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.