Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Nutrition 101 - Part One

This is for my sister, Monica: a series of posts about healthy eating and what I've learned in the past seven years since I bought my first gallon of organic milk (which now I don't even drink having switched to almond milk). I've had several friends along with my sister who have asked me to post some tidbits to help get them started in the right direction in regards to feeding their families more healthfully. I was hesitant because this is a homeschool blog but hopefully this will bless someone else. It is so hard to know where to start on this journey and it can be such a help to have someone point you in the right direction - just like with homeschooling! :)

Nutrition is a hobby of mine - sort of! It's one of those areas where I know just enough to be dangerous. I am no expert, that's for certain. Take these words and do your own research. I am deliberately not posting lots of links to other sites here that say this or that. You need to do your own research if you want to own this stuff. Truly! My hope here is to give other moms a place to start.

First, know this is a journey. It won't happen overnight. It just won't. You can't make the changes that fast and your kids will most likely reject your efforts if you force too much too quickly anyway!You can't feed your child a whole-wheat muffin full of flax and organic blueberries, sweetened with agave nectar and expect them to scarf it down. They won't - unless you are insanely lucky. So many moms say, "I tried that healthy stuff and my kids just wouldn't eat it." The trick is to not give them a muffin for a few weeks and then offer the healthy version. They won't have a fresh memory of the unhealthy alternative and your chance of success will rise dramatically. This is still no guarantee but it's a start. You may need to be creative with some of this. I had a friend that got her child to scarf a pureed broccoli soup by calling it "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Soup". Hey, whatever works!

There are two things to consider: eliminating unhealthy things from your family's diet and then adding new things into the diet. Here is a list of things I have eliminated from our family's diet in recent years: all synthetic dyes, BHT, BHQ, MSG, sodium benzoate, EDTA, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates, nitrites, and as much white sugar, flour and rice as I possibly can. I will talk more about things I have added to our diet in a future post or two.

Step One: start reading labels of things you buy. Do you know what all chemicals are in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer right now? When I really started examining labels of the foods I was feeding my family, I was shocked. Many foods that seem to be healthy alternatives are still loaded with dyes and other chemicals. This is the first step. Just start reading labels. If something comes up again and again that you can't pronounce, Google it. You may find that it's perfectly fine, or not. Tocepherols sound scary but they are actually a natural preservative (Vitamin E) and a much better alternative to BHT (Which is everywhere even though there are many studies linking it to cancer. Companies get away with using it by putting it "in the packaging" and not directly into the food. As if the plastic packaging doesn't touch your food???)

I will post more soon! Leave me a comment and let me know what you find in your pantry...if you dare ;)



Jennifer said...

I'm excited to hear more. I have been getting increasingly lazy about what we eat... filling my pantry with things I know are bad. Sigh. Thanks for the encouragement to take a second look. White sugar is our downfall for sure!

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to reading your post to come on nutrition. I have alot of trouble, too, with getting my Gems to eat healthful foods!
By reading labels, I've just about given up on finding something that doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup! ;')

McNeill Family said...

This is very timely!!! I go back and forth with trying to incorporate healthier food items. Last winter I tried more whole grains than I could even pronounce and fell in love with some of them. Only 1/2 of my family is on board and when the cooking and budget gets challenging I usually start to go back to old habits. I also try to coupon for my family of 6 and have you noticed that most coupons promote unhealthy eating!!! I am trying to balance the couponing this time and only clip what I am willing to allow my family to eat. I am afraid to look up those ingredients because once I know something...I feel super accountable and have trouble letting it go! Thanks for the post this will be fun! A great time too as we are all starting school and routines again!!!

The Kramer Family said...

Great post! We've been on the path of this journey for a little over a few years. The Lord even led us to move to a small farm and raise grass-fed meats and pastured chickens.

I love that you recommended reading the labels. Even Sprite these days says 'All Natural' on it and yet contains corn syrup. Eating naturally is on the rise and people are beginning to take ownership in their food choices by educating themselves on the ingredients they are eating. Companies are noticing this trend more and more and starting to label their products as being 'natural' which after a few seconds of reading the ingredients you notice it clearly isn't. But you wouldn't know unless you were informed and educated. They are sneaky like that!

Another ingredient we've eliminated from our diet is corn all together unless it is organically grown corn. All corn products that aren't organically produced are genetically modified (GMO). Just google 'GMO corn' and read the awfulness.

Great post again! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to learning what you've added to your diet. I too have been a bit conscientious of the chemicals that are rampant in the foods that we buy, and I've been gradually trying graduate to a healthier way of cooking. However, eliminating the flour, sugar, and rice seems to be the hardest part for me! I need to find me a good recipe book/site. Thanks for the post, I'll be sure to check back.

Kathy said...

could you offer some website recommendations so I can do some more research and reading on this topic? I would like to start eliminating all that bad stuff from our foods too, but just don't know where to get started. Thanks for your help and information!

mom24 said...

I agree about the GMO corn and try to avoid it. I also avoid soy (although many disagree on this one) because it is high in phytates and enzyme inhibitors (makes it hard for the body to assimilate nutrients from other foods). I don't believe it to be the health food that many people do. Our personal choice due to my own research, however.

I have heard many say they avoid rice. Is this only white rice? We still use brown rice and rice cakes but I'm finding rice flour in a lot of our "health" food products too. Is this not ok?

It really IS a journey! It has taken us 2.5 years to get off of the S.A.Diet and on our way to health - and even now we still struggle with cheating or budgeting, etc. But I also feel strongly that the Lord will bless our decissions to be better stewards of our family's health!
Thanks for this post!

Sandy Toes said...

Very interesting! When life gets busy...the healthy eating gets harder and harder! I have tried to have a big bowl of fruit on my counter or easy "getting" in my when my kids say "I am hungry"...there you go!
Sandy Toes at

Julie Brooks said...

I can't wait to read all of your thoughts on this. :) Keep posting!!

Queen Bee said...

As a vegan with Celiac Disease, I find this interesting! We definitely eat "alternatively" by comparison to the typical US-diet (no animal products, nothing containing gluten, organic, a diet of mostly fruits, veggies and whole foods, etc...).

I'm interested in reading more...=)

Sheryl said...


I have a sister with a son who is going on four. He is VERY active...the alpha male magnified. She is very close to deciding to homeschool him..he is a good kid but she worries about him getting labeled "bad" due to his high energy etc. He also has trouble staying on task..even a task that is play related. She does not see a need to see a doctor at this point. I know she would be against medication.I was wondering if you have any nutrition links/ideas that would relate to this. She has come to me for advice since I homeschool but I haven't the smallest idea of where she can start in her research.
My email is
And I know you are a very busy lady so I understand if you don't have time to go down this tangent of a road. Hope ya'll have a great week!
Sheryl in GA

Jennefer said...


I am emailing you right now!