Conflict of Interest?

While I was in Canada, I spent some time in a hospital waiting room, waiting for a friend. After I ran out of magazines to read, I picked up a booklet called Healthy Living: Living Well with Diabetes. It’s Canadian Diabetes Association approved.

I didn’t expect much, but I didn’t think this would be put out by Kraft. Do we really need to get dietary information from a manufacturer of processed foods?

If you want to make tex mex stuffed mushrooms (one of the suggested recipes), do you really need to use a bottled salad dressing like Kraft Calorie-Wise Zesty Italian Dressing and Kraft Tex Mex Light Shredded Cheese? How about starting with real foods?

This post was shared with the Healthy Home EconomistPenniless Parenting, and Real Food Forager.

Transitioning to Real Food: Judy's Story

Some people are lucky to have grown up with natural, wholesome food. The rest of us have had to transition from fast food - or what we were told was good - to real food. Every transition story is a little different.

Judy from the Judy Tsafrir M.D. blog has kindly shared her story with us.
What did you eat growing up?

My mother was a skilled and creative cook and way ahead of her time. Both my parents were from Germany, and we are Jewish, so there was a mixture of German and Jewish cuisine. Much that was homemade and fresh. My mother liked to shop daily and liked experimenting with recipes.

Rethinking Antiperspirant: Part II

Recap: In part one I wrote a little about my history with antiperspirant and why I stopped using it. Check it out here.
Before I continue, let me just state for the record that I think people should not walk around smelling badly. We co-exist with other people and need to consider their right to fresh air! If you give up antiperspirant, please be sure that whatever solution you choose isn’t making everyone around you want to shoot you and douse your lifeless body with perfume.

So what are the non antiperspirant options?

Use Nothing

Depending on your lifestyle, the climate where you live, how much you sweat, and how stinky you are, you may be able to do without some of the time. I’m able to get away with using nothing most days during the winter.

From my reading on forums, I know that some people have reported that their body smells have improved as they transitioned to a diet of real food. Makes me wonder if it is natural to stink, or is it is a sign of some imbalance?

Use Crystal Deodorant

This is a solid crystal. You wet it under the tap and then rub it on your underarms. The crystal doesn’t wear away. You don’t leave any perceptible amount of anything on your underarms. The interesting thing about using crystal is that it doesn’t stop you from sweating – it just makes your sweat odorless. This takes a little getting used to. You will feel the sweat and think you are going to smell, but there is no smell. If you sweat a lot, a crystal deodorant may not be for you. I use the Natural Harmony brand, but I imagine they’re all the same.

Use Homemade

Some people like to make their own. I considered this for a long while and read many posts, then gave it up when I discovered crystal deodorant. From my reading, I see that the recipes people like best are ones based on coconut oil and baking soda. Here is a recipe from Naturally Knocked up

Homemade Deodorant

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup organic cornstarch or arrowroot powder

5-6 tablespoons coconut oil, softened

5-10 drops tea tree oil

Natural Antiperspirants /Deodorants

There are lots of natural antiperspirants and deodorants available in health food stores. I tried only one and it wasn’t satisfactory. It was a stick that was so hard, you had to rub and rub to get apply any of it. Oh well.

If you want to figure out which natural product is really safe, check it on SkinDeep. Products on Skin Deep (it’s not only for deodorant) get a safety rating from 0 – 10, with 10 being the worst score. Crystal deodorants get a 0 rating.

Have you ditched commercial antiperspirants?

Rethinking Antiperspirant: Part I

Growing up, there was a commercial on TV featuring a man riding a bus, boasting that he didn’t use deodorant. The other passengers rolled their eyes and held their noses making it clear this wasn’t something to be proud of.

Transitioning to Real Food: Wardeh's Story

Some people are lucky to have grown up with natural, wholesome food. The rest of us have had to transition from fast food - or what we were told was good - to real food. Every transition story is a little different.

Wardeh from Gnowfglins has shared her story with us.

What did you eat growing up?
My heritage is Middle Eastern, and we ate quite a few staple Middle Eastern dishes like cabbage rolls and stuffed grape leaves and hummus and tabouli. But my parents raised us in the United States, so we ate some typical standard American fare, too! However, overall my parents always loved real food and favored healthy options. Our bread was whole wheat, our rice brown, our meats often pastured and we ate lots of fruits and vegetables. We weren't allowed soda but occasionally, and sweets were limited. I am thankful for an overall healthy upbringing with lots of homemade, delicious foods.

What Actually Is Trans Fat?

We hear a lot lately about trans fat and how bad it is for us. Every wonder what trans fat is? For starters, it's a kind of fatty acid. Fatty acids are long chains of carbon acids (C), with hydrogen (H) and other fun stuff attached.

A Fatty Acid
Sometimes (in the case of unsaturated fatty acids) there can be a double bond between carbon atoms. Here’s an example. Take a close look at the section circled in red.

Remember the double bond I just mentioned? It is represented by the two lines between the carbon atoms. Now look at the 2 hydrogen atoms in yellow. Notice that they are on the same side: both are above the carbon atoms (or they could both be below for that matter). Note also, that the whole molecule is bent.
Now look at the trans fat version of the same molecule:

All the same atoms we saw before (10 carbon atoms, 18 hydrogen atoms, 2 oxygen atoms) are still there. However, one of those hydrogen atoms (marked in yellow, for clarity) has flipped over to the other side. Notice that the molecule has a different shape. It is now pretty straight.
So why does this matter?
The trans type of molecule rarely occurs in nature. As such, our bodies aren’t equipped to digest it, like they are other fatty acids. They wreak havoc on your system. This is one area where the jury is in. Both traditional medical sources and alternative therapists agree that they provide no benefit and actually do considerable damage, especially to the heart. There is legislation in countries around the world making it mandatory to label trans fats, or to outlaw them altogether.

Next trans fat post will explain where trans fats are found and how to avoid them.

This post was shared with Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Real Food Forager, The Healthy Home Economist, Hartke is Online Real Food FreaksFood RenegadeGnowfglins, theNourishing GourmetHealthy Home EconomistSimply Sugar and Gluten Free, and Real Food Forager.

Transitioning to Real Food: Jen's Story

Some people  are lucky to have grown up with natural, wholesome food. The rest of us have had to transition from fast food - or what we  were told was good  - to real food. Every transition story is a little different.

Jen from Real Food Freaks was kind enough to share her story with us.

What did you eat growing up?
My mom cooked, however it was usually a concoction that came from a can or a seasoning packet.  It turns out that her mom cooked the same way because she was one of the rare mothers who, in her day, worked outside of the home.  SO, my mom never learned cooking skills.   We always thought it was good though.  I guess we were used to it.

Jen, with her husband, Jun
Were there any defining events that affected your attitude towards food and health?
There have been several.  Most of them were the result of trying a new ‘diet’ or healthy food to fix my infertility.  But what really drove me to my current real food lifestyle was my fourth surgery.  I almost died.  It sounds melodramatic and I am not sure how many people around me knew how serious it was.  But I was really sick and had to have two blood transfusions after the surgery.  It was at that point that I stopped believing the doctors that my food/diet was not the problem.  They had no answers for me, so I knew that something I was doing was very wrong.  I knew about the Weston A Price Foundation but really delved into it while I was recovering from surgery.  It’s amazing how much will sink in when you have nothing to do but lay around recovering. 

What’s your transition style: Gradual? Were there few stages? Cold turkey?
There was nothing gradual about my transition.  When I looked into what was at the root of my problems (female reproductive issues), it was very clear that I needed to know every little thing that was done to my food.  I could not take chances that there was any soy whatsoever.  That included grain fed animal meat.  I began to make everything from scratch.  It was rewarding to see what I could make.  And honestly, I feel like my food now tastes better than most places I go.

When you made changes, was it just you or were others such as a partner or children involved? How did they manage?
Well, for now it is just me and my husband.  He is Filipino, so much of the way I cook now is familiar to him because of the traditional methods that I use.  Unfortunately, he has been in the states long enough to get used to the junky American food.  But I find if I make my food well enough, and have proper fruits for him to munch on at home, he doesn’t really go looking to eat the other fake food.

What does your diet currently consist of?
I follow more of a WAPF lifestyle.  About 50%-60% of calories in my diet comes from healthy fats from pastured animals or coconut products.  The rest is made up of pastured meat and organically grown veggies.  I do eat grains in the form of a sourdough and white rice on occasion.  But I eat a lot less grains than I used to. 

Which transitions were easy?
Eating pastured butter as much as I like!  That has got to be the best part!  But learning to eat all kinds of coconut products without worrying about the saturated fats has been quite awesome as well.

What did you find more difficult?
This may not be ‘food’ related, but it is certainly health related – I struggle with finding the right shampoo.  I am really frightened of all the chemicals in shampoos.  But most of the clean plant or food based ones make your hair look greasy.  But I choose the greasy look over chemicals. 

What improvements to your diet do you still want to make or what things would you like to try?
I want to learn more about herbs. I don’t want to be dependent upon doctors and their chemically created meds for healing.  Herbal remedies sound wonderful, but I am at a loss for where to begin.

Do you crave any of the foods you’ve stopped eating?
Well, I just recently gave up the coffee.  I am not sure if there is anything that I can’t make into real food that doesn’t taste better than the old fake stuff.  Maybe wine?  I can’t make wine.  But I still indulge on occasion.
What physical or mental changes have occurred as a result of your dietary changes?
I have more energy.  It was a daily complaint to my husband that I was always tired prior to starting this diet change. This was not a sleepy tired, but an exhausted type of tired as if you can't get enough oxygen into your cells.  As I have gotten further into the routines and dietary changes, I now realize that it is rare that I mention being tired even if I didn't get much sleep the night before.    
What reactions have you gotten from family and friends?
Well, there has not been a lot of positive feedback.  I live among the low fat crowd.  But, I also need to better manage how I talk about my food.  Or maybe I need to learn not to talk about it at all. The reality is, I am just excited about how my food has helped me.  I am very passionate about it, especially when I see how sick people are related to the foods they eat.

Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew then?
All of it seems pretty important.  But I wish I had taken personal responsibility sooner for my food choices.  I wish I didn’t believe that people in white coats with degrees had all the answers.  And I should have looked at it from more of a spiritual perspective because if I had, I may have realized how food was meant to be enjoyed and good food takes care of the earth and doesn’t destroy it the way our modern farming practices do.

Transitioning to Real Food: Ruth’s Story

Some people have grown up eating real food, but most of us have had to transition from eating what goes for regular food. Every transition story is a little different. Here’s how I made the transition.
What did you eat growing up?
I was lucky in that my mother cooked a lot of food from scratch. We did, however, often have good ol’ Campbell’s soup for lunch, processed cheese (which I quite liked at the time), margarine, corn oil… many things I wouldn’t touch today. My mother was very careful to use very little fat. While I don’t believe in eating low fat, if the fat in question is corn oil and margarine – the less you get, the better.

Were there any defining moments that affected your attitude towards food and health? Tell me about it.
When I was in elementary school, one of my teachers conducted an experiment. She got two hamsters. One was fed junk food (potato chips, sweets etc.) and the other was fed “good” food, such as Velveeta. Well, everything is relative. I was in charge of feeding them. You could clearly see that the hamster eating the good food was thriving while the other one looked bad. That message hit home.
What’s your transition style: Gradual? Were there a few stages? Cold turkey?
Over the years, I’ve taken two steps forward, and one step back, but there’s been a steady progression towards eating more naturally. 
I’ve had chronic fatigue syndrome all my adult life. It’s usually manageable. However, at the end of 2009 it got really bad and I was totally out of commission. I couldn’t do anything but read, and that’s when I discovered the Weston A. Price organization. I started reading day and night about food and making all the changes I could. It was a shock to discover that some medical issues, big and small, that I’d thought I’d just have to live with got better or disappeared. For instance, occasional intense bouts of stomach pain disappeared. I realized that I was just like that hamster. Eating good food made a clear difference to how I looked and felt.
When you made changes, was it just you or were others such as a partner or children involved? How did they manage?
I have two grown kids, one of whom is living at home. I was surprised how accepting they were of new and sometimes strange things entering our kitchen. They grew to love some new foods – like pickles, salsa, and other fermented foods. 
My son is now pretty much eating real food. With the help of the GAPS diet, his stomach feels more settled and he easily lost a lot of weight. 
My daughter is happy to eat foods I prepare, but isn’t ready to give up all the bad stuff. If you look in my kitchen cupboards, you will, I confess, find her boxed cereal, pasta, and even the very occasional soft drink.
Which changes were easy?
I was super motivated, so many changes were easy.
What did you find more difficult?
It was difficult to read articles written for an American audience and translate that to my life in Israel. When someone says you can get something at Trader Joe’s, that doesn’t help me much. So I went through a lot of trial and error with no one to guide me, but now I’ve got most of it figured out.
So what do you eat?

I get a weekly delivery of organic vegetables from Chubeza. I can get frozen grassfed beef at my supermarket (yeah!) but no pastured chickens, so I eat regular chicken, which I'm not too happy about. 
I try to eat liver once every couple of weeks and I make a steady supply of fermented vegetables. I eat lots of organic eggs, which I buy directly from a farmer. He also supplies me with raw goat’s milk and he just bought a cow, so I got raw cow’s milk for the first time last week. I make my own goat’s milk cheese and cow’s milk yogurt. I don't eat a lot of hard cheese, which don't love me as much as I love them, but when I do, I get top quality French AOC raw milk cheeses. Good quality cream still eludes me, so I use ultra pasteurized cream in my coffee. Sigh. 
As for fats, I use lots of coconut oil, olive oil, and butter. I do eat carbs in the form of potatoes and rice, but no grains. I'm not a big fan of labels, but if I had to decide, I'm closest to the Perfect Health Diet.

What improvements to your diet do you still want to make or what things would you like to try?
It is time for me to learn how to prepare fish and start eating it regularly.
What old foods do you still crave?
As long as I’m eating something that tastes good, I’m not missing other foods.
Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew then?
I wish I knew it all way back when.  
This post was shared with Homestead Revival, Real Food Freaks, Food Renegade, The Nourishing Gourmet, Gnowfglins  Healthy Home Economist, Butter Believer, and Kelly the Kitchen Kop..

Have you already heard Jamie Oliver’s inspirational Ted Talk?

Jamie Oliver doesn't mince words. He says the situation is dire and a revolution is needed. He's trying to bring that food revolution about. While some people who eat Paleo or Primal or according to Weston A. Price won't agree 100% with what Oliver considers healthy cooking, he is an advocate of real, local, freshly prepared food. That is so overwhelmingly better than what is currently served in schools, at restaurants, and in many homes.

Even A Stubborn American Can Learn New Tricks . . .

This is a guest post by Jen of Real Food Freaks. Enjoy!

I realize that we real foodies often blame the S.A.D. (standard American diet) on Big Ag, Big Pharma, politicians, Monsanto, the industrial medical complex,  etc. (see here)  However, the problem can’t be blamed solely on these organizations.  Really.  The U.S.A. is called the Land of the Free.   With that freedom comes responsibility.  All too often we have abdicated our responsibility for our food choices to others and have neglected the time honored traditions of health and well-being passed on from our ancestors (laziness perhaps?).  There are consequences for abdicating responsibility so easily. 

Is it Genetics or Lifestyle? Dr. Terry Wahls Video

Remember Dr. Terry Wahls? She's the MD who cured her MS through diet. In this short video, she discusses the effects of genetics on health as opposed to lifestyle.

A Rich Tomato-y Vegetable Soup

Hot soup on a cold day is comforting. This one is quick to make and just right for a winter’s day. The trick is to fry the tomato paste before you add the water, for extra flavor.
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