Friday, May 18, 2012
Good Food For The Soul
I know that I haven't had the pleasure of meeting most of you, but want to tell you how grateful I am for the warm smiles and kindness that I have felt since moving here in March. My family has fallen in love with the community and the over all feel of Cedar and hope to stay here for a long time.
Mariam and I have had the opportunity to talk about nutrition a few times in the last couple of weeks, being that it is something that be both feel passionate about and she has asked me if I would be willing to share a little bit about the way we eat and the benefits we have experienced in our family from doing so.
My family and I eat a whole foods, mainly unprocessed, plant based diet. When we are at home I do not cook with meat, dairy, eggs and we use oil, sweeteners, and flours (especially white flour and sugar) VERY sparingly. When we are not at home and are at some social function/gathering my children are free to choose what they would like to eat (as are my husband and I) so long as they eat healthy items too. Our diet consists mainly of whole grains like oats, wheat, rice, quinoa, millet, barley, lentils and beans, we love them all! We also love nuts and seeds. We eat a TON of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. We drink lots of water each day, the kids get at least 30 ounces and my husband and I drink closer to 90 to 120 ounces a day. We stay away from sugary drinks.
We began eating this way about four years ago and as time has gone by have grown to really appreciate real food and the amazing flavors/textures that they have on their own. Some of our favorites are mushrooms, quinoa, tomatoes, carrots, coconuts (Especially Baby Thai! That is my favorite food and the water is so delicious it has become one of our favorite drinks), sweet potatoes, yams, artichokes, avocados, brown rice, chickpeas, lentils etc. At first glance it might seem that our diet is limited, but we have noticed that we have a ton more variety in our diet now! We have also enjoyed using seasonings that we hadn't used much before, but that are now favorites like Garam Masala, Nutmeg, Turmeric, Curry, Sage, Etc.
Another thing that has been a blessing in our change of diet has been in the amount of money that we have been able to save! You can get a bag of beans/lentils/rice/etc for around a dollar a bag and that is enough food to be the main part of a meal to feed my family (family of six) and when you add some vegetables, vegetable broth (which we make homemade because it is so easy and you can do it with parts of the vegetables that would usually be tossed any way) to flavor it, it usually costs around $4-5.00 for a delicious and super healthy meal!
So what started us eating this way you may ask. It all started a few years back during a time when I felt like my world was falling apart, but that I now realize was actually the Lord taking my life and showing me a better way for my family. It began like this:
Neither my husband nor I were raised this way. In fact growing up I knew a girl that was vegan (she too followed a plant based diet, though not necessarily a healthy one) and I thought she was a fool. Then it happened. I was told that my son had most of the symptoms for autism. My daughter was diagnosed with asthma and I was told that she would have to use an inhaler most everyday for atleast much of her life. She couldn't run from one side of the room to the other with out having to stop to just be able to breathe. We all got sick (colds, flu, etc) constantly. My husband's side of the family had many serious health issues and I began to worry that I would lose him prematurely. We both had some weight to lose. I had a miscarriage (a pregnancy that I had wanted so badly for many years) and began to experience feelings of depression. Everything seemed so out of whack and my husband began to experience these almost uncontrollable feelings of sadness as well. My spirit hurt. I was so lost and I had no idea where to turn, so I turned to God. I prayed and asked for guidance. I couldn't help but wonder what the scripture meant in D&C 89:18-20 which states, "And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint." End quote. Well, where was our good health!? Why couldn't my daughter (due to her asthma) run and not be weary? I'll admit that I felt betrayed for some time. I didn't lose faith completely though and I continued to pray for guidance. Then one day while on the internet reading about autism I found an article about how food effects autistic children in a huge way. There were a bunch of dos and don'ts to follow but what I gathered from it mostly was that I needed to really clean up my family's diet in order to help my son. Around that same time I read an article linking dairy to some people's asthma. The idea seemed absurd to me but I had to admit to myself, I was curious. I asked my Dr. his thoughts and he admitted that they were now just finding out that atleast 50% of us can not fully tolerate milk. So we immediately took a break with drinking dairy and with eating dairy products. I was amazed that my daughter's asthma almost disappeared overnight. We had also cut out meat and most white sugar, white flour and many processed products at home and were beginning to see huge results in my son as well! (He now doesn't even have enough symptoms for the Dr's to even consider testing him for autism.) Not to mention that I noticed that our moods had stabilized and the depression was gone. My husband and I lost weight, (My husband has lost over 60 pounds!) and we had more energy than I could ever remember having and we rarely ever got sick (usually if we do it is after eating something made of white flour or white sugar). I even overcame some serious heart palpations that I had been experiencing for the past 5 years due to a weight loss "medication" that I had taken right before meeting my husband. We felt great, and it was at this time that I read my patriarchal blessing which said, "strictly obey the word of wisdom." Up until that point I had not thought anything of it. In fact as a youth I remember thinking, "Doesn't Heavenly Father know me at all? I would never smoke, drink alcohol, do drugs, etc. Why would he put such an emphasis on this subject for me?" I hadn't thought for one moment that it could be saying to strictly obey the word of wisdom because of diet. In fact up until then I had thought that our diet was very good compared to the Standard American Diet. I began to study the word of wisdom a little deeper and was stuck on this part:
D&C 89: 10-17
10 And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man— 11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving. 12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; 13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine. 14 All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth; 15 And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger. 16 All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground— 17 Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.
The answer was there all along, just waiting for me to open up my eyes and my heart. God has given us what we need to live healthy, happy, vibrant lives.
I hope that this may have been beneficial to someone. I would just like to end with a few quotes from President Ezra Taft Benson-
"The condition of the physical body can affect the spirit. That’s why the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom. He also said that we should retire to our beds early and arise early, that we should not run faster than we have strength, and that we should use moderation in all good things. In general, the more food we eat in its natural state—without additives—and the less it is refined, the healthier it will be for us. Food can affect the mind, and deficiencies of certain elements in the body can promote mental depression. A good physical examination periodically is a safeguard and may spot problems that can be remedied. Rest and physical exercise are essential, and a walk in the fresh air can refresh the spirit. Wholesome recreation is part of our religion and is a necessary change of pace; even its anticipation can lift the spirit."
And also this one here:
"We need a generation of young people who, as Daniel, eat in a more healthy manner than to fare on the “kings meat”—and whose countenances show it.
But what needs additional emphasis are the positive aspects…the need for vegetables, fruits, and grain, particularly wheat…We need a generation of people who eat in a healthier manner."
(For more quotes from the apostles about living the word of wisdom more fully please ask me, I know of tons of good ones).
If anyone is interested in some recipes or talking about eating healthy let me know. I have such a passion for it and have loved helping others lose weight and get off medications that they never thought they would.
Have a great day!