Whole Eating: Baby Stepping Into Change

In our house, we love food. Yummy, home-cooked food that fills our tummies, and leaves us feeling full, nourished, and happy.

But it’s so darn easy in this super-busy life to cut corners. Buy the stuff that’s pre-packaged. Buy the stuff that’s so full of preservatives that it’ll sit on a shelf ’till kingdom come and never sprout a spore of mold. Run through the drive-thru on the way to whatever activity we’re speeding off to just to keep our bellies quiet.

At the start of this year, I decided that we would baby-step away from that kind of lifestyle. Away from the harried schedule that leaves us little to no time to sit around a table together, enjoying each other’s company. Away from the guilt-ridden fast food runs that left us over-fed and under-nourished. Away from pre-packaged food that was chock full of words I can’t pronounce, and that in no way resemble actual food.

Here’s the thing, though. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And for me, an instantaneous 180 degree turn-around spells failure. Guaranteed, every time.

So, I committed to baby steps. We started with breakfast, and committed to it for a month. Anything and everything we put in our mouths for breakfast would be 100% whole – nothing refined, no sugar, no empty calories that were nutritionally void. (Not necessarily organic – that’s another mountain to climb, but again, the only way I can stick with something is to do it in small, baby steps.)

I was apprehensive at first, but you know what? It wasn’t that hard. A little harder than just pulling out the container of Fruit Loops, for sure, but only minimally so. After a month or so, I became brave enough to add lunch into the mix. Again, it’s a little harder than pulling out a frozen pizza, but not so much so that it’s discouraging. Sometime after Little Miss Took arrives, dinner-time will get the same makeover.

But honestly, what we’re already getting out of it kind of blows my mind.

For starters, I had no idea how refined sugar affected me until I cut it out of 2/5 of our eating (dividing our food consumption up into 5 categories: Brekkie, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, and Tea-time). Before, I was so used to the bursts of energy followed by crashes that left me drooling on the table that I hardly noticed them. Now, if I allow myself a soda or cookie in the afternoon, I can physically feel it happening – the jittery amping up, and the devastating crash after. It’s wild. And gacky. And (and this might have something to do with being pregnant; we’ll see in about a month) the mood swings that accompany it are…stunning. For real.

Secondly, I feel legitimately hungry…and legitimately full. When I wake up in the morning, I’m hungry, but for food – not for a cup of coffee like before (which had been my staple brekkie before the ‘experiment’) – but for actual food. And when I’m done with brekkie, I’m full – not because I’ve tricked my body into thinking it’s full from the burst of caffeine and splash of milk – but full in a way that leaves me feeling content…like, kitty-purring-in-the-sunshine-I’m-ready-to-kick-this-day’s-@$$ content.

It’s freaking awesome.

This was our lunch today: BLT's with uncured bacon, yummy bread from a local bakery, Hildebrand milk *swoon*, and Greek yogurt with berries for desert. Could anybody not love this meal?

It’s safe to say we’re digging it. We’re never going to be the kind of family to hop on a particular strict-diet bandwagon. We’re never going to be afraid of natural fats, or of bread, or of meat. We’re never going to be overly concerned with weight, or size. But this transition into additive-free eating…it’s far easier, much yummier, and way more addictive than I had anticipated.

Are you considering an additive-free, whole-foods lifestyle for your family? What’s your motivation? How are you going about it – all-or-nothing style, or baby-steps, like me? Here are a couple websites that helped me get started:

100 Days of Real Food

Out of the Box Food



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40 thoughts on “Whole Eating: Baby Stepping Into Change

  1. I, too, took baby steps with developing a healthier lifestyle, Myndi. No, I don’t go organic. I don’t avoid it. I just don’t insist on it in my diet.

    I was experiencing the same processed food highs and post-lunch nap-nap syndrome you describe.

    I made my decision because of my age. I want to be healthy, productive, and PERKY for a long time. I find I now LOVE whole grain breads, nuts, grapes, portion control. Most mornings, I still have to (but do) force myself to eat. Three “rules” I follow:

    1. Eat when you get hungry, and stop when you get full. (Had to lose my “clean your plate” upbringing for that one.)
    2. Put down the fork between bites and chew your food. Give the tummy time to signal the brain.
    3. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.

    My husband doesn’t follow the rules, but the veggies, nuts, fruits and whole grains are here. They’re his choices to make and his plate to fill.

    KUDOS on your baby step method. If we were next door neighbors, I’d prep some healthy dinners for you and your family–for when #4 (it is 4, right?) arrives. You face busy, busy days ahead. Thinking about you!

    • I’ve developed a WHOLE NEW appreciation for brekkie!! I never ate it before, but since Little Miss Took has been causing some serious heartburn, I’ve pretty much stopped eating anything after 8 pm just so I can get a little sleep. The only way I’ve been able to cope with the night-time hunger is to promise myself to eat as much as I want when I get up. And with such YUMMY food waiting for me in the morning, I can hardly say I’ve suffered. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to being a non-breakfast person again.

  2. I was raised without a lot of packaged foods and that is how I raised my kids. I remember my mom always had homemade bread for us and I tried to do the same. (I also remember the occasional Hostess HoHo in my lunch and Campbell’s soup….) I didn’t know as much then as I do now, but I avoided artificial colors or flavors. My kids are 20 and 22 and back when they were little, I couldn’t afford organics. Now the prices on a lot of items are almost the same.
    I think it is great that you have made a healthy choice!

    • Mmm…homemade bread. Is there anything better? I don’t have the time for it, though, so it’s a rarity in our house. We have this fabulous bakery here, though, that makes a mean bread with stone-ground whole wheat, and an ingredient list that’s a whopping six or seven ingredients long – with NO sugar. It’s divine.

      As far as HoHo’s and Campbell’s goes…everything in moderation, including moderation, right? :) Ha! Snacks and tea-time will probably be the last part of our eating to get made-over, and even then I’m not 100% set on removing ALL the refined food from both of those categories ALL of the time. Because sometimes a person just needs a bite of cheesecake, or popcorn at the theatre, or some ridiculous fried monstrosity at the State Fair. :)

  3. This is pretty much the way I always eat. I grew up eating pretty much just whole foods, and living in Ecuador I was used to making everything from scratch. Including blanching almonds if that’s what the recipe called for. Ugh. I wasn’t allowed pop or sugary cereals as a kid, so now I just don’t like them as an adult. I have always been too picky for fast food and I like to be able to pronounce everything on a label. I completely agree with you about natural fats and eating meat. I’m the same way. That is also why I don’t eat reduced fat or light anything. I prefer food to be in it’s natural state. None of those weird fillers they put in when they take out the fat. You are doing such a good thing for your family. And if your kids grow up this way, they will want to keep it up as adults. It just becomes second nature.

  4. I have recently changed the way I shop and prepare food for the family. I have found interesting and tricky ways to stretch the budget boundaries and encyrahe the taste buds. Thank you for this article!
    Peach State

    • That was another reason I decided to baby step into it – I didn’t want to overwhelm my budget by changing things up all at once. I’ve been pleasantly surprised, so far, that it hasn’t required much more moo-lah. Kinda like preparation, it does take a little more going in, but no so much so that it’s overwhelming. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Trying this again … :)

    You are doing such a great service to your family. Learning to love and appreciate whole, healthy foods is a gift. And eventually, the packaged, processed junk just taste all the same, sort of chemical-like and thick or something. blech!

    Also, I love whole eating as it feeds (pun!) my creative side as well with cooking! I love to cook and use different ingredients to create all sorts of dishes.

    Let’s see if this comment takes.

  6. Ginger is so right. It’s amazing what happens when our bodies and taste buds adjust to whole, nutritious foods. It becomes second nature and we feel so much better. In my head, Twinkies still taste good. But one bite in…they lose all luster. lol

    Big hugs to you for making this important step (steps! :)) for your family. You’re only beginning to reap the rewards. Cool, right??

  7. Love this! I’ve been slowing incorporating more whole/clean foods into our life over the past year or so. Somehow over the holidays it all went sideways and now I’m just getting back into the full swing of it. If it were up to the guys, we’d have pizza every night and so I have to adjust our meals to satisfy them without them really knowing how healthy it is. Once they get into it, they’re both totally happy to keep up the good eating. It’s a mental game, I know. Especially for the teenager. Baby steps… that’s how we roll!

    • Absolutely. We MUST do baby steps, otherwise I’d be facing a full-on revolt. :) That’s partially why I’m choosing to change our snacks last – the kids still want their bowl of Cocoa Puffs…now they have to wait until snack-time to have it. BUT they’re willing to eat a big, healthy brekkie in exchange for that. I’m really hoping it all balances out in the end. :)

  8. Good for you! It is so true “we are what we eat”. And if we don’t want mysterious substances in our body, then we best make our own meals from “real” food. That being said, I’ve never been able to leggo the chocolate. :) But I feel that if I make good choices elsewhere, I can enjoy my daily dark chocolate fix (which has healthy anti-oxidants, anyway. :) ) as well as an occasional trip to the Cheesecake Factory!

    • Heck, yes. I don’t think you can totally deprive yourself from the things you love…but if you’re eating well most of the time, those things won’t matter as much. I’m a SUCKER for tiramisu. I love it with my whole, whole heart. If I couldn’t have it every now and then a little bit of my soul would wither up and blow away. :) And someday, after Little Miss Took arrives and we’re done breastfeeding, I will drink Riesling again. *sigh* It’s been soooo long.

  9. Don’t you need a dissenter? I’ve never eaten any half-food or inorganic food. All food is organic. When I hear stuff about whole food or organic food or such, I always suspect George Soros and Al Gore and their crowd have profits at stake.

    I eat sausage links, fried eggs and toast or English muffins for breakfast. Burritos with grated cheese, shredded lettuce and Roma tomato pieces for most lunches, and soup or something similar for supper. Sugar-free products when available, but never fat-free (they always add extra carbs in fat-free stuff).

    I think moderation is more important than what we eat, although you didn’t see any Twinkies or such in my list. Rarely eat dessert.

    • Your first paragraph had me cracking up! Pretty sure Al Gore couldn’t give a cow’s methane emission about what I’m putting in my family’s mouths. :)

      I <3 sausage and eggs for brekkie. Big time. And Mexican food…don't even get me started. It makes me oh, so happy. I'm just trying to make the food we love out of foods that aren't amped up on preservatives and additives that are so difficult to pronounce you need linguistics training just to sound it out. :)

      Moderation is DEFINITELY important…

      Even when it comes to Twinkies. :D

  10. Amazing Myndi!! I feel so inspired and motivated to get right there in the ring with you guys. Wow. I love it. And I love how you are going at it with baby steps because it’s a move towards a lifestyle change – not just a fade. Amazing! Keep us posted on how it goes and share some great, easy recipes girl! :-) That lunch looked DIVINE!

  11. I like the idea of baby steps. I do some whole-food stuff, a lot that’s not (yet?), but my biggest problem is time. Convenience foods are, well, convenient! We mostly eat home-cooked dinners, but even then some of the ingredients are convenience things – cream soup, etc. I’m heading over to your two links to see if there are any good ideas.

    • That’s actually why I started with breakfast and then moved to lunch. Those meals were already comprised of things that were easy to make changes in – find a healthier bread, milk, eggs, meat, peanut butter, etc.; replace chips with something else. Stuff like that’s pretty easy to switch. Although I’m still struggling to find a substitue for mac-n-cheese that the kids are happy with. I’ve found a fabulous noodle…but all my cheese sauces have flopped so far. :)

      Dinner time will be a little tougher, for reasons like cream soup. I know it’s going to take a little more doing, which is why I’m putting it off until Little Miss Took arrives.

  12. I really like the idea of baby-stepping toward change. I tired going cold turkey several years ago on certain foods, given a particularly frightening bood test. My bad cholesterol and triglycerides were off the chart. I immediately cut of soda, which was NOT easy. I also lowered my intake of alcohol, which helped but not enough. So I had to re-learn how to eat smart. I resorted to baby steps and it worked.

    I still eat crap on more occasions that I should, but I usually make much wiser menu choices now that I know how badly that “bad” stuff can affect my body. You don’t see what’s going on on the inside, but when those test results come back, it’s eye opening.

    Good for you and your family on making improvements.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • I don’t drink soda often anymore – and NEVER diet soda. The detox coming off of that stuff was wretched. Full-on addict-type shakes/trembling/headaches/nausea/moodswings/cravings…it was awful. I’ll never, ever do that to myself again!

      I’m so glad you were able to take those little steps into healthier eating. It’s easier to create those habits one bite at a time, so to speak! :)

  13. ZOMG. I commented a paragraph and WP decided I wasn’t logged-in. I followed their process and they ate my comment. WP must have been hungry. O.o

    Short version — Congrats, Myndi. Dumping sugar love is not easy. I’ve been 70 days without refined sugar. Also dumped processed/junk food at the same time. We had been thinking about this for a while. We eats lots of food that is fresh and as unprocessed as possible, and we eat from all the food groups, including good fats and good carbs. A special dessert is saved for a special occasion, which doesn’t mean I won’t bake a cookie and eat it. Just not often. I have lost weight, but that was a byproduct. I wanted to feel good. Now I do. Cheers and good luck!

    Here’s to hoping I don’t end up double-posting!!

    • WordPress has been having MAJOR hissy fits lately. Hate that!

      We did this for the feel-good factor, too. I’ve given up worrying about size/weight. All that’s ever done for me is consume me with false guilt that is nonsense. Not doing that anymore. BUT, I do want to be a healthy, happy, active momma, and I want LOTS of years with the Hubster. So some changes were in order. Totally with you, though. A cookie here and there is good for the soul. :)

  14. Thanks for this, Myndi. It is small steps that will lead the way because big changes are so overwhelming in our already busy lives. My daughters complain that we don’t have any junk food in the house, but given the number of times they’ve pointed out that fact to visiting friends, I actually thing they’re secretly proud of the fact that our pantry doesn’t have any chips or twinkies. Now if only the schools would embrace baby steps, I wouldn’t have to be endlessly clever packing their lunches. I do have a weakness for cookies, though…:)

    • Our kids are pretty okay with the lack of junk in our cupboard – WITH the exception of cereal. They love sugary-sweet cereal. So I keep a little around for a fast snack – our snacks haven’t been re-tooled yet. :)

      Now, the Hubster…he has a hard time with the lack of chips and pre-packaged cookies in the house. He’s a junk-food grazer, big time. Thankfully, he’s very supportive about the changes, though, and only grumbles a little.

  15. What a great idea. Before I worked at this crazy job I cooked all the time- we ate whole foods, low in fat, organic, vegetarian, and home made. Now I almost never cook- it’s all hubby- who also works full time, so meals are quick and easy. Every once in a while I make something or berate myself for not cooking more, but maybe I could take baby steps. Break down helping hubby prepare dinner one little bit at a time.
    Thanks for the great idea.

  16. Myndi, now that I can speak/comment, lol, I am all over the eating whole foods!

    We eat as much organic as we can because of the spraying. And of course you know, once baby girl gets here and after you’re done with breastfeeding, I’m assuming you’re breastfeeding, you will want to either make her food or buy organic baby food, because the other stuff is pretty much poisoned. Now that I said that, I’ve even grossed myself out. But it is the reason why I went organic. But as you said, baby steps. And just the fact that you’re slowly starting to eat this way and feeling better, how much better is it for the kids? They aren’t crashing from the sugar overload either, right? And then they can happy and not cranky running around like wild little creatures! I know, I had two of those. lol

    Good for you Myndi! It’s so worth it! Take care! :)

  17. Pingback: How To Have A Baby « Ellie Ann

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