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.
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