If you look around today it’s quite apparent that our country is going through a health crisis. We have more doctors, hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies than any other country in the world. Yet, we have some of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. We also have fast food joints everywhere you look and a coffee shop on every corner. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure those things are related.
And that’s where the traditional food movement comes into play. Hippocrates, who lived back in 460 – 370 BC said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food.” Way back then they recognized the importance of what we eat and its effect on our bodies. Somewhere along the way we lost a lot of wisdom in that area.
Before we go further, I want to assure you that I am not knocking doctors or even medicine in general. My son and I are both alive today because of a whole host of medical professionals. And I will be forever grateful for them. I do believe however, that the current trend of managing symptoms instead of finding and fixing the cause is proving to be ineffective.
That said, I believe our current state of troubling health is mostly due to our diet. There are, of course, some environmental things that absolutely contribute to disease. Most of which we have no control over. Most of us do, however, have control over what we choose to put into our bodies.
What it is, and isn’t
A traditional foods life style is based on minimally processed foods prepared in traditional ways that preserve as much nutrition as possible. You can read my thoughts on non-traditional food preparation in microwave ovens here. It utilizes healthy fats (which are natural, not man-made), natural sweeteners (organically grown and minimally processed), organic fruits, veggies, and herbs (as much as possible), pasture raised meats and poultry (as opposed to CFOs), and raw and cultured dairy (for those without dairy allergies).
It also incorporates sourdough breads, bone broths, soaked grains, legumes and nuts, and probiotic rich ferments. Traditional ferments include things like yogurt, milk and water kefir, pickles, chutneys, and homemade sodas. What is doesn’t include is High Fructose Corn Syrup, artificial sweeteners, MSG, artificial colors, “natural” flavors, or Genetically Modified anything. Again, as much as possible.
I know that we don’t always have great options when it comes to meal times. Most of us live a fast paced, busy lifestyle that includes eating out and drive-through dining between appointments and kids’ activities. But, if we choose to take some time and plan ahead, we will have more options available.
How to start
We all start the journey where we are. There is no right way and no wrong way to do this. We all do what works for us. And we all start in different places. Personally, I started with sourdough bread. Not because of health reasons, but because I was no longer able to find the brand that I liked at the grocery store. That was the catalyst that started me on this journey. The next thing was something to replace soda. I realized the thing I loved about soda was the bubbles, so I searched and discovered water kefir.
Then I started making my own cheese. Next I started fermenting. Then I learned about wildcrafting and herbal stuff. Which led to organic gardening. Then I started making my own sausages and lunch meats. And along the way I’ve learned lots of things about gut health, and the importance of probiotic, and detoxing, and the lymphatic system, and…the list could go on for days.
If you are looking for some ideas to jump start your journey, click here.
Keep on keepin’ on
I’ve been on this journey now for nearly 20 years and there are still things to learn. Because it’s just that; a journey. And there are days when I still hit the drive-through because those fries smell. So. Darn. Good! And while I know they aren’t good for me, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. The next time I want fries I’ll just make them at home. Cuz homemade fries are way better anyway!
A lot of people think that “eating healthy” means everything tastes gross and it’s all meal replacements and bran muffins. I’m here to tell you that nothing could be farther from the truth! Most fast food started out fairly healthy. Even the early sodas started out as health tonics. Burgers and fries, pizza, even nachos can all be healthy, nutrient dense meals. Throw in a homemade probiotic soda and your family and friends will love you! And really, it’s pretty cool to tell people you make your own soda.
Science is proving over and over that so many diseases, even psychological ones, can be traced back to the health of our gut and the foods we eat. So let’s give ourselves the best possible chance we can to be healthy and happy! Welcome to the journey!
Here are some of my favorite resources about traditional foods.