Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Traditional Foods

Peter was joking with me tonight, trying to help me on my quest to explain how our family eats and why and, pertinent to what I'm writing now, how we got here. He says, "You read a lot of books and experimented a lot." And refined, refined, refined. Although this may seem slightly off topic, being allergen-free in our household is closely intertwined with also being traditional foodists and I don't feel like I can talk about one without talking about the other.

One of the many things that I've learned on this journey is that it's far more helpful to focus on what you CAN and WILL eat rather than what you can't. It makes the whole situation far less overwhelming--and much more affirming. "I can't feed my kid these crackers that everyone else is eating, but I CAN feed her this apple/homemade cracker/other healthy snack that I know she likes." Suddenly, instead of taking something away, I'm giving to my child, and that feels good.

Enter traditional foods. While on my quest to understand healthy eating, I came across this book--this movement, really--through the Mothering message boards. It's not at all a stretch to say that it changed my life, redefined the way in which I understand food and eating--and gave me a much-needed road map for how to raise two healthy children even though they can't eat many of the foods considered staples by our society.

I'm not going to spend space giving an overall description of traditional foods, it's been done many times and surely much better than I could do it. If you're unfamiliar with the movement, check out this post at The Nourished Kitchen, one of my favorite blogs:
1) avoidance of modern, refined foods; 2) celebration of unrefined, whole and natural foods; 3) respecting the importance of nutrient-density in our food and 4) preparing and eating foods in the same manner that nourished our ancestors and kept them well.

In her book The Unhealthy Truth, Robin O'Brien talks about her 80/20 rule: that you seek to eat optimally 80% of the time and forgive yourself for the other 20%. While we eat allergen free at least 95% of the time (the other 5% includes occasional treats during family events and holidays, for example), we follow the 80/20 rule for our traditional foods eating. It is very important to me, and occupies much of my time.

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