Monday, November 11, 2013

Real Food Takes Time!!!

So that's it.  Real food takes time.  That is the biggest reason, I think, we don't eat more real food.  Our lives are so busy already, who has time to be in the kitchen every evening and all weekend making the bread, making the snacks, grating fresh cheese, making fresh juice, etc.??!  This is one of the hardest parts about trying to eat REAL food.  I wonder if the bloggers that write about the importance of eating real food do other things besides blogging and raising a family?  Is that why they can make so many amazing snacks and meals??  I don't know.  I'm sure they are busy just like the rest of us.  My thoughts are you have to decide what priorities you have for your family and fit everything into the schedule.  For example, many folks think that exercising is important so they schedule that into their day.  Cooking must be the same thing - it must be scheduled.  Our little one is getting to the age where she can actually help in the kitchen.  Some people will put their 2 year old in the kitchen to "help".  My definition of "helping" obviously is very different from theirs.  Anyway.  This way I can spend some time with her while I am making things for the week.  Even still, the time factor is a major deterrent.  It is so much easier to just go buy the loaf of bread or buy the box of granola bars.  So how do we make this work?  Well, this is a work in progress.  The first thing I have realized is that you have to first decide that this is a priority for your family.  It has to be at this point.  Our health depends on it.  Not just our asthma issues but also our weight and overall mental health depend on it.

So the first step is pretty clear.  Next  we have to fit it into our day.  I tend to spend 1-2 hours a night cooking dinner and a good bit on the weekend.  I feel like I'm in the kitchen all day on the weekends so who knows how long I'm in there. So this isn't sustainable.  I wanna see the outdoors some time!!  I'm thinking I am going to have to do more "freezer meals", more crock pot options, and more batch cooking.  There's that pesky time issue again.  It takes a lot of time not only to cook the food but to plan to cook it.  Right now I plan weekly menus.  But maybe that will have to change and I will need to incorporate some monthly meal ideas in there too?  That's a thought.  Making double and triple batches of freezable snacks is something I will probably start doing as well.  It doesn't really take me all that much more time to make two batches of granola bars and they freeze really well.  But see there is the planning to do that.  Sometimes I make a list of my weekend "to cook" list and I will get distracted and forget I meant to double something or forget to buy one ingredient and then the whole plan is shot.  It takes planning and focus.  No wonder no one wants to do it.  So let's say we don't have the time, we don't have the energy, or we simply don't want to spend the time doing it...all valid points.

Well, then you opt to buy all the REAL food.  Well, that can get crazy expensive.  Buying all REAL food is definitely possible on a budget.  In some areas easier than others, but it is definitely possible.  The thing that I realized this week and over the last couple months really is that it takes TIME to find affordable REAL food.  It is out there, you just have to search.  So, we have amazing farmer's markets up here.  At the beginning of spring we planted a 16x4 raised bed garden and set aside some money to join a CSA for our spring, summer, and fall produce.  We preserved a lot of that produce in the hopes that we can eat on it through the winter and save some money.  So far that is working out.  I think next summer we will try to preserve even more.  The prices of food at farmer's markets is often significantly lower than the grocery stores and the quality is always better.  Plus you are supporting your local farmer in the process.  Growing your own food is the cheapest.  Seeds are super cheap and sometimes even free!  The soil is an investment but we joined a community garden and that was free.  The kicker is the TIME we put in to keep it growing and producing.  So, you can grow your own food, buy food at the farmer's markets, seek out the sales and deals on produce and other Real food items.  It has taken me weeks if not months to find places that sell what I am looking for at the prices I'm willing to pay.  It's that TIME factor again.  Spending time to decrease the amount of money spent is a priority but it's a lot of work.  FYI - our weekly grocery budget is usually $100-125.  That's a lot to may folks and we are so grateful to have it!.  Interesting point about the budget is that food is our life force basically.  It is what nourishes us and keeps us going.  Have you ever looked at what you spend weekly or monthly on food?? Why does food tend to get the least amount of our budget??  My thought is maybe raise our weekly budget to put 1/2 of it toward food.  1/2 of it toward nourishing our bodies and our minds.  That's a culture change I think.  I also really like browsing Target and buying a lot of useless crap so I don't know if I can do that...priorities right hmmm....

It's almost as if the food system is designed to "force" you into purchasing the processed products to save time and money.  A lot of folks have written books about this issue so obviously I'm not tackling the food system in my little blog/journal, but it does make me think and makes me irritated a bit.  Why isn't this stuff readily available to us?!  I guess years ago we were hunters and gatherers.   This task of eating REAL food is basically modern day hunting and gathering.  I don't like guns but I do like shopping so my hunting is "hunting" for deals!  :)

This week we have chosen to stick with our first challenge - no preservatives or chemicals.  We aren't in a position to just throw food away, so we are using up all our conventional snacks and ingredients before moving onto the next challenge of switching our grains from processed flours to only whole grains.  That should be fun!!  :)  I will say this week we have definitely had more energy.  It is definitely too early to report on the asthma impact but for what it's worth we haven't had any attacks.  We will see how it goes!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Our new adventure...

So, I don't really blog obviously. We used this heavily during our first pregnancy and haven't really come back to it in a while. I thought I would pick back up as a way to document our new adventure. It keeps a log and keeps us accountable which is great! So, Team Wagoner has been down in the dumps lately :(. We suffered a miscarriage, battled multiple asthma attacks, and put our two amazing kitties up for adoption. I think life thought it could break us. Well, I guess life has never met an Italian. Nothing breaks us really. We will at least pretend it doesn't break us out of spite. Eventually you begin to believe you aren't broken. We are sort waiting for that part to sink in but it is coming! So, sob story over! What is this new adventure??? Well, as noted above we have had a rise in the number of asthma attacks recently. I believe this is a combination of a few factors - cold/flu season, poor indoor air quality, and poor nutrition. Here is what we are doing about these factors:

1.) Cold/Flu season
Well, Charlotte goes to school so avoiding illness and viruses is not possible. What is possible is strengthening her immune system to combat those illnesses. Our plan is to do this through nutrition, hygiene, and using essential oils. We have recently started incorporating essential oils into our lives. The majority of our cleaning products are made from oils (this will be discussed below) and we have started using them in our "beauty" products and for our overall well being. We use Young Living oils and I'm starting to really get into them! The oils could be a whole separate post but for now I will focus on immunity. They have a blend called Thieves. This smells like fall in a jar!! We use this on the bottoms of Charlotte's feet when we think a cold is coming on. I like to consider it my natural form of Zicam or Airborne!! When I'm getting sick, I will actually take this internally. The taste is horrendous but I know that it helps cut my sickness time way down!! (If for some reason someone is reading this, you can always contact me for more information about the oils and how to get them. As a nurse, I have to say, do not use anything - holistic, herbal, etc. - before contacting your physician. There are a lot of holistic treatments that interact with medications and you don't want to have an adverse reaction). :) So, we are using our oils and using nutrition to help boost her immune system - STEP 1.

2.) Indoor air quality
Well, this is why we removed the cats from the home. We had those beautiful girls for almost 8 years. It has been the worst not having them here. We expect, though, that this will help our asthma and allergies. Robbie has had a cat allergy all this time and we are hoping that this will help him too. We are planning on getting the dust in the home to a minimum and making sure our filters are allergen appropriate and clean. Keeping the indoor air quality good is a weekly if not daily task. One thing that folks don't really think about is the impact our cleaning products have on the air quality in our homes. Some many of the traditional cleaners release dangerous respiratory irritating chemicals into the air. It's Wisconsin and winter is coming quickly. This means our windows aren't open so there is no real air movement going on. Those chemicals just sit there waiting to irritate us!! (I'm a little paranoid). This is why we have begun switching to natural and homemade cleaning products. Again, I use my essential oils for this and it is great! Furniture polish with water and lemon oil is amazing!! No fumes, Charlotte can use it, and my brand new bedroom furniture still looks brand new over a year later! We have an amazing all-purpose cleaner too that is fume and chemical free. This is another post too but let me know if you are interested in more information and I can contact you directly. (again, I'm assuming no one is reading this but you never know!). So, decrease indoor allergies and irritants - STEP 2

3.) Poor Nutrition
This is the hardest step of all - decreasing our reliance on processed food filled with chemicals and adopting a REAL food diet. I have been doing a good bit of research lately and there are a lot of studies that link asthma with sugar and chemicals in our food. We all have heard about the studies linking these things to behavior, but they can also exacerbate asthma symptoms! This is crazy!! I read a study recently that discussed the rate of peanut allergies and the use of Soy based formulas. Charlotte had a lot of belly issues as a baby and we finally found a soy based formula that she could tolerate. I'm not saying this caused her allergy but I am saying, "we are what we eat". And we want to be REAL and HEALTHY. So this is going to take time. We have relied on traditional processed foods for a long time but it is time for a change. Our challenge starts today. Our goals this week will be to make sure we have two servings of fruits and/or vegetables at every meal and to eliminate all chemicals/artificial dyes/things we can't pronounce from our diet. This isn't going to be easy but it is necessary. The links between dyes and chemicals in our food and asthma are there. Asthma is an inflammatory process within our airways. It makes perfect sense if you bombard your body with chemicals and irritants an inflammatory response will result. For someone that already has a hyperactive inflammatory response, reducing those irritants has to help!! So, over the course of the next few weeks or months we will be adding new challenges to adjust our diet. My goal is to eliminate processed sugar (a big asthma irritator), switch to only whole grains, and to avoid all processed food. Depending on the reaction we have to this I may tackle traditional cow's milk too. I know dairy is an "inflammatory food" so we may need to consider finding alternate sources. I know many folks may say, why not eliminate gluten. Well, I don't necessarily think gluten is the issue. I do think we over rely on gluten as a food source. We do not have Celiac's disease so I don't think we need to eliminate it completely. Reducing our consumption isn't a bad idea but I think that will come as you incorporate more REAL food into your diet. OK, increase REAL food and decrease crap in our diet - STEP 3.

So there you have it our master plan. I'm hoping to use this blog as a place so document our progress and to keep me on track. It will also be a place for me to note the meds we are on and whether or not we have decreased those over time too!!  I guess because this is on the internet anyone can see this.  Know that I am a nurse but I am making decisions based upon my own knowledge and my own research for my OWN family.  You should do the same.  I do not claim to be a physician and some of these ideas may not work.  At this point it is worth a try!

Medication Summary for the month of October:
Robbie - allergy medications - flonase
Charlotte - Xopenex (rescue), episodes of rescue - 8 days, Pulmicort (controller twice a day), episodes of prednisolone - one, antibiotics - one
 Dena - I have relied on Lavender oil for my allergy medication and Thieves for when I am sick.

Illness Summary for the month of October:
Dena - two colds
Robbie - one cold (honestly he never gets sick.  he is super immunity man or something so this was rare!)
Charlotte - two colds (doesn't sound like much but with asthma her symptoms last at least a week if not two. two in a month means she has symptoms almost the whole month) :(