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Monday, October 1, 2012

October Unprocessed Month is Here!!

As many of you know, I am very excited to be taking part in the October Unprocessed Challenge 2012 (http://www.eatingrules.com/october-unprocessed-2012/). Why am I so excited about this you may ask? Well, here's my story:

This past summer, as I sat around my house nursing my silly broken foot, I was enlightened. I began to understand food in a much deeper way. It all started when I stumbled upon Lisa Leake's Blog, "100 Days of Real Food." (http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/) In her blog, Lisa, a Wife and Mom of 2, cuts out all processed food (in her family) for 100 days. She starts out on her mission like most of us, thinking we're eating healthy, but not quite understanding all that we are eating. Although I've always considered myself a "healthy" eater, there was much that I did not understand either.

I love to cook and make many homemade meals/food items, made all organic baby food for my two little girls, started gardening to grow our own vegetables, always purchased whole wheat breads/pasta when possible and went for organic items at the store as often as I could. That sounds fairly healthy to me, and yet what I did not grasp, was the actual ingredients of the food I was eating. I can guarantee you that I looked at the Nutrition Label on my food, but I was looking at the Calories, Fat, Sugar and Sodium. I was not looking at the actual ingredients. Well, ok I did look to make sure there was no High Fructose Corn Syrup in my foods, but that was about it. Like so many of us, I was blind. I did not think to understand why oatmeal at Starbucks had added coloring in it, nor did I even know that it did. I did not think to understand what "All Natural" flavorings meant and/or where they come from. If I could not quite understand a word on a label, I figured it must still be ok, it's FDA approved afterall...Wow!

Now that I've learned about food, I do not want to put all the extra chemical products and shelf stabilizers in my body, especially products that are banned and highly regulated in many other countries; like GMOs (genetically modified organisms), artificial food coloring, etc. I will not take the time to explain the risks, based on literature, that surrounds all of these highly processed items, but I highly encourage you to learn more. Both of the above mentioned blogs offer a great insight into these topics, as well as Vani Hari's, aka the Food Babe, blog http://foodbabe.com/.

I took a slowish path to unprocessed food over summer, and did not set unachievable goals for myself. I started by shopping at my local organic grocery store, Good Harvest Market in Pewaukee. I decided, with my husband, that we would only buy organic produce from now on. This is not a frugal choice by any means, but we decided that investing in our health now may alleviate higher costs in the future. There are many websites that list "must buy" organic produce items and those that are ok to buy conventional. Either way, you need to decide what works for your budget and family. We also started buying organic dairy and eggs only. About a month in, and after no longer wanting to have processed foods, I decided to completely purge my pantry and fridge of those items. This was easy in some respects as I could donate the unopened products to Second Harvest. Fridge items that were almost full were harder for me, as I did not like the idea of wasting food, but either way, it was a choice I was ready to make. I dumped almost a whole bottle of Hershey Syrup (and yes I think it had HFCS in it...it was a treat at the time), which was a bit harder to see go to waste. The next step, for us, was a juice cleanse over Labor Day. DJ and I embarked on a three day "Juice Only" cleanse to get rid of extra toxins, that I felt would be a good idea as we're now eating clean. That was a challenge, but I'll share more on that later.

So here I am, happy to be eating in the light and understanding what I am truly doing and how it affects my body and health. You find, as you start on this journey, that your taste buds really do change and you begin to taste each item of food you're having. You no longer crave salty and sweet snacks and you definitely know when something you eat is over seasoned. You get to a point where veering off the path for a meal sounds fine, but you actually end up feeling sick afterwards.

I am so excited to spread the word of October Unprocessed because it is an awesome idea, and start, for so many people that, like me, care about their health and truly want to understand the food they eat. I love that this challenge is only a month long, so it's manageable. On the Eating Rules page you will find a whole guide on the challenge, and it starts by having you set your own goals and making it as achievable for yourself as possible. This is a hard month for many as Halloween is near, but I feel it is a great time to really step up to this challenge!

P.S. If you want to sign up for the challenge and would like to have an unprocessed potluck dinner sometime, let me know...that would be fun! 

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