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.

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