Something happens when a person starts looking at the foods they buy and they meals they eat after realizing that whole foods leads to better health outcomes. All of a sudden they feel badly, or secretive, if they eat something that isn’t considered “real food” or “nourishing”.
But did you know that stress (or feeling worried about the ingredients in your food) while eating has a disastrous effect on digestion?
Did you know that we are not only what we eat, we are not only what our animal products eat, we are what we digest.
So one might gather that eating food under stress, even of poor quality, might be worse for us than if we ate it under a relaxed and pleasurable state.
In my last newsletter I asked what topics you all might want me to write about and the one response I got many times over was how to eat when you’re in survival mode. Or how to eat when you don’t have the time/money/resources.
Everyone moving to a whole foods diet wants to be able to cook everything from scratch, buy only organic produce, and organic/grassfed animal products. We see others doing it and we see other bloggers doing.
I have done it.
I have learned how to source my food from farmers and farmer’s markets, traveling all over town and making special trips for the foods I desired. I’ve made all of our meals, snacks, and desserts in my kitchen. I have gardened and preserved a majority of the food we eat.
If I’m honest, I like when I’m able to say that! I take pride (maybe sometimes too much pride) in how my family eats. But on the other end of pride, can also be shame. We feel shame that we know better than to eat like this. (been there) We can feel shame that our income isn’t high enough to purchase the farm fresh milk, meat, and eggs or that we’re so busy that our time in the kitchen is at a bare minimum. (been there too)
We can feel so much shame that we hide from each other what we’re really eating.
Let’s be real with each other, shall we?
I want to be able to talk about food here without shame, knowing that each of us is in different stages of life and in different places in our journey to whole foods. Sometimes that journey moves forward in leaps and bounds, other times at a crawl, and some days may feel like you’ve taken a giant step backward.
My goal in buying food for my family is to make it work for my lifestyle, my budget, and my sanity.
The above is what I bought today at the supermarket. I decided on my way home that I needed to share it with you, so it most definitely isn’t staged. If I had planned on it, I probably would have made different purchases.
- organic apples
- red, orange, and yellow bell peppers
- snap peas
- corn on the cob
- organic potatoes
- butternut squash
- organic butter
- cheese sticks
- 2 single serve yogurts as treats for my littles after we shopped
- chicken breasts
- nitrate free bacon
- breakfast sausage
- deli turkey meat
- black beans
- white beans
- diced tomatoes
- basmati rice
- Fruit snacks
These foods (some already in our freezer/pantry) will be made into dinners like:
- tacos with homemade shells
- aussie chicken, rice, corn on the cob, and asparagus
- homemade chicken strips, potatoes fried in coconut oil, and green beans
- homemade pizza for movie night (unless I’m over exhausted from little sleep at night in which we’ll order out)
- salmon patties, crispy potatoes, broccoli
- butternut squash soup
Just showing that picture is enough to give me pause. I want to quickly explain why I bought meat from the store and not the farm, to tell you the Doritos are for Todd (they are…but I’ll have some too), and to make it seem like this week at the store was unusual for me. To tell you that I’m currently unable to make multiple stops per week, or multiple trips to the store as my littlest one screams through most car rides. That I’m also unable to purchase grassfed beef, raw cheese, and pantry staples in bulk due to financial constraints as I have taken most of this year off from working at home.
That some weeks I’m able to purchase different foods depending on if I’m able to get to my preferred grocery stores, but some weeks all I can get to is our “country-bumpkin” grocer who carries only the main essentials and rarely anything organic.
Do those reasons really matter though? Why must I feel like I need to put on a front?
“What kind of crazy world do we live in that there are moms out there who feel bad for spending an extra quarter to get their cheese pre-sliced? Why should anyone feel like a failure for picking up a package of sandwich cookies now and again? And, really, since when is one’s worth, intelligence, or intention all wrapped up in a decision to use Velveeta? … What you buy at the grocery store does not reflect your compassion, your brilliance, or how much you love your kids. It really doesn’t.”
– quote from “No Shame in Being Real” by JessieLeigh from Parenting Miracles
In no way do I want you to think that I eat a “perfect diet”. Sure, some days I’m a heck of a lot closer to it than other days, but know that I am, most likely, just like you. I believe that food is the foundation to good health, but it’s not the only thing that keeps us healthy. Our state of mind and our stress levels can increase or decrease our health the same way our diets can, and it’s finding the balance that works for us that’s most important.
When we know better, we do better, but let us strive for progress, not perfection if it isn’t within our means. And let’s enjoy our food without shame shall we?
What seasons of your life have you had to relax your whole foods standards?
Do you ever feel badly for how you eat? Why?
This one hit close to home. I struggle with this all the time, though my grocery list is very similar to yours. I don’t buy organic or grass fed everything. I can’t afford to do that. I do make healthy choices though and don’t buy “junk foods”, though I will partake in them if offered at a gathering from time to time (Doritos and Oreos)! But yes, I do sometimes feel guilty for not being more “real” or strict with my food purchases. I’ve also come to terms with what I am able to do and I do the best that I can for my family. I think we are still way better off than most when it comes to nourishment.
Glad I’m not alone! Thanks for commenting. <3
Bread is always the first thing to be bought in stressful times! Because we’re able to raise all our own meat and dairy we usually have wiggle room to buy everything else semi decent. Or barter for what we can. But let’s just say when the whole family is down with a bad bug and I stiiillll have to milk the cow On time it makes me wish I bought my milk from someone else!
We don’t normally eat much bread, but certain times call for super easy foods and bread is one thing I’ll buy too.
I can also understand the milk issue too! Awesome to have fresh milk everyday, but man oh man, I can’t imagine having to milk a cow when any sort of craziness has taken over the household. Kudos to you!
You hit the hammer on the nail. Thank you for keeping it real. It isn’t always affordable or practical to buy everything “clean”. I am the same – I love getting to buy produce from the farmer’s market and meat/ milk from the farms when we can, but running around with kids is sometimes overwhelming. And I don’t know why I feel the same, like I need to confess or give an explanation for feeding my kids and us an occasional treat like oreos or doritos. Anyway, thank you!!
At least confession is good for the soul! 😀
Thanks for keeping it real! I have gotten very frustrated in the past with food bashing. Thanks for the winds of freedom and honesty.
If it’s not on thing it’s another! Not paleo enough… eat to much meat…eat too many salads (I’ve actually been told that!)…
Let’s just eat with gratitude for what we’re able to purchase shall we? I think that’s why praying a blessing over our meals is so important.
I too am grateful and say a blessing over my meals. I like your blogs , this one had me do a big sigh of relief , I was feeling all kinds of feelings because we are unable to buy organic,grass fed meats and milk. I think now I won’t feel stressed about eating what we can afford,but sure look forward to the days when we will be able to eat healthy again.
Thanks for commenting! I was beginning to feel badly about the lack of organic meats I could purchase as well, and then I realized that any whole food is still better than a processed alternative. I reminded myself that it’s important to buy the best you can, even when it’s not the “best” you really want.
We are doing our very best, at least most of the time. but boy, oh boy, did I need to read this article.
I’m so glad my story resonated with you. <3 Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone!
This article is so worth reading. I’ve come away with a good feeling that even when I can’t do the best I would like, it will still be so much better than I was doing 4 years ago. It’s not always perfect but its way better than it was! Thanks for relieving me of that pressure!!
You betcha! I’m pretty sure buying whole foods (whatever the source) is a lot better than the frozen meals, case of pop, and Hamburger helper I used to buy years ago. 😉
Great article, Donielle. It’s a slippery slope when we start to associate good/bad and elitism/shame with food choices. I was there. There is no food that makes us “better” or “worse” as people for eating it. Yes, we should strive to make healthy choices that are within our budget (not just financially, but also our time and sanity budgets!), but moderation is key. And for many who live in situations where food security is a real issue, what does that mean if we look at their choices and shame them? How elitist is that? Sure, whole foods can be cheaper, but if they don’t have access to them, or have the time to cook from scratch all the time. (many in poverty work 2-3 jobs, and I know there are days after my ONE full time job that I don’t want to cook! I am sure I wouldn’t have time to soak grains, make beans, and cook dinner for my kids after 2 or 3 jobs.)
And as I learned the hard way for many years, it’s better to just EAT, even if it’s not 100% homemade organic local grass-fed whatever-tag-you-wanna-throw-on-it, because the stress of not being perfect can be overwhelming and detrimental to your health.
Our grocery stop is much like yours. 🙂
Thank you for sharing. <3
A couple of weeks ago I ended up even farther from the bigger city and it's amazing how much of what I wanted, I couldn't find at the store. If I lived in that small town, the closest store that offered organic foods would have been at least 45 minutes away. Not many people are able to drive that far out of their way for food! I'm thankful that I'm able to get the foods that I do. 🙂
And you're right, time is a huge concern for many people. I can't imagine trying to do what I do if I worked outside the home.
Thank you. Thank you very much. 😀
Whew. I feel WAY better about purchasing a Pepsi and a bag of potato chips today… 😀 In my defense, I’m 21 weeks pregnant with #4 and I was totally craving them… 😉
The only time I ever want pop is when I’m pregnant! I grabbed some Izze from Costco and ended up finding Sprite made with sugar and not hfcs. Those helped, but I had normal pop a few times when my nausea got really bad!. 😉
Starlene @ GAPS Diet Journey
It was refreshing to read your post, Donielle. I always feel like a fraud since I cannot afford grass fed meat and organic vegetables – and am a real food blogger. We just don’t have the money to do it. A friend of mine whose family recently fell upon hard times confided to me that they were having to buy vegetables from the local store and said she had realized that all these years she had always told people, “If you really want to eat organic, you can. You just have to be determined and budget your money wisely” but now that she was in a hard place financially she realized sometimes it truly isn’t possible. That helped me feel a little better to hear her say that, and your post is helpful too Donielle. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for sharing! It’s so good to hear another real food blogger say the same! I always said I’d never put my family into debt trying to buy the food I deemed “better”. So when the money isn’t there, we still eat whole foods, but make concessions on where those foods are purchased.
I have to admit that this article really bothered me. For the 15 plus years of my real food journey I’ve never had a lack of the culture and the people around me advocating that real food or the influence of food on health is meaningless, unimportant, not worth the effort, something no one has time for, important maybe but nothing to the importance of the stress levels it inevitably causes…and a million more “encouragements” to just lighten up. Maybe I’ve done a better job than I’ve realized in managing my stress over it because I can hardly believe that I’m now seeing that same “encouragement” to just lighten up or in other words give up and stop striving to do the best job I can from the places in the “real food blogosphere” that I go to for real help and encouragement. I’m not familiar with this particular blog but the people who I’ve enjoyed the most have been reposting it, or that horrid quote or the article the quote came from. And I’m mightily discouraged by the backwards message. The false dichotomy set up in that quote drives me a little nuts. If someone feels that strongly about that particular food choice then yeah they have an issue. But since the sliced cheese is usually less healthy and even when it isn’t my budget matters and I keep a handle on the whole thing and make my choices and live with them because… you know… we all have monetary limitations…none of us have access to Fort Knox.. If so many need help to manage their stress over their healthier or more frugal practices maybe they do need to give it up or maybe they need better help in learning to keep it in perspective. But what I need is help to keep doing my best despite the compromises that must be made due to budget or logistics! Never help to decide that velveta or sliced cheese is meaningless and people should just lighten up and spend more money for the less healthy food that seems more normal because I grew up in a world where the food culture was warped and skewed towards being comfortable with extremely unhealthy choices whose economic model doesn’t really make sense for the vast numbers of consumers buying into it. Now to have the impression that all those who were putting themselves out there as experts to write about it to the rest of us were really dreaming out in a desire to do a less good job and over piddly things like sliced cheese is just really demoralizing.
I’ve been thinking about this, and I think you might be seeing it from real food bloggers because people really do think we eat perfectly. I have both readers and friends shocked when they find out I eat sweets sometimes, or that I bake cupcakes for birthdays. It’s hard to be the voice of healthy whole foods because you’re expected to eat only that. Most people splurge every once in awhile or buy from less-than-perfect sources and it isn’t a big deal. When when they see real food bloggers doing the same they tend to look down on them and this causes a great deal of stress for those of us who think we have to keep up appearances!
My belief is that food is really important and we should strive to do our best. But I also believe in being real with my readers! So while we do eat foods in the manner of which I write about them, sometimes we make concessions and need to buy food where we can find it.
It’s also hard to find a way to talk about this. I don’t want people to think that working towards a whole foods diet is meaningless. Personally I’ve found the most healing from whole foods! But I also don’t want people to freak out about the cheese they buy if they don’t have access to raw cheese. I get emails all the time with women stressing about their food choices because they can’t afford organic meat or their state outlaws raw milk. I just wanted people to know they if something is outside the realm of possibility for them, that we shouldn’t stress about it. I’m sorry if my message wasn’t what you needed, but then again, there are lots of times that I write something that doesn’t fit everyone’s life at that moment.
I really hope you keep doing your best to serve your family healthy whole foods! That’s what I’m trying to do too. 🙂 But in the midst of post partum after a difficult pregnancy and still dealing with weak adrenals, my best sometimes includes a few convenience foods that I otherwise would not purchase. And for my health, that’s what is best for me right now, and we’re still easily following the 80/20 rule when it comes to food.
Oh my gosh people must stop letting other people’s opinions make them feel shame! The fact that one reads these sorts of blogs indicates an awareness of food choices and those readers likely make pretty good choices lots of the time. But Oreos are yummy, Pepsi is yummy! So don’t waste your trans fat and HFCS on things like your dairy or ketchup. Save your crap allotment for your crappy indulgences (bring on some Doritos!) and balance it with organic apples and the best meat you can afford. Own your choices & have some balance.
“Save your crap allotment for your crappy indulgences” – love it! lol. That’s usually what we end up doing too and I agree with you, we need to own our choices. Thanks for sharing!
I really don’t like the taste of store bought cookies but I know that making Toll House isn’t more healthy, lol. But after eating whole foods, I just don’t get the same satisfaction from candy that I craved a few years ago. But I believe that eating mostly healthy is better than nothing. I’ve been thinking about my childhood in the 60’s.My mom was a whole food cook as was every other family because the food manufacturers hadn’t invented all the boxed stuff. Meat, potato or noodles, frozen veggies and salad. Ethnic foods like stuffed cabbage and oxtail soup. At night I’d crunch on carrots & celery while I read in bed which drove my sister nuts.
I’m the same way – my old favorites don’t taste near as good as they used to! A few times now I’ve purchased something I thought I was craving and didn’t finish eating it because it no longer tasted good.
Thank you for this reflection on balance. I really need it right now as my family adapts to newly diagnosed multiple food intolerances. A few years back, I improved my health considerably with a general 80/20 rule (eating the best I can at least 80% of the time and cutting myself slack/indulging no more than 20%). I fell off the bandwagon as life stresses changed at convenience won out and it became more like 50-50. Now with actually diagnosed intolerances on paper, the 80/20 rule must go back in force for at least my daughter and myself . (I cannot force these things upon my husband too much, but neither am I cooking more than one diet for my sanity.) Back then I did well with grocery store meats, snagging what deals I could find on lamb or splurging occasionally. We eat canned and frozen veggies. Organic is saved for apples and carrots. I could buy more dried beans, but really I have had the most terrible time remembering to soak them and the last several times cooking them from scratch have been terrible. It’s not worth the savings when sanity comes into play. Stress saving is worth the money. While the quote about sliced cheese may not seem relevant to some, the principle is. Saving your time and sanity is worth some money. Pre-washed, pre-sliced, already portioned? Pay someone to do it and give yourself the break.
Exactly. Dried beans have been out for me in the last few months too. I just kept forgetting to soak them and it was messing up my dinner plans! So I grabbed a few cans of beans and plan on buying a big bulk bag of dried beans in a few weeks and canning them myself.
I can totally relate to this post! Especially now that I am a new mom, I find myself constantly having this argument with myself that I need to give myself a break. Not just what we purchase but also where we purchase it. If I wasn’t married & didn’t have a child, then I could probably afford to shop at my favorite mom & pop health food store. And I could probably feel good about just about everything I purchased there. But it’s not reality. So I try to keep my focus on doing my best for that particular day & as long as I have done that, then I can feel good about it…even with my peanut butter granola bars in cart.