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But I can't afford real food!

I know of people who legitimately have an argument.  They don't have cell phones, they don't watch TV, they have one car (or don't have a car at all), they don't spend any money on video games, movies, CD's, or vacations.  But the people I know who live this kind of life typically eat better than everyone else.  They might not buy 100% organic, but they do their best to buy whole foods.
Real Food- Cheddar Onion Popovers

Even still, the typical arguments against eating a healthy, traditional whole foods diet are "I don't have enough money" and "I don't have enough time."

I'm here to, very frankly, (cover the kids ears real quick) say bullshit.

BTW, have you ever played that game?  We used to play it with our Grandma.  Except when we played with her we called it "I doubt it."

Er, I mean, I doubt it (sorry Grandma!).

Real Food- Liver and homemade goat cheese, with a side of bone stock.
I'm here to say if you can afford to buy food, you can afford to buy real food.

Think about it.  In the past month have you bought cereal, soda, chips (or any chip like substance...), crackers, granola bars, frozen pizza, frozen dinners, boxed dinners, pre-packaged sides, pre-packaged spice mixes, juice, candy bars, or anything else with an ingredient label?  And how much have you spent on entertainment- eating out, your cable/satellite bill, your cell phone, movies, trips, toys, music, concert?
Real Food- Grassfed hamburger, sliced lacto-fermented pickle, slice of cheddar, and a whole wheat bun.

Unless you haven't spent anything on any of the things I've listed above, don't tell me you can't afford to eat real food.  Just tell me you don't care, and that your cell phone and TV are more important than your health.  Let's at least speak with integrity.

Because eating real food may cost a little more (although I argue that you can SAVE money by eating real food if you plan and follow some simple strategies, but that's another post), but unless you really truly believe that feeding your kids processed chicken nuggets and drinking Coke every day is an acceptable way to live, or unless you just don't care one way or the other (and in either case I pity you), the extra cost should be a price you are willing to pay for your health and the health of your family.
Real Food- local strawberries with fresh whipped cream.

I get that change is hard.  I tried no fewer than four times to cut processed food out of our diet.  The cycle went something like this- I'd go on a crazy kick, donate all the hamburger helper and boxed Mac-n-cheese and Lipton Noodle Packets in my pantry to a food bank, make it a few weeks... then notice one of the aforementioned on sale, think about my lack of a meal plan for the coming week and all the things I had going on (work, appointments, school stuff, whatever), and grab a few boxes.  And once you fall off the wagon it's easier to stay off than get back on.

But I finally did it- the key for me was to make one baby step at a time and master that before moving on, instead of trying to change overnight.  If you think baby steps might be best for you, too, pick a step and stick with it until you've gotten it down (and feel free to ask me for suggestions if you don't know what step to start with!).

However, if you're up for a challenge and think a little kick start might be good for you, try this for a month:  Don't buy anything with more than three ingredients (and I say three so that you can buy bacon, which in the best case should have three ingredients... but if the best bacon you can find/afford has a few more than three ingredients, I strongly encourage you to break this rule).  And you also have to remember that when I mean "all processed foods" I don't meal all of them, all the time.  We, and most real foodists, follow the 80/20 rule.  Do your best as often as you can, and you won't have to worry about the little compromises and transgressions.  There are certain things that never, with no exceptions, pass our lips (yes, dear cousin, otter pops are on that list).  But for many things we make exceptions.

"But I don't have time to cook everything from scratch."

Again, bullshit... er, I doubt it.

Did you know...

The average American male under 40 spends 20 hours a week playing video games?

The average adult watches 29-34 hours of TV a week?

Think about your own screen time- watching TV, on the computer, playing video games, on your tablet or smart phone.  And think about the time you spend outside the home (other than working).  How often do you run errands (for stuff you don't need), go out with friends, take your kids out for play dates, or go shopping?  Look me straight in the face and tell me this time is more well spent in these pursuits than in feeding your family good, wholesome food.

I dare you.
Real Food- Grain free chocolate cookies.
It's not a huge time commitment.  It can be if you want it to be, but it doesn't have to be.  No one's asking you to make your own bacon, cheese, or even bread from scratch (although I've done all three, and they're far easier than you can imagine).  But if you prepare simple meals including a meat (or occasionally a legume), properly prepared grain/starch, and a simply cooked vegetable (with fat and sea salt for flavor) you can easily get most meals on the table in under 20 minutes, a little more if you allow for the time you spent throwing rice or beans in a bowl to soak the night before.  A crock pot is a busy whole foodie's best friend- throw in a roast, a little stock, and some spices in the morning before you go to work, cook on low while you're gone, and prepare a veg and a starch (starch optional) when you get home.  Your biggest increase in commitment should be in meal planning- it should be a priority each week, as NOT planning is the fastest way to fail.

Real food- yogurt and applesauce parfait I made for my daughter to pack in her lunch.
"But the last thing I want to do after I work all day is slave in the kitchen."  Again, you're arguing with the wrong person.  The other day I spent the morning feeding my chickens, weeding the garden, and cleaning the chicken coop in 105 degree heat.  I took a break for lunch (during which it only got hotter) and then went back out to build a new breeding pen for my chickens.  After cooling off I went inside to make a nourishing dinner for my family (black bean and beef tacos, one of my favorite fast and easy meals).

I don't know where we got this idea that working an 8 (or even 10 or 12) hour day entitled us to spend the rest of our time on our backsides in front of the TV.  I get coming home tired.  I used to feel the same way.  But you know when I stopped coming home tired each day?  When I started eating real food.  Step out of your entitled mindset, do the work now, and reap the rewards later.  Besides, if you're concerned with not having the energy to cook when you get home from work, spend one or two days a month cooking and throw several meals in the freezer.  But don't tell me you're tired or that you don't have time.  One of my favorite real foodies, my sister, works two nursing jobs.  She works 12 hour shifts, overnight, an average of 5 nights a week.  And she still prepares and eats (mostly) real food.  If she can do it, you can do it.

Real food- My kids' favorite lunch.
Now is the time to stop making excuses.  Do something now!  Even if the ONLY thing you do this month is switch from white rice to brown (and prepare it properly, it makes all the difference!), then so be it.  Once you've gotten into the habit, which requires a little planning, you can make next month's step meal planning for all three meals.  And so on.  Before you know it you'll stop wanting to eat that "other stuff" because you will feel so much better!


Anonymous said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. I really don't have money; have no cable, my cell phone is for business only and yet I find time and use my limited resources to eat well on organic and grass fed products. It helps not to eat a lot of meat and to forage for wild food occasionally, but I would not trade my health for the temporary convenience of processed foods.

Sweetproserpina said...

Love this post! I've found you through Wardee's simple living thursdays (which I also loove :) ) I'm in that category you mentioned at the top (no cell, one car, etc.) so the prospect of buying all 'proper' real food isn't in the budget. I do make most food from scratch though, and your post has really encouraged me to take little steps (I need to learn how to soak my brown rice, jump in and make sauerkraut etc.)
One question- you mentioned grass-fed beef, I always thought it had to be grass-finished (which is soo hard to find and spendy!) My local butcher sells grass-fed, but not finished, and I've been thinking about buying a quarter beef from a local farmer... should I take the plunge, even if it's only grass-fed, not finished?

Thank you! Will definitely keep popping in to read :)

Brandislee said...

Sweet- Glad you found me! I'm working on networking my blog to the best of my ability... I work really hard on a lot of my posts, and I finally decided I want them to reach as many people as possible to make it worth the effort:) So spread the word, lol!

Grass fed, grass finished beef is certainly the ideal. CLA's, one of the beneficial fatty acids found in grassfed beef, are reduced significantly after even two weeks of grain feeding. HOWEVER, the ideal is seldom the reality. The beef I eat is grass fed and humanely raised, but corn finished. And it would be a little silly of me to change sources, because I buy it from my dad! I'm working on convincing him to get into the grassfed beef industry, but he's old and set in his ways, and it requires more careful pasture management, not to mention raising a completely different breed of cattle. Like anything, do the best you can afford, and if you can find a good price on pastured but grain finished, go for it! But I STRONGLY suggest buying a quarter or even a half a beef- you get a huge variety of meat and keep costs down. Just remember to try to get the soup bones, knuckles, any organ meat you're willing to consume (I'll do liver, anything else is a hard sell), and the suet, if you can.

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