On my Mind: Food Edition

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How to decide what foods to eat

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I’ve been in all sorts of turmoil the past 2 months when it comes to FOOD. It’s all around us, we have to eat it. We make choices all day every day about what we are going to put into our bodies. We all worry about weight and carbs and calories and sugar, but there is so much more to it than that. Or is there?

Since my weight loss two years ago, I’ve been more conscious about what I eat than ever before in my life. I simply didn’t want to gain the weight back. I’ve fought tooth and nail with my daily decisions, and have for the most part been happy with the results. But I’ve started these mind games with myself that just aren’t healthy. If my scale is up a few pounds, I’ll eat very minimal and “good” for a few days, til it is back down to my happy place. Then I’ll eat lots of cookie dough, feel ill, and eat more junk because “I already had a bad day, so why not?”  Then I’ll see the scale go up a few pounds and the cycle starts over.

Why can’t my favorite batch of homemade cookies be ok? Why do food decisions have to be so hard?? Is it really just about weight gain?

I have never had any food allergies or intolerances, and neither have my kids. I feel very blessed that my body functions well on whatever I eat.

About 2 months ago, my husband started reading a book called: The Big book of Health and Fitness. Subtitle: A practical guide to diet, exercise, healthy aging, illness prevention, and sexual well being. I mean, who doesn’t want THAT kind of practical guide? Seems like the answer just from the subtitle.

My husband is a very fit individual, always has been. He will eat treats here and there, but (unlike me) knows how to stop himself. Despite his fitness, he’s had some issues with inflammation in his knee’s/achilles for years. It’s prevented him from doing the exercise he loves (cycling, running). This book issued a challenge to help reduce inflammation by not eating breads, pasta, rice, any carbs as well as processed sugars for two weeks. It wasn’t about weight at all, but about inflammation.  I said, “sure, I’ll join you and support you, I did no carb/no sugar for 6 weeks back in my “cleanse” days. I could stand to lose a few pounds, I’m in!”  As an athlete, he’d always done the “carb load” for more energy, but he’d actually found that without breads and pastas, he was doing better with his exercise, had more energy.

Well that seemed to coincide with a conversation I had with a friend who has some auto immune issues that she really does have to change how she eats or she gets sick. She’d told me of studies she’d read, how her friend (who is a cancer survivor) is writing a book all about food and our health. My friend says that she feels lucky that her insides were affected by how she was eating because she was kinda forced to change her diet. She believes that at some point in all of us, how we eat will manifest itself in some way or another (illnesses often in more aged people: heart disease, diabetes, cancer). She also talked about how even whole grains in the US are produced in such a way that even it’s been engineered to not be that great for us. Produced different in the US than other countries (that one I need to research more).

I left that conversation kinda gloomy.

Another night, we were on a double date with that same friend, and when they wanted to order dessert, my husband and I (on our two week cleanse) figured we should just get something so it wouldn’t be awkward. Because….it’s not very socially acceptable to not have a treat when others have a treat. We all know it.

What now?

I know too much.

I can’t go back.

Do I really need to change how I eat, even though I don’t feel currently affected by it, but at the possibility that later in life it will benefit me?

In our family, we moved forward having more veggies and no sauce, pastas, or rice with our meals. I was surprised at how actually easy it was to cook when I wanted assembling dishes. Cook meat. Cook veggies. Serve fresh fruit. Done.

Then variety became an issue.

But what about our kids breakfasts (cereal or pancakes)? What about lunches (bread, granola bars)?

Everything that I’d always done was suddenly in question.

I felt lost.

I feel Confused.

Not sure what to do.

Is it all just hype? Trendy? Mis-information?

I think there is something to it. GMO’s. Gluten. Packaged food.

Organic milk? eggs? fruit? veggies? meat? We’ve always laughed at the organic craze, but there seems to be something to it.  At this point, I haven’t invested in organic milk, meat, or even fruit.

Do I go cold turkey or allow myself to ease into it?

I started searching out Paleo websites and cookbooks, and just last week heard about #whole30

Clean Eating is a different definition for different people.

Some say whole grains.

Some say no grains.

I’m actually not even missing the pastas and breads. I was on an outing with a friend and kinda mentioned all this, as I skipped the spaghetti noodles and just had meat sauce and veggies. She’s like, “wow, you really are serious about this.” When I have hamburgers I go bun-less. I actually think there is so much more FLAVOR when the delicious meat is not masked by the bun. When I was at a lunch with friends and went bun-less on my burger, people took notice.

It makes people feel uncomfortable, because it starts to make them question how they are eating, and no one really wants to do that. So I have mostly kept it to myself.

In our church, we adhere to the Word of Wisdom. It’s a health guide, which says to stay away from alcohol and other harmful drugs. My husband and I have faith in it’s teaching and principles. About meat, it suggests to eat it “sparingly.” So does that mean not every day? I eat meat every day. It also says that grain is the staff of life and good food for man. So does that mean I should eat it or can I cut it out?

I feel like there are doctors that say we should “eat clean” or we’ll get cancer or heart disease or something from inflammation to our insides. Then there are doctors that say to eat it all in moderation. So does that mean if we don’t gain too much weight, that’s moderation?  What is the litmus test here?

I’ve been reading an interesting book called Eat the Yolks about the misinformation of fat. Egg Yolks are actually GOOD for you! Cholesterol is GOOD for you.

I also got two Paleo Cookbooks: Against All Grain and Practical Paleo.

Interesting reads. I would have laughed at myself a year ago for even picking them up at a bookstore.

I haven’t cooked from them yet, but I’m THINKING about it, and gathering supplies.  I’m mostly excited to try the baked goods and waffles and such that are now considered grain in my current diet, but they are grain free from these books.

I can live my life without pasta and breads, but I love waffles and muffins and cereal.

I think I’m aiming for a half and half diet right now. Half of my old ways. Half of the new ways.

I feel guilty now when my kids have cereal every morning, but not sure about scrambled eggs each morning either. We’ve eaten a LOT of eggs lately. They want me to make pancakes again, but I’m not sure if I use white flour, wheat flour, oatmeal, almond flour, coconut flour, gluten free bisquick, or what.

I need some clarity.

If not a granola bar, then a Lara Bar? Z bar? Some kind of convenience food??? I can’t start making granola bars…or maybe I can and just have to push myself a bit more.

I’ve been prayerful, I’m hoping I’ll feel some peace regarding the issue.

My husband is in less turmoil than me, taking it slow, not sure we need to omit all grains, but not sure he wants to eat an over abundance of meat, either. He knows how easily persuaded I can be, and it’s true. But now I’m just fearful about what I do now affecting my future, and I’m trying to have faith over fear, once again.

I saw this quote in a comment on a blog, and it struck me, ” It’s hard to eat this way in a world that doesn’t. It’s hard to cook for a big family — either all eating this way, or them eating this way and me not eating what they’re eating. It’s hard to stick with it day in and day out. It’s not too terribly hard for a few weeks, but it is hard as a lifestyle. I feel anti-social. I know my eating habits put a damper on others’ enjoyment when our eating out choices are dictated by my “can’ts.” I know I’ve offended more than one gracious hostess with my polite, “No thank you.” And I do miss crafting a perfect loaf of artisan bread or making my grandmother’s homemade pasta.”

I downloaded two different e-cookbooks. One from @jennaskitchen (buy here) and the other from @healthfest  (request book). The first is $10, the second is free. I’m arming myself with ideas.

I’ve started reading labels. Looking for whole ingredients.

I’m not saying I’m cutting out treats and such, or even all packaged items (I could never swear off Cheetos forever) but I’m going to be much more intentional than I have been in the past. Make my daily living more whole, more healthy, more clean.

If you’ve got anything for me, I’d love to hear it! It seems like everyone has an opinion about food.

Do you think:

  1. Everything in moderation. Who cares where meat, milk, veggies, and fruits are grown or fed?  No need for this organic business. Exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and all is well.
  2. Eat Organic with whole grains.  Brown rice and pasta’s are good for you, grain is necessary for digestion and good health. Range free chicken, eggs, meat.
  3. There is something to this Paleo/Whole30 thing (grain and gluten free), grains are not meant for our bodies and mess with our insides. Later in life we’ll pay for it if we are careless.


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  1. Kristin, as I read this I know the exact place you are at. There is so much I can say about this that it is difficult to begin. I have seen chronic illness almost erased all from diet. It started when I read Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. If you are interested and have questions, please email me and I can direct you to websites that will provide clarity. Also, I am in Austin and would be willing to speak with you on the phone or meet somewhere local.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      THanks for that info, Leslie! I don’t have any chronic illnesses or intolerances, but to hear that there is improvement from such leads me to think it’s best long term, too!

  2. I wholeheartedly believe that you shouldn’t eliminate any food groups unless you are medically allergic or intolerant. I loved your post. I have been having a lot of the same questions and confusion. I just read The Doctor’s Diet and it has changed my life. I feel like it’s so realistic. You don’t eliminate food groups, you aren’t forced to go organic, you are only asked to do your best. I can’t afford to eat organically, as much as I want to, but I do eat as many “whole” foods as possible and don’t eat processed foods because I know they affect me negatively.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I’ll have to check out that book. I’m surprised to hear you say not to eliminate anything unless intolerant. It’s the grains that I keep wondering about. So many have intolerants to that, and just because I don’t now, does it mean it’s not good for us as a whole? I don’t know! THanks for weighing in on the topic;)

  3. I feel like this is a battle that I keep struggling with everyday. There is SO much hype these days about not eating whole grains and about gluten being bad. But like you mentioned, the word of wisdom says…But living in Portland Oregon, I found myself surrounded by SUPER healthy people. Which is great! I’ve recently met a friend who makes sour dough wheat bread. The slow rising of the sour dough starter helps break down the nutrients of the whole wheat flour supposely helping us get more nutrients from the whole wheat (http://realfoodforager.com/5-reasons-to-make-sourdough-your-only-bread/). I seriously recommend looking into making sour dough bread. You can make it artisan sour dough style or you can make it whole wheat sandwich style which isn’t that sour. I love discovering this method because I love bread and I really believe that we need whole grains in our life. I know there are other ways to getting whole grains other than bread, but bread is so delicious! plus when I eat sourdough bread I don’t feel bloated after like I might with regular delicious white bread. Also natural yeast is another option (similiar to the sour dough method).

    We just live in a world of fads and trends that sometimes it’s hard to be healthy the way we feel we should be because everyone else is not doing it our way.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels so confused about what to eat and not to eat. Way to go with going pasta and rice-less; we’re still working on that one.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Yes, there are so many fads and trends, it’s hard to sift through all the jargon! I’d love to have the recipe for your bread!!!

  4. I believe, after much research, that non-GMO and organic food is vitally important. We have slowly switched over to all organic in our house. We are doing less and less processed foods, as well. I truly believe that you are what you eat. It’s true – my son has autism and for 4 1/2 years we had him on a GFCF diet and saw some good results from it.

    I am not LDS and I believe that drinking wine or alcohol is OK. The Bible clearly says that we “should not be drunk with wine” {Ephesians 5:18} but nowhere says we can’t drink it. I don’t drink it but that’s only because I don’t care for it, my husband is an avid wine conisseur. Anyway, all that to say that it’s so difficult to understand what IS and what is NOT okay for us. Even taking the steps I have, I have not lost weight. I’ve only gained weighed even though I eat better than I have in my whole life…being in my 40s has definitely changed things! Baby steps…right?

    Becky B.
    Becky@OrganizingMadeFun recently posted..More Pinterest Inspiration with Fashion!My Profile

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Yes, getting older does not seem to be good for weight maintenance! I am definitely paying attention to the GMO’s for sure. And more and more organic. Thanks for weighing in on the matter!

  5. Amy Gehen says:

    We are also pushing for more fruits and veggies at our house and less grain. I’m a carb addict, so I will do this until I can break through that.
    So many people need to understand that the media has decided that GMO and pesticides are evil. People “research”, but for the most part, they are reading articles online written by people who don’t have credentials to back it. GMO is so severely misunderstood. What counts as “organic” is extremely misunderstood as well. It makes me very upset that these companies are preying on people’s fears and getting them to pay more money for their foods because of it. My husband and I were laughing at the “organic poptarts” we saw at the store the other day.
    My husband’s job is to make sure that the fruits and veggies and grains we eat are safe. He went to what felt like a bazillion years of school so he could do that. He loves his kids and has absolutely no qualms with us eating non organic foods. Just eat fruits and veggies.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      What is his job/schooling/background? So you don’t worry about the GMO thing, do you do organic veggies/fruits? It always seemed odd to me that our government would let us eat poison, that’s what confuses me so much!

      • Amy+Gehen says:

        My husband got his PhD in toxicology. Most GMO is used to make fuel. They don’t really sell GMO fruits and veggies in the grocery store. If they did, he wouldn’t care if we ate them.
        When pesticides are tested, they are tested at over 100 times the amount people would ingest. If there are any reactions to it, the chemical is scrapped. It is an extremely regulated industry with very many hoops to jump through.

        • Kristen Duke says:

          Thanks for that info! I need you (or him) to write up a blog post for me all about that! It’s kinda what I always thought–why would it be ok to use pesticides with they were harmful to us? Does it just pass through our system to where the build up isn’t harmful over time?

          • Amy+Gehen says:

            I have asked him over and over to write something up and he always says he doesn’t think it’s worth it, because people won’t listen. His industry is finally realizing that no one else is talking but the ones who are against the industry. They need to educate the people.
            I told him about your request. He is very busy right now, but said he would be willing to put something together in a few weeks, if you really wanted him to.
            He also told me to send you to http://www.gmoanswers.com for answers about gmo and how it really works.

  6. Diets don’t change us… our choices change us…
    I don’t think we are all meant to be a size 4 or a size 18… but, SOME of us are…
    Unfortunately, for many women, the word “healthy” really means “thin” as set by the standard of our current society.
    We’ve made food and eating a god in our society…
    I think part of a healthy attitude about it can be found in a common sense approach:
    1. you should eat things you can pronounce in a wide variety of colors, the majority of the time…
    2. if you skip out on grains or meats, then figure out what benefits there are in those foods and make it up some other way… with a supplement or a food that can provide the same things (I eat little meat, therefore, I eat nuts or peanut butter)
    3. Prepare— food is a social event in our culture— think of where you are going and eat what you can within reason– one helping of dessert or pasta or a hamburger isn’t going to hurt anyone, unless they are truly allergic or highly intolerant to that food. I deal with this ALL THE TIME because I have a child with an anaphylactic food allergy..
    4. Move— walk, play with your kids, run, join an amateur sports team and fuel your body accordingly….
    The goal should not be a weight (I struggle with this, too, of course)… it should be health— to take care of my family and to serve the Lord…
    That’s just my take on all of it…. thanks for such an honest post!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Great tips! I’m not worried about the weight for myself or my family. We are all fairly fit. Its the inside of my body long term that I feel confused about. If we are fit and eating the rainbow, are we good? I don’t know!!

  7. This is something I’ve really started paying close attention to myself the last few years. It started mostly when I began to notice the hyperactivity my son exhibited after he ate things that contained artificial food dyes. He would go off the wall and we could never figure out why, until we started to pay attention to what he was eating at those times and made the connections. After doing research about these artificial colors I became so disillusioned by our “food” system in this country. The shelves in the grocery store are full of science experiments, not food! Artificial dyes, flavors, preservatives, sweeteners, enhancers, antibiotics and hormones in our dairy. We’ve made a commitment now to what we call real food. I love Lisa Leake’s website 100 Days of Real Food. Her food journey is inspiring. I don’t believe you should cut out a food group unless you absolutely can’t eat it for health reasons. People started cutting out gluten because it made them deathly ill and then everyone started jumping on the bandwagon so to speak. I think whole grains are important to our digestive health. Unless you have Celiac Disease of course! I try to buy organic where I can (the Dirty Dozen especially!) and we try to stay away from meat where the animals have been treated with antibiotics and hormones. I think the fact that our girls are hitting puberty younger than ever before is not a coincidence. Eating local has become very important to me too. Supporting local farmers to help protect them from getting pushed out of business by large factory farms that are destroying the health of this country is so important! Plus, many of them use organic practices they just can’t afford the official USDA Certified Organic stamp of approval. So you are getting organic food without the grocery store organic price tag! Some more websites to check out are Kitchen Stewardship and Deliciously Organic. Good luck in finding your path. It is so hard sometimes but once you start on this path it’s hard to turn back knowing what you know. And you will be healthier for it!!
    Kari recently posted..Menu Plan Monday Week of March 9-15My Profile

  8. I feel you on the variety thing. If I buy a variety of veggies they don’t get eaten because we have too much and if I buy one or two veggies then we get bored and it goes bad. I am considering ordering some veggies from Thrive to help out with that. I can still buy fresh but the freeze dried fruits and veggies still have all of their nutrients. Plus my kid loves to snack on veggies that I don’t like so this will help him eat more veggies and less starches like his mom! 🙂
    Jessica+H recently posted..DIY Painted and Open Kitchen CabinetsMy Profile

  9. oh man. AMEN! It’s sooo difficult to figure out what the best thing is! Did your husband find any difference from his 2 weeks, as far as his inflammation? I have some problems with my joints (the worst are my fingers which is so sad/frustrating for me because it affects my ability to do what I love- photography… I’m sure you can relate if you imagine that lifting/using your camera for even a few minutes caused your fingers pain. *sigh* I keep wondering if there is something I can do (or stop doing) that will help my problem.. did Heavenly Father send me this problem to solve? or to deal with? (do you know what I mean?) Anyway, so many of us can relate to this internal dialogue you’ve shared here. Best of luck with figuring something out that works for you and your family!
    Heather+Lynne recently posted..Our Quest for Seasonal Allergy ReliefMy Profile

  10. Nicole P. says:

    For me and my family, option #2 is the best. My husband is Italian. I’m sure he’d riot if I suggested no more pasta!Becuase we can’t afford to do all organic fruits and veggies all the time, I buy a LOT of our fruits and veggies locally. The “organic” label is an expensive one to obtain and many of my local farms do famr in an organic way but they don’t want to bother with the paperwork and expese of getting the label. We eat beans about twice a week and free-range chicken/ turkey 2-3 times a week and then we have one night where we eat out and a night of leftovers. We only have red meat about twice a month. W don’t buy a lot of processed food. If we do buy proessed, I read the ingredient list so I can know what’s in it. I’m more worried about frankenfood full of chemicals than prtty much anything else. I don’t believe in elimination diets unless there’s a medical reason. I know people who swear by the paleo diet or the atkins diet or the whole clean eating trend but it all just seems o trendy to me. I believe in following your body. If you feel bloated and gross after eating a bowl of pasta, then don’t eat it. Being aware of ow your body respnds to certain foods is essential to your health. Pollan said it best “Eat food, not too much and mostly plants.” I hope your prayers are answered an you find a decision that gives ou and your family peace.

  11. Food is a passion of mine, because I’m a farmer! I grew up on a very large (5000 acre) grain farm in Kansas and married a grain/cow farmer in the next county over. When our son was diagnosed with autism 8 years ago, though, it totally changed our mindset. After seeing a biomedical dr. we put him on a gfcf/soy free diet that made a world of difference in him! We also started eating grass fed meats. And started doing our research. Let me tell you, as a former GMO farmer, they are evil!!! From an economic and an environmental standpoint. Farmers use more chemicals now then ever before. Nasty chemicals that have horrible warning labels on them. I know this for a fact because my father in law and father still farm this way. My husband and I started our own farm several years ago growing beyond organic, grass fed meats (beef, pork, chicken) and free range eggs. There is a difference and not all food is created equal! Continue to do research on it. And think about it this way- if the food is in some other form (ie processed) then from God created it, should we really be eating it? I’m not talking a raw vegan diet, but I’m thinking boxed foods, fruits and veggies sprayed and genetically engineered and animals fed all sorts of crap and antibiotics. My chiropractor has a great philosophy on it called “the innate diet”. If you google Winfield Chiropractic you should be able to find it. Anyway, God’s blessings on your journey. I’m a firm believer in GOOD, REAL food!!! Oh, and btw, grains are different now. I know because my family grows a lot of wheat. Wheat has been changed to produce more gluten and less nutrition because it makes a fluffier bread. It is not the same grain that was even produced 50 years ago and it certainly isn’t the same grain that was consumed during Bible times!

    • I’ve been studying GMOs etc..and appreciated your input as farmers. I, too, have dealt with horrific health problems and continue to ask God for wisdom.

  12. Jacqueline says:

    It really is confusing, isn’t it? The simplified version of my standard is: eating what was created for us to eat. That’s almost simplistic, and there are no easy answers, but I’ve found that to be really helpful for me. So raw, pastured (as in grass-fed, not to be confused with pasteurized!) milk, pastured eggs and meat. I eat meat in moderation, in part because mankind was first given fruits and vegetables in the garden of Eden, and meat wasn’t added in until later (after the Flood). Not as a hard and fast rule, that’s just the way I do it. No GMO’s, organic (which sometimes is more complicated than it seems), preferably local. In other words, as natural as possible. I limit my grains and vary them. The wheat available to us is apparently quite different from the wheat in Bible times, due to hybridization. Oh, and I try to eat foods in context. So the whole fruit instead of just juice, honey or raw sugar instead of refined sugar. It fits in with my “that’s how they were created to be eaten” line of thought.
    I can totally relate to wanting the sweets and stuff. It really helps me to have healthy alternatives available; if I get a chance I’ll e-mail you a few recipes.

  13. Allison Brown says:

    I wholeheartedly agree that this whole topic is overwhelming. There is a lot of information out there. But for me, the book that completely changed the way I view food and eat food is Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. And I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but I’ve also heard great things about his other book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, which I plan on reading soon. In my belief, you shouldn’t cut whole food groups out of your diet entirely. I feel like the best thing to do is to steer clear of all the fad diets and look to how people ate food traditionally, before science and factories took over the way we eat now. But you have to do what works best for your family too. A few other sources that have really influenced the way that I view food are the blogs 100 Days of Real Food, and Granny’s Vital Vittles. Good luck in your food journey!

  14. I would say I am somewhere between 1 and 2. I do believe everything in moderation, but there is a lot to be said to whole grains. We do choose organic whenever possible (and we can afford it). My kids’ lunches are always with whole wheat sandwich thins, a fresh fruit and a fresh vegetable. My lunches are too. I am working to lose weight, and I don’t think my diet is what is the problem. I think it’s my exercise level and entering my 40’s that is affecting my weight. Additionally, one of the reasons I want to lose weight is that I want to be healthy for my children and to see them grow up. I am at a “healthy” BMI (I hate that measurement), but I think I need to be more fit. The activities I choose to lose weight will help get me fit.

    I think just being intentional with our choices and decisions is the way to go.

  15. I feel like a lot of this is a trend, except for those who do suffer and become ill if they eat processed food. I have several friends who are gluten free. If they eat the wrong thing they are sick for days. My concern is what has changed with food companies and how they now process food compared to say 20 years ago (or even longer). These were not issues back then.

    If I could afford organic, that is what I would buy, but unfortunately my hubby doesn’t see any of this as an issue, he thinks it is all a fad. So because I don’t want to make 3 separate meals for my family I try to do things in moderation, buy organic when I can. If I could exercise, I would definitely throw that into my everyday life, but currently experience some health issues (not food related) that prevent me from exercising.

    Great post. This gives us lots of things to think about.

  16. Gretchen says:

    I believe in the #1 option. I have been limiting my carbs, mainly breads and pastas, since the beginning of the year with a 20 pound weight loss. I plan on continuing how I’ve been eating.

  17. Kristen, there is a book out just today called tapping for weight loss and body confidence by Jessica Ortner. You can get it on your kindle or whatever. I think it will help with all of our struggles. And no I’m not being paid to say this. I preordered and have only read the first little bit but I think it will be great. The forward is by Dr. Christine Northrup. There is no one answer for all and we do have individual issues with allergies and other things as far as diet is concerned but we still need to dig deeper and get to the real issues. I do feel like the book is a good place to start. Please check it out.

  18. All of it is so confusing. Makes me want to sit down with chocolate and a diet dr pepper…. :/ Wish I was joking. Dave is really great about setting a good example of better eating. I need to work on it…

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Melissa, you seem to have a really great metabolism! I know we all have our things, but it isn’t even just about the weight for me anymore. I’m at a happy place, I just want to know if I need to be doing more for my long term health.

  19. Oh man, I totally relate! I’ve been addicted to food since I was a young girl and never really thought about how I was abusing my body because I was self medicating with food til I was older. My story is here: http://www.healthconfessions.com and after losing 40 pounds 4 years ago and becoming a health coach, I am still on my journey! (: The program I use for clients to initially lose weight helps them decrease inflammation and learn the habits of health. Then we transition them to a whole foods diet and some go on to achieve ultra health. I’m doing a modified version of our plan since having baby boy #3 last July. I started Crossfit recently and am doing a pretty clean mostly paelo type diet, but do have some grains {quinoa, brown rice}, LOVE eggs/chicken/fish, etc. My beginning Crossfit pics/stats are here: http://instagram.com/p/m5l_GLOjQM/

    Anyway, it’s such a process! I think if you are prayerfully seeking answers you’ll be led to what is best for your family. I think being too extreme in any direction is often dangerous, but we definitely need to be aware of what we’re feeding our bodies and make the most sound decisions we can for our families. I FEEL better when I eat clean. I’ve been known to take a free day on the weekends and then pay for it by feeling gassy, bloated, awful, sick. I know there’s something to gluten because hundreds of my clients have experienced issues with it and realize they feel much better when they remove it, but I haven’t taken the plunge with myself, hubby, and three little boys yet. (:

    I just found your blog today and identify with you on many levels! Darling darling home & fun blog! Can’t wait to stay updated on your stuff.
    Karli recently posted..Ten on Tuesday: Favorites EditionMy Profile

  20. Oh.my.goodness. This post was awesome, and the comments are awesome, but now I just have more questions!! Everyone has their go-to book that “changed their lives” when it comes to diet. There are so many out there!! I’ve noticed that I am far less tired if I cut out the refined foods (I had Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast and mac and cheese for dinner today…yes I eat like a 3 year old sometimes…and I’m suffering for it today!). If you and Michael find the answer, please share!

  21. I had to go gluten free over 2 years ago for auto immune issues (I also ruptured my achilles). It’s been great for my health. I go through periods of no sugar and dairy as well. I’ve also been doing minimal nightshades for the last 3 months. It is hard every time I consider altering my diet, especially in our society where most gatherings revolve around food (and I love food and people).

    Usually once the item is out of my system completely (3 months later sometimes) it’s easy to remember how great I currently feel and how poorly the item was affecting me before. Cheating is hard because it causes a slippery slope (I’ve yet to kick sugar and dairy for good) and quickly starts to create inflammation if you are sensitive.

    I have found it is easier for my psyche if I make small goals with large goals in mind (get through the day to get through the week to get through the month-I can do anything for a day, a week, a month). If I fail, it’s okay, but I don’t go crazy and eat poorly just because I already screwed up my goal. It’s better for me to acknowledge the failure, but stay committed without loosing control.

    My family eats mostly gluten free dinners, but they still rely heavily on grains for breakfast and lunch. There are lots of resources out there and lots of different ideas for convince foods (granola bars are pretty easy to make and lara bars are even easier). Truthfully I just haven’t invested enough resources in figuring out how to move the rest of the family off their beloved foods while creating new/better ones.

    That was a very long response, but if you would like more information you can always email me. Good luck in your journey. Researching is the first step and I’m sure as you takes small steps you will get to a place that you feel good about!

  22. I eat gluten free because I suspect I have Celiac Disease (it runs in my family and I feel better without gluten). I haven’t intentionally eaten gluten in about 6 years and I can say that it gets easier to find options and ideas. I eat relatively healthy because gluten free foods are expensive so I tend to make a lot of my own meals and snacks but lately I’ve felt an urge to eat better but I haven’t been able to make further changes. I’m thinking of switching to partial paleo – and I’ve heard that the book “Everyday Paleo” by Sarah Fragoso is good – she has a podcast (Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness Podcast) that seems pretty good though the science isn’t there sometimes (so far only with guests). What I like is that they talk about what they ate which gives me ideas

  23. Please please please go to a dietician before you cut things out of your diet. Most say the healthiest diet is one with the most variety. While food allergies can obviously throw that off, a later in life possible “intolerance” will not. I hope you can somehow find peace in your weight and what you are eating. It’s okay to have treats when you want them. It’s okay to see the scale go up and down a bit – our weight fluctuates about 2 pounds in any given day – don’t focus so much on a number, but rather on how you feel. Do you feel happy eating a cookie? Go with it, don’t feel guilty after! Does your stomach feel better when you eat wheat? Then ignore the diet trends and do you! If you’re finding these things difficult, or continue to feel overwhelmed by food, maybe even consider seeing a therapist to discuss what a healthy relationship with food is. That could certainly cut back on the anxiety you feel now!

  24. These are such hard questions to answer! My feeling is that what makes people feel good and healthy is different for everyone. If low carb works for you, go with it. If it’s gluten free that makes you feel your best, stick to it! It’s hard to find that “sweet spot” because everyone has an opinion, but it’s about how YOU feel, not what everyone else thinks. Right now I’m reading “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes and it’s a really interesting take on nutrition and modern nutritional recommendations.

    We are embarking on a gluten free journey as a family because my daughter was put on a gluten free diet by our doctor. It’s very overwhelming right now, but I know we’ll get through it.

    I pray a lot about my choices. I need to lose a pretty good amount of weight right now, and it’s definitely been a challenge. But I know that God wants me to take care of this body He has given me and that gives me strength and peace.

  25. I’m right there with ya! Thanks for putting to words the way I feel. It is confusing! What was “the right thing to do” 15 years ago is completely the wrong thing to do now (talking about the low-fat/no-fat craze). How are you supposed to know what is actually good for you and what is just the fashionable thing at the moment. I’ve been dabbling in the clean eating and whole 30 over the last few months, but haven’t been able to commit for more than a few weeks at a time. The social aspects are very difficult and also breaking old habits and emotional ties to foods. I think the most important thing is to keep at it! Keep informed about what theories are out there and keep experimenting. No two bodies are the same. No two bodies have the exact same sensitivities or needs. You have to learn what makes your own body feel best and more importantly what does not make your body feel it’s best. I think then you’ll be able to learn where you ought to be on the side of grains or carbs or sugar or whatever.
    Thanks again for you post!! I really enjoyed it!

  26. Just started following you… I am a Registered Dietitian so I had to weigh in, there is so much confusion about the right way to eat, however there is no such thing as the “perfect” diet! Please, eat the foods you crave, learn to include them daily in moderation. Its much better to accept that a cookie can fit into a healthy diet rather than depriving yourself and binge on the “forbidden food,” this binge deprivation cycle is unhealthy for your mind and body. Think balance! Meals should include lean protein sources (dairy, lean meats, eggs, fish), vegetables, fruit, healthy fats and whole grains-your body NEEDS carbs, getting them from healthy sources is the key and keeping portions reasonable. Organic vs non… sure organic foods don’t contain pesticides so in theory they should be healthier (not proven) however most people would benefit from MORE fruits and MORE vegetables REGARDLESS of if they are organic or not. Baby steps! All these fad diets are just that are a search for a quick fix, they don’t lead to long term health. Don’t be tempted to sacrifice long term health for the next quick fix miracle diet. Seek out some professional guidance, see an Registered Dietitian in your area. Its vital that parents set a good example for their kids, work on your relationship with food and your body so you can be a positive role model for your family.

  27. Such a great post girl. I don’t have much to say on what’s right or wrong. I just know that I am comfortable with the choices I make for my family. We do eat mainly organic meat, fruit, vegetables and dairy. When I cook, I try to use whole foods. I try to focus on making as much from scratch as possible. Does it take more time to make my own taco seasoning than buying a 50 cent package? For sure. But being able to control ingredients in my food is huge. That said, I also believe in moderation. No matter how much I change in our diet, so many choices continue to remain in the culture we live in. No matter how much I would love to be free of processed food, package cookies (gasp!) etc, I also know it’s a big part of social gatherings. I know if I feed my family 75% healthy food, the occasional twinkie, cream of chicken soup, and Big Mac they consume isn’t going to affect them greatly. Plus, I personally enjoy a big scoop of Cool Whip on my pumpkin pie. Just sayin.
    That being said, I also believe in being active. Getting out, as a family doing things together. Not only is it great for our relationships with eachother (ever read Wild at Heart???), it’s great to be role models to our children. I think find your balance and be comfortable with your choices. Teach your children healthy living is way more than what your body looks like!!
    Aimee+@+ShugarySweets recently posted..Funfetti Shortbread Cookie SandwichesMy Profile

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Aimee! I agree with what you said 100% and that’s pretty much what I’m feeling right now. I grew up on corn as the only vegetable and ate Fruity Pebbles all the time. I figured it was fine for my kids, but I’ve all of a sudden made this shift and I’m fine with it and my kids are adjusting, but some things I just wonder about. I’m with you on the majority of the time I can control and we eat our main meals more whole, then we enjoy treats and parties and not worry so much. I think my big question in my mind is about grains. Are you a whole grains or grain free party? That is a big part of my confusion as I’ve read a lot that says that the whole grains are processed so much differently than they used to be, and filling our gut. THoughts?

  28. annie lemaster says:

    I have tried every “diet” out there. I think it is up to you and your body. Read the book intuitive eating. No matter what, there will be just as many people telling you to eat a certain way as there are telling you not to. I have had nutritionists, personal trainers, health coaches, friends, etc. all tell me something different. I say do what you can ( avoid as much fake stuff as you can, eat whole real food like veggies, fruit, whole grains like oats, quinoa, sprouted grain bread), then limit your animal proteins. I personally interpret sparingly as using less then the recipe may call for when I do eat meat and then eating it maybe one meal per day. Maybe one or two slices of turkey on your sandwiches, make tacos with half a pound of beef and bean to bulk it up etc. I think you shouldn’t stress too much. Honestly, I know people who were vegan and got cancer, and people who went vegan and their cancer went into remission. I try to have nuts, seeds, green smoothies, salads, veggies for snacks, etc. I do let myself have dark chocolate as a treat daily. I feel better having less meat in my diet. I do eat Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, plant based protein powders, seeds, nuts, and a little meat for protein. I only eat maybe two servings of starchy carbs per day because that is what feels right to me. Ultimately God is in control. If it is part of the plan for you to get diseases, you will. If he sees fit to heal you, he will. I have an uncle who was into health and fitness his whole life and is now dying of cancer. I also used to cut the hair of a 95 year old woman who had been a chain smoker since the age of 14 and besides smelling like an ashtray, was in perfect health.

  29. Hi Kristen. I, too, have been questioning what I’m putting into my body. I started a 21 day cleanse 2 weeks ago using The Virgin Diet (by JJ Virgin) as a basis (Arbonne also has a 30 day cleanse that they recommend that’s a bit more restrictive, but very good). At 52, food intolerances have caught up with me and I’ve known it for a long time but ignored it. I also have oral allergy syndrome (OAS), birch, so I’m allergic to some very yummy fruits and veggies. With elimination diets, you reintroduce the foods one at a time to see what you may have a reaction to – some are, some subtle and some may have no affect at all. I can report that after removing gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, peanuts and sugar/artificial sweeteners for two weeks I haven’t had to take my heartburn medication, I haven’t had a constant stomach ache with all the digestive issues that go along with it, the swelling in my ankles/fingers is gone and the large patch of psoriasis on my leg is disappearing and no longer itches. Coincidence? I think not.

    In the past week I’ve watched the documentaries Forks Over Knives, Sick Tired and Nearly Dead, and Food, Inc. (all on Netflix if you have it – or do a 30 day free trial). I’m going to see Fed Up (narrated by Katie Couric) this week. Forks Over Knives is extremely informative and is science based. Food, Inc. has forever changed how I will purchase the limited animal protein my family will ingest.

    Food for thought.
    Lori Bowring Michaud recently posted..Waxed Linen Jewelry Blog Hop RevealMy Profile

  30. Great post! I definitely know where your head is. I was in the exact same place three years ago when I started to learn about the industrial food system. My husband and I read a book called The Primal Blueprint which deals with taking many of our lifestyle choices back to a more basic approach (less screen time, more outside time, varied exercise v. Chronic cardio, etc). The author talks about 80/20- knowing that it is exceptionally hard to make these choices in our modern world, but if we try to do it for 80% of the time, then we’ve accomplished something.

    His work also advocated for a grain free diet, which has helped me have more consistent energy and has put an end to my husbands chronic stomach aches, asthma, headaches, and weight gain. So it definitely works for us. At first social situations could get sticky because we directed where our friends ate (or any of the other things you described) but as time has passed we’ve gotten much more fluid at finding things on any menu that suit us without having to make a big show of it in front of the group.

    Finally, be weary of thinking organic is the end-all-be-all. Organic only means that the item wasn’t grown or raised with pesticides. There is also a difference between usda verified organic and other branding, so be careful. Each category of food has it’s own lingo and it’s own continuum (like the best eggs are free range organic, but if you can get or afford those then cage free is good too). Your cook book Practical Paleo should have something in it. The Whole 9 Life website, where Whole 30 is located, also has visual references to help navigate the sea of food lingo.

    All the best with your pursuit!!
    Ps- I have a tutorial for Lara bars on my website 🙂

  31. This has also been my main issue ALL my life, too. Mainly, because I’ve had severe eczema/allergies/asthma for 49 yrs. as well as Lyme Disease as of 1992. I had to quit teaching, 5 yrs. ago, because my skin went crazy (again) and the itching has been pure torment. (I’ve had a battery of tests for Lupus, gluten, chemicals…you name it!) And of course the big “food” issue…so mind blowing to me! The more I read the more I have to just give it over to God. I have to ask for wisdom/discernment, daily. I am thinking of starting my own blog due to all the health battles I’ve been through, etc. as well as look into other areas to write about. That’s how I found your blog, while looking into photography helps. 🙂

    • Kristen Duke says:

      That’s all we can do, is ask God daily for wisdom! It’s tough, for sure, we do our best. So sorry about your health issue’s.

  32. Tarron W. says:

    “Low Fat, No Fat, Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Non-GMO” the problem is not the food… the problem is the additives “in” the food. To remove one is to replace it with something else… and that my friends…is a FACT. As supply and demand is growing for food to feed the populations to their liking…not to their necessity, the food industries have looked to science to not only deliver product, but also to preserve quantities, as well as compete with or sustain as top industry performer by including in it’s ingredients “safe to eat” additives that appeal to the ever present population demand for enhancements. We want “all natural,” “low carb,” “better flavored” foods, but do not realize that the natural process has to be altered for this to happen! There is no such thing as “sugar free” fruit! There is no such this as a “low sodium” frozen meal. Sodium is a the most popular preservative, used since the dawn of ages! There is no such thing as “low carb” bread…
    And truth be told, unless you have “formal diagnosis” of an allergy, intolerance, or negative side affect (to include water retention and weight gain) from eating foods of a certain food group…you should not cut them out of your diet… The word “processed” before the word “food” in general gives me the creeps…however there are a lot of products out here now portraying themselves to be “natural” and are FILLED with harmful, ingredients with no nutritional value…only deemed safe for consumption… In a recent article I read, food labels have the right to display the word “organic” on the label, just as long as one or a few of the included ingredients are of such. In another article I have read certain brands of canned tuna can actually use the term “vegetable broth” when in fact it is a soy based broth in most cases. In my “personal” opinion, the key to a healthy lifestyle is to “know your food” inside and out. Look past the labels and do the research on the ingredients of a product to determine “what is good for your body. Consult a dietician, and a physician about your health before making any dietary changes, and lastly, know that the only “true” organic food…is the food you grow yourself!


  1. […] wrench was thrown into our eating habits and I was all confused. I wrote a bit about it in an On my Mind: Food Edition post. I’d been doing a lot of research and having conversations and my husband trying to cure […]