Mar 4, 2014

3 Simple Steps to Better Health for Your Family

So I’ve gotten so many questions recently about HOW to make better choices for yourself and your family.  I know that people are so interested in getting and staying healthy, they truly just don’t know where to start.  I appreciate this statement more than anything – and also realize it is the most common reason why people stay exactly where they are.  The idea of getting healthier is so overwhelming and can literally stop you in your tracks.  It is almost paralyzing trying to figure out in which direction to head, how fast to go, and which turn to make.  I am writing today to help you navigate your way through the chatter of the health and fitness world and hold your hand as you embrace the journey to supporting your family in 2014.

I have come up with a short list of ways to support you through this process.  Things that I think will help your journey stay successful and not digress.  We want you to continue to move forward, not throw in the towel when you hit a bump.
1.       Read and do your research.
When buying a new house, car, appliance or other big purchase, you do your research before diving in.  Making changes in your faith or financial situations – always accompanied with research and hearty conversations.  Why would it be any exception when making health changes?  Before you decide what changes to make, get up-to-speed on the change and immerse yourself in research and learning.  Knowledge is power and you can never UN-KNOW the things you have learned.  Especially when it comes to diet and foods.  The biggest reason that my family was able to stick to a gluten-free diet is because I learned about what gluten does to people.  Once those concepts entered my brain, I couldn’t knowingly give it to my family any more.  You have to EMBRACE and BELIEVE in your changes before you change.  Otherwise, it feels like a job or peer pressure as opposed to a choice.  I compare this to smoking.  I know what smoking can do to people.  I wouldn’t expose myself or my children to second-hand smoke purposely and willingly after having the knowledge about what it can do to them.  Food choices are no different.  I can preach to you all day about how it has helped me and my family, but at the end of the day, you need to believe and know that the changes you are considering are the right changes for you and yours.  So do your research.  If you need a great place to start, here are a few of my favorite reads that got me and my family moving in the right direction {for us}. 

                        Wheat Belly

                        Primal Body, Primal Mind

                        Grain Brain

2.        Come up with a PLAN  of action 
It sounds great to go cold turkey, and if you’re alone in this journey or only dealing with adults, then that may be much simpler.  However, if your journey includes children or a partner that isn’t quite on board with you, it may be easiest to roll out the new changes in baby steps.  Decide what is most important to you and implement them one change at a time.  My family started last spring attempting to cut out processed foods.  We went to the website 100 Days of Real Food, and cut out processed foods.  We enjoyed it and learned a lot about how much food we ate that came in boxes and packages.  Our next step was changing over to gluten-free with my son’s diagnosis with Celiac Disease in July.  This took us a few months to wrap our brains around.  We went cold-turkey due to his illness, but we learned so much along the way.  After that we started looking more into all grains  – we read Wheat Belly and learned that substituting one bad grain with another wasn’t doing us any favors.  Slowly and surely learning more and more about what we need.   Our changes haven’t come over night, and when we are interested in trying new things, we research them and then come up with a plan.  I would recommend trying no more than one change per month.  Plan out what is most important to you, and schedule it and the changes accordingly.  It won’t seem so overwhelming this way.  In just six short months your family can be in such a better place.  It doesn’t need to happen overnight – and attempting to do it so quickly is often the cause of panic and an abrupt halt. 

3.        Make some really simple changes today
Some things aren’t so much giant lifestyle changes as just minor tweaks and substitutions.  Here are some things you can do as soon as your next grocery trip that can start the ball rolling into a healthier kitchen:

1.        Get rid of vegetable oils – NOW.  If you are a baker or like to cook, vegetable oil no longer needs to be a staple in your pantry.  We keep olive oil and coconut oil in our pantry – nothing else.  I have heard good things about sesame oil too, but have no experience with it yet.  You can cook or bake with these two items and you really should not be using anything else in my opinion. 

2.       Limit your dairy – I love cheese, don’t get me wrong, but like anything, moderation is key.  We stopped cooking and baking with dairy products a while back and have switched over to almond or coconut milk.  We still eat Greek yogurt and top our tacos with cheese, but this simple change is a great transition into better health.  Dairy can cause a number of issues for some people, if you can eliminate some of your uses of it – go for it.

3.       Read the labels – I know you’ve heard it a million times, but if it comes in a package, please take the time to really look and see what is in your foods.  If you can’t pronounce it, put it back.  If it has more than 5 ingredients, put it back.  If it has hydrogenated anything in it, put it back.  This will significantly reduce your processed food options. 

4.       Use your time more wisely – I had an epiphany the other day when I was – yet again – spending my Saturday and Sunday baking away.  I realized why long ago people often only had one person working outside the home.  It really does take so much time to prepare and keep healthy foods in the house.  It sucks, I know, but it is reality.  When we stopped cooking for ourselves, we became so much less healthy.  Fast food and frozen pizzas are convenient and are great in an emergency.  However, those quick fixes have also ALLOWED us to no longer plan and support ourselves in a way that we should.  People are living day to day in an emergency state – running around with no meal plans or thoughts about what they will eat from day to day.  Settling for a drive-thru where the cooks are not invested in the health of their customers, and where we are no longer investing in our own long term health.  Start planning out all of your weekly meals and stick to it.  You will feel so much better without the daily sense of panic about “What’s for dinner?”. 
Everyone should consider themselves as a work-in-progress.   No matter what you’re working on in life we each should be working hard on growth and moving forward.  As a mother, wife, teacher, daughter and sister, I am constantly trying to get better in all of my roles.  It takes much reflection and constant attention.  Health is no different.  I am not perfect at anything I am doing, but I am always learning and always moving forward.  Whatever it is that you are focusing on, know that you are doing great just by trying to be better and to learn more.  The facts out there can be overwhelming and we often have no idea WHO to listen to.  Remember to do your research and most importantly, listen to your gut.  If you feel as if there could be a problem, then you have the chance to fix it – maybe not in one day and all at once, but over time, you will find the tools to make the decisions that help you and your family be their best. 

And as always, if you need support or help from one of us – let us know.  We’d love to help you along the way. 


  1. When baking/cooking with coconut oil, do you microwave it to melt in order to measure it? I use it for popcorn and don't need specific measurements, but don't use it for recipes that require measuring! Also, what are your thoughts on grapeseed oil? Thanks!

  2. Adie- I love your thoughts about preparing and planning for our meals and family. I often think about how the pressure for women to work has changed so many things. (I am a full time working mother.) Thanks for the ideas to help me plan my meals for the week!