I am slowly trying to transition our family to a TF diet. I'm on board and my instinct tells me its the right diet for my family. Just the recent addition of fats and more protein (was eating mostly veggie) had changed my energy and mood so much.
The problem is that I don't know anyone IRL that eats like this. All my friends are vegetarian or vegan, "No Saturated Fat!", veganaise instead of mayonaise, etc. My parents are skim milk drinking, butter avoiding, etc.
I just want to hear personal stories about being on a TF diet.
How has it helped you?
Where did you start?
Thank you in advance for taking the time!
My traditional food journey started about 10 years ago and it developed slowly. It all started when I lived in Bolivia for a year. Everything in Bolivia was fresh, bought from the farmers’ market on a daily basis, and cooked traditionally (although it is sad to see that industrial foods are becoming fad-like there). I ended up losing 15 lbs living there. This was combined with walking four miles a day for a year.
After returning to the US, I went back to my old industrial food ways – which compared to the average American weren’t that bad. I also wasn’t raised on a completely industrial diet, my mom always bought whole milk and she did a lot of home cooking from scratch. However, when I returned to the US, I thought healthy meant soy milk and low fat.
But then I started to learn how to cook and I realized a lot of dishes tasted so much better if they contained fresh and local ingredients.
A few years ago, my husband, then boyfriend, bought me the book “Real Food: What to Eat and Why” by Nina Planck, and that book changed my life. I was already eating somewhat healthily, but that book turned me on to raw milk, saturated fats, etc. Sometimes (about once a year) I have to go back and read the book again to get me back on track, but I try to follow a traditional foods diet as much as I can.
It does bother me to see people order non-fat hot chocolates, or to hear people around me say that using pork lard is going to kill me. But I am the healthiest I have ever been and I have maintained the same weight for the past five years. All in moderation, TF really works for me.
I also think that this diet can’t be done without some sort of exercise. I live in a big city, so I do a lot of walking and riding of my bike. I try to make it a part of my normal daily routine, which to me doesn’t seem like exercise at all.
Thank you so much for responding!! I was feeling a little bummed that no one had because I really want to hear people's experiences.
I'm having a hard time getting past the "Low Fat" nonsense that has been drilled into my head my whole life. I keep worrying that I'm going to gain a ton of weight or drop dead of a heart attack.
I'm in the process of reading "Real Food; What to eat and why" and just like you, I think this book has permanently changed my way of thinking about food! It's so well researched and thorough!
Thanks again for your story and input!
I'm replying coz you said you were bummed out that no-one was posting!
I grew up a farm kid, we ate home-grown vegetables, pastured beef/chickens/pig/rabbit, fresh chicken and duck eggs, mama foraged greens and frog legs, trout, catfish. Seriously traditional eating! I remember hating liver and onions and disliking milk because the smell was so cow-ish and I remember being overwhelmed by the smell in my maternal gramma's little dairy set-up.
At one point in my childhood, I became very ill with a high fever, couldn't eat for days. I came out of it late at night, the adults were at the table, and there was steak. I sat on my mom's lap and devoured her steak. She kept cutting pieces off, and I kept eating them. Even at this very young age (maybe 5?), I remember seeing myself from the outside and feeling that food nourishing me, connecting that I needed the food because I had been sick so long.
At the same time, there were Lucky Charms, KFC, and Domino's Pizza. Doritos and Ruffles, Happy Meals at my grandparents. One memory is eating leftover cold pizza and then vomiting and coming down with chicken pox, I didn't eat cold pizza for a long time after that!
I remember being very poor at one point, and my mom foraging lamb's quarter and us eating our "pet" rabbit. No one else but me and my mom ate it! I was hungry. It was crispy
I remember getting blamed for biting into part of a banana and leaving it--foods became restricted at both my mom's house and my dad's house, and I remember getting a control issue with food--that was when I became very picky (you could also say developed the beginning of an undiagnosed eating disorder). From that point on, I think I dissociated from my food roots--there's this big blank in my food memory where nothing much happens except more control issues--my dad could have cookies, but we couldn't, dad and stepmom would order in and we would have cereal and watch them eat hot wings. I don't remember liking food for a long time. I was very skinny and depressed.
Then I moved out on my own and starting cooking for myself, buying factory meat because I just wasn't thinking about it--you bought meat at the grocery store. I started really enjoying learning to cook and trying new foods, became involved in some online "green" communities and started becoming more aware of how/what I was eating.
I became pregnant and really wanted to eat healthy--I ate strawberry salads for breakfast and cooked meat the best way I knew how. But I was in a bad relationship, we were really poor, and there was not enough food; he wouldn't let us get food stamps, and I food once again was restricted. I feel like I ate as well as I was able during that pregnancy.
Anyway, I left this guy and got out on my own again and started buying organic and eventually transitioned to vegetarianism. There was this moment--I was craving the beef jerky that my mom used to make when I was a kid--I decided to get a dehydrator at Walmart (hey, I was learning and growing then and still am!), looking at the Walmart meat was disgusting, thinking about drying that and eating it made my stomach turn. I bought a giant can of mixed fruit and dried it; dd and I went on an unintentional fruit cleanse/fast and I drank a ton of water and ended up detoxing. After that, I couldn't eat meat ( I think because all the meat around me was CAFO and it grossed me out).
I really dug into vegetarianism and am so glad for that time in my life coz it taught me how to cook and love whole foods and to try new things and keep at it until I liked it. I accustomed myself to soy foods; we switched to soy dairy products and went vegan. I have to say that I felt really great on a vegan diet (a lot of which was intentionally raw or flirting with fully raw for days at a time) for quite a while. At this point, I loved food again and really had no symptoms of ED unless you see the food-control aspect of veg*nism as such. Then my always high metabolism went CRAZY and I had to pack calories in. I lost a lot of weight and there was a short scary phase where my hair thinned out. So maybe not too healthy, but emotionally, I think I needed this cleansing time in my food journey. I stabilized and managed to stay pretty healthy as veg for several years.
Enter dh, the meat-lover! When he joined our home, I became lacto-ovo to accomodate cooking with him in the house and as both of us were making a compromise. He was respectful (though frustrated at times) for several more years of my need for a meatless household. At this point, I'm in college and am overjoyed to meet "vegetarian" friends who eat fish socially, sushi, or swordfish on the grill instead of veggie burgers.
Eating sushi was like a really yummy drug to me I would get such a happy endorphin rush when eating it, but then my body didn't know how to digest it, and I'd get sick. But it set me on the road of eating sea animal products, and so I was sushitarian for a few more years.
Then I got pg w/ ds. I hated people telling me that I would need meat, and even though I craved it, I stayed veg w/ a couple of fish meals here and there through the pregnancy--I think out of stubbornness I stayed veg. I did eat beef one time right before my labor--dh had a steak at a restaurant and I just impulsively asked him for some and could.not.stop eating off his plate--I think my body wanted that boost for the birth.
---I have to mention here that for about 5 years before I got pg w/ ds, I was undergoing surgeries about 2-3x/ a year (major oral work, drilling into my jaw, bone grafts, crazy) and doing really physical labor that involved working around chemicals. I couldn't eat right because of the dental work, I was tapping myself out in college and doing artwork in these toxic studios, my job was mixing glazes using chemicals--my constitution just kept getting progressively drained. I also had a damned amalgam filling during this time I got away from the toxic work while I was pregnant, but had one more major surgery right before his birth.
So all of these health issues mount and mount, I'm still vegetarian and we're just eating a ton of cheese and eggs, then ds and I got sick twice after his birth. I think I had "the flu" the real one because it knocked me down harder than I've ever been with an illness--I could barely stand for 5 minutes and just felt so exhausted and weak. I felt like I could not recover and knew that my core strength was really down. When he was about 4mo and breastfeeding heavily, my body just went into overtime craving meat. I held out for a while but finally, I daydreamed about ham and steak and chicken bone broth for about two weeks and finally I just had had enough and went and bought a whole chicken and some ground buffalo meat. I really made a conscious decision to start eating meat again and had been researching traditional foods and the need for fats in the diet. I especially feel like I needed the bone broth--medicinally, you know?
Well, here I am. I feel like this long journey has been a return to the traditional food roots of my childhood. I feel really positive about my food relationship now; it's a big part of my life and consciousness, and I have to say that I do feel healthier and calmer and have noticed that my dh is less moody as well. I also just feel a huge weight lifted off of me, and looking back, I realize that I was re-directing a lot of my food control issues from my parents/childhood into vegetarianism, but that was the path I needed to get me where I am--seeking out pastured beef and fresh dairy and eggs, growing fresh vegetables, just like where I started out in my childhood!
Sorry this got so long, but hey, you asked for it you got it!
Hi...I'm at the begining of my TF story like you. A couple of years back Sally Fallon actually came an spoke at our local foods store and although i ended up not going (*kick myself*), I picked up a copy of Nourishing Traditions. I read it all, front cover to back, including side bars...it just made so much sense.
We've been adding elements, and eliminating bad habits, ever since. First I stopped buying low-no fat dairy products...that was easy. Its amazing now that I never questioned exactly HOW does one produce a low fat sour cream! Nothing that nature ever intentioned! Then, no more processed foods (including "crunchy" ones such as kashi frozen meals or larabars), and no more prepared breakfast cereals. Found a pastured butter brand, and started adding small amounts to steamed veg...amazing how much difference a bit o butter can make and knowing that the vitamins will be more easily absorbed is a added bonus.
Then worked on the skill set: learned how to make stock, ferment pickles and kombucha (but still often just buy raw store versions such as bubbies dills and GT kombucha), and started fermenting my own dairy sour cream, cream cheese, and yogurt. I also ferment my own tomato ketchup, its not heinz...its better. All the recipes were from the NT book. Its my kitchen bible now.
Started to use my farmers market for produce and more importantly, meat. We use pastured eggs now and buy chickens whole and use it all. We eat pastured red meat.
There are still things we're working on. Soaking oats for oat meal is okay, but everything else....ummm, still working on it. But we don't eat alot of bread, and what there is is Trader Joe's sprouted wheat. Then there are the organ meats...just haven't gone there beyond chicken liver pate. I do freeze bits of raw pastured calf liver and take them like pills. I'm also a CLO wimp, and get my fermented CLO and butter oil in pill form. Also recently added coconut oil and nutritional yeast to the diet, and found a unhomogenized milk at the store.
I did gain weight, but it was from moving from an active job to a sendentary office one, and not compensating. Either way, we are healthier.
I also just recently read "The Jungle Effect", which was interesting. First book I found that featured the native diet of scandanavia (my family background). I added a bunch of seafood and ferments, blueberries and skyr to my diet, lost weight, and got preggers the next month :)
Good luck on your journey! Its interesting, there's always projects, and it tastes good!
PS my parents were on the skim milk-buttery spread band wagon too...right up until my dad developed severe heart problems. Thank god, they have a good doctor who told them to 1) avoid the processed foods (my mom is a big "better food through science" devotee), 2) cut back on the carbs, and 3) use real butter not spread. He's lost a bunch of weight and his last stress test went great! Also got them hooked on Bubbies dill pickles (raw and fermented), which they love because they taste like the awesome pickles we could get from Jewish delis back in NY.
Thank you so much for the replies!
craft_media-hero- I wrote a long response to your post last night, but I must have hit "preview" instead of "submit" because I don't see it here. Basically it said, "THANK YOU for sharing your story!!"
Gardengrrl, I feel the same way about nourishing traditions. It just makes sense. I've always had a craving for butter and fats, and used to sneak into the kitchen and cut off a piece of butter to eat. After reading books like Nourishing Traditions, Real Food, etc. I just KNOW this is what is going to make me feel better after years of feeling weak, sick, and low energy (both physical and mental).
Thanks again for sharing!!
By traditional, do you mean, with meat, etc.? My family has been vegetarian for as many generations as anyone remembers, and so have all of my relatives. It is a cultural thing. Lacto-vegetarian is what we call vegetarian. Some people eat eggs but it wasn't traditional. Yes, we eat full fat dairy. Make our own yogurt at home with whole milk without all of those fancy yogurt makers. Just a stainless steel vessel, a warm place, and seed culture. I just found an unhomogenized milk source in my city, and will start buying from there. Cannot find raw milk here (by law), but unhomogenized whole milk is close enough for me. We eat a variety of grains, vegetables, fruits, lentils, and beans. I find that I have the best energy levels when I eat my fruits.
Oh, and growing up, we always always ate everything homemade from fresh ingredients.
But in college I was terrible. I ate fast food, ramen, and lipton noodle packets almost exclusively. I was not ever a vegetarian, but I never bought and prepared meat so I only ate it when I ate out. I was really busy, going to school full time and working 35 hours a week, so I ate whatever was fastest, easiest, and cheapest. Not good stuff, in other words. And although I started to cook more often when I got married, this continued until I stopped working when I was pregnant with my second child.
Our second was a surprise, and we didn't feel financially ready for him. I couldn't work because it would have cost more to put two kids in child care than I would have made at any job, so I committed to staying at home and saving as much money as I could since I couldn't bring in any income. So I got hardcore into meal planning, couponing, etc. Not the best way to encourage healthy eating, but it was the start of my journey. I realized that the processed foods I mostly found coupons for weren't good for us and that, even with a coupon, they weren't nutritionally a "good deal" because you don't get much nourishment for your dollar.
Then my kids started to get sick. They first time they had reactive airway so bad their blood ox was low and the doctor instantly put them both on a nebulizer. They had reactive airway and/or bilateral ear infections non-stop for the next nine months. I finally convinced our doctor to have them tested for food allergies, and they were both allergic to dairy and one allergic to wheat. I started them on an exclussion diet and started doing reasearch, and mostly due to reading the stories and research posted here by other mothers, I bought Nourishing Traditions. I remember having the exact same reaction someone else on here said when I read it- it just made sense to me. Like my body always knew and had been trying to tell me my whole life.
I have been making changes slowly since then. My kids' diet continued to exclude dairy and wheat, and I soaked all the grains that they did eat. They took probiotic supplements and CLO and I tried to get them to eat as much bone stock and fermented stuff as I could. My own changes happened more slowly. But after 9 months their allergy was "cured." And as a pleasant side affect I realized I felt better than I had in my entire life. LIke many women in my generation I had been plagued with fatigue, anemia, anxiety, acne, and mild depression pretty much since puberty. I just assumed that was how I was supposed to feel. I also had really bad seasonal allergies and IBS/spastic colon. Following this diet has fixed every single one of these problems and I feel amazing almost all day, every day (when I'm following it, anyway!). It has totally changed my life, and lately I have redoubled my efforts. I've finally switched to non-homogenized milk (raw is near impossible to find here), have found good sources of pastured meat, and am raising my own chickens for eggs and meat. I've committed to buying local organic produce and ferment as much as I can (made some awesome sauerkraut and pickles last summer, but I too love Bubbies!).
Now my mission is to convert my parents who, like others, are skim milk/buttery spread/canola oil people. And my dad is on like 8 perscription drugs for gout, high cholesterol, and the like.
Do you ever feel like you may be preparing foods badly? For someone who is self-taught using Nourishing Traditions or other TF recipes, I sometimes feel like I am not doing it right. Since some of the foods are so foreign to me, like sweetbreads, it takes a lot of courage to try them or especially with my own fermentations; it takes courage to try the kombucha batch I just made, or drink the cobbled milk I made from my soured raw milk, without the fear of..."will this make me sick?".