We have recently concluded the second round of Small Steps to Wholefoods and I thought I needed to write something to the almost 1,000 women who have taken part in the program so far.
Firstly can I say that I didn’t have a program like Small Steps to help me out in the beginning – and that’s part of the reason I created it – because I know how confusing and difficult it is to navigate the world of ‘healthy eating’ when it’s all so contradictory and confusing. Forgive my slow journey – but I think some of you might be able to relate….
Like so many amazing things in my life, my sister had a lot to do with it for me. She started to question the ‘numbers’ and ingredients on the packets of products we regularly bought. We were both living in Sydney at the time and living healthy, outdoorsy lives (with a good deal of boozing!) and it just hit me like a slap in the face. Once I started to notice the ingredients on packets (as opposed to the ‘fat content’) I was a little alarmed.
Then I had my son and any questions I had about food were amplified 100 fold because I wanted the best for him (don’t we all).
So began my investigations.
I applied for a scholarship to study at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition through Sarah Wilson’s blog and I WON! Woop! Who ever wins things!? This course most definitely changed my life as it opened my eyes up to stacks of different dietary theories. Though it also confused the hell out of me.
I think I just wanted someone to tell me what ‘healthy’ was and what the right things to eat were. I wanted meal plans and I wanted to stock my fridge and pantry with the ‘right foods’. But it just doesn’t work like that. Everyone is so unique. Some people can tolerate foods that others can’t. Some people crave cold foods. Others want grounding foods. Oh – and let me remind you that science can PROVE you do need dairy, you don’t need dairy, meat is essential, meat is absolutely not essential, grains have an inflammatory effect, grains properly prepared play an important role in a balanced diet. SERIOUSLY!
So what is a lady to do???
There was one thing that ALL of these theories had in common – they all ate REAL FOOD. There was no place for packaged, processed, highly refined foods in ‘healthy’ diets. So I thought that was a pretty good place to start.
Let’s eat wholefoods, I thought.
And then I thought. And then I googled. And then I continued shopping at the supermarket.
But something had tripped in me. Argh! I felt GUILTY! I now knew that all these processed foods were doing me no good at all. I did not find it difficult to buy my son organic, basic, real food. I could justify it. He was a BABY.
But me, not so much.
I continued on feeling a little guilty and slowly stopped buying things like the pre-prepared tortilla packs and supermarket bread. It forced me to begin searching for alternatives.
I began asking around how to make a pasta sauce from scratch. (People DO that!?).
I had already started a habit of checking out the farmers market near where we lived. TICK!
I started to see ingredients in recipes online that I had no idea about. So I stumbled across Alfalfa House in Sydney which is a co-op shop where you pay to become a member and go in with your tupperwares, glass jars and brown bags and fill up on basic ingredients.
I felt like a total fraud! I actually used to dress down to go there and as I’m a makeup wearer, I’d go early without makeup. As if they GAVE A SHIT???! But I kind of felt like I needed to be a bit less … well … me. Because people like me don’t do this.
But oh they do!
So I’m doing a few things a bit differently and starting to follow blogs and FB pages full of amazing food. I bought Jude Blereau’s Wholefoods for Children and got mega confused and also pretty inspired.
Then I got pregnant again. My two eldest kids are 21 months apart. This pregnancy was bad news for my new healthy eating mindset. I felt nauseas from the moment I woke up in the morning until I went to bed at night. McChickens helped. Unfortunately….
Back then I didn’t know what a bliss ball was, I didn’t have a thermomix to whiz me up smooth smoothies. I had a great fondness for sweet breads.
I basically knew very little. But my attention had been raised.
Little by little I began actioning this ‘wholefoods’ idea of mine.
Little by little I stopped feeling like a fraud.
Little by little I found ways to buy the things I wanted cheaper.
Little by little my pantry was revamped.
Little by little ingredients lists didn’t overwhelm me.
Little by little my supermarket trolley was filled with less because I wasn’t buying food there.
Little by little real food became my norm.
Yep, it all happened very slowly, but it happened FOR GOOD! I will never go back because this is just the way we do things.
And I haven’t learnt everything yet. And my meals can get repetitive and boring, just like yours. But it’s all real and that’s what matters. I’ll get creative when we don’t have tiny children whose food has to be separated and not combined!
I wonder what your journey has been like? Are you starting out or pretty established? Or somewhere in between?