Sunday, May 2, 2010

Baby Steps Part 3: The Whys and the Wherefores

The reasons for making any lifestyle change have to be compelling, or those changes won’t stick. On one level, I knew that eating better foods would benefit my family, but since none of my children have any major health issues that demanded an immediate change, in the beginning I kind of dragged my feet. We were never the kind of family to consistently eat horrible food; we weren’t eating fried Twinkies or a steady diet of fast food.

But at the same time, we did use processed food. My kids ate breakfast pastries. I made scalloped potatoes from a box, with the powder and dehydrated potatoes. It was easy, it was convenient, and my family enjoyed it.

True, my husband had some weight and health concerns. And yes, our son has asthma. But I never truly believed that diet changes would make a huge difference.

What really made an impression on me—finally—were some of the facts that Lee shared at that Healthy Eating class held in my kitchen.

The first thing that surprised me was the news about fats. Most of us in this generation grew up understanding that butter is bad. Margarine is a safer alternative. Canola oil is the safe and healthy way to cook foods that must use oil.

What Lee shared was eye-opening, to say the least. She told us that our bodies need healthy fats, especially saturated fats: animal fats and tropical oils, including butter, lard and coconut oil. These fats are called stable, as they don’t become rancid even after heating. Monosaturated fats like olive oil and peanut oil also can be used for cooking.

However, polyunsaturated fats, like soy, corn and canola—yes, canola!—oils are quite reactive, meaning that they go rancid fast and should never be heated. Never! The corn and canola oils you buy from your grocery store have been allowed to go rancid and then refined and bleached. YUCK!

I was actually happy to learn that incorporating some fats into our diet is a GOOD thing. According to Lee, “Butter from cows eating rapidly growing grass is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.”

We have begun ordering our butter through our organic vegetable co-op; our butter and cheese come from an Amish farm. We don’t use any form of artificial butter, and may I just say. . .yum?

Another piece of good news was hamburger. When Lee sent me the name of a local farmer who sells her grass-fed, humanely raised, non-hormone including beef, I told her that we had stopped eating much red meat. I was happily surprised when she shared that having a hamburger—from this good kind of meat—once a week might help my newly diagnosed osteoarthritis. The burgers we’ve made have been the best I have eaten in my entire life. And I eat them with a light and happy heart!

We’ve switched almost entirely to olive oil and coconut oil. I say almost because we still have a little leftover canola oil that I’ve used in non-heating situations. Be assured that I won’t be buying anymore!

I also learned some important facts on proteins, sugars and carbohydrates. I’ll be sharing them with you as we go along in this series.

So why did what I learned from Lee that day make me change my family’s way of eating? I think at least part of it was shock factor. Hearing how much of what I had accepted as truth was really not shook me. And of course, not all of this was completely new to me. But hearing it, seeing the documentation and reading the studies—that was the final push I needed.

And it simply felt right. Cooking and eating this was—this new, old way—hearkened back to my history. Both of my grandmothers, women who were very influential in my life, grew up on farms. My maternal grandmother cooked from scratch almost all of her life; she fed thirteen children, her husband, grandchildren and various other people who showed up at her table with the simple bounty of the land. She canned her own vegetables and fruits. She made her own bread.

When my mother married, though, it was the mid-1960’s, and cooking from scratch was considered hopelessly old-fashioned. My mother would have sooner flown to the moon than to have canned tomatoes. She made her rice from a flow-through bag; her recipes usually included canned soup or other processed foods. I’m not criticizing her; she was a good cook, and she was a product of her generation. But when I began to cook after my marriage, I found I wanted to more. I liked canning tomatoes. I enjoyed making my own bread.

This new way of eating—it’s not that new. It’s a return to a real and literally down to earth way of life.

(Credit for the information in this article goes to Lee Burdett. Check out her website at

Tawdra Kandle is stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of four children who range in age from 9 years to almost 21 years. She and her husband of over 22 years live in central Florida, where he is in seminary. Tawdra spends most of her precious free time writing and reading, and she loves to travel. She is also a resident writer for Taking Time for Mommy. View more of her Articles HERE. You can also follow Tawdra on twitter and her blog, Publishing Quest
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Elise on Mon May 03, 09:53:00 AM 2010 said...

Your post brings back memories of what I learned in my nutrition class in college. I loved that class. Thanks for refreshing my memory with lots of useful information. Very interesting.

Deana on Mon May 03, 12:17:00 PM 2010 said...

I gave you an award:) Hope I did it right

Amy on Mon May 10, 12:54:00 PM 2010 said...

I had no idea about Canola oil! Wow! I have been using olive oil for a while for most cooking but still was using Canola as well. Guess I need to change that.

Thx for the great article.


Baby Steps Part 3: The Whys and the Wherefores

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