A Healthy Homestead starts from within…. Our Rule of Five

I hate resolutions. I feel like they set you up for unrealistic expectations. Life happens. I also hate the word “diet” other than pertaining to what you eat on a daily basis, always. It shouldn’t be used to define a new and usually only part time, short lived experience. It definitely shouldn’t include non-foods, fake supplements and quick fix promises that never work. Labels drive me crazy as well, but in a world where people are looking for the next big thing….I do sometimes use them to relate to our daily “diet” of real food.  Call it what you want. Back in the day of Atkins, The Zone, then Paleo, Primal, LCHF, now Keto… one thing is for sure; it stays around because it works and it works because it is focused on REAL FOOD IN REAL FOOD FORM. You cannot go wrong with that.  

Real Food in Real Food Form. Vegetables, nuts, meat, and even some fruit for dessert(hopefully all pasture raised/grown without chemicals and pesticides). If we all stuck to those 4 food groups in real form, our bodies would be in a better place.  No counting calories, no starving or suffering, no gimmicks; eating real food automatically gives you a low carb/or good carb, high (healthy) fat, balanced nutritional “diet”. 

Our family has eaten a LCHF lifestyle for five years now. My husband, who’s family seemed to be suffering “genetic” obesity, heart disease & diabetes, has managed to keep his weight, cholesterol and blood pressure in balance when sticking to our healthy way of eating.  Whodathunkit? A family full of “genetic” obesity and illness and the one person who eats right and leads a healthy lifestyle is the one who didn’t get those genetics? I think not. We, ourselves, have allowed extra treats and dreaded sugars over the holidays and our bodies have suffered the consequences…so this is also a reminder to myself, that our health matters and what we fuel our bodies with is important.

Our Family Rules are Simple. Five or Less…..

  • Five Ingredients or less. 
    • When you must purchase something in a box or package, read your labels. Look for items with five or less RECOGNIZABLE ingredients. If you don’t know what that strange, long ingredient is, your body will not either. 
  • Five grams of sugar or less. Five carbohydrates or less.
    • This is a big one and a tough one for a lot of people, yet it’s the most important. Fat does not make you fat, sugar does. When the above named “diets” fail, its because of this rule. Most people do not realize the brain, body, and even taste bud addiction they have to sugar. Some people point out they don’t eat sweets often not realizing that grains, processed breads, pasta (even that “whole wheat” dyed with caramel coloring) all have as much sugar as a candy bar or are quickly converted to sugars in the body. This spikes blood sugar and creates an addictive cycle in the brain. Bottom line is it does not fall under “real food form”.  Soda, Sweet Tea and even “fruit juice” as well as yogurt, salad dressings, etc. all fall into this category. So look at that label.  Also, chemically laden “sweeteners” are even worse. No stevia, splenda, agave, none of that is going to help you break the cycle and most are even worse for your body. If your body tastes something sweet, it reacts the same way, there’s no tricking the human biome, or Mother Nature.  If you were to do one thing right now that would make a HUGE change in your health and lifestyle, the five or less rule is it.

From a Homesteading perspective. Lets talk about seasonal eating and growing your own food. This is a great way to understand the “fast food” epidemic. Let’s take potatoes as an example. Potatoes are a high carb vegetable but if you were to use the above guidelines, it is a real food in real food form (think beans as well). Technically potatoes would be allowed, but that doesn’t mean its the best way for you to meet your nutritional needs. Here is where the homesteading comes in. If you were to grow your own healthy potatoes, beans, corn, grain (all high carb high glycemic load) harvest them and store them, only eating what you grow, they would be a treat, and you would likely:

  • eat a lot less potatoes (corn, beans, or grains)
  • have a healthier product cooked in healthy fats instead of the fast food industries hydrogenated “vegetable”, corn or soy oil.
  • there would be physical exercise involved in the process

This goes for most foods that we overindulge in right? If we had to shell our own beans, we would eat less beans and even I, the hardcore carnivore, eat less meat when I am dependent on only myself for growing, and harvesting it. Look at bread the same way, no human body needs wheat to sustain a healthy life when you can get healthier, more digestible carbohydrates from real vegetables and fruit. BUT, if you were to grow your own grains? To you I would say “touche” , go for it, you did the work..you deserve your treat. (we can get into anti-nutrients of beans and grains in another blog post!) Just remember any of these high carbohydrate “treats” convert to sugar quickly in the bloodstream and therefore should be considered your desserts.

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 I really hope that paragraph makes you think. Fast food. When we can go grab a XL box of fries, drenched in unnatural fats after preservatives and unneeded chemicals are added and we eat them so quickly without any effort or thought of where they came from or how they were grown…there’s a problem. Grow those potatoes, slice them up, and fry them in your cast iron skillet. Not only will you be proud of controlling the entire process, you will enjoy them more, because its a rare treat that you grew, and did the work of harvesting. Those few pounds of potatoes will have to be thought more about as to when, how you should eat them. Something to be proud of as well as an easy way to balance you “diet”. Mother Earth provides what you need for each season, listen to her. There is a reason winter squash is higher in carbs and a reason tomatoes are ripe in the Summer. If we only ate what we grew, we would automatically have a more seasonal eating approach and a healthier, more balanced diet.  I don’t say that expecting everyone to do it, I say that hoping you think of food in that way, while making daily choices. The disconnect with our foods and sources is what got us into this mess.

Now, I know not everyone can grow ALL of their own foods but I guarantee you can do more than you are now.  The tiniest apartment patio can grow more than you think. The exercise will make you healthier, as well as the outdoor exposure and vitamin D. Start one more movement than you did last year. Your body deserves it. After we get past all the “I cant because….” excuses, the “yeah buts” or “everything in moderation” BS. I’ll say this: Its your choice to do it, instead of making excuses. We all have them. Bottom line is you and your family need to know you are worth it and there really are no reasonable excuses to put your family at unneeded risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity etc. Just do it, or you will have to deal with even more setbacks and illnesses later in life. If you’re breathing, its not too late to start, nor an excuse good enough to make me believe it viable. You just have to want it. Health.

One small step…. Seasonal eating.

If you just “can’t” which, we’ve established that I don’t believe.  We all can do something, on a large to small scale. Start with seasonal eating. Buy local, from markets and whats in season. I despise the excuse “we cant afford to eat healthy”. YES, YES YOU CAN.  First let me explain that in the beginning of my health journey, I too said, “I can’t afford organic & pasture raised”. So, I chose to do it myself which lit a fire to get educated in nutrition and farming, realizing along the way that the expensive “organic” label is not all its cracked up to be. 

  • If you buy “organic” labeled produce from a big box store, your paying for a label and extra plastic. If you buy from local farmers, you are going to save money for a better product while supporting a family farm. Not only are the prices usually much cheaper but you can ask questions about growing policies that are important to you and end up with a product that is grown even better than an organic label allows.
  • Skip the middle aisles. Period. If you were to only visit the outside aisles of the grocery store, grabbing your fresh fruit, veggies and meats while omitting the “filler” foods (I begrudgingly use the word foods at all), you will save money. Skip the soda, chips, pasta, gummy snacks, cookies, breads, (all unnesceary in a healthy “diet”). You will save money. How often do you eat out? Buy a Starbucks FrappaHighFrutoseCornSyrup Latte? 7-11 Big Gulp? Don’t tell me you cant omit SOMETHING to get your pasture raised eggs and fresh tomaotes and basil. 
  • Breaking the sugar addiction. Here’s another excuse I roll my eyes at “my husband/kids wont eat that”. Ummm, yes they will and as the person who cooks most meals, I feel it’s my job to make sure I’m fueling my family’s health, not illness. They eat what I cook and have no choice…. I married a meat and potato man raised on McD’s. He loves my cooking and enjoys things he said he’d never try. Broken. Sugar. Addiction.  Once you break the sugar addictions, your palette will open up to a huge array of foods you never thought you would enjoy! I’m a foodie, I love food and I love to open up that world to other people. 

When this becomes a lifestyle and no longer a “diet”….

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Look, I’m all for treats, but ours have changed over the years and until you look at this as a lifestyle, there shouldn’t be cheating.  Those will be the persons with the excuses or “it doesn’t work for me”. “Cheat days” don’t work until the sugar addiction is recognized and dealt with, that takes a while. BUT WE ARE HUMAN. A rule that works for our family now, is following all the above and not falter on what comes into our home. If and when we choose to eat out, each family member can choose (or not) to splurge at that time.  Slowly, the kids started ordering water instead of pop, salads instead of fries, etc because they knew it upset their stomach and gave them headaches. Something, of course, you will never notice while in full on addiction mode. 

Im not saying this is one size fits all... your Primal, LCHF lifestyle will and should look different than mine.  Some will do better on mostly vegetables or a few more starchy carbs (preferably in squash and sweet potato form) while I tend to need more proteins, you can even do a modified vegetarian approach, by adding some sustainable fish and eggs.  Just love yourself enough to make changes now. 

Start now. In the coming months I will share tips and tidbits on ways you can make your homestead healthier. I’ll leave a list of little starts and pointers to take into consideration:

  • Start with the Rule of Five when shopping – five recognizable ingredients or less, 5 grams of sugar or less, 5 carbohydrates or less
  • Pay attention to ingredients (if you cannot pronounce it or understand what it is, put it down)
  • Stay away from hydrogenated oils “vegetable, corn & soy”  
  • Stay clear of Soy, period. (especially if you are a woman) 
  • Sugar Substitutes are not food – avoid them 
  • Don’t count calories, count sugars
  • Get your carbohydrates from fruits & vegetables
  • Get your natural sugars from fruits and vegetables (if you are trying to loose weight or balance your sugar levels you still must watch your carbs & sugars -refer to the five or less rule, even on whole foods at this time)
  • Consider making your own condiments and dressings with less additives and healthier oils, no sugar and soy. (plus they cost less!) 
  • Plant a garden – for food and exercise
  • Raise some of your own meat/eggs (we always tell people to start with quail & rabbit for small spaces)
  • Consider starting with a Whole 30 reboot. A 30 day plan that my doctor recommended to me & I learned so much about my body’s reactions to foods. Everyone should do this, at least once.
  • Eat foods that don’t come with labels and packaging!
  • Choose pasture raised  – not grain fed meats
  • Get the whole family on board and don’t take NO for an answer, their health is important.
  • Buy local, from your farmers, markets & CSA’s – Ask questions!

 In conclusion I hope to encourage you to take your health into your own hands or at least stop and think about the foods you choose, where they came from, why it needs to be in your “cart”.   I wish everyone a healthier, happier, 2019! If you are interested in our Healthy Homesteading classes, I encourage you to follow us on Facebook or sign up for our email list to get notified on classes and seasonal offerings of goodness.

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