Though I have had every intention of really getting into the Real Food thing on my blog, the problem is that I just haven't been able to plain old figure out where to start. It's a chicken and the egg kinda thing, and I'm a bit intimidated by the knowledge that if I write too much your eyes will go all googly and I'll have lost you, perhaps forever.
But my good ol' baby bro gave me some fodder for a starting point, so please indulge me while I jump straight into the deep end.
Health Really Does Originate in the Gut
I sent along this really interesting article to my brother today from The Mommypotamus on the real cause of acne. I'd sent it for him to pass along to a friend who I happen to know has had acne issues. The article suggests that the true causes of acne are rooted in the gut, to oversimplify things.
Let me preface my brother's response and my initial interpretation of it by stating that he's my Sid the Science Guy. Sometimes I just can't figure out how my parents could have produced us, we're such polar opposites (except in the looks category - we've both kinda lucked out there:).
I've been singing my song for years, quite loudly at times, and let's just say that he's been known to imitate duck sounds in response. In fact, he's gone so far as to spell out the sound that ducks make in an email to me in response to something I'd touched on. But we've learned to keep a healthy distance when it comes to certain subjects, and I do appreciate his perspective on a number of issues. Plus I love him dearly. He's my only sibling and he did once let me dress him up like a girl.
So his response to this really interesting article (note, I do not suffer from acne) was:
"Eh. Yet again food solves or causes all woes?"
Now, originally I had interpreted his response to suggest that he felt I was way off base, once again, but in fact, he has clarified his reaction. What he meant was that he's tired of thinking about food as a way to fix things, rather than something to just enjoy. And I can't say I blame him as he's got Type 1 diabetes. Living with this sort of a condition would give one an entirely different perspective on food.
So my fantastic premise for jumping into my take on Real Food has kind of been pulled out from under my feet because I was going to go into science versus instinct approaches to nutrition, but so much for that, because he didn't mean what I thought he meant. But never mind. I've already started writing so might as well finish, right?
Now, if you subscribe at all to the theories of the Weston A. Price Foundation, the idea that the cause of your acne originates in your gut won't be news to you. To me, it resonates STRONGLY. I full believe in the idea that all health originates in the gut. And I believe that this refers not only to physical health, but to mental health as well.
And as time goes by, this belief is becoming easier and easier to translate into practice in my household. I've understood and subscribed to the Real Food philosophies since I was first introduced to them at the age of 25 through the NHC Institute here in Montreal, but then life got busy. I got married, I got pregnant, I had a baby, I created a business, I had another baby, I created another business, and then I had another baby. There hasn't been tons of time for breathing, let alone cooking.
Now, though, post-babies, in a relatively well-established business and with three kids in full-time care, I am making the time to breathe again and to focus on the one thing I have been truly and consistently passionate about on some level all these years, namely, food.
This past June, my darling husband decided, as he does periodically, that it was once again time to deny himself the pleasure of certain foods in the name of weight loss. I'm always all for these initiatives of his because it usually means a total and complete cessation of the consumption of sugar, and who isn't in awe of anyone who can stick to such a committment for any amount of time?
But this time he decided to go a step further and cut out the things he considered "carbs", such as grains.
My husband has been a low level sufferer of digestive issues for years. He's not largely overweight and he eats well, normally, and yet he's experienced chronic nasal congestion and snoring along with the kinds of symptoms caused by chronic inflammation of the digestive track. I won't get into the details of the latter because he'd kill me.
So anyways, he cut out grains and he cut out sugar. And fast forward two months and not only had he lost 10 pounds without exercising, but his chronic congestion had disappeared and his bowel function could now be classified as healthy and normal (I only know this because I found a poop chart on the internet and we had a discussion about it. We're not that intimate and I hope we never will be).
Initially I thought that perhaps he was gluten intolerant as we went out to eat and he had the calamari, which was fried in batter, and then had a relapse in the digestive department, but it seems that may have been more viral than anything else. The next time he allowed himself to slip he did not experience any problems.
All this to say, by making a change in his consumption habit and by identifying a component of the modern North American diet that we have been told is a health food (grains and whole grains), he gave his gut the time to heal from a problem that has probably been plaguing him for most of his adult life. And a condition that most would consider unrelated, his chronic congestion, cleared up.
And this, my friends, has been the most incredibly validating experience for me. I have all the proof I need to fully and wholeheartedly jump right back into the world of Real Food and envelop myself in it in the home. I learned about bone broths and am working on incorporating them into our daily food intake. We changed our purchasing habits pretty drastically and now buy only fresh produce and unprepared meats. We consume three cartons of eggs from our local egg lady a week and butter by the pound, and I've done my homework and found the closest thing to raw milk that's available to us in the this crazy province if we don't happen to be neighbours to a cow. My freezer is full of a quarter of a beef, all nicely packaged and organized.
I soak my family's oatmeal nightly. I strain my homemade yogourt to make a creamy cottage cheese and use the whey in green smoothies to increase our probiotic consumption. I actually used up a large amount of the pears from our tree in healthy, low grain baking and I didn't let them rot. I used all the apples we picked at the organic orchard in crumbles and my kids ate them two or three times a day.
My plan for my new kitchen (due in April - stay tuned as I chronicle the renovation journey in all its splendour) includes a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer with a grain grinding attachment so that if I do need to use grains I can rest assured that my flour is as fresh as can be.
Next year I plan to learn how to can those pears, should we be lucky enough to have such a perfect and abundant harvest again. I will learn how to lacto-ferment vegetables and maybe we'll even enjoy eating them. Maybe I will learn how to make jelly from the grapes that grow on our vine. And who knows, one of these years maybe I'll actually be able to slow down enough to enjoy gardening.
It's all a journey and it's one I'm happy to have re-embarked on. And if you'd like to come along for the ride, I'd really appreciate the company!