In this episode, Lisa covers the five questions she gets asked most about food:
– which bread is best?
– do you eat dairy?
– what goes in your kids’ lunch boxes?
– how does she get her family to eat this stuff (whole foods)?
– how do you do it all?
Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:
Hey guys. Well, I am trying not to be insulted that I can actually look at the stats on these podcasts, and I can see how many have been listened to. Like, how many times a podcast has been listened to, and it’s freaking me out that my husband is hugely popular. The two episodes that I’ve done with Nick have gone off the charts. So, I’m feeling a little unloved. So, I’m bringing in the big guns today! It’s me, with you, talking about the five things that I always get asked about food. Like, these are questions that I answer all the time. They seem to come up for people. So, I’m just going to put them all in a podcast episode for you to refer back to. This is what we’re going to cover. I get asked these questions all the time. Which bread is best? Do I eat dairy? What goes in my kids’ lunchboxes? All the time. How do I get my kids to eat this stuff, my family to eat this stuff? And a more general one that I get asked a lot, how do I do it all? Such a juicy question.
So, some of these questions are quick to answer, and some are a little bit longer, but stick with me, I’m really glad you’re here. I am always after feedback on these podcast episodes, so feel free to leave a review on iTunes. They are, like, gold, make my day. Or, leave a comment on the blog, where I’ve got all the podcast episodes there for you, with transcripts. Even although you’re listening to this, so you probably don’t want a transcript. Anyway, let’s kick off. The question about which bread is best. We’re so confused about bread! I remember being a bit confused about bread, too. And I think we hear so many different things about grains in general, wheat especially, and, you know, when we start looking on the backs of packets of the breads that we’re buying at the supermarket, it can be a little bit confronting, when we’re like, ‘What’s that?’ And if you go a step further, download the chemical maze app, and you start to see some of the preservatives that are in these breads, it can blow your mind. And suddenly, the humble loaf of bread is a cause for a freak-out.
So, let me tell you what my ultimate choice of bread is. And, you know, with all this stuff, you’ve just got to find out what works for you. Because I’m sure there are some people listening to this going, ‘Oh my gosh, Lisa, just go Paleo and feel the benefits,’ or whatever, but you know me, I’m always keeping it real. I’m experimenting with this stuff, I live a full life, just like you, and my life is full of grey. I haven’t taken a hardcore approach with food. But, in saying that, my favourite bread is a loaf of spelt sourdough. It’s expensive, yes. Totally worth it, and not something that I just power through, like a white bread loaf that doesn’t fill you up. I choose spelt bread because it’s a beautiful ancient grain that hasn’t been messed about with, like a lot of the modern day wheat has. It’s very similar to wheat, but it has a lower gluten content. So, it does still contain gluten.
And I know that there are lots of people, and lots of research, out there encouraging us all to get rid of gluten, give gluten the boot. And, for sure, I interview so many experts, and when they are recommending foods to remove from your diet, when you’ve got a multitude of issues, but a lot does come back to the health of your gut. Getting rid of gluten is one of the things that always comes up, or at least wheat. So, we do eat bread here. Spelt sourdough has been fermented, so, you think about the way that bread would have risen back in the day, before fast-acting yeasts and all that sort of thing. They had to leave it out. Sourdough is made from flour and water, and a sourdough starter, which is like a living thing. A sourdough starter has been brought to life, and it has the power to help sourdoughs rise over a long period of time. So, it takes a while for everything to do its magic.
And I’m no expert on the breakdown of all this stuff, but all I know, in Lisa language, is that this fermentation process makes that gluten, makes that grain, so much easier for our bodies to digest. And it’s what I choose. I get really bloated if I eat a lot of bread, or pizza, or something like that, but when I’m having a spelt sourdough, I’m not feeling that so much. You know, I can have one slice, pop it in the toaster, lather it with butter, top it with avocado everywhere, slices of tomato, a bit of salt, bit of lemon juice. Heaven. But, I always have to say, if it doesn’t work for you, don’t eat bread. Have a go without it. There are a lot of gluten free breads out there. Some of them are better than others. I just try to remove the highly refined grains, but, you know, that’s not to say that my kids have sourdough in their lunchboxes, and we’ll talk about that in a second. So, that’s my favourite bread. I would say if you’re going to have bread, opt for sourdough when you can.
‘Do I eat dairy?’ is a huge question, and I think we’re so confused about dairy. And all I can share with you here, now, is what I do, and how I am, kind of, finding a balance. When I started on my wholefoods journey-, and you know, I share the whole basis of my program, Small Steps to Wholefoods, is to bring people-, like, I remember what it was like when I really knew very little about food. And I remember learning about dairy, and thinking, ‘Yeah, why hasn’t that entered my head before, that milk is a food for calves?’ And it helps them grow, you know, that’s what it is. It’s a growth promoter. Cells, you know, divide and conquer, they grow. You think about breast milk, think about the growth that happens to those babies, and it’s an amazing, miracle food. But I did start to question how much I needed of that, in my older age, when I’m not going through a growth phase. And I started to think about whether it was natural for human babies to be having cows’ milk.
Now, this is a total can of worms right here, okay, and I love Australian dairy farmers, and we do have dairy. But, I went through a phase of finding, and sourcing, raw milk. Because part of my journey with wholefoods has been about going back to foods in their natural state, like, before they’re really messed with. And what happens with milk that we find in the supermarket is that it’s been pasteurised, which means it’s been heated to a very high temperature, which removes a lot of its natural enzymes, and the enzymes that help us be able to digest the milk, help our body, basically, know what to do with it. And so, you know, there are so many people with dairy intolerances, maybe because, you know, so many of us aren’t eating the real thing. Just like with so many other foods out there, that we think we’re eating staple food, but it’s actually been messed around with. And it makes sense, you know, they started to do that pasteurisation process so that milk could be transported further, and could last longer.
And, you know, humans are very, very smart. It’s just that our bodies are smarter, and so, we can only sometimes put up with these things for a while, until we start feeling some negative effects. So, I love cheese, and I love butter, but I now think about the types of cows that I get those foods from, and I try to support people who are local. And I also love thinking about, you know, happy cows, and cows that have been fed food that they like to eat. So, lots goes into this dairy discussion, and I said, ‘Can of worms,’ because it is a can of worms. I never, ever, ever claim to know everything about food. I am navigating this journey right along with you, and, you know, the past few rounds of running Small Steps to Wholefoods, I’ve had the amazing Jo Atkinson, who is just genius, in the Facebook group, supporting everyone. And she actually really knows all about this stuff, and I watch what she writes. And I think people who are involved in nutritional medicine, and naturopathy, and who help people really get back to their most vibrant selves, it just does seem to be that dairy and gluten can be highly irritating to us sometimes, and they can, kind of, be an easy go-to. Like, let’s remove those and see how you feel.
I’ve never felt the need to do that, although my middle child doesn’t respond well to lots of dairy. So, we don’t have normal milk in this house any more. I can make cashew milk, or almond milk, or we buy an oat milk, and just, yes, try to limit the amount of cheese, for sure. But, you know, I’m conscious, and I talk to people about how to make sure she’s getting what she needs. But, you know, that’s a whole other can of worms, you know, the amount of calcium that we’ve been told that we need. Huge topic, delve into it way more in Small Steps to Wholefoods, but, like I said, it’s a question that I get asked a lot. So, I just wanted to give you my personal take on it, which, can I also just say, I never hold hard lines of any of this stuff. If something starts to feel wrong to me, switch things up. I experiment all the time, and I try not to hold onto too much dogma. The fact that what has worked for someone else, and seen them get amazingly healthy, and we look at it, and we think, ‘That should be me, I want that kind of health too,’ is a stage I have been through. You know, I’ve looked at the plant-based diets, and just gone, ‘Wow, you know, that makes sense.’ And I’ve looked at Paleo, and thought, ‘Yes.’ And I’ve looked at all sorts, I mean, there are so many out there.
And I just keep coming back to go for what is most whole, and keep checking in with myself. It’s what I get Small Steppers to do all the time. How does this actually make you feel? How do you feel? And I think it’s amazing to get help from qualified practitioners. There are a lot of Facebook groups, and there are a lot of people with a very fundamental knowledge of food. And I put my hand up there, because I haven’t studied the human body, I’m not keeping up with the latest research. I’m keeping up with the latest Lisa, I’m looking at my kids, you know. I’m going down the path of starting to get some things tested, if I feel like they’re going off. Totally deviated from the dairy question. That’s what happens, when I’m just talking to myself. I take myself off on tangents! But yes, I was really just wanting to say that I never hold a hard line. Things can change any time, and I feel like because we have mostly gone back to wholefoods, it’s easier to make those changes. It’s very hard when you’re starting to look through all backs of packets and ingredients lists, and thinking, ‘Wow, I didn’t realise this was in everything,’ or, you know, that kind of stuff. It’s always small steps, always. Start with where you’re at. We can talk about that later.
So, we’ve tackled bread, we’ve tackled dairy, and, as I’ve said, you don’t follow my word as gospel. We have to do our own investigation on this stuff. So, what goes in my kids’ lunchboxes is actually really boring. And I do not feel the need to be taking photos of my kids’ lunchboxes all the time! Because a lot of the time, they’re having very similar things. We can mix up breakfast, we can mix up afternoon teas, and dinners, but when it comes to packing my kids’ lunchboxes, I keep it as simple as I can for myself. And what I have realised, in this first week of Grade 1, when they’re not sitting down and someone’s watching them eat their lunch, my son is not eating anything. He’ll, maybe, have two carrot sticks and that’s it, and I just don’t know what to do about it. He said tonight, ‘I think I just get really distracted.’ ‘Yeah buddy. Yes, you do.’ Anyway, here’s how it goes. I usually give them a sandwich. Mm-hmm. We have a local bakery near us that sells preservative-free bread. So, it’s just bread, and I would get them-, they like a nice dark rye, or a wholemeal bread, and I’ve just discovered recently a really great spelt loaf, that is exy, from the health food shop.
And I’m like, ‘Lisa,’ you know, back in the day, I made bread for them. And life happened, a third child happened, wow. And the spelt sandwich loaf is going down a treat. And then, I would give them some vegetables. So, you know, one likes carrot and cherry tomatoes, the other one likes cucumber and carrot, the other one likes cucumber and cherry tomatoes. Well, yes, it’s all a bit of a mixture. They each get fruit. They each get something, like, a sweet, kind of, treat. So, that might be a muffin, or one of my choc chip cookies, the nut-free version, so they can take it to school. So, there’s always something kind of cool, that they’re like, ‘Yes!’ And then usually a boiled egg. So, that’s kind of it, and they eat it. So, you know, if I think that they want to have a little bit of rice crackers, I’m getting a bit of a fancier lunchbox for my kids this year, one that they can put dips in, so that I might be able to whack in some hummus. Or make up pestos, nut frees ones, or whatever, so that they can do a bit of dipping and stuff. But really, keep it pretty simple. Fruit, vegetables, egg, sandwich, something sweet. I just really try to make life not too hard for myself. Like, I’ll make up a banana bread and some cookies at the start of the week, and that will do. Makes me sound lazy. Oh, sometimes I do add popcorn. That’s a bit of fun, the popcorn.
And, as I said, I look at each of my kids, and I think, you know, my son right now, ‘Okay, how am I going to make sure he has what he needs, so he’s not a raging bull tearing for the pantry as soon as he gets home from school?’ And I said to him tonight, ‘If you’re not eating your lunch,’ and all he really likes to eat in the morning is a smoothie, which is just avocado, frozen banana and cashews, usually. And I said, ‘We’re going to have to also have a wrap in the morning,’ which would be a mountain bread wrap, with salad, and tuna, or something. And he’s like, ‘Alright Mum.’ So, I think he’s kind of getting that he’s feeling hungry at school, but he just forgets to eat. So, we all have to think about the circumstances, and what works. I remember a friend of mine saying, you know, ‘Don’t get a fancy lunchbox for a boy, because they’re just going to be out in the oval in two seconds. Give them something they can take out there, and, you know, if it’s in a paper bag and then they can just get rid of.’ Because we might want the sustainable, most fancy choice, but at the end of the day, sometimes you’ve just got to do what you have to do so your kids eat.
So next is, how do I get my family to eat this food? And this is something that I discussed with Nick in a podcast episode recently, and that was about his take on this wholefoods journey we’ve gone down. And I know lots of Small Steppers ask, ‘You know, what’s the deal? How did you get Nick to jump on board?’ and I really recommend you go and listen to that episode for a bit of a background on that conversation, I guess. And when it comes to my kids, I’ve never done dessert, so they’ve got to eat what’s on their plate. I have a rule that they’ve just got to try everything once, you know, and that’s just a rule. So, whatever’s on their plate, they just need to try it. And if they don’t like it, that’s fine, but they do need to try it, and that often helps. But, you know what, my kids don’t eat perfectly, can I just flag that right there. It did used to help that they didn’t know any different, and now I feel like the ballgame’s totally changed. You know, my son is in Grade 1 now, my daughter’s four, second year of Kindy. They’re exposed to so many more different foods, and so suddenly, you know, the sweetness level has gone up in their life, and things that may have previously tasted sweet just don’t any more.
I remember making a batch of muffins, for my son to come home for afternoon tea, from Prep, and I was like, ‘Look.’ You know, the house smelled divine, mother of the year right here. He’s like, ‘I don’t want one of your muffins. What have we got in a packet?’ And I’m like, ‘Really? Oh, you don’t know how luck you are. And, I want to jump off this balcony, pretty quickly.’ You know, it can be so, so frustrating, and it’s a path I’m navigating along with you. But I do talk to my kids about food. We talk about ‘sometimes’ food, and they are getting that concept. We talk about how they might feel after a birthday party. We started a lolly jar, at the end of last year when there was a lot of candy canes. Oh yeah, a lot of them. And I said, ‘Look guys, you know, you can have the lollies, or you could put it in here, and you get some money. So, you decide if you want to eat it or not.’ Because I think if I just keep telling kids, ‘No, no, no, no, no,’ well, we all know what’s going to happen then. They’re going to rebel against it. So I am trying to navigate this path with them in the world, with them with friends whose families aren’t interested in wholefoods, and packet food is the way to go, for whatever reason.
I’m not judgemental at all, it could have been me, if my eyes hadn’t opened, if I hadn’t been exposed to the amazing women who have taught me so much, and who I interview in Small Steps to Wholefoods. If I hadn’t just opened that door, and walked through, and learnt what I’ve learnt, then that would have been me too, because I was so average in my eating. I mean, you know, what’s wrong with Barbecue Shapes, you hear me? So, I am never judgemental when it comes to that stuff, but it is changing the conversation around food for me and my family, as they’re exposed to different things. And I am trying to be a mum, I guess, who is thinking a step or two ahead of just the tantrum that might happen because of a sugar meltdown. So, there are things that I do put my foot down to, for sure, but as I said before, this is a big grey area for me, and I don’t necessarily have it worked out, but it’s pretty much all that we have in our house. So, unless I purchase something and bring it in, they’re going to eat what is here. So, that’s a number one tip.
‘Be a role model,’ was something that I heard from the awesome Jessica Donovan, who’s Energetic Mama. I interviewed her for February’s experts Masterclass for the Small Steps Living membership, and, you know, she’s so real life. In fact, I’m going to be interviewing her on the podcast too, so watch out for that. I’ve got lots of interesting things to talk to her about. She just did a trip around Australia, I’m like, ‘Can we just talk about that? Took your kids out of school, and you travelled round Australia for a year? Love it!’ And now I’ve totally forgotten what it was that she said. Tangents. You’d think I should write out a script for this stuff, wouldn’t you? But, no. Oh, be a role model, that was it. Yes, she just said, like, ‘They’ll model. It’s monkey see, monkey do.’ And it’s so powerful when we start to take care of ourselves, what we can do for our children, and their habits.
So, finally, how do I do it all? That is a question I am asked all the time. ‘Oh my gosh, you’re a superwoman.’ No, I am not. I don’t do it all, that’s a myth. We create these ideas of what life is like for other women, and other mums, and I doubt it is ever correct. So, if you think that I am capable of doing all I do without any support, you’re wrong. I have a cleaner that comes once a week, so that’s, like, three hours of my week, someone else takes care of that. And I think I’ve spoken about that before, have I spoken about it on the podcast? I can’t remember. But that was a big part of the reason why I started this business! I wanted to be able to contribute to childcare, so I could cover the costs of the family daycare for two days a week, and I wanted to be able to hire a cleaner. Because, you know, I’m not one of those people who’s just getting off on cleaning. No way. I don’t see the mess. Anyway, it’s great to have someone come in once a week, it kind of forces me to do a tidy up.
I also have a lot of support in my business. So, everything that you see happen, like, this podcast episode? I’m sitting here, in my podcast room, recording it, and someone else is going to edit it, and someone else will make it pretty on my blog, and get it into iTunes, and all that. You know, I made a very conscious decision after 2015 exploded with very little help in the beginning. When I started this business, I had no idea what I was doing. It was a conscious decision in 2016 to, you know, just outsource, and get the help where I needed it, so I could get to bed at night time, at a reasonable hour. To not work weekends. And it means that the income from this business isn’t huge at this stage, even although it makes a healthy revenue. I am quite happy in these years, where I’m working out what this business is all about, and how to craft it in a way where I have balance in my life. I’m happy to pay for the help, so that I can, kind of, you know, do the things that I want to do. It is not easy for any of us to raise children, period. And throwing in work, as many of you would know, just adds a whole other dimension of craziness.
And I think number one, we’re way too hard on ourselves. I think, you know, when I created Small Steps to Wholefoods, which is about to be launched for the eighth time, cannot believe it. That program was designed to show people how simple it can be. Like, it can be so easy, because, like, as I said before, the way that I do my lunchboxes. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be real. And that program is chock-a-block full of, just, the most easy things to do, that people go, ‘Oh my gosh, why didn’t I do that before? Oh yeah, I forgot it could be this simple.’ Because I think we get caught up in looking at our Instagram feeds, and fancy foods, and cooking shows, where we’re like, ‘Man, I should totally do that, but where am I going to find that ingredient?’ Or whatever. It’s crazy! I was talking to a guy-, it’s actually very random, a guy who was helping us. We’re just getting a new car, and I was talking to this guy who’s doing the finance for it, and he was asking me what my business was, and I was telling him, ‘I just, kind of, help normal people eat more real food, without being too fancy about it.’ And we were talking about-, I would say he was probably about fifty, so, at least a decade older than me, I’m 37. And he was saying how crazy it is that our generation has to re-learn some of the really basic things about cooking, because we just haven’t grown up with a strong food culture, we haven’t grown up seeing this stuff.
We’ve grown up buying food from supermarkets, from those middle aisles, and most of those middle aisles aren’t filled with food. It’s all just, kind of, a concoction of stuff. And when I went down this path, I had kids. It wasn’t as though I was, like, some green smoothie drinking twenty-something who had time to, you know, just wow. I just think about those endless weekends, just reading a newspaper front to back, just thinking, ‘What are we going to do today?’ Oh man, what I could have done with that time! And, you know, so my eyes were opened to food when I already had kids, so I’ve had to make these changes as simply as possible. My recipes are so simple, because I just don’t have a stack of time to devote to cooking, but I value the food being real, and as close to normal as possible. And I think our ‘normal’ has gotten-, you know, normal can mean different things to different people, obviously, but for me, it’s just eating food made from basic ingredients as often as I can. When there are processed and packaged foods, that it’s not crazy, and, you know, has as limited ingredients as possible, and as few additives and preservatives. Or just, you know, educating myself on the ones that are the best to avoid.
So, you can see that it might look all fancy, but just keeping it really, really simple for myself. Super simple. My kids don’t do a stack of extracurricular activities. We spend quite a lot of time at home. We don’t have any family around in Brisbane, all our family is down in Melbourne, so it means that, you know, we’re not visiting people all the time. We don’t have visitors dropping in all the time. We’ve got beautiful friends, but it’s not as though this is, you know, a frantic life in that respect. And so, you know, I have help, number one, in my personal life, with cleaning. I have an amazing husband, who gets what I’m trying to do, who’s, you know, four hands on deck when he comes home from work, and it’s, you know, dinner time, and bath time, and bed time. You know, he’s really on board, and I don’t know how I would do much without his support in that respect. Because yes, I mean, I can count on him, and that is so valuable to me. And I have support in my business, so, yes. And I’m also the mum who forgets that it’s book week, and their kids rock up in the school uniform. You know, that’s happened! I am really scattered, but I just try to give myself the least things to do, or think about, as possible.
Anyway, that’s a whole other podcast, organisation, or lack thereof, and, you know, what I prioritise in order to be able to make things get done. You know, I built an online business in nap time. You know, my baby was with me that whole first year, and I forewent the cleaning, and just tapped away for an hour-and-a-half, or two hours, or however long I had for a nap, and I just got really good at taking very, very, very imperfect action. And when it comes to most things in my life, if it’s a matter of getting it done or not getting it done, I’ll just do it, even if it’s not done in a perfect way. For example, you have to leave the house quickly, and, you know, the kids don’t have hair brushed, or they’re in weird clothes, because they got dressed themselves. Whatevs. Let it go. You know what I was just about to do, break out into song. But I’m not going to. I’m going to leave it right here. We’ve spoken about bread, we’ve spoken about dairy, we’ve spoken about what goes in my kids’ lunchboxes, and how I get my family to eat wholefoods. And then, you know, we’ve just touched, really scraped the surface of this whole ‘doing it all’ thing, because that, my friends, that is its own whole freaking-, that’s an e-course, you know what I’m saying? This is what I think of, I think in terms of e-courses now. And my beautiful friend Karly Nimmo, who was in the first podcast with me, we started a Mums Who Get Shit Done Facebook page a while ago, and ran a few webinars. That went off, because we’re all interested in getting stuff done, but we all need to bring a massive amount of kindness to ourselves.
Now, I want to remind you all, so, coming up is going to be the eighth launch of Small Steps to Wholefoods, which is just nuts. And well over 3,000 women have gone through that program, and changed their relationship with food, and learnt a crazy amount from amazing guest speakers, and have watched, you know, twenty recipe how-to videos, and got really simple tips under their belt. Seemed to attract the most amazing people into that program, who rock the Facebook group, and get supported every step of the way. I encourage you to stay in the loop, and keep an eye out on the Facebook page. Hopefully you subscribe to my weekly newsletter too, you’ll be getting notice of it there. Because that’s a biggie, that course is deep. We dive deep into a lot of this stuff, and you get the answers that I know that you’ve been searching for. But, with that, you know, a keepin’ it real kind of vibe going on, which I must deliver every single time I talk to you, because one of my pet hates is comparisonitis.
Let yourself never compare yourself with me, because, you know, the inside is always different. Go back and listen to Nick and I talking about our marriage last week. That was a really fun episode, a really confronting episode to do, as well. Like, I couldn’t lie to you, he was right there, and we spoke very honestly about our marriage. Now I’m rambling. I said I was going to wrap it up, I’m going to do it right now. Thank you for sticking with me. I hope answering those questions has helped close some loops for you. If not, you’ve got the blog, you’ve got the recipes, you’ve got the podcast, you’ve got Small Steps Living TV. And of course, you’ve got Small Steps to Wholefoods, so keep an eye out for that. The eight-week program coming at you soon! See you guys.