What Happened to that Re-Write I Promised?

At the start of the new year, I made a lot of promises…and haven’t mentioned them again since. But, no worries. I’m no politician. I’m still working on that change…it’s just that I’m doing it a bit at a time.

Attempting to revamp your lifestyle can be a daunting task, so I decided to take the advice of Teri from Life with Riley & Stella and tackle one challenge at a time. The first thing I’m working on is my diet. Luckily for me, Nick is joining me in this endeavor, which makes it a lot easier than if I were going it alone. We’re not counting calories. We’re not following some fad. But we are striving to make the best choices, both for our bodies and the environment.

Our biggest concerns:

Transfats: Linked to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes…this “man-made” item is one that we try to keep off our plates whenever possible. Luckily, this item is easy to avoid, as more and more companies are removing it from the products. Why? Because it’s like ingesting poison, and they know it. And now that the public is catching on, they have to remove it or sell less product. Instead, they are turning to things like palm oil, and a new suspicious sounding product called “high oleic oil”…which I also avoid because of statements like this: “Is it healthy? As far as we know, yes.” I’ll stick to fats that haven’t been tampered with, like butter and olive oil, thank you very much.

Genetically Modified Organisms…better known as GMOs: These nasties – which aren’t even considered safe in many other countries – are cropping up virtually everywhere in the U.S. food supply, and if you research some of the horrors that are done to these products before they end up on our forks, you might worry a bit about consuming them. (Did you know some of the genes that are being spliced into your food might be coming from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans.) Not familiar with GMOs? Here are ten reasons to avoid them.

Factory Raised Livestock: This to me is a moral issue. I’m no vegetarian. I love meat…especially red meat. Some of my favorite dishes include burgers, sauce with meatballs, stews, roasts, and just about anything with bacon in it. But unfortunately, Nick and I are documentary junkies, and watching programs like FrankenSteer really made us face the atrocities that are committed to animals in this country just so we can have food on our table. Beyond cruel, it’s also bad for the environment (pollution from animal waste is just one issue), and it’s bad for our bodies because the animals we eat are injected with antibiotics just to keep them alive until they are slaughtered, because the corn they give them to fatten them up starts killing them almost immediately.

Maybe if we hadn’t watched one too many documentaries, I wouldn’t care. But I did, and now I do.

The problem with all of this is that Nick and I are also both foodies. We love to cook, we often eat out at various restaurants from the fast and fried to the fancy and flavorful, and we enjoy visiting family and friends to share in thoughtful, home cooked meals of their design. We do not want to be “those people” who others have to worry about what they can or can not serve us. If you take the time to cook us a meal, we’re going to take the time to enjoy it with you. It’s also very hard to figure out what’s in your food when you eat out. And finally, we’re not wealthy…and non-gmo, organic products, and humanely sourced meats are not cheap (or easy to find).

So what are we doing to meld our values and our diets? Unfortunately, I’m already a touch over my word limit..but I plan to continue this another day. Want to learn more for yourself? Besides checking out the links I provided above, a great place to start is by reading just about anything written by Michael Pollan. And while I’m only touching on this particular goal of mine and then moving on to the next item on my “things to change” list, Nick has just started his own website, blog, and forum called OmmNomm.com (One Man’s Mission: Nick O’s Mealtime Mantras). There he will be focusing on how to make sure what’s going in your mouth IS actually food, so if you’re interested in this topic, you might like to check it out.

Well…what are you waiting for? Go. Research. Decide for yourself.


18 Responses so far.

  1. jan says:

    As the years go by I am more and more distrustful of food that isn’t prepared by me or someone I know so that I know what goes into it. I resolved long ago not to put an ingredient in my mouth that i can’t pronounce.

    • Donna says:

      This is so true…I always try to buy items that don’t have a ton of preservatives and weird ingredients that I haven’t a clue what they are. Luckily, we are not really “boxed food” people, there are only a few things we like from boxes, like cereal for example.

      But even my old fallback Cheerios has GMOs in it, so it’s now off the table. Literally. It’s scary that even things we can pronounce have GMOs hiding in them, (beyond the obvious corn, soy, and canola oil.) Even citric acid, often used to preserve nice healthy canned beans and tomatoes, can be derived from GMOs unless it specifically says otherwise. It is a challenge to avoid them.

  2. Jodi says:

    I went Gluten-free a couple of years ago which restricts me even more. It’s damn expensive eating this way. I TRY to only eat coconut oil, olive oil and butter. I try to avoid most dairy (can’t give up ice cream or cream in my coffee, although if I could put Bailey’s in it every day I could live with that.)

    My Hubby eats WAY too much meat and I’m about to cut him back by cutting back what I cook.

    I love rice and could eat it every day but most rice has high arsenic levels. WTF? It’s damn hard, I love corn but corn is the worst in terms of GMO’s (at least that’s what I heard.) We do eat corn pasta because it’s GF and cheap at Trader Joe’s. There are other GF pastas but they use corn and potato starches which are bad for your cholesterol.

    The other thing about eating the factory farmed meat is that you eat the animal’s fear and toxicity. If you can find a local farmer that you could possibly buy from that is one of your better options.

    Do you have any co-ops around you?

    I’ll be signing up for Nick’s blog, please prepare him for me. :-)

    • Donna says:

      Jodi – did you go gluten free for health reasons? (My sister has celiacs disease, and I know how hard it is to avoid the stuff).

      Ice cream is one of my weaknesses too, and I’m having a hard time finding ice cream that is made from cows treated humanely and not given antibiotics and hormones. Ben and Jerry’s cream fits the bill, but not the other ingredients in their products, which are many.

      We are looking into co-ops, and we found a farm where we can get humanely raised chickens, but they admit in the winter they feed the chickens gmo corn, because organic chicken feed is cost prohibitive. This same farm has a winter meat share that they get from partner farms upstate, but it is WAY beyond our budget for this winter. Maybe next year.

      I will warn Nick, but I’m sure he’d love to hear from you. :-) And you and your hubby can visit any time.

      • Jodi says:

        I was diagnosed with some food allergies about 18 months ago wheat being one of them (along with peanuts, sesame, clams and scallops) the Dr. said going GF would be the way to go.

        It’s hard sometimes….I miss bread and pasta, but for the most part I eat pretty well. I do want to get off meat though…..it’s just convincing Hubby.

        • Donna says:

          I understand the pasta and bread predicament. :-( Luckily there are a lot of replacements, like the corn that you mentioned above.

          The meat is a toughie too. (the whole meatball thing!)

          Can you tell I’m part Italian?

  3. emma says:

    My mom always says to take one thing at a time, one day at a time. If you look at everything at once it is overwhelming and you will just be frustrated and do nothing :) So, start today with the diet and tomorrow something else.

    • Donna says:

      I totally agree. I often do the all or nothing thing, and then end up doing the latter. Not this year. This is the year for the new me, just a tiny bit at a time. :-)

  4. Kristine says:

    Like I have been struggling for a long time with what I know is the right thing to do and what I actually do. Most of the time I just live in denial. Finances can be crippling, though I admit I do often just take the easy way out as opposed to looking for ethical solutions I can afford. I am interested in learning how you tackle this. Maybe you will help inspire me to make some changes as well.

    • Donna says:

      I know what you mean. We’ve been watching these documentaries and reading about these issues for ages…and usually I get fired up for a few days, but then life returns to normal. This year, I really don’t want to live in denial anymore. We’ve managed a few changes so far, which I’ll be writing about shortly, and while I know I’ll never be perfect, I’m hoping each small change will be a step in the right direction.

  5. I never realized what crap I was giving my dog till I had to actually learn about it in a college course. I never even knew the first ingredient they put on the package meant that was the main ingredient in the product. Great post, and congrats on your win from Dakota! :)

    • Donna says:

      I know the feeling…I used to feed one of my dog’s Science Death on a vet’s advice, and then one day I happened to pick up the bag and saw that it was mostly made of peanut husks….! How is THAT healthy? From there I started the research phase, and I am much more picky (And educated) about what goes into my dog’s mouths too. Actually, since they can’t open the freezer and grab the ice cream, they eat a lot better than I do.

      Thanks for the congrats. I’m looking forward to seeing what goodies the dog’s get in the mail! :-)

  6. Wow, I actually gave someone useful advice :).

    My dogs definately eat better than I do. I feed raw and buy the non-medicated, no-hormone stuff but then there isn’t enough money left over to do the same for me. I am trying to make better financial choices as well as our bank account attempts to recover from Riley’s surgery and it is so easy to go for the quick, cheap and convenient versus the healthy and ethically responsible.

    • Donna says:

      Useful advice is always good. :-) Thanks again!

      I know what you mean about the bank account. I don’t even want to say this very loud, but we are just now recovering from that bad string of vet bills from nearly a year ago, when everyone got sick at almost the same time. For any future dogs we adopt, I am seriously going to reconsider vet insurance.

  7. Hi Donna,

    Great to see your commitment regarding your diet, my Mum is always shocked at what companies can get away with putting into food and tells the kids and her nephews, the closer it looks like the thing that was in the ground, the better it is for you. (Especially if it’s organic)

    She’s also been vegetarian for over 3 years now and feels really healthy, not that she ate much meat before, but now she makes more effort to get the right amount of protein. Ice cream and cheese are things she’d love to cut out, but hasn’t managed it! :)

    Regarding Vet insurance, if you ever do decide to do it, we’d recommend Trupanion, we’ve been with them since I was a pup and made a few claims and they’ve been awesome! We probably break even so far, and I’ve only had small issues, Mum and Dad would rather a small monthly bill than an unknown major expense one day. (I know, that reads like a commercial, but it’s true) :)

    Good luck with your healthy food plan,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

  8. Donna says:

    Ice cream and cheese are toughies to give up, that’s for sure. I’ve been trying to at least find ice cream and cheese that has come from humanely treated cows that haven’t been loaded up with hormones and what not…I have found cheese, but have not been able to locate that ever-allusive ice cream yet!

    Thanks so much for the info re: Trupanion. It’s good to hear other peoples (and pets) experiences with it, as they make all these policies so tricky to figure out. :-)

  9. [...] my last post about my plans to “re-write” my life this year, I told you that I wanted to start editing my diet, which included avoiding Transfats, GMOs, and [...]

  10. [...] for my diet, I’m still doing well, and I think I may have found a “decent” price on GOOD milk [...]

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