The desire to homestead… raise our own animals, grow our own food, become more self-sufficient… why?
Well… for us it was the need to have a healthier lifestyle. I feel having good health is the most important thing you can do for yourself. When you don’t have any health issues, it’s so easy to take good health for granted. Sadly, it’s not until you start having your own health issues or watch someone close to you fight health issues that you realize exactly how important it is to take care of yourself.
In 2007, during my last month of pregnancy with Miley, I developed some heart problems. Due to high blood pressure, I had a C-section three weeks before I was due. Everything went smoothly, except afterwards I felt light headed when I walked and I gained a ton of water weight due to swelling. When I mentioned feeling lightheaded, the nurses told me it was probably from the pain medication I was on. My doctor dismissed the swelling as “normal” so I was sent home a couple days later. After being home one night, I woke up the next day with a heavy feeling in my chest and it felt like I couldn’t take a deep breath. I went to the hospital in the town we lived in and was transferred by ambulance back to the hospital I had Miley at, which was an hour away. I found out I had peripartum cardiomyopathy, which is basically similar to congestive heart failure, but it’s caused by pregnancy. They put me on diuretics and after four days I was released from the hospital forty pounds lighter. My cardiologist didn’t put me on any heart medications because I was nursing Miley, but he did suggest some changes to my diet, which I followed. Luckily, my heart healed and I haven’t had any problems since.
A few years after I had Miley, my dad found out he had cancer. Over the few years he was battling it, my mom would call me and ask me if I would research more about the type of cancer he had, or she would want to know more about the kinds of medications the doctors were prescribing him, and asked me if I could print up any information I could find and sent it to her. I was always more than happy to do that because not only did it help her out, but I found reading and learning more about all that fascinating. As time went on, my searches expanded on to more natural treatments, supplements and eventually came around to diet. As I read more and more, I became more aware of what’s in processed foods and how they can really affect your health.
Around that same time, we discovered Brooke and Miley were allergic to food dyes. Brooke had been suffering with a super itchy throat on and off for years. After keeping track of everything she ate, we finally figured out it was yellow dye. Once she eliminated it from her diet, her itchy throat disappeared. All it takes is eating one thing with yellow dye and her itchy throat returns. Miley is sensitive to red dye. If she eats anything that has it, she’ll become really cranky, hard to reason with and sensitive to everything. For example, tags in clothes will bother her. She’ll complain the seat belt is too tight…. then she’ll scream it’s too loose. Her shoes won’t fit right… then the seams of her pants will bother her. And the list goes on. Just one of those things can set her off into a raging, screaming fit. She also can’t focus well and becomes fidgety. Eliminate red dye and none of those things bother her. She’ll become one mellow, happy go lucky child.
Between all those events, reading about what’s in processed foods, and hearing stories of people who cured or improved their health problems just by eliminating processed foods, I decided that it would be worth a shot to try it. Heck, if we tried it and it didn’t make any noticeable difference, oh well. We could just go back to eating as we had before and nothing would be lost. If we did notice improvements, that would be great, and then we would just continue to incorporate eating more real, unprocessed food into our lifestyle.
Well, as our experiment progressed, we found it did make a difference on how we felt. I will admit it was hard at first. I found starting out small and taking baby steps was the only way I could do it otherwise it was way too overwhelming for me. For one thing, throwing everything out and replacing with healthier choices was quite expensive, so I had no choice but to make changes slowly. Another thing, the thought of changing out quick and easy boxed meals and premade frozen foods for a pantry and freezer full of whole foods and ingredients was really quite scary. Before, at times I spent quite a bit of time standing there pondering what to fix over all those quick and easy things… what was it going to be like with a pantry full of nothing but ingredients that had to be mixed up and made into something? That’s exactly why taking it slow was the best option for me, that way it didn’t strain the budget, plus it gave me some time to think up a good plan of attack on how to deal with all those ingredients. There was plenty of frustration, ups and downs, oh-my-gosh-what-have-I-gotten-myself-into moments, but overall, surprisingly, it really wasn’t all that bad.
As time went on, we began to have an interest in growing our own food. The biggest reason is where we used to live we didn’t always having access to locally grown or organic food. Also, cost was another factor. While it is possible to eat real food on a small budget, which we did for the most part, we thought it would be fun to try growing our own and try to become as self-sufficient as we can in hopes of reducing our food costs. Also, we wanted to scale back our life style and try to be more focused on having less and living more. It’s all work in progress and we still have plenty to learn, but it’s all worthwhile and the best decision we’ve made.
While cutting processed food is a little off topic for my blog, I’ve decided to include a little about our experience with it since it’s what’s started us on the path we’re at now. I really hope it will help or even inspire others to give it a try.