Wednesday, October 10, 2012

So.. I've gone a little crunchy!

The Urban Dictionary definition:
1. earthy-crunchy
An adjective describing persons or things relating to any or all of the following: vegetarianism; herbs; all-natural and organic products (such as food, skin and hair care products, etc.); recycling; protecting and preserving the environment; natural medicine; etc. People that are earthy-crunchy are sometimes called tree-huggers or hippies.
She loves to go to the health food store, where she buys all that earthy-crunchy stuff.

You are so earthy-crunchy, you make cliff bars look like a slim jim.
I like this definition. Especially the way it uses earthy-crunchy in a sentence. The funny thing is that I could tell you a ton of stuff to dissuade you from eating a cliff bar. But that is not my purpose for this post. ☺

I don't even know where to start, but I suppose I could start with my family going vegetarian 12 years ago when I lost my uncle to cancer and he was in his late 30s. It's hard for me to relive that time, and I miss my uncle dearly. I vividly remember my mom researching stuff after this happened and very soon after our diets began to change. She was finding out stuff about the way our food is processed that well, no one really wants to think about. I can't say exactly, but I think that this traumatic event of losing my uncle (my mom's brother) at such a young age sent my mom looking for ways for us all to prevent it, and if diet was a way, well, we were going to change. We cut out all meat except fish.
I soon after landed a job as a fabulous front desk receptionist at our local 24 Hour Fitness. It wasn't long after I was working there that the question of "so you are vegetarian for the most part, so where do you get your protein?" started coming up. I knew little about protein. I was 18 and had been a gymnast my whole life so never really put much thought behind what I ate. I burned so many calories that my Wild Cherry Pepsi, bear claw and salsa verde Doritos "diet" didn't seem to matter. But as some of the trainers were filling me in on protein, calories, fats, etc. I started to be more aware and soon brought meat back into my diet. I was the only one in my family that did. 
Now fast forward just about 12 years and I'm the one doing all the research just like my mom did then. This was actually something that I was not looking for, but it kind of found me. I'll explain. 
Capri has been dealing with some major congestion issues. After trying all the "normal" things with humidifiers, nose drops, steamy showers, and sleeping at a tilt I was determined to see if possibly something else could be contributing to her congestion and a friend of mine suggested it might be the dairy in my diet. Huh. I had never thought of that, but was willing to do anything to help my baby girl since she was exclusively breastfeeding. At the same time as I decided to go dairy free, my sister became highly invested in researching health and diet more and was just about to start a 40 day challenge. Another very close friend of mine informed me that she was considering going vegan for many health reasons. She told me about the documentary Forks Over Knives and after our sushi date I raced home to turn on Netflix and watch it. Fascinated, the next night my husband and I watched Food Inc. and we have already been huge fans of Sick, Fat & Nearly Dead.
For our health, and our kids future health, I immediately felt on my heart that it was time for our family to make a change and the most amazing part is that my husband did too. 
  Since then, we have been on a 40 day "cleanse" if you will that will end on Nov. 2. Why 40 days? Well, it's a biblical number, and after going 40 days you will really notice a difference and have to alter your lifestyle to get through it. It's a plant-based protein, whole food diet. No dairy, no meat, no sugar, all organic, and little to nothing processed. Definitely no GMOs. I didn't go as strict on the kids by any means, but I did eliminate meat and have decreased their dairy and processed food consumption to very very little. It may sound like a very restricting lifestyle, but actually, I feel so free. I am learning to cook with vegetables I never would have tried. I even signed up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) and now get my produce delivered to me weekly! I am getting my protein from vegetables, legumes, and sprouted whole grains. My sweet tooth is cured with raw honey and fresh organic fruit. I'm even making my own almond milk! (It's the easiest thing, I swear!) It's absolutely amazing. I feel like my outlook on cooking has completely changed. It used to be the biggest chore, and now I actually look forward to putting together meals that I know are going to be absolutely fantastic for us. I am teaching my kids what it means to be "plant strong!" I even overheard Addyson this morning talking to Capri telling her all about being plant strong and how Capri will be plant strong someday too. It absolutely melted me. It's amazing how much they understand and buy into at 4 years old. What better time than now to train them up in healthy food choices!?

I've still got a lot to learn and to be honest it is hard at times. I have been in the kitchen a lot more than I was when I would throw the frozen lasagna in the oven. (And that means a lot more dishes!) But I truly feel like my family was ready for this change and I'm excited about it. The kids are now trying new vegetables every day (not always easy) but after a few weeks it's already getting easier and now for snacks they are asking for strawberries, apples, carrots and hummus. Sawyer loves tomatoes and Addyson loves broccoli. I realized I love kale. Who knew! lol. And pretty soon I'll be able to make Capri's baby food and it will be beyond easy. Something I never even considered doing with the other two.

The funny thing is that the dairy elimination didn't really help Capri. I have noticed a slight change, but she may have to see an ENT to see if there is anything else going on. But I can honestly say, I think being ready to make a change in my diet for her is what really opened my mind about watching these other documentaries. You really have to be in the right frame of mind to do so because after watching them and reading more online you will feel like a change has to happen and that's scary. I have known for the last 12 years a lot of the information that you will find in Food Inc. and such. It's funny how we can just turn things off and push them far out of our brains. I convinced myself over the years that it was too inconvenient, and I don't eat "that bad." 
The truth is, I probably did eat better than the majority, but it could be a lot better. And now I'm responsible for 3 little ones that rely completely on me to make their food choices. That's scary.
I've been more worried about the spray tanning solution going on my skin being organic than the food actually going into my body!

So everyone is asking me, well, what are you now? Vegan? Vegetarian? My answer is, well I don't really know yet. I do know that my body has never felt better. I am never bloated and I have energy most days despite a 10 week old, 2 1/2 year old and a 4 year old. And that's without coffee! I think after 40 days I might add free range eggs back into my diet, maybe fish once a week and my husband may add back grass fed beef on occasion. For the most part, I can easily see myself sticking to this way of life. It's funny how after eliminating things from your diet for a little while you realize how much you don't need them. My husband has lost 13 lbs in about 3 weeks. Insane. I'm just about back at my pre-baby weight, although that was not my reason for doing this, just a perk. 

Basically, I want to live by the 80/20 rule. 
I've heard this so many times now and I 100% agree with it. If 80% of the time I'm feeding my family amazing meals and introducing and teaching them about how important good food choices are then that 20% of the time when we are at a birthday, out to dinner, or just so busy that a drive-thru is a must, well, we will survive. I won't deprive my kids of Halloween candy or myself of pumpkin pie I can assure you that, but on a typical weeknight you just may come over for dinner and see a fantastic vegan feast before your eyes..

You are so earthy-crunchy, you make cliff bars look like a slim jim.
Yup, that's me now... and so far, I love it. 

1 comment:

  1. Heather, I'm here via our chat on Instagram (lakekat) and this is AWESOME! How did things go with C? Did you have to take her to an ENT or did your body eventually work out the dairy? (Usually takes 1-3 months, and that's if you're being PERFECT about not eating it) ...


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