This is Tina and her husband, Matt. We all used to go to the same church back when Superman and I just had a kid or two. Then, we moved to different areas, and she ended up in North Carolina, on the opposite side of the U.S. from me. And this is Tina’s story!
Tell us a little about yourself!
I am a 35 year old wife and homeschooling mom of 3. I have 2 girls, ages 10 & 7 and a 3 year old son. We currently live in North Carolina.
How long have you eaten Paleo, and what made you start your journey?
I started my clean eating journey on Jan. 1st 2012. At this time, I was overweight, weighing more than I had when I delivered my 3rd child. I was suffering from bouts of depression and it seemed like someone in my family was always sick. Also, my oldest daughter, Kailey, had struggled with allergies, asthma and eczema since she was a baby. The medical doctors had prescribed 3 medications to be taken daily and 2 additional medications to be taken as needed. If was my desire to find natural alternatives to help my daughter that first brought me to research how changing our diets can heal our bodies. I had been following your blog for a few months at this point and to be honest, I still thought you were a little extreme and I was convinced there was NO way I could sustain my family by cutting out grains and dairy! Then you issued a Whole 30 challenge followed by a 30 Day Crossfit Challenge and I made the decision to jump in!
How did you make the change–gradually or were you in 100% from the beginning?
Well, being that I started with the Whole 30, I would say we were 100%, at least for that first 30 days. After the 30 days was over, we did try adding certain foods back into our diet to test the reactions we had and to determine what our bodies could and could not tolerate.
How did your kids and husband react to the change?
Oh my. I am going to be honest and say that at first it was a nightmare. BUT I would like to preface this by saying it was a nightmare I would live all over again as it was the best decision (next to following Christ) that I have ever made. I don’t say this to scare people away but so that people have realistic views of what they can expect. I think a lot of people start something but because of unrealistic expectations, they quit when it gets hard and never get to experience the rewards that come after perseverance.
For my children, the reactions varied. My youngest was the hardest. His favorite foods were yogurt, toast and crackers, all of which I had just cut out. He would go days refusing to eat anything I prepared and we spent several dinners in agony as he would have complete meltdowns and throw fits on the floor. So I started finding paleo recipes for some of his favorites to make the transition easier. I refused to make separate “kid-approved” meals for him but I would make sure each meal included a “clean” version of something he liked and would eat, even though it was not Whole 30 approved for myself. I continued to offer the new foods to him and little by little, he stared trying (and sometimes even liking) the new foods. Even today, there are still times when he will refuse to eat what I prepare. I will excuse him from the table, refusing to give him an alternative meal and most of the time, he will return an hour or so later, hungry and will proceed to finish his dinner.
My oldest seemed to do a little better because she noticed immediately the positive changes regarding her health. She was using her inhaler less, she was no longer getting stomach aches after eating and she noticed she was better able to control her behavior/attitude. She also had more energy and was better able to concentrate during school. But even with all the benefits she was experiencing, there were still days where she would baulk at the foods I prepared, pitch a fit at the table and was sent to her room with nothing to eat. These were the days that I would hide in my closet and just cry. I was trying to do what was best for my family. Giving them the best chance I could for a long, healthy, joy-filled life and more times than not, I felt like the bad guy, depriving them (in their minds) of all things good.
My middle child did the best. For the first 10 min or so after sitting down for dinner, she would huff & puff and pout with her arms crossed and eyes browed. But after realizing that she would not be getting anything else to eat, and being my child that is ALWAYS hungry and freaks out if we ever skip a meal, she too would eventually eat her meal (even if it was with a scowl on her face).
For my husband, it wasn’t the change in the foods as much as it was about the money. Because I am more of an all or nothing type person, I completely cleaned out my pantry/fridge, and then went out replaced it with all clean, healthy foods/ingredients. The first month, our food budget more than doubled and my budget-conscience, sole-provider for a family of 5 husband totally freaked out. He told me I had to stay on budget, even if it meant going back to eating ramen noodles. This prompted a long, discouraging email to you Shanti and some incredible advice that allowed us to find a happy medium. That advice: Prioritize and DO WHAT YOU CAN. And we did.
First, we prioritized our budget. We cut out some things that we thought were essential but that we concluded we could live without. We also noticed that since it was difficult to eat out and still eat clean, we were saving lots of money by preparing and eating foods at home. I also started researching and making my own cleaning supplies/laundry soap and body-care products which saves us tons of money!
Second, we priortized our foods. Instead of buying EVERYTHING organic, I followed the Dirty Dozen / Clean Fifteen list. If I was tight on the budget and I had a choice over more expensive organic apples or a cheaper but conventional pineapple, I would chose the pineapple . I also joined a CSA and stared receiving local, in-season produce each week. This not only helped us save money, but forced me to learn how to prepare and eat food I would have never bought. In addition, I planted a small garden for items we use the most like tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and peppers. I also found a local farmer that raised grass-fed meat and started buying direct from the source at ½ the price of what was in the stores. You can find farmers in your area by going to www.eatwild.org. The last thing we did was to start buying foods on Amazon using the subscribe and save feature. We save tons of money this way and I save time and gas having it delivered right to my door!
What was the biggest challenge then (starting Paleo), and what is your biggest challenge now (maintaining Paleo)?
***You can read Part Two of our interview HERE!***