Earlier in the year, I asked our Veggie Lovers CSA Members to share with me “what the heck do you eat?”. It inspired a lot of really interesting conversation for me & our members and so I decided to revisit it. When I have time to read it’s often books about nutrition that I choose, and feeding our family well is one of my most strongly-held values, one of the reasons we do what we do.
My Personal Health Journey: Be your own Advocate
A year ago, I was feeling at a juncture in my health journey. I’d had IBS-like symptoms for a few years and had made no progress in figuring out what was causing it. Jon had similar symptoms. We decided to cut out gluten, and at the same time we added tons of healthy fats to our diet. In the past when I had tried to go gluten free I had not been able to eat enough calories to keep me satiated, I would quickly fall over and then scrap the avoidance to eat a big glob of glutinous goodness. It took about 6 months away from gluten to start feeling like my body was functioning properly, but it was within days on the increased fats that I lost the brain fog I’d had for years, which was the missing key to help me stick to it.
They lied to us! That food pyramid I learned growing up had a thick foundation of breads, cereals, and other processed grain products. The peak was a tiny triangle of “oils & fats” that mentioned nothing about quality or source. Lots of people, including many health care practitioners, are still operating with this information, while chronic illness caused by these diets kills people. This scares the crap out of me!
You can’t rely on most doctors– or even many nutritionists– to help you with diet: what we are told to eat is too heavily influenced by agriculture lobby groups and government policy. I had to do the research and critical thinking and advocate for myself.
What We Eat and How We Got There
I now believe that what we choose to eat is individual to each person. What one body thrives on might not work for the next. So when I talk about what we eat, that’s what Jon, Myrah and I seem to feel the best eating. It’s not a prescriptive diet for everyone. What’s important to me is to view food as the medicine that it is, and to listen to my body and be constantly adjusting. I also believe in intuitive eating, that if I can tune into my body it will tell me what I most need. Sometimes that might be a croissant. I’d rather eat one and satisfy the craving, rather than eating around the craving for a week and never feeling satiated but resorting to all sorts of “I-wish-this-was-a-croissant” alternatives.
In our journey to better health, Jon and I avoided gluten fairly strictly for 6 months. In my view, that time got us out of constant inflammation and back to feeling pretty good/“normal”. Now we’re not as strict about it, and having a bit here and there doesn’t seem to have so much negative impact as before. Generally, at home we eat mostly pastured meats and our own veggies. I haven’t eaten factory meats for well over a decade, and if I couldn’t access the pastured meats we buy I would not eat meat, for both ethical reasons as well as nutritional content. We have decreased our meat intake significantly this year, and I am thrilled to be able to eat some beans and other pulses again.
I still limit my intake of leafy greens due to a suspected oxalate sensitivity (25% of people have this), but I have resumed eating nightshades (potatoes, peppers, eggplant) without issue, and tomatoes are fine so long as the skins and seeds are removed. I don’t eat much dairy other than heavy cream, Jon and Myrah consume more, mostly as fermented milk kefir. Jon has a birch pollen allergy so is allergic to all raw stonefruit (peaches, plums, cherries, etc) and apples, carrots, pears, almonds, peas, strawberries, kiwi, etc. When those foods are cooked even slightly the enzyme changes and he can eat them, so it’s not as bad as it sounds!
A big part of our day to day eating at home is healthy fats. We don’t eat any processed seed oils (canola, vegetable/soybean, commercial olive oil, etc) so that means I make all of our salad dressing and mayonnaise from healthy oils at home. Any of the grains or flour we do have at home is local and organic, because avoiding glyphosate exposure is pretty important to us as well. We buy local organic grains and flours from DeRuyck’s Top of the Hill Farm (Treherne MB), and Chez Angela has the best Olive Oil in town (pictured above).
Minimizing Stress and Living Authentically
We try to stick to our eating plan as much as possible when we are at home and then not worry about it so much on the rare occasions we go out. We eat out about one meal every 2 weeks or so. I am prone to over-restricting: One of the biggest shifts I made that made a difference was to let go of the stress associated with what to eat. I also believe the intention with which you eat the food matters nearly as much as what the food is: If we’re having a great time and hot dogs are the meal, then we do our best to enjoy them! We do many things to minimize stress including daily meditation, conscious decision making, and intentional living where we try to act as our authentic selves.
A typical meal salad, which makes up the majority of our meals.
Minimizing stress has had some of the biggest positive impact for me. I used to have regular (3-4 times a week), debilitating stomach aches, which I now believe were a combination of inflammation, emotional repression, and stress around food & eating. There’s no way around it: You’ve gotta feel the feelings, or risk tearing yourself apart from the inside out! Like many women, I struggle with the fact that when I am sick and at my thinnest, I get more compliments on my appearance. I have some disordered eating patterns, but they are easily managed when I minimize stress and focus on listening to my body over anyone else. I love the advice from Brooke at @mybodywpg which is, “Stop commenting on other people’s bodies”. Once you take that advice to heart, you’ll realize how often we all do it. Even if you think it’s a compliment, just stop. It can sound like a lighthearted “you look great!” coming out of your mouth, but to the person inside it can mean, “you look better at a smaller size”, or as often in my case, when I would be feeling terrible and struggling to keep weight on it reinforced the already-internally raging battle in my head against “thin is better”.
I find it can be overwhelming trying to keep up with the latest new studies and information, and it’s also a minefield of fake news and provocative headlines with no real substance. I have had little success finding a practitioner who is on the same page as me. I have come to trust the work of Chris Kresser, a functional medicine doctor in California; Mark Hyman, also a functional medicine doctor, in Cleveland; and to some extent Dave Asprey, a self-proclaimed bio-hacker and health nerd. Chris Kresser reviews all the new studies and writes about them and in 4 years of following his work he’s never led me astray. All 3 have great books, I recommend “The Paleo Cure” by Chris Kresser, “What the Heck Should I Eat?” by Mark Hyman, and “The Bulletproof Diet” by Dave Asprey. They also all have great health-oriented podcasts that I enjoy.
I follow Christine Damphouse @wildsoulwellness, she is a holistic nutritionist in Brandon who beautifully shares her own personal health journey, as well as great information and tips. If I was still struggling like I was a year ago, she is who I would visit. She talks a lot specifically about women’s health and balancing hormones, as well as intuitive eating, body image, and sexuality.
As far as a spirituality resource, the work of Eckhart Tolle is what resonates most with my personal beliefs.
Teri’s 10 all-time favourite recipes!
Alright, it was WAY too hard to come up with 10 favourites, I feel like I have 10 favourites in each category, so I will happily do this again! For now, I’ve included a good range of favourites across all categories as well as recipes we use on a daily/weekly basis.
Farmer Jon’s Granola Recipe -For the longest time, Jon ate store-bought granola for breakfast. It was loaded with extra sugar, inflammatory seed oils, and fillers. I told him I wanted to make a really local granola and we worked together on getting it to have the flavour and texture he prefers. This is our result: Farmer Jon’s Granola! We make this about once every 2 weeks or so, and Jon and Myrah eat it almost every day with fermented milk kefir.
Massaged Kale Salad – The first time I tried Kale, I was like… Whaaaatt? This stuff is like eating shoe leather. Then I followed someone’s advice to massage it, and now I love kale. Especially with raisins, cranberries, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. You’ll notice a theme that it’s all the same fruit and seeds from Farmer Jon’s granola recipe!
Spicy Honey Vinaigrette Dressing – No really, we eat this almost daily. It’s loaded with healthy spices and oils and helps us stick to our eating goals by making everything taste delicious! We use it as a dressing, dip, marinade, stir fry sauce, etc.
Curried Squash Soup – I make this about every second time I make soup because we love it so much! I could easily list 10 favourite soup recipes, I love soup the most of any course. Squash soup is such a comfort food for us. Shoots on top of every soup, every time!!
Zucchini Bake – This is such a versatile and yummy recipe. I often make it with winter squash because I am too busy to get my fill of it in summer when the zucchini’s on! Great as a side dish or even as an appetizer. Very subb-able!
Cock-a-Leekie Pie – If I had to choose a favourite food, it would be this. It doesn’t meet our GF goals, but I only make it about twice a year and so it’s a treat. The combination of chicken, leeks, bacon and prunes is magical. Goes hand in hand with:
All-Butter Pie Dough – Also not GF, but I have tried many pie crust recipes in my life and this one is the easiest by far and also the tastiest. All made in the food processor. Make it a day ahead for optimum success! Great for sweet or savory pies.
Lemon Curd – this is a household favourite, and when I make it I double the recipe and use no sugar and 3/4 cup raw honey instead. Great on it’s own, with fresh berries and whipped cream, or turned into:
Gran’s Frozen Lemon Pie – Nothing will ever beat this as my favourite dessert because, well, nostalgia! My Gran always made two desserts for special occasions, and this was always one of them. My cousin Andrea and I usually chose both! When I make this now I use the lemon curd recipe above, but the same method as described in this recipe.
Teri’s ColdFace Killa (Homemade cold remedy) – When/if food as medicine fails, use this! I make this whenever anyone has a cold. I freeze it in ice cube trays so it can be reheated quickly in hot water in case of emergency!
That’s it for this week folks, thanks for reading and chat soon!