eating clean

Sunday market day, my favourite day of the week.

Sunday market day, my favourite day of the week.

One of the epiphanies of my life, and there have been quite a few, came a couple of years ago when I realised through watching the habits of some clean eating friends, that I was feeding my family a whole lot of toxic food. I would have described myself as a pretty healthy person, but my concept of what ‘pretty healthy’ meant back then, was miles away from what I know now. For simplicity and convenience with young kids, I had fallen into the trap of feeding them what I knew they’d eat, rather than what I knew they SHOULD eat. Their diet wasn’t bad, there was no takeaway food or much obvious sugar, but pre-packaged snacks had snuck into their world, and they weren’t consuming anywhere near enough plant based foods.

So a fairly radical overhaul of my fridge and pantry occurred, to the point today where we barely have any packaged foods, and almost no processed foods. We are a bit partial to a certain type of chocolate, hello Lindt Orange Intense! But when I think about processed food in our house now, I think of a lonely jar of Vegemite that sits in the fridge which my youngest son has a penchant for, the odd can of wild salmon, some organic pasta, traditional sourdough bread, organic cheese and occasionally some non homemade yogurt. Everything else has pretty much gone.

We’ve also shifted almost entirely to *organic food, and the reason I think it’s important to mention that as well, is because once you’ve opened the can of worms, it’s hard to put the lid back on. It becomes really difficult NOT to examine everything you put in, on, or near your body. The idea of eating chemically laden fresh produce or wholefoods just does not sit well with me at all any more. My eyes are open, and I can’t just ignore all of the factors which can impact the toxic load of the food my family eats. That includes examining all of those little labels with the barely readable list of contents on the back of packets and tins. So rather than get glasses for shopping, I rarely buy any food which has a contents label, unless it’s an amazing product full of good stuff in which case the labels always seem to be mysteriously readable.

I’ve mentioned before that I am pursuing an existence outside of the conventional supermarket experience, but recently I needed some coconut and sultanas in a hurry for a batch of granola I was making for my partner, who was heading back to site the next day. I went to the supermarket and looked at everything they had. The sultanas were coated in a bounty of chemicals including sulphites, and the coconut was full of preservatives. But the product which shocked me the most, was a moist shredded coconut which contained propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is a component of anti-freeze solution, and is used to make numerous other chemical compounds. It is ‘generally’ considered safe for human consumption, but really…why? That was the central thought I had. These are simple wholefoods which have been seriously tampered with. I wouldn’t even know where to start if I’d ventured into the snack food aisle, but this was a basic wholefood. So why? Propylene glycol has a preservative and moistening effect, I get that, but why would you even consider eating a chemical which is ‘probably’ safe for human consumption if you didn’t have to…and why do food manufacturers think it’s OK to add it?

The concept of eating clean for me means knowing that everything I consume is going to nourish my body, not harm it. With this in mind, my choices are simple. It took me a really long time to get to this point, but I think that once you’ve woken up to the reality of what real food is, it is impossible to look at everything else in quite the same way again.

*Organic food- I shop organically and very economically at my local Farmers Market, and I follow the dirty dozen of ‘must have’ organic fruit and vegetables. Economics definitely plays a role in my food decisions.

Linked with Essentially Jess for IBOT

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13 thoughts on “eating clean

  1. Beautifully said Mish and I couldn’t agree more, once you ‘know’ its difficult to look at supermarket shelves without cringing. How did we get here in a few short generations? Convenience and marketing have done health a great disservice and while people continue to see chronic illness as a matter of ‘bad luck’ and not ‘bad choices’ we are headed for an even bigger health crisis than we already have…

    • That’s it in a nutshell Annie. Because you can’t actually see the damage that processed and chemically laden food is doing to you as you eat it, it becomes like an abstract concept. Illnesses occur and are seen as completely unrelated to what we put into our bodies as fuel.

    • That’s a good question. There has been a bit of resistance from my partner. He thinks it’s great but often seems to feel like it’s all just a bit too hard. The kids have adjusted, and luckily lots of their friends are on the same path. Some of my extended family think I’m a bit extreme but hey!

      • Yes, about the same here too. Kids cant quite let go of tomato sauce and treacle though….thanks for the read.

  2. That is extremely concerning and scary about the coconut. I like to think we live fairly healthily here too. Plenty of fruit and veg, make my own sauces etc. Things like Shapes and Milo stars have crept into the kids diet though and I don’t like it. Would love to hear more about your clean eating ways. Visiting via #teamIBOT

    • It’s really hard with kids. I’m so much happier with my kids diet than I was two years ago. It’s never going to be perfect, and they are always going to LOVE sweet things, but it doesn’t seem to take much to shift their palates to better food.

  3. We eat very little processed food but after reading about the hidden chemicals in coconut, I must start checking out labels more vigilantly – thanks for the heads-up!

    I agree that without the odd chocolate treat (our fav is dark with nuts) life would be just too dreary… 🙂

    • Yes I agree, you have to strike a balance between health and happiness. They are so deeply entwined. And yes, the conventional coconut scenario is crazy! I can buy beautiful untainted organic shredded coconut for just over $10/kilo. There’s no comparison.

  4. Like you Michelle, myself and my family have come so far over the years. The only packet product we have in our house is a packet of organic whole spelt pasta for emergencies and some hard organic cheese like cheddar, gouda and parmesan which I haven’t yet attempted to make. Coles only see us once every 6 weeks for nappies, wipes and garbage bags, which I feel so liberated by (It does help that I own and operate an online store The Wholefood Hub of course). I refuse to support their business ethics and professional conduct and that of their friend Woolies. When it comes to whole and organic food, the hardest thing I find is explaining to people or avoiding in a social setting food products that are accepted socially as healthy. Things like conventional strawberries, refined pasta, rice crackers and non organic sultanas (aka pesticide pellets) which are full of pesticides. Btw next time you run out of something it may be worth the drive across the city for a quick pick up of staples from me 😉

    • Thank you Nikki, I will. You’ll get an emergency call for dried fruit late at night as I whip up a batch of something! It’s interesting that you call sultanas pesticide pellets, because I find myself imagining exactly that when I’m confronted by food which I know hasn’t come from a great source. Yay for The Wholefood Hub, and to all the other supermarket alternatives across the planet.

  5. This is a really informative and thought-provoking post – I work on staying on the healthy side and shop organic and at farmer’s markets a fair bit, but the coconut shocks me – as you say a wholefood that you are then putting into your own baking etc to try to be clean and it isn’t. Thanks for visiting my blog too.

  6. Thank you! It is shocking that these products are acceptable in our food supply, that it’s allowed to happen. It’s also really sad that there is general apathy around what people are happy to put into their mouths. It is changing, but convenience is still king, and that’s exactly what supermarkets offer.

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