I honestly don’t know. I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to figure it out and I come up with more confusion than anything else. Last night, while the boys were in Karate, I went to the library and checked out some books. As I skimmed though them, I realized many had the same theme–they described what the author considered to be the healthiest type of diet for everyone. If everyone would just switch to that Author’s diet, then we could all miraculously be healthy and well. Most of the authors promise weight loss, improved vitality, youthful energy, clearer thinking, better skin and host of other benefits.
Over the years I’ve tried lots of different dietary regimens and read about many more. I’m trying, in my own little way, as a frugal mom and a wife with my own set of health challenges, to make sense of all of the conflicting advice and expensive suggestions.
And it’s tough! I’m not even close to understanding half of it. It’s like “The Perfect Diet” is the Holy Grail of our culture. Everyone is on a quest to find it, but no one ever does. I have jumped on that band wagon and searched along with everyone else and to me it’s been just as elusive as everyone else. The one thing I think is obvious, is that the Standard American Diet, is making us sick. It doesn’t give us health, it gives us disease.
So anyway, last night I asked myself–What do I think makes up a healthy diet? What do I think would nourish my family the best? Then I started the following list. To be sure, it’s a work in progress. I have not refined it, only come up with a handful of goals, or ideas that seem reasonable to me.
- Whole Grains are far better than processed grains. I believe that eliminating as many processed grains as possible can only add to my family’s health. Our main flour is brown rice flour, ground in our own electric grain mill. It’s the cheapest flour we can make (that’s gluten free) and I suspect, the highest quality. I also like oats, millet, and buckwheat. I think that serving whole grains every day, and maybe even at every meal, is a good way to go.
- Beans are good. My family likes beans, they’re blissfully cheap, high in fiber, protein and (I believe) are more versatile than any other protein source. I currently serve them at least 3 times a week, but would like to serve them more often. Out of 21 meals a week, I think at least 5 and maybe 7 meals should be based on beans.
- Fruits and Vegetables–Fresh & plain Frozen & Canned-no-added-salt-or-sugar need to take a higher priority in our meals. In a perfect world, I would grow all of our fruits and vegetables myself. That’s not likely to happen to anytime soon, so I make-do with what I can afford. I do not believe that any vegetables are bad–like potatoes and corn. I think vegetables are good, no matter what kind they are.
- I believe that organics are superior to conventional fare. I can’t even come close to affording them, so the only way we’ll get them is if we grow them ourselves.
- Honey and other “natural” sweeteners are probably better than sugar. We eat way too much sugar anyway, whether it’s natural or not.
- I suspect that conventional meat, eggs and dairy products are swimming in all sorts of icky things because of the terrible way animals are fed and treated in giant feed lots. I know for a fact they do not taste as good as so called “Natural” and “Organic” animal products. I still don’t know what to do about this one. Eliminate all animal products because we can’t afford the “Good Stuff” or make regular animal products a progressively smaller part of our diet. Or splurge on teh good stuff every now and then. I do know that we can’t afford the good stuff as often as we’d like to eat it, which kind of makes me sad.
- Eat more fish. This is a personal bias of mine. I would like to eat fish at least twice a week, and 4 times a week would be fine with me. The only thing is I can’t afford as much fish as I’d like. I do use canned salmon and canned tuna and while I worry about mercury in the tuna, I don’t worry about the salmon at all. And it’s high in Omega-3 fatty acids which is a very good thing.
- Everything processed is bad (except plain fruits and veggies, see number 3). Varying degrees of bad, to be sure, but still bad. Processed semi-fruit, kid-friendly, sticky sweet things–ugh! Processed meats, processed cheese, white cotton bread. All bad, very, very bad.
- Additives and preservatives are bad. Sodium Nitrite & Nitrate. BHT and BHA, MSG, poly sorbate something or other. And artificial colorings too, all very very bad. They trigger my kids bad behavior and make me feel sick to my stomach. I am avoiding these things like the plague. Only I’m sad because it means we don’t get to eat some things we really love, like ham and bacon.
That’s all I’ve come up with so far. Trying to make sense of this stuff is hard. It makes my brain hurt. But I’m going to figure it out for me and my family as best I can. Anyone else doing something similar? What kind of conclusions have you come up with?