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I grew up on white bread and processed American cheese. Candy and pastries were abundant in our home, thanks to my dad’s insatiable sweet tooth (thanks for passing that on Dad). I don’t remember eating many fresh veggies, but it could be that my picky eating habits prevented that.

You would have no idea by looking at our food now.

Photo credit: Monica Arellano-Ongpin

Changing from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to one based on whole foods has not been easy. In fact, I’ve heard it said that it is far easier to change a man’s religion than his diet. After seeing Ian fight some of the changes I’ve made, I’m inclined to agree.

But through gradual (okay, okay, sometimes extreme) changes, our diet is starting to look like I think it should:

No processed food – almost all of our food is made from scratch. I want to buy all food as close to its natural state as possible. After all, I want real food, not a science experiment.

Lots of fresh fruit & veggies – Eating plenty of fruit has never been a problem, but now I eat way more vegetables than ever before. I even add them to my smoothies.

And I can’t tell you how cool it is when my oldest daughter says in her sweet little voice, “Mama, I love onions more than fruit.” Wow. I never would have said that when I was four. Or 24.

Balanced – My aim is for 1/3 carbs, 1/3 fats and 1/3 protein. We’re getting closer to that by embracing fats like butter and coconut oil and shunning foods high in sugar. Since making this simple switch I’ve watched my weight melt off – and it hasn’t come back.

I’m not pointing this out to brag. I stumble and fall off the wagon. In fact, I’m craving cherry Pop Tarts so bad right now, I’ve had to stop myself from driving to Miller’s Discount Grocery to pick up a box.

If I can make these changes, anyone can. And, more importantly, we need food rules; guidelines that we live by that put our health and nourishment at the forefront.

Because what we eat dictates how we feel and if we always feel like poo, then it’s hard to live a life that fulfills and inspires. I’ve seen this first hand since I’ve changed the way I eat.

For years, I’ve had an extremely itchy rash that would not go away no matter how many prescription creams I applied. I finally got rid of it by omitting certain foods (most dairy, corn, wheat, sugar).

My new food rules seem crazy to some a lot, but they make me feel better. I have headaches when I eat the stuff I shouldn’t. Stomach cramps make me double over in pain. Acne flairs up on my face. Call me crazy, but not feeling like that is way more important than Oreos.

But now, the question is, what food rules do we live by? This is a sticky subject because there are so many different opinions. One of my best friends is a vegetarian, while I go with the Primal crowd (grain-free, lots of meat). Some don’t even cook their food.

Are we all wrong? That’s debatable. Should we be intentional about what we eat? Absolutely. And whether we eat meat or not, cook our food or eat it raw, I think that if we eat lots of fresh produce, healthy fats, minimal natural sweeteners and food as close to its natural state as possible, then we’re on the right track.

And I fervently believe that if you’re being that intentional about what you’re eating, then you should know why you’re eating it. If you switch to a Primal diet because I say it’s awesome, you’re missing the point. If you switch because you agree with the philosophy and the research available supporting said “diet”, then I’m happy.

I’m not here to tell you how to eat (though any recipes I post will probably be of a grain-free nature), I’m here to encourage you to be mindful about what you are eating and know why you are eating that way.

There are many facets to nurturing wellness and diet is just one of them. But it’s one that should be a top priority.

Do you live by any food rules?

By the way, if you’re interested in more grain-free meals, Kate at Modern Alternative Mama has an excellent book, Against the Grain, that’s full of tasty recipes. I had the privilege of reviewing it and liked that each recipe called for similar ingredients, meaning that I didn’t have to buy a bunch of new stuff.