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reflections on 18 months of real food

UW Real Food Challenge

UW Real Food Challenge

it has been about 18 months since we started making the switch to real food. and i say ‘started making the switch’, because this has been, and is still, a process. and i firmly believe in baby steps when it comes to huge cultural changes for the family. there is no need to put pressure on myself or our family to make a drastic change very quickly. it isn’t much fun for anyone involved, as there is usually stress and frustrations that limit love. this is a lesson learned from experience, and honestly, as long as we have turned around and started walking in the right direction, i know we will ‘get there’ sooner or later and for sure be better off than we were a month or two–or 12 ago.

plus, by taking it slow, i have worked out what kind of real food eater i am and been able to cater that to our lifestyle in a way that works for us but still nourishes our bodies and local community. for example, i started out making my own sourdough bread… with 2 toddlers, while i was starting a business. yea. it was mental. some women may have coped, but i did not! i hated it. resented my starter and felt trapped by a cycle of kneading, fermenting and baking. enter traditional, long-fermented sourdough bread, sliced and in a bag at our local market (and now also at a major, yet health and community conscious supermarket). yes it is nearly 2 bucks a loaf but i was paying that much for a bag of spelt flour that was only getting me one loaf of bread with massive effort and stress on my part. no. brainer. i now buy this bread and we just eat less of it to make up for the cost.

so here is where we are at now.

  • we eat real food on a pretty tight budget
  • we have swapped to good fats (olive oil, coconut oil, butter, cream/creme fraiche)
  • we eat organic and/or pastured/grass-fed meat, eggs and dairy
  • we just recently switched to organic, seasonal fruit and vegetables–not because we came into more money but because we chose to have meat less often in the week to compensate financially
  • we eat fermented and/or soaked grains
  • we have swapped from refined sugar to honey or maple syrup with the odd, occasional Tbsp of rapadura
  • we rarely eat any processed or packaged foods
  • we have a milk kefir smoothie most days (we did do water kefir for a while but again, it was too much effort. milk kefir is so much easier to do at home. i strain it straight into our blender and it creates a fabulous pro-biotic base for our daily afternoon smoothie snack)
  • i make a bone broth once a week and use it for soups, sauces and cooking rice

we also operate on the 80/20 system. we go out for coffees and we totally buy processed treats while we are there. we never say no to food offered to us from friends. when i am having a bad day, rather than yell at the kids in stress that i have to cook up a meal from scratch again, we go grab a frozen pizza. and we absolutely have cake at parties and chocolate at valentines and christmas. i want us to be normal, to be gracious with ourselves and to be able to socialise with our friends and appreciate and accept the generosity of others without being awkward.

but at the same time, to my delight, i am finding that, increasingly, myself, richard and the kids are wanting less and less process treats or we want them, get them and then have way less or stop before we are done because they just don’t taste as great as we remember. when i do have a manic day and we get a frozen pizza for dinner, we do not eat as much of it and all complain of tummy aches the next day. and by far the most exciting development is that, although we all caught a cold and tummy bug this winter (did anyone escape i wonder?!) none of us ended up needing anti-biotics to kick it. none of us. seriously. this is the first time this has happened to me in my life and i could not be more thrilled.

there are things i want to try over the next year, like making my own condiments, switching to raw dairy and experimenting with more grain-free recipes, but for now i feel like we are in a groove that i am happy with–and has finally become easy.

have you been thinking about switching to real food? have you already made the switch? i would love to hear your experiences, thoughts, tips and stories! love, sarah


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