I make items such as mayonnaise, nut butter, bread, hummus, kombucha, large batches of fruit/nut bars, etc. on that day.
*Always be thinking in terms of batch cooking, to save time. I purchased a huge stock pot just for making chicken/beef stocks. I put at least three chicken carcasses in, with lots of water and vegis. When the stock is finished simmering, I boil it down. I then freeze the concentrated stock in small portions. Sourdough bread freezes quite well, so I make large batches and freeze some. Cook up large portions of ground beef at a time, then freeze it in small quantities. When making waffles, double the amount you need, and freeze the extra for a quick breakfast, heated up in a toaster/toaster oven.
*In the area that I live, I have found numerous classes and resources that have helped me enormously. I have found I do much better with a new cooking practice/technique if I attend a class on the topic. I can also pick the brain of the teacher, often gleaning many useful tips. A local lady that has taught classes started an online chat group for those who had attended her classes. It has been very useful for asking questions of others, sharing sources for local food, and many other things. Network as much as you can.
*Meal plan- probably the most useful thing I’ve ever done! I like to do two weeks at a time, but find what works for you. You can even write down steps that need to be done ahead of time, such as on Tuesday you make a note to soak the flour for muffins on Wednesday.
My best advice to a newbie is to enjoy and embrace the positive lifestyle changes a nourishing foods diet can bring. Recognize that these healthy dietary changes can help deliver you from the unhealthiness of the frenetic pace and accelerated speed of American life.
In a youth meeting at a Portland church, the leaders discovered that only one of the twenty teenagers in their group sat down and ate a meal together with their families in a week’s time. What a sad state of affairs! Frozen burritoes, ready to zap in the microwave, boxed cereals to pour in a bowl of ultra-pasterized milk, and fast foods to pick-up on the way to somewhere had destroyed the tradition of sitting down to a meal with one’s family.
Newbie, the time, attention, and energy that you direct toward feeding your family heathy foods can help you create a rich and rewarding home atmosphere that is becoming a rarity in this country. Remember, in the past 40 plus years we have lived through a period in history during which basic, wholesome food preparation has been effectively taken out of the home. At age ten, I remember the opening of the 29 cent hamburger joint which would be the precursor of McDonalds. In contrast, my grandparents’ grew and raised about 90% of their own food and certainly cooked and prepared it all from scratch themselves.
The insane pace of life that most Americans feel constrained to live could never have escalated to this speed if all of us had a garden to tend, eggs to collect, a cow to milk every morning and evening, a kefir grain and sourdough starter to keep active, grains to soak, seeds to sprout, and nuts to dry. Most of us will not do all these things (though I have a friend or two who have made all these changes and maintained them) but even if we only do some of them, the nourishing food is just part of the benefit. The other part of the benefit is a mixture of : the real pleasure of making wonderful food for those you love, working together preparing food with those you love, and creating a home-centered lifestyle for those you love.
If you have been accustomed to many shortcuts in food preparation (shorting you on time invested but also quality), do not discouraged when you spend more time in the kitchen. You are ending up with a far superior product to consume! And remember there is a learning curve and soon you will find ways to to be more efficient with some of these new cooking projects. Once you develop a rhythm, it will become a familiar and secure part of your life. (I refer to some of these production rhythms in my response to question 2 in this series.)
Do not get discouraged as you work through these changes and improvements. Since healthy, nourishing foods and healthy lifestyle choices are a marathon event not a sprint,
success is any forward progress and positive change. One step at a time is still a step in the right direction.
Clean out your pantry, toss processed foods and cereals or give them away. Get rid of bottled salad dressings they are high in sugar and usually bad oils. Only let back in the house healthy foods. I found it best to make a clean break from our past.
Invest in some good “fresher longer” storage containers for fresh produce (ours have a locking lid). Buy a salad dressing carafe for making your own dressings. You can find an affordable one at the grocery store, Wishbone Dressings has a glass carafe with a plastic lid. I also love the Pampered Chef Measure and Pour, which has recipes printed right on it. By the way, there is a link on my blog to a Pampered Chef distributor that will donate a portion of her sales to support the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation! Go to Sources on www.hartkeisonline.com.
Become a label reader. If you need to buy something in a box or a can, read the labels. And, learn what the ingredients are. Don’t just look at the numbers on the label, but the actual ingredients list is very important. I avoid flour, sugar, soy and chemicals. The South Beach diet book has excellent instructions on how to identify sugars on the label, anything ending in -ose is a sugar product.
Stephanie from Keeper of the Home
I think the biggest thing would be what I tell everyone who wants to move towards healthier eating and living and that is to just take it slowly, one step at a time (can I shamelessly plug the fact that I have an ebook on this very topic coming out in a couple weeks?) . Don’t feel guilty for not being able to do it all at once, or make a complete changeover immediately! I don’t think that any of us were able to do it that way, and I know that I certainly wasn’t able to. Depending on where you are coming from in your current diet, some of these changes may be quite significant. They might take time for you and your family to adapt to. There are new skills to learn, new foods to source out, even new tastes to acquire. It is definitely a process and even a bit of a journey, but a wonderful, exciting and extremely rewarding one!
What I would suggest as you begin to make changes is to try making a list of all the changes that you are interested in making (beware- it might be long if you’ve been doing a lot of reading). Then take that list, and circle only 2 or 3 of them (seriously, no more than that). These might be the ones you feel are the most important for particular health reasons, or the easiest transitions to make, or even the ones that interest you the most (this is a helpful factor). Post these 2 or 3 goals somewhere obvious, like on your fridge or above your sink, where you’ll constantly be reminded of them.
Personally, I find it really helpful to take my goals in this area, and break them down into little steps. For example, some of my current goals are to become a more proficient sourdough bread baker, and to find and master 3 new fermented recipes that my family really enjoys. So I’m taking small steps, like researching and buying a new sourdough starter online (instead of making my own this time), reading up on different methods of making sourdough, etc. Soon I’m going to start adding 1 new fermented recipe to my kitchen prep days every two weeks, until I start to find the recipes we love. These little steps help to take a large goal and make it manageable for me.
By doing this, you’ll soon find that you’ve accomplished the initial goals you set out to achieve, and you’ll be able to choose a couple more and begin to work towards those. One of the biggest things is to know that each change you make is valuable and is bringing health benefits to you and your family! Even changes that might feel small and inconsequential all add up over time, and suddenly you will look back and be amazed at what a difference you have made in your diet already!
Now, what about you all? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them? What tips do you have?