Welcome to Homesteading with Hyacynth! Homesteading with Hyacynth is a monthly look at ways to lead a healthy, greener, more sustainable life. My intent with Homesteading with Hyacynth is to offer genuine, practical experiences and humorous and helpful tips. Of course, I am not a medical professional so these are my tips and what worked for my family.
Decoding Diets and Eating Whole Food
I’ve been on lots of diets.
The macaroni and cheese with kool-aid diet. The couscous and fruit salad diet. The hummus and iced chai diet.
And that was just during college. When I became relatively health-conscious toward the end of my college years, I finally landed on a vegetarian diet. I traded chicken for soy nuggets, Thanksgiving turkey for tofurkey, and cow milk for soy milk.
And then my hair started falling out.
At the time, I was baffled. I was eating so many so-called healthy foods. But have you ever tried to find a tofurkey in the wild? Or milk a soybean? Or slaughter a soy chicken?
Yeah, me neither. Mostly because you can’t without a lot of handiwork.
This designer food left my body depleted in many ways … But not because of the reason we’re taught. The whole good food/bad food thing isn’t nearly as important as this one thing we’re talking about today:
Eating whole foods.
And what would that mean? It means that great-grandma wouldn’t just recognize it as food, but she’d also likely have it available in her yard or from a farm nearby. And it would look pretty darn recognizable after preparation.
Lets brainstorm a few examples:
- Most definitely.
- Not so much.
- Mashed potatoes?
- Tater tots?
- Probably not.
- Noodles with melted cheese?
- Almost certainly!
- Arthur shaped macaroni with powdered cheese?
- Not exactly sure.
Wait! Before you run off screaming, thinking I’m telling you to abandon all your Mac n Cheese boxes in the cart in the middle of Target, let’s be real. I’m not asking that; we still buy Annie’s Mac ‘n Cheese every month. But we follow an 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 Rule
Eighty percent of our diet is based around those foods great-grandpa demanded seconds of.
Twenty percent … Is not. (She writes after ordering pizza from a mom and pop shop up the road while on vacation.) Before we dive more into this 80/20 rule, which may boast different proportions for your family, let’s revisit the main point.
Whole foods nourish our bodies with more than just the calories and limited nutrients highly processed foods promise; whole foods give our bodies *living* energy in the form of nutrients, minerals, micronutrients and even probiotics.
If those words mean nothing to you, carry on anyway. Because the next ones most certainly will:
Whole foods are darn delicious ( great-grandpa demanded his seconds for a reason, yo!) Broccoli smothered in butter. Whole cream ice cream. Chicken off the bone. All good, nutritious, and super satisfying stuff.
My husband was swayed into buying food from our local farmers market only after I brought home our first local pasture-raised chicken and made chicken soup from the crockpot instead of serving it from the can.
“Could you do that again?” I see a future great grandpa at my future dining room table.
And eating whole foods takes the trickery out of eating according to specific diets that label certain foods or food groups as “bad” according to “research.” Fad diets often change or discriminate against other diets but eating whole foods is as tried and true as … well, eating whole foods.
It’s why the Inuits could survive almost solely on high-fat foods like whale blubber, and samely the Japanese could survive on fish and seaweeds and some rice — these whole foods were packed with nutrients and micronutrients! But both contain staples that defy the nutritional guidelines set forth by the FDA or fad-diet gurus.
Are you ready to give the whole foods thing a whirl? Or are you ready to kick it up a notch?
We’re all in luck! July is a most excellent month to take an Eat-Whole-Eat-Local challenge because the Farmers Markets in Lake County would be enough to make great grandma swoon!
Now, game plan time! And remember — this is for YOUR family. YOU set the tone. YOU set your guidelines. What other families do or don’t do isn’t important. This is about taking steps toward eating whole foods for YOUR family!
Regardless of what diet you do or don’t follow — paleo, primal, vegan, meat and potatoes, hummus, and chai tea — your health will most definitely improve when incorporating more and more whole foods into your diet.
Your hair may even thank you. Mine certainly did by halting its mass exodus from my head.
And, importantly, your whole body will likely thank you, too. Together we can build a whole new generation of great-grandma and great grandpas — starting at our very own tables.
Want to do this together? Use the #EatWholeEatLocalLLC on Twitter and Facebook. Or post one of your #EatWholeEatLocalLLC meals or hauls from one of the markets on our Facebook page! And share which plan are you embracing in the comments below!
by Hyacynth Worth
Hyacynth Worth is wife to John and mother to two boys and three girls. She writes about motherhood, healthy living, and faith at Undercover Mother. She is a local writer and the author of Homesteading with Hyacynth. She promises to be candid, amusing and only slightly neurotic. Most of the time.