Many months ago I discovered Lisa and her blog “100 Days of Real Food“. Here was a wife and mother of two who decided to go cold turkey and pledge to eat only real food for 100 days. She chronicled the entire journey on her blog and I was immediately taken in. I’ve been eating a “real food” diet for several years now so it’s always interesting for me to read and hear about others who are just beginning the journey. Lisa and I began to email back and forth and then I decided it would be best for you to hear her story from her own lips. I hope you enjoy the first-ever guest post on Deliciously Organic! – Carrie
After being inspired by one of Michael Pollan’s books, I went from being a white bread and Chick-Fil-A loving mom to one who would only eat “real food.” And I took my husband and two young daughters along for the ride. Starting in May of 2010 the four of us took a pledge to go 100 solid days without eating a single ounce of processed food or refined ingredients (including white flour and sugar!). I blogged about the highs and lows of our journey as we attempted to seek out the real food in our processed food world. Readers from all over the globe followed along, and we asked them to join in by embracing our same real food rules for only 10 days.
The response (and interest in eating real food!) was absolutely amazing, but there was one thing we could not ignore. People thought that organic, whole, local, non-processed, real food sounded too expensive. So we just finished tackling another 100-day real food pledge, but this time on a tight budget. We had $125/week to spend on our family of four, which is less money than we would have if we were on food stamps! It was quite an interesting journey, and it forced me to make a lot of sacrifices and learn a lot along the way.
Before I share some valuable “real food on a budget” tips that got us through our most recent pledge, I want to share a little more on why we’re doing all this in the first place. We think our list of ten reasons to cut out processed foods is pretty convincing, but aside from that, check out what has happened to us personally since we changed our diets at the beginning of 2010…
1. Our youngest daughter’s constipation was completely “cured” within 5 days of cutting out highly processed food. And things continue to be pretty regular in that department…for all of us actually (how embarrassing to share).
2. In 2009, this same daughter suffered from five separate episodes of wheezing (due to mild asthma) as well as croup and bronchitis. She did not have a single occurrence of wheezing (or croup or bronchitis for that matter) for the entire year of 2010, after we cut out the highly processed foods.
3. All four of us have made it through this winter season (thus far) without getting any fevers or significant viruses. Neither child has missed a single day this school year due to sickness. Our youngest had one 12-hour stomach bug the day after a plane flight, but this has luckily been the only bug we’ve dealt with so far this season (knock on wood)!
4. Overall I feel like I have more energy and need less sleep.
5. My husband and I both lost a few pounds.
6. My HDL (the “good” cholesterol) jumped from 52.9 to 79, which is almost a 50% increase! This is not to be confused with your LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), which should be a low number. If your HDL level is above 60 (which mine was NOT in 2009) then it is considered to be a “positive risk factor” when it comes to your cardiac risks. A level above 60 would essentially cancel out a “negative risk factor” like smoking cigarettes, for example. So as you can see in my case, consuming processed foods was basically equivalent to smoking (and eating real food) when it comes to having an increased risk for heart disease. Shocking, huh?
7. Just imagine what else has changed in our bodies that we don’t even know about yet…like reduced chances of developing certain diseases even including some cancers.
8. And in addition to these changes in our health we’ve also all been lucky enough to experience a change in our palates (for the better) including less desire for the junk. My husband and I also seem to need to eat a lot less food in order to feel full…because real food is filling!
Now I don’t think I need to convince anyone why they should try to save money while food shopping. So let’s dive right into some “real food budget tips” that helped us stick to real food and keep it cheap.
1. Be organized and plan out meals for the week
2. Minimize waste (i.e. put uneaten food back in the fridge instead of throwing it away)
3. Know and use what you have on hand (especially if it’s perishable)
4. Make substitutions in recipes to reduce the number of things you have to buy
5. Maximize “cheap” foods like bananas, beans, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice
6. Make sacrifices (i.e. water instead of milk or juice)
7. Reduce your consumption of meat and desserts
8. Buy produce that’s in-season and don’t be afraid to negotiate at the farmer’s market
9. Check your receipt after you get home to make sure your money was well spent (most grocery stores accept returns!)