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.

Were there any defining events that affected your attitude towards food and health?
In college, I put myself on a restrictive low-fat and vegetarian diet. It was all for weight loss. And I did get really skinny, but my health suffered. I didn't feel good, my hair fell out in gobs, and I had lots of headaches. I didn't wise up until I was married and pregnant for the first time and found myself craving meat. That's when I stopped being a low-fat vegetarian, both for my own sake and for my daughter's sake. I felt much better and I know it was better for my daughter, even though at that point, I still had much to learn!

What’s your transition style: Gradual? Were there few stages? Cold turkey?
Pretty much cold turkey. I'm impatient. I figure if we're going to change something, let's just change it all. We've made most of our changes because of food allergies, which is a good reason to make big changes. But, I realize this doesn't work for everyone and can be quite overwhelming! So I actually teach the opposite for those who do better at incremental changes: making changes about a week at a time.

When you made changes, was it just you or were others such as a partner or children involved? How did they manage?
My husband and I together decided to make a change to traditional food and cooking. My children weren't in on the decision, but were old enough to know what was going on. We really started down this path because our kids had food allergies, so it was easy to explain to them that we wanted to try something new to help them feel better. They had no problem with the changes and were happy to go along with it.

What does your diet currently consist of?
Our diet is pretty typical traditional. And by traditional I mean non industrial. We eat quite a bit of raw dairy, because we have our own cow. That means we also have plenty of homemade butter, ice cream, kefir and cheese. We love fermented foods like cultured dairy and old-fashioned pickled veggies (like sauerkraut) and we eat small amounts of these almost every meal for probiotic benefits. I love baking with sourdough, and bake almost all of our whole grain baked goods this way — from cakes to cookies to English muffins to regular bread. We've found local sources for chickens and beef. We have our own chickens for eggs. We love vegetables and are glad to be learning how to garden.

What physical or mental changes have occurred as a result of your dietary changes?
The biggest change is that the kids no longer suffer from food allergies. My son was allergic to eggs, but because the traditional diet was healing to his gut, he no longer has trouble with them. My daughter, who is sensitive to gluten, also experience gut healing. She can eat gluten now, but does especially well if grains are soured, sprouted or soaked to improve digestibility. I've noticed a lessening of my seasonal allergies. Some years I go without any symptoms at all.

Which transitions were easy?
I think they were all easy. Truthfully! The food tastes better, and the methods are not hard.

What did you find more difficult?
I haven't found anything to be difficult.

What improvements to your diet do you still want to make or what things would you like to try?
I want to learn how to cook outside over a fire. I want to work on recipes for survival food. I have had these goals for a few years, but no opportunity to work on them so they are still that: just goals.

Do you crave any of the foods you’ve stopped eating?
Yes, we do now and then. But you know what, we are never as satisfied as we are if I make it from scratch. Like, store-bought ice cream is wayyyy too sweet, where ice cream from our Jersey cow's cream is perfection. Actually, most sweets are just sweet to us without offering other flavor. Our homemade desserts (like my sourdough chocolate cake) are complex with flavors that really satisfy. My butter and my cheese are way better than the store. So, yeah, we crave things occasionally, but quickly find out they're not satisfying.

What reactions have you gotten from family and friends?
Everyone is really supportive. It is hard to argue with healing!

Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew then?
Oh, yes! I wish I would have followed a nutrient-dense, traditional diet through conception and my pregnancies and on. I know that would have been better for my children. Perhaps they wouldn't have had allergies at all.

Want to read more transition stories?


Grace said...

I guess I'm not finding it to be this easy. I'm a little jealous, Wardeh! You are always an inspiration, though, so thank you for your example.

Thanks for sharing these stories, Ruth. I suspect it is different for each and every one of us.

I bought my first raw milk last week. It is wonderful and I've gone through three quarts just drinking it! I used the other quart to make some buttermilk with existing buttermilk as a starter.

It's a process. It's taking me a while to get there, and I'm getting some resistance from my family, but we're making a little more progress all of the time.

Ruth Almon said...

I know what you're saying, Grace. Some people are just surrounded by others who think they're nuts, and some of us have more trouble locating real food. In the long run, if you're feeling better and looking better, that's what counts. The naysayers also start to come around eventually.

Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS said...


Ah, let me give you a great big {hug}!

It is a process, you're on the way, and that's what's most important!

I hope this will encourage you: I never do anything right the first time. I haven't found transitioning to real food hard, but that doesn't mean I get it right all the time. Also, the joy of it overshadows difficulties most of the time. ;)

Keep it up, you're doing great!

Ruth -- Thanks for having me over! I think I could have said so much more. I covered a lot of years there, and probably things were harder then than they seem now.

Melissa Naasko said...

Very cool! I linked to this from my blog's FB. I think we all wonder how others transition and this is such a fun read!

Ruth Almon said...

@ Wardee, you are more than welcome to add a part 2. I really do think sharing stories helps.

When you're in the midst of a change, you really have to spend so much time just figuring how to do things (what to buy, where to buy it, how to cook it...) . Now that it's been a couple of years, it has definitely gotten easier because I'm already used to a new rhythm.

Sarah said...

Great story, so inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

Jen said...

Ruth, I am really loving this series and getting to know the back story of all the real food bloggers! Thanks for sharing!

Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

This was a fabulous interview :) :) I've been doing really well in the transition to real food. My only "difficulty" still with with coffee, with cream and sugar, but that's more because I"m going gluten free, and the coffee is no friend of my gut. I have discovered roasted dandelion root coffee, and that seems to be working great so far :) Thanks for sharing this story. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

Ruth Almon said...

Hi Heather,
It's sad to discover that you're sensitive to something you love. Sigh. I know all about it.

Anonymous said...

Wardeh, I am wondering if switching to real foods healed your children's gut (or improved their food allergies) or if you did something like the GAPS diet first?

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