The most frequently asked questions on Our Family Eats. If you’re searching for something you don’t see below then just email me and I’ll be happy to help you find an answer.
1. I’m starting the Six Week Challenge but I feel so overwhelmed at the grocery store. Where do I start?
First, congratulations on deciding to pay attention to the ingredients in the food you and your family are eating. It is a huge step towards better health and better behavior in your children. I understand the overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to even begin in the grocery store. If that feeling is stopping you before you even start then take a step back and start slowly. You can take as long as you need to complete each step – take a month to complete step one if that makes it more manageable for you. Don’t expect to get it 100% right the first time. This is a process and as you learn more over time it will get easier.
2. Will I really see an improvement in my child’s behavior if I cut out all artificial ingredients?
There is not a doubt in my mind that you will. It may seem daunting to make such a big change, but it is the most worthwhile thing I’ve ever done, and I’m confident you will feel the same way. For more inspiration read these Success Stories.
3. Should I throw out everything I already have in my house that has unwanted ingredients?
You have to make this decision on your own, but in my case I threw everything out on day one. It was what worked for my family, but it might not be what works for yours. If you decide to keep everything until you use it up then don’t expect to see behavior improvements as quickly as those who start fresh.
4. In the Challenge you say that citric acid is a form of MSG and should be avoided but it is in everything. What should I do?
Citric acid is a naturally occurring form of MSG, and is not healthy when eaten in large concentrations. When you are eating a diet that is high in processed foods you are almost certainly eating a diet that is high in citric acid. As you move to a more natural, unprocessed diet you will begin eliminating many of the unhealthy processed foods your family has been eating on a daily basis. That is a good thing. It is up to you to decide how much citric acid you are comfortable with though. Pay attention to the ingredients on what you eat each and every day to make sure you aren’t eating an overabundance of citric acid, or any other additive for that matter, and you should have nothing to worry about.
5. We eat a lot of canned tomatoes, but they have citric acid in them. Is there a way to avoid that?
Yes – Pomi tomatoes are packed in a paper carton. They are made with a single ingredient: Tomatoes. I don’t buy canned tomatoes. The acidity of tomatoes in particular causes the BPA in aluminum cans to leach into the tomatoes, which is very bad for your health. Paper cartons solve all those problems, and they taste much better to me.
6. What types of sweeteners do you recommend?
I like to use organic palm sugar in place of granulated sugar in my baking. It’s not quite as sweet, but it has a low glycemic index and won’t raise your blood sugar like granulated white sugar does. I also use raw organic agave nectar, pure maple syrup, and honey as natural, low glycemic sweeteners. These sweeteners are in their natural form and are easy for your body to recognize and process.
7. What type of milk do you use?
First, be sure your milk is organically produced, or at a bare minimum is hormone free. I buy organic, locally produced whole milk that is not homogenized. The benefits of eating full fat dairy as opposed to low fat dairy can easily be found with a simple web search – I highly recommend you check it out for yourself. The short story is that your body needs natural fat to work correctly, and the idea of a low fat diet being a healthy diet is far from true. The same thoughts apply to cheese and all dairy products.
8. I’m having trouble kicking my diet soda habit. What do you drink in place of soda?
Water. Really, that’s all I drink, except for an occasional glass of unsweetened tea. I drink coffee every morning though. In the summertime I like to flavor my water with a little fruit, or make homemade lemonade. My children love to drink orange juice, lemonade, and milk. And water of course.
9. I don’t have an organic market where I live. Where can I find all natural foods?
You can find most of the things you need at your regular store if you know where to look. Spend most of your time and money in the produce department. Load up on fruits, veggies, nuts, and dried fruit. Stock up on baking essentials so you can make your own snacks and treats. If your local store doesn’t have something you want ask them to order it for you. Target stores have a great selection of organic and all natural products under both their store brand “Archer Farms” as well as national brands. Shop at farmer’s markets for things like locally produced honey, fresh eggs, local milk, homemade jams, dried and fresh herbs, and humanely raised, grass fed, pastured meats, as well as fruits and vegetables. You can even find great sources for homemade breads and other baked goods at farmer’s markets. You’ll be getting the freshest, most nutritious food you can possibly buy while at the same time supporting your local economy and the environment. (remember to bring your own re-usable bags!)
Lastly, if there are certain ingredients that you can’t source locally, try Amazon.com. They have a great selection of all natural products for both grocery items and bath/body care items.
10. Are there any products you can recommend so I don’t have to spend so much time scouring all the labels at the store?
I HIGHLY recommend that you read each and every label of every single thing you put in your shopping cart. You need to know what you’re eating and what you are feeding to your family.
I will give you some ideas of some of the things I buy myself to help get you started though, because I don’t want anyone to be discouraged while trying to cut artificial ingredients from their diets.
Staples: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, raisins, other dried fruits, oatmeal, whole wheat flour/gluten free flours (such as sweet sorghum, brown rice, and coconut flours), coconut oil, organic canola oil, aluminum free baking soda, aluminum free baking powder, extra virgin olive oil, fresh ginger, frozen fruit for smoothies, plain yogurt (to sweeten with honey and fruit), organic/antibiotic free meats such as chicken, turkey, beef, and pork, wild caught seafood/fish, organic eggs, yeast (for homemade pizza crust), Pomi tomatoes, organic cheeses such as cheddar and mozzarella in block form (not shredded), organic butter, organic/GMO free tortilla chips, organic/GMO free popcorn, Ghiradelli chocolate chips (for baking and as treats), organic jams and fruit spreads, all natural peanut butter, applesauce, olives, organic ketchup/mustard and other condiments, 100% orange juice, Simply Lemonade, honey, pure maple syrup, pasta, quinoa, rice, beans – both canned and dried, lentils, bagels from a local bakery, Lara Bars, Erewhon Puffed Rice cereal (like Rice Krispies), Applegate Farms sliced ham or turkey, Hormel 100% Natural ham or turkey, Applegate Farms bacon, Jones Valley frozen sausage.
Convenience foods/Treats: These are “sometimes foods”, not every day foods. (I do let my kids indulge every once in a while.) You will notice that some of these have ingredients like citric acid and natural flavors in them, which is why they are a “sometimes food”.
Triscuit crackers, Vann’s all natural waffles, Aunt Jemima frozen pancakes, Annie’s All Natural Mac and Cheese (white cheddar only), prepared hummus, organic soups in paper cartons, 100% natural ice cream such as Breyers chocolate flavor, organic 100% natural granola (if I don’t have homemade), Annie’s All Natural white cheddar bunny crackers, 100% natural fruit leathers, Whole Foods 365 brand all natural sandwich cookies (like Oreos), Yummy Earth candy, Cheetos All Natural Cheese Puffs, Sun Chips original flavor, Sister Schubert’s cinnamon rolls (a special breakfast treat), Clif Kids Z Bar, Stauffer’s Animal Cookies,
Things I make myself: Bread, muffins, granola, granola bars, cookies, trail mix, smoothies, pancakes, chicken stock, pasta sauce. You find recipes for these under the Recipes tab.
11. What are some sources for all natural bath and body care items?
I love using all natural homemade soaps from the Cheeky Maiden. She has the most divinely scented soaps that she makes in her own home. You may be able to find someone locally who makes these types of products as well. Farmer’s markets and craft fairs are a great source for these. I also love the Whole Foods 365 Brand of all natural hair care products. No parabens or sulfates to be found. Jason all natural and Alba Botanics are other great products that are easy to find at places like Walgreens and CVS. Dr. Bronner’s castile soap is a wonder product that can be used for everything from hand soap to shower gel to laundry detergent. I also use Tom’s of Maine fluoride free all natural toothpaste for both adults and kids in my house when I’m out of the Cheeky Maiden tooth soap. I really suggest trying to source all natural versions of all the products you use on a daily basis.
Have a question? Email me at contact.ourfamilyeats [at] gmail [dot] com.