Newsflash: We Are Not “just fine”

If I could have a dollar every time someone said, “I grew up eating highly processed junk food, and I turned out just fine” then I would surely be rich. And another one I’ve been hearing an awful lot lately is, “Easter only happens once a year so my kids will be getting candy.” Before I dive into the dozens of facts that prove we are truly (and unfortunately) not “just fine” I must first get this holiday thing off my chest.

Yes, Easter Is Once a Year, but So Is…

  • Christmas and Halloween and several other candy-filled holidays
  • Every kid’s birthday in the class
  • The junky packaged snacks given to kids after soccer practice and church service
  • Candy-filled party favor bags
  • The “100th Day of School” celebration
  • Visits from the ice cream truck
  • The Box Top “cupcake party” at school
  • The candy “reward” from the treasure box
  • The sucker from the bank
  • The frozen yogurt fundraiser for the elementary school (sorry but contrary to popular believe frozen yogurt is not “real food”)
  • The piece of candy after dance class
  • The visits from the in-laws bearing edible “gifts”
  • The playdate at someone else’s house where Oreos are a standard snack
  • The list goes on…and on…and on

My personal philosophy is that if I almost never give my children highly processed junk food they’ll somehow manage to still get plenty of it (from outside sources), and guess what…that’s been ringing true for quite some time now. I personally think one special treat a week is plenty and that’s what seems to work for us. It is a rare enough treat for it to actually feel, well, special. Seriously, if your kid eats a piece of candy after almost every meal how can it even be considered a special “treat” anymore? As I’ve said time and time again the problem is not necessarily the sweet treats themselves, but it’s the quantity in which they are consumed!

Sugar Consumption Is Out of Control

Did you know that according to a recent 60 Minutes story that “Americans are now consuming nearly 130 pounds of added sugars per person, per year?” Yikes! That’s more than a third a pound per person per day (approximately 3/4 cup a day!), and I would venture to say that most people don’t even realize they are consuming this much “added sugar” because it lurks in unexpected places like beverages, salad dressings, dried fruit, condiments, yogurt, crackers and even bread. “Sugar” comes in many different forms, which means it’s listed under many different names like brown rice syrup, honey, cane juice, agave, Sucanat, corn syrup, etc. making ingredient labels tricky.

Some Scary Statistics…All Related to the Food We Eat

So how is it that we are “just fine” when:

  • “Our children have the destiny of a shorter life span than their own parents…your child will live a life 10 years younger than you because of the landscape of food that we’ve built around them.” (Source: Jamie Oliver)
  • “We spend our lives being paranoid about death, murder, homicide, you name it…it’s on the front page of every paper. Any doctor any specialist will tell you … diet related disease is the biggest killer in the United States right now here today.” (Source: Jamie Oliver)
  • Coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer – four of the top ten chronic diseases that kill most of us – “can be traced directly to the industrialization of our food.” (Source: Michael Pollan)
  • “Two-thirds [of America] is statistically overweight or obese.” (Source: Jamie Oliver)
  • “[To reduce heart disease] a government commission in the 1970s mandated that we lower our fat consumption. ‘When you take the fat out of food, it tastes like cardboard,’ says Dr. Robert Lustig. ‘And the food industry knew that, so they replaced it with sugar…and guess what? Heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and death are skyrocketing.’” (Source: 60 Minutes /
  • “Americans enjoy the cheapest food supply in the world, spending the smallest share of their income on groceries of any country.” (Source: Chicago Tribune Reporter)
  • “No other nation on the planet spends as much as we do on medical care.” (Source: Robyn O’Brien)
  • “People are fed by the Food Industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the Health Industry, which pays no attention to food.” (Source: Wendell Berry)
  • “Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.” (Source: Dr. Dwight Lundell, Heart Surgeon)
  • “I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact. …The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.” (Source: Dr. Dwight Lundell, Heart Surgeon)

If you aren’t personally overweight or don’t experience any major health problems I can understand how you might think your health and eating habits are “just fine,” but how do you expect to feel, let’s say, 10 years from now? Plus I would venture to say that today there’s not a single person reading this that doesn’t know someone with a food-related health problem like heart disease, certain types of cancer, hyperactivity (in children), asthma, diabetes, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, autoimmune disorders, and/or constipation. And the amazing thing about all of this is…as soon as you change your diet the majority of these food-related health problems are completely reversible.

I Used to Think We Were “Just Fine” as Well

I admit I thought our family was just “fine” and healthy before we cut out processed food. After all none of us have ever been overweight or had any serious medical problems. I grew up on my fair share of Doritos, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, candy and other sweets, and while still eating highly processed food I successfully completed my first sprint triathlon. Overall I felt like a young and active mommy. And while we didn’t get on this “real food” bandwagon to solve any health issues, the events that took place soon afterward were surprising. My HDL (a.k.a. the “good” cholesterol number that should be high) went up by 50%! My younger daughter’s constipation completely disappeared and her asthma improved 10-fold. I suddenly had more energy (I used to think experiencing “afternoon slumps” was normal, but those days are long over for me). Not to mention it just made sense to know where our food comes from and to not eat from packages with ingredients we couldn’t even pronounce.

Still to this day I honestly didn’t think our eating habits were “that bad” before cutting out processed food. We were never ones to frequent McDonalds, Domino’s Pizza or the prepared frozen food aisle, and sodas only made rare appearances in our house. Apparently all the refined grains and added sugars we were consuming was making a much bigger impact than I thought.

The point is this is our wake up call, and it’s time for some serious change. Smoking cigarettes used to be viewed as harmless and now look what’s happened to that industry. I fully expect the big food companies to follow in those very same footsteps because highly processed foods are clearly causing health problems. And if we, as consumers, “vote with our dollars” then they will surely get the message.

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214 thoughts on “Newsflash: We Are Not “just fine””

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  1. Melissa Le Dan

    Love this article! I feel exactly the same way and I feel passionately about providing whole food choices for my kids. I find it sad when people feel sorry for my kids and say they r missing out because they are totally missing the point. I feel that providing ‘real’ wholefoods to my kids is actually a pretty awesome gift contributing to their present and future ‘HEALTH’ and VITALITY’. There is no doubt in my mind that the average diet of refined grains, refined sugars, additives,, flavours etc are directly linked to disease and sickness. I have done a lot of research and am now making informed decisions and am in the position where I feel it would be an injustice for me to NOT proceed with whole real foods for my kids.. I choose to model healthy food choices and let my kids experience for themselves how real food makes them feel. The only difficulty I have found with this is as they get older and are exposed to the processed foods they can become swayed by the taste due to its highly additive ingredients loaded with salt, fat, HFCS, flavours etc. I may sound cynical but i feel angry that food manufactures are allowed to include these ingredients and feel there could be ALOT tighter regulations in the food industry especially processed food targeted at children. My aim is to model, teach and most importantly offer a variety of healthy food options so my kids tastebuds aren’t missing out on sweets. Im hoping that by doing so they are less likely to crave the processed sweets. I endeavour to replace sweet processed foods with yummy naturally sweetened whole food recipes :-)

  2. You took the words right out of my mouth… seriously.
    Excellent. Thank you. Parents need to wake up and smell the coffee when it comes to the food their kids eat. I try to be reasonable and allow my little boy a very controlled amount of chocolate on easter or christmas but I try like hell to avoid all of those other digusting, sugar concoctions – my god the things they have come up with – just disgusting.
    And I am not just fine – I am a result of a destroyed thyroid, decades of dieting the wrong way, nutritional deficiencies probably since childhood and now I have to try to repair all of that. I’m not letting that happen to my child.

  3. So true, and not just for kids! I realize that personally, I can be great at keeping healthy food in my house, cooking well and prepping good food for the week… but at work, when faced with team events, lunches, breakfast meetings, leftovers in the kitchen from other teams lunch meetings… my willpower has been almost zero. As a recent college grad in my 20s, this is especially difficult beacause I saved a lot of money by taking advantage of things like this in college and the first year after! However, it is worth noting the statistic you mention above where we spend significantly less of our income on groceries than any other country. Our health and the food we eat should in fact be something that we ARE willing to spend money on, not something to sacrifice in order to save a few bucks.

  4. Great article & oh so very true. I have gotten very good at keeping the junk out of our house but get SO frustrated when I see the crap that comes home with kids from school. Any advice how to keep the ‘rewards’ & ‘treats’ to a minimum? Don’t even get me started on what they choose to feed kids for school lunches & the crap they offer for sale at lunchtime & after school…. That alone makes me consider homeschool!

  5. This is a wonderful article. As a food coach, I discuss this issue on a daily basis with clients. Food doesn’t look like it did 100 years ago, so yes, grandma probably did eat “anything she wanted” and lived to be 100.

  6. I LOVE this! I haven’t even read all the comments but felt compelled to immediately reply with my total agreement!!! I will be sharing this for sure.

  7. Great article, great sources. My husband is an internist who deals mainly with patients with diabetes and he is continually frustrated with people’s stupidity (basically) about their food AND drink. I understand the financial side of it- a burger is $1 and a salad is $4, but it does come down to priorities and education. Thanks for your blog and encouragement. I don’t consider my children’s (or my) health a deprivation to anything!

  8. I read this post a week or so ago and didn’t really think much about it until I was at the grocery store with my husband today. We were talking about my sons 2nd birthday cake for next weekend. I had planned on making it from scratch, but them forgot to bring the recipe to get the right ingredients. My husband suggested we just pick up a box of cake mix and frosting and a bag of m&m’s to decorate it with. Being 5 months pregnant with a two year old in tow in a busy grocery store I gave in and said fine. We grabbed a box cake mix, the M&M’s and were in line. I started having second thoughts about the M&M’s and told my husband maybe we should skip them and put blueberries on top instead (the fresh blueberries cost the same as the bog bag of M&M’s). My husband said “His birthday only comes around once a year” and all of the sudden your article was running through my head. I was silently thinking yeah and so does Easter, Mother’s Day, 4th of July etc etc and it gave me a gut check. My son is only going to be 2 and he loves blueberries and would never miss the M &M’s. So I ditched the cake mix, frosting and M&M’s and our son will now be blowing out his candles atop your banana bread (in the form of cupcakes) with blueberries on top.

    Not only was it a gut check moment for me, but it was also a reminder that we’re just as responsible to teach our children good eating habbits as we are good manners!


    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Good for you Heidi!! That is a point I try to make a lot….that kids (for the most part) will eat what you give to them so it is up to us as their parents to offer the right choices. He will love the blueberries and never know what he’s missing any M&Ms. :)

  9. SOOO happy to have found your blog through Pinterest! It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. I feel like we are all killing ourselves with processed foods, but I haven’t known exactly where to start to get rid of it all. I’ve done little things, but it never seems to be enough because it’s around every corner! Your comments about a treat for every stinkin’ holiday really rung true with me. I’ve realized there is always *something* that we celebrate…with food. I’ve been pouring over your site for the last few days, and I’m thrilled with all the time and effort you have put into it to educate us. Thank you! Keep up the great work!

  10. Thank you for saying all of this! I spent all of Easter weekend trying to explain my choices to family members and it was so frustrating. And SAD. My dad (who is relatively young) is currently undergoing cancer treatments and yet my my parents refuse to acknowledge that there might be some benefit to changing their current habits.

  11. Amen! Everyone says “Oh I could never do that” when I tell them how I eat now, but they don’t understand how great I feel and how great real food can taste! I am in nursing school and I feel like a broken record teaching patients about heart healthy diets and no one wants to listen, they would rather have multiple surgeries to correct the destruction they’ve caused to their bodies. It’s very frustrating. The only person I can save is myself! (I don’t have kids yet :) !) thanks for your website!

  12. Girl, when I read your comment back to a reader I wanted to hug your neck. Bless your heart! :) I know the feeling of having your words misconstrued. To have your passion misunderstood as judgement and your motives attacked. Most of us heard your heart here and are challenged and encouraged. Don’t get down because some people love them some drama! Keep doing your good work because it is a blessing! Muah!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Awww thank you Brandy. I think readers sometimes forget I am a regular person/mom over here trying to do my best (like everyone else)!

  13. We did the no processed food for four months or so, but I found it to be way too much pressure. We were working opposite schedules and I just couldn’t get it together enough to make dinners ahead of time. We went crazy with junk for awhile, but I think we’ve finally come to a fairly decent compromise that works for us. I make most of our food from scratch and we eat the crap we want when we want.

    I mostly went without processed food when we were trying to get pregnant, but since we have about a 5% chance of that happening, and I was doing it to give ourselves a head start for our future children, I’ve seen that I can relax. That even if we do have children I don’t have to worry about that occasional treat because no one they would stay with will give them much, if any junk, because my parents don’t believe in it.

    I’m somewhere in the middle and I’m fine with that. When both people need to work nothing can be done 100%. What I can do is make sure my husband is happy and if he wants sugar in his tea, I’m going to make sure it’s in the house.

  14. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been trying to get my husband to understand this the past few weeks! He is perfectly fine with local meat, lots of fruits and veggies, whole wheat and such but he also loves cereal (the sugary colorful ones), ice cream (every day), chips, frozen pizza, etc. I have been trying to tell him how it all adds up for our kids. Once in a while is okay but it is definitely getting to be more than once in a while.

  15. I love your site. Your entires are very correct. I have started to reduce processed foods in our diet one step at a time for the past year!!

  16. This actually made me feel a little better. Our choice to homeschool and to live according to the feasts and fasts of the Church year have spared us a whole lot of the junk you list above. Our church doesn’t hand out snacks to children, we don’t have snacks at school, or 100th day candy, or the other junk. Our children’s friends are mostly from families that eat like ours, so it isn’t a big deal at their houses.

  17. I love your blog and the last article is the best.

    My kids don’t eat sugar or processed food and people seems to act like I’m torturing them, especially when I said no cake on their first birthday. I mean they don’t care so why should be. I’ve also been asked if I don’t feel like an over achiever because I cook and bake everything from scratch. I guess it challenge people and make them feel bad about how they eat. Keep up the great work!!!

  18. LOVE this article! People feel sorry for my husband because I never have processed sugar/food in the house. They think he’s being deprived. Seriously? Processed food is around every single stinking corner.

  19. I agree with you. Growing up “just fine” doesn’t mean that you’re going to feel the same when you’re 25, 30, 35, let alone 50 or 60. Eating healthy isn’t something that magically changes all your life (just like you can’t gain 50 pounds in a week, it’s a long process). Unhealthy habits just add up until one day you feel all consequences.

  20. That’s why I stated it was very misleading. What may work well for one person could not work well for someone else. I see patients all the time who have made massive diet changes and sadly that has had no impact on their cholesterol levels.

  21. Yes, some people respond wonderfully to changing their diet for cholesterol issues. However, some people’s bodies just naturally produce too much cholesterol regardless of what foods they consume.

  22. I don’t know about reversing cancer (however I do think and have thought for years that our food is a major contributor to cancer) or autoimmune disorders, but my father is living proof that changing your diet can reverse cholesterol problems. He used to take the “wonderful” cholesterol lowering drug crestor that physicians are so quick to try to shove down people’s throats, to no avail I might add, then later suffered a heart attack. He started his new diet as soon as he left the hospital, which is a real food diet, and both his LDL and HDL are at very healthy levels without the aid of any drug. My very close friend’s husband also reversed his climbing cholesterol by changing his diet…also without taking meds. Lisa didn’t say that all of these conditions can be reversed but cholesterol is one that most definitely can be reversed. I would also like to say that to those who were offended by this article,I don’t think lisa meant to target anyone with what she said. I think she just wanted to speak about personal experiences she has had and how frustrating it is to her personally. The article helped me to put into perspective how much candy and sugar my child is actually getting. I didn’t feel judged or attacked. I am a new reader of this blog and am trying to change my family’s eating habits and I love the information you put out there for us to read. I think sometimes people get offended by what they don’t want to hear. I for one like reading about your personal experiences and the things that frustrate you along the way. It gives me an idea of how to deal with some of the things that frustrate me. People need to realise we aren’t going to be puking rainbows all the time. Everybody wants everything sugar coated for them.

  23. While I agree that if you eat better you feel better, as a physician, I completely disagree with your statement- “And the amazing thing about all of this is…as soon as you change your diet the majority of these food-related health problems are completely reversible.”

    Many of the conditions you mentioned are heavily influenced by genetics and/or complex environmental factors. It’s very misleading to say that by avoiding processed foods you can reverse conditions like cancer, autoimmune disorders, and cholesterol problems.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Thank you for sharing your input. That’s exactly why I said “the majority” and didn’t say “all”…there are always exceptions to the rule of course, but there have been some amazing stories of people reversing so-called “Western diseases” with diet.

  24. Do you have any tips for converting your family/kids to healthy eating? We have been eating poorly and having candy treats for so long I don’t kno where to start? Do you just go cold turkey? My kids will revolt

  25. I couldn’t agree more. Too many times, I’ve encountered: it’s just one candy, it’s just one soda, let her enjoy some juice, etc. It’s so frustrating because when you add up all the daily opportunities to eat processed food or sweets, it isn’t just ONE.

  26. Christy Dolinger

    I love following your blog. My family strives to eat whole food and we have been following that path since 2007. I had my first child in 2008, fed only breastmilk and homemade organic baby food (mostly grown from my own garden). At 19mths., my child (not overweight at all!!!) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a genetic autoimmune disease. The patients immune system destroys insulin making cells within the pancreas. The pancreas “dies” in a sense and is rendered useless. The patient is immediately insulin dependent for life and most closely monitor blood glucose levels just to stay alive on a day to day basis.

    The diabetes spoken about in the media is type II diabetes, a completely different disease rooted in metabolic issues. Cells receiving insulin have been used and abused over time (bad foods/obesity) and become insulin resistant leading to type II diabetes. Most times this disease can be completely reversed by following the dieting practices that you and I so firmly believe in.

    Just wanted to raise awareness for type 1 diabetics. They are few and far between, but are judged and criticized due to the media’s portrayal of diabetes (if they would just say type 2 all the time, we would all be happy). This post is for my skinny, well-fed, type 1 diabetic son who is now 4!

    1. Thank you, Christy!! As a type 1 diabetic for over 16 years, I hate the stigma that we get for our disease. It’s not my fault I was diagnosed with diabetes – thank you genetics, environment, or whatever it was that caused it – I wasn’t an overweight, unhealthy 8-year-old. Eating real food definitely helps me control this disease, but we don’t know for sure what caused it, and won’t for a long time… if ever.
      It’s too bad that type 1 awareness has been overshadowed by all those type 2s (90-95% of the diabetic population)!

  27. I like this post. Thanks for listing all those occassions our kids get “special treats” – it really went a long way in pointing out that, oh yeah, kids get treats A LOT. I feel the same way. I have no problem dumping candy in the trash if necessary, why? Because that is what it is. I put some of the chocolate candy aside for that special treat but the other stuff got dumped. My mom bought my three year old these cupcakes from Cosco the other day. Six giant cupcakes full of frankingredients that were made to look like Elmo and Cookie Monster. One cupcake had 39 grams of sugar! That is almost 10 teaspoons of sugar per cupcake – about twice what he should eat for an entire day. I let him eat half of one over her house as to not cause a stir. She insisted I take the rest home so he could enjoy them. I smiled and took them and then into the trash they went when I got home. That is what they were so that is where they went. It’s harsh but what my mom doesn’t know won’t bother her. I’ve been gently pointing out to her that I don’t want him eating that so please don’t waste your $$. It is amazing the amount of junk that is out there to tempt us and our children. We need to demand better food. We need to nourish ourselves not just consume calories.

    Lasly, I’m assuming you mean frozen yogurt that is factory made is not real food? I buy plain yogurt and flavor it with fruit and then freeze it for a healthy special treat – I do consider that real food.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Good for you…one of Michael Pollan’s quotes that I remind myself of often is “better to go to waste, than go to waist”. It’s drilled into us not to “waste” things, but sometimes that is unfortunately the best choice. And yes I am talking about frozen yogurt (similar to ice cream…that’s been sweetened). Plain organic yogurt that you flavor yourself is totally fine!

  28. I have metabolic syndrome. My cholesterol numbers are really out of whack. We cut out fast food and started preparing “fast” food of local eggs and toast, changed our dairy to full fat, grass-fed from a local dairy, and meat to locally raised beef and bison (grass-fed), turkey, and chicken, and started getting a CSA box from a local organic farm. I also added flax-seed oil and more greens (green monster smoothies) to my diet. Just with these changes, my HDL is actually normal, and triglycerides are down by 100 points!

  29. Whole-stic Living

    Great article , while my family is not perfect, we are working towards a healthier food and moving away from processed foods, when raised on it, it is not all that easy but baby steps and we are getting there!

    New reader here and looking forward to being a regular follower!

  30. Lisa,

    You are absolutely right. I am amazed and dismayed at the amount of edible substances given to my children that I have no control over–particularly at school. How have you fared when addressing this with the school or with other organizations? I would love to hear from others too… You do feel like a “crazy overboard parent”. People are so blinded by the culture–it seems that most people are quite accepting and believe all of this sugar and candy is normal. How can we say “Thanks, but no thanks” without offending?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Adrianne – It is hard to strike the right balance. Just the other day my kids were offered a treat by neighbors, and I felt like I wanted to compromise so I said my girls could split 1 instead of each getting their own. They still got to have treats with their friends, but it was half the added sugar it would have been otherwise. There is unfortunately no right or wrong way to handle these situations….I struggle with what to do all the time myself! I understand there is a social aspect of enjoying junk food with friends and I don’t want my kids to be completely left out…but sometimes it is just way too much.

  31. Love it! We recently completed the 10 days to real food. It was amazing but after 10 days we decided to not be 100% “overboard” with the kids, you know the aka occasional treat uuugh!!!… Well guess what hit right after 10 days Easter. Ok so one piece of candy..ok one cookie covered with yucky icing….And ever since we have seen a complete change in attitudes in our home with our 3yr old, 5 yr old and 6 yr old. So after a week of complete break downs. Crying for no reason. Last night I hit the wall. It is no wonder for the past week and a half they have been back to getting an oocasional treat! I hate that. It is just as bad as all the time. When you go off and then “occasionally” have it again it does just as much damage because every once in a while is so much more than an actual once a month or even once a week. It is crazy!!! So here we go again we have to put our foot down again and be called the crazy overboard parents again. But Im ready bring it on!!!!!!

  32. I enjoy reading particular articles from this blog and have added to our already healthy eating home with some of your recipes, but one thing I have such a hard time getting past is your condescending tone, and in all honesty, your “holier than thou” attitude. I, like you, want to save my children as well as myself from the dangerous of highly processed food in a world where it’s the norm. But you come in with this “I used to be stupid like all of you, (even though I was running marathons) and now look! We’re even better and we frown upon anyone who isn’t like us.” Grace is a mature and much needed trait, and I hope you learn how to stop looking down on people like you’re better than them.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Mandy – I have not had a chance to read through and respond to all the comments yet, but it really saddens me that a handful of readers are clouding an important message that I feel extremely passionate about by insinuating that there is a layer of negativity behind it. I take great care in putting these posts together and have recently been putting extra effort into ensuring I am getting my message across without offending anyone (even though offending readers has of course never been an intention of mine). Clearly it is impossible to please everyone, but please know I write this blog because I care deeply about spreading this message, which I hope will help others. And there is truthfully nothing more to it than that. I feel that sharing some of our personal story can help people relate, but unfortunately that has led a few readers (like yourself) to judge us in a negative light. Hopefully in the future if something rubs my readers the wrong way they can take a little more care in how they share that feedback with me, because just like the next person I do have feelings and to be honest your comment made me feel pretty bad. Regardless I certainly don’t plan to let the negativity keep me from trekking forward on this mission…

      1. If my comment is one of the ones to which you are referring, I apologize if I offended you. When I said “the tone of some of the articles I have read” I was speaking in general. I believe this is the first post of yours I have read. I do not believe you intend to convey negativity. I do believe my ideas were valid, though, and that there are others who can relate to the desire to learn more in blogging communities only to feel condemned when reading some articles out there and especially some of the accompanying comments. I understand this setting being an avenue for some to vent. I just wanted to remind people that some readers are “new at this” and relate how frustrating it can be. Again, thank you for sharing your experience and expertise.

      2. Lisa, please don’t let other people’s sensitivity to a relative stranger’s opinion affect your work. You are doing GREAT! You have already made a huge difference in my life.

  33. I love this blog and read it all the time, as someone who believes very strongly in providing my family with whole foods. The helpful tips and recipes are amazing, and so is much of the information that explains why this food philosophy is so important to our health. However, I do have one constructive comment. It seems to me that there has been somewhat of a shift in the tone of this blog over time that is a bit more combative, for lack of a better word. With this post, for example, mentioning the statistic that our children will die at a younger age than us. I could be mistaken, but I assume that most of the readers, like me, already believe in the real food lifestyle, so I don’t see the purpose of this kind of scare tactic tone. I also don’t think that sharing that type of information with friends and family who may not share our thoughts on food is very effective, in fact I think it can have the effect of isolating or making one sound superior. I feel that the best way to share the message is to keep it positive and let others know how good it feels to truly eat well, and to present health information in a gentler way.

    1. I agree, but you were able to say this much more constructively than I did. I hope the blog can stay positive–at least most of the time, I know sometimes we need to vent–and keep providing helpful tips, recipes, and encouragement. That is the best way for us to both encourage each other and introduce our friends and loved ones who don’t share our knowledge and beliefs to the real food way of life.

      1. I think Lisa has evolved in her food journey & realizes more & more fully the implications of processed food, big ag,our declining health. The facts ARE scary, but I don’t agree she is using scare “tactics” which seem to imply she is exaggerating or overstating somehow. This is her blog and her story she is sharing in a passionate way. I got inspired by this post!

    2. 100 Days of Real Food

      I couldn’t agree more… the fact that our children will die at a younger age than us is very scary and upsetting. But unfortunately I believe that if we don’t talk about these things (and raise awareness by sharing the statistics) nothing will change. Thank you for your feedback (and for reading)!

    3. It’s not a scare tactic, but you SHOULD be scared. I don’t see how it could isolate them. I see it as talking with someone, opening up about how scared I am about the possibilities of a lower quality of life for our children, which should in turn open up discussions on how to fix it. Everyone needs to stop getting their feelings hurt over FACTS. If you don’t like them, then ignore them. But we’re going to do something about it. My kids’ lives (and possibly other kids’ lives if I can get the message out to more parents) matter more than your hurt feelings.

  34. Lisa – I have a personal (locked down) blog to capture our family moments. Your blog was perfect timing and I had to share with you my commentary before sharing a link to your blog post. It’s rather lengthy – I apologize!

    It originally started when my son (now 19 months) was born to replace produce with organic(23 pesticides on my celery really messed with me). Then I began purchasing local eggs (yes it was more expensive but I was supporting local farmers and I definitely knew that they were raising their chickens properly). It has continued to expand as I research and also feel that we are capable of taking on more change. As a professional working mom making everything from scratch can be quite daunting from a time perspective and trust me you will still find processed foods (at least organic and hopefully little to no refined sugar) in our house – its a trade off – spend my entire weekend cooking or spend time with my son and husband.

    I have stood my ground to continue to pack his food on a daily basis for his daycare even though i continue to pay the cafeteria fee (it’s “baked” into our tuition). Thankfully the teachers are getting better and even provide me the menu for the following week so that I can make his food as close to what everyone else is eating (only healthier). There are times I am tired and frustrated and want to throw my hands up and say just eat whatever they give you. I mean really how I do match corndogs?! During one of those times as I dropped him off I noticed that instead of the kids getting the yogurt and fruit that was on the menu they were being given Lucky Charms. LUCKY FREAKIN CHARMS!!! That my friends is 100% refined sugar! There is nothing nutritional in there – I don’t care if the advertising says Whole Grain Cereal – there are no regulations about when and how you can even say that! In fact daycare in North Carolina must follow State Regulations about what is fed to the kids – every day I was instructed my lunches for him MUST provide a protein, fruit, and veggie. Lucky Charms passses State Regulations?!?!

    I posted on Facebook my frustration about this (this was not the first time I had seen this being given out). While I was mostly being given support for my decision on packing his lunch and for being upset about this sugar cereal, there were a few comments about “I was given this and a few other sugary cereals as a kid all the time and I turned out just fine”. The comments bothered me because I do hear that quite often. And honestly for a long time I thought I was fine as well. If you know me at all, you know to not get between me and a Snickers bar! I am talking at least 1 a week – it was my comfort food! It did have nuts after all! :)

    For many years I have dealt with terrible headaches, some that were borderline migraine. Now early on I am sure many of them were stress/anxiety induced but what I noticed in my college years was my exhaustion in the afternoon. I was tired with close to debilitating headaches that always required at least one dose of 2 Advil Liqui-Gels – sometimes 2 doses before I would fall into bed (there were times I took 2 Advil and 2 Tylenol together). I dealt with 3-4 of these a week at a minimum. I kept chalking them up to lack of sleep and/or stress/anxiety.

    In early January this year I was challenged to cut refined sugar out of my diet. Replace sugar with molasses or maple syrup in my baking, toss the candy and cookies, no soda. All of this was interesting because other then keeping a couple emergency Snickers bars within reach we have never had soda in our house, we rarely had candy as we never bought it and what we had was given to us at holidays. I took the challenge on and in the first week I texted my husband everytime I was confronted with sugar. Every single day it was in front of me. Between the donuts given out at daycare to the parents to the cookie cake in an all day meeting to the bite sized candies in the bowl next to my desk. And I did not partake. 2 weeks later I realized I had no headaches, no exhaustion. Granted I fell into bed tired but it was a different tired – one from working hard all day, going strong and now it was time to get some rest – but no headache. When we did the Krispy Kreme Challenge in February I ate 10 donuts! :) For the next 3 days I had a hangover – like I had drank a bottle of Vodka (sadly personal experience from a VERY long time ago). I had headaches, I felt sick, I had no energy.

    At that moment, I knew I was not “just fine”. As I have progressed in removing sugar I have found my general health improved. I am no longer suffering from the multiple colds/stomach issues/headaches/fatigue as I used to. I have had maybe 1 headache a month and I knew what caused it.

    I say all of this to preface this blog post from Lisa Leake who I follow daily (as well as a few others) to continue to motivate me to pack my kitchen and diet with real food. It is no longer I am organic, I am all about real food!!

    We are not perfect by any means – I still love my tator tots and french fries but we have tossed all the white sugar and are learning to replace with healthier alternatives as needed. My son loves his fresh fruit and veggies – we are still working to get him to love the various beans but that comes with time! And there is an indulgence once in awhile – but we treat it as a major treat and it really feels special versus just another day. So far it is working for us and I hope that we can keep it going as our lives continue to become more and more hectic!

    1. Great comment!!

      I felt the same way about 1 year ago, my son was just over 1 and at his daycare they fed him breakfast. It never matched what the menu said. I was late dropping off one day and there they were feeding just 1 year olds POP TARTS! I would pack his own lunch, but was sometimes told he wouldn’t eat it or that it was even being offered to him. We left and never looked back!

      Good luck on journey to eating healthier!

    2. 100 Days of Real Food

      Deborah – I’m glad to hear of your positive experiences with real food and that my blog (and others) are providing some motivation. It’s a lot of work but so worth it! You’ll be teaching your son great habits by your example. :)

  35. Thank you for your article. I did not grow up being taught to be terribly concerned about choosing “real” food or avoiding sugary meals, snacks, and drinks. (Although, I will say that growing up in a rural area, we did eat many home-grown vegetables.) I read this article because I am trying to be more educated in my food choices. I want to learn how to prepare and eat a variety of real foods. For instance, I finally learned this week that grilling asparagus was a winner with my family. However, I must say that sometimes the tone of the articles that I read and the comments that accompany them make me feel more discouraged than inspired. I feel judged disgusting or completely ignorant or a terrible mother for the things I haven’t changed yet instead of encouraged in our progress and joyfully equipped with more information and ideas on how to continue moving forward. Maybe that is my own fault, but I just wanted to share my struggle in case it helps in dialogue about better nutrition.

    1. Joni, I agree that the negative tone makes the posts less helpful. You should not feel disgusting or like a terrible mother! You are doing a good job even by seeking out this information and making changes, even if you aren’t perfect yet. Like you, I grew up in a rural area so I ate a lot of fresh veggies, but we also ate sugary cereal and weren’t taught to worry about refined sugar and flour, etc. I am I the same boat with you now, educating myself. We should encourage, not criticize each other!

    2. 100 Days of Real Food

      Joni – Thank you for sharing your feedback. I absolutely believe any changes in the right direction are better than none. Not everyone can nor wants to eat real food 100% of the time and that is of course okay! When I write about this topic it truly comes from the heart and obviously my baseline may differ from others, but in the end I hope people feel empowered to make the changes that are right for their family.

  36. My 34-year-old daughter who has a daughter sent me this comment after reading your blog post I sent to her:

    “you were so ahead of your time mama. you need to tell this woman you threw out our candy. in 1984!!!!!!!!!!”

    I would let them eat whatever Halloween candy they wanted that night, then threw away (or ate) what was left. They have NEVER forgiven me or stopped talking about it.

    Keep up the good work!