Your Journey to Health

My mom recently mentioned that to a lot of people trying to be healthy can be really confusing and overwhelming. I remember when it was for me too. Not that long ago I was a vegetarian, eating low-fat, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, eating WAY too much sugar, and nuking dinner. I thought I was about average health wise. I had acne, irritable bowel, lactose intolerance, very screwed up hormones, hair loss, dry skin, extremely dry eyes, cavities, 4-5 sinus infections a year, hay fever, arthritis in my knees, fingers and wrists, constant sugar cravings, brain fog, depression and constant fatigue. Sounds pretty much like the average American to me right?

When I first started trying to improve my health, I had absolutely no idea where to start! What does healthy even mean? At the time I thought that eating an extremely low-fat vegetarian diet was the healthiest possible way to eat. But why was I feeling so miserable and sick all the time? That is where I ultimately started my research, and how I ended up reading hundreds of books about health and wellness. I made a list of over 100 health goals for myself. And then I got stuck!

I was very overwhelmed. Everything about my lifestyle was wrong and needed to be changed. What should I change first? How would I possibly make it through this big long list of goals? I stood looking around the house, at all the boxed and packaged and frozen foods, all the chemical cleaners, all the garbage that we had been eating and I wanted to throw it all away. But what would we eat?

I ended up starting with fats. And I think that is a very wise choice for anyone who is first starting out. Most people are eating WAY too much Omega 6 fatty acids and not enough Omega 3’s, leading to all sorts of health problems. This is a great place to start!

Your Health Journey Step #1

Look at the sources of Omega 6’s that you eat most often and reduce them. Increase foods containing Omega 3 fatty acids. Just this one step alone will make you part of the label reading family 🙂

Hi! I'm soybean oil. I look harmless, but I like to kill people.

FATS & FOODS TO ELIMINATE:

  • Soybean Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Margarine
  • Vegetable Shortening
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salad Dressing
  • Safflower Oil
  • Any food with the word “hydrogenated”
  • Any food with the word ” trans-fat”
  • Any food with the word “partially hydrogenated”
  • Any food with the word “poly-unsaturated”

Hi! I'm grass-fed butter and I'm a health food.

SOURCES OF HEALTHY FAT:

  • Free-range eggs
  • Grass-fed meat (including the organs)
  • Walnuts
  • Shrimp
  • Winter Squash
  • Cod
  • Kidney Beans
  • Tuna
  • Scallops
  • Salmon
  • Halibut
  • Snapper
  • Coconut Oil
  • Lard from a pastured pig
  • Beef Tallow from a grass-fed cow
  • Chicken Fat- from a free-range chicken
  • Fat from Geese, Ducks and other game birds
  • Dear, Elk and other wild game
  • Raw whole milk and all products made with it (yogurt, sour cream etc)
  • Butter from a grass-fed cow
  • Red Palm Oil

Your goal here is to transition from new fats, to fats that people have been eating for hundreds of years. Keep in your mind that heart disease and diabetes and all these new-fangled conditions were extremely rare. We started eating vegetable oils as our main source of fat (and huge quantities of sugar), and now these diseases are rampant. Makes sense to me….

Hi! I'm Coconut Oil. I am a saturated fat full of medium-chain fatty acids that will help you lose weight!

For me step #1 looked like this:

I was buying country crock margarine in large tubs. I had no idea that is was poisonous. So I immediately started purchasing real butter. At first I didn’t worry about whether it was grass-fed butter, or organic butter. I just bought butter. Don’t get too caught up on the details or you’ll get stuck. That can come later.

Because I was a vegetarian at the time, I was eating a whole lot of salads, with store-bought salad dressings. I started learning how to make my own homemade salad dressings. They were delicious, and much cheaper than the ones from the store. So that step was easy.

I was using a lot of canola oil and vegetable shortening. I replaced both of those with coconut oil. I started frying and baking with it. (read about how coconut oil can help you lose weight here)

I was eating a very low-fat diet, and started increasing the amount of fat that I used. For instance when I made muffins I was previously using applesauce in place of the fat, so they were almost completely fat-free. I started making the muffins with 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil, and then eating the muffin slathered with butter. It took me a really long time to stop feeling guilty about that!

And guess what? Every single one of the health problems that I listed above have disappeared one by one. My health journey started many years ago, and I can honestly say that today I am the healthiest that I have ever been. My journey continues every day, and I still have a list of things that I am working on.

Your health journey will probably look completely different from mine (and it should). We all have to start somewhere!

So what are you working on? What is the next thing on your list? What does your journey to health look like today? Do you have specific questions about a fat you’re eating, or what to replace it with?

Related posts:

Benefits of Coconut Oil

Characteristics of Traditional Diets

Real Food for Baby

Raw Coconut Fudge with no Sugar

What is a GMO?

Do houseplants really purify the air?

Say No to GMO Music Video!

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22 Comments

  1. ThriftyNut said,

    April 10, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    Just curious as to what coconut oil you use… Can you tell a difference in cooking with it? Does it makes your food taste different? This was very educational. I know these things, I do most of them, but I think your post gave me the confidence to continue my journey in getting even more healthier. I want to use the coconut oil, but coconut oil is so expensive. Can you tell me where you purchase yours as well?

    I love to get the best deals. It’s kinda what I blog about! lol So far, most of my deals I find on swansonvitamins.com… It is my go to website for most things to see if they have it, essential oils, vitamins, teas, hemp seed… Things you would find in a natural living store. They have coconut oil too, but I would love to hear where you go and what you buy.

    • April 10, 2012 at 8:39 AM

      The highest quality coconut oil that I have found is called Aloha Nu and can be found at http://www.simplycoconut.com. It has an amazing taste and texture and is my favorite.

      Wilderness Family Naturals also sells high quality coconut products.

      I would also suggest (as 2nd best choices) Artisana, Nutiva and Tropic’s Best.

      To save money I purchase coconut oil in 5 gallon containers. You can also purchase refined coconut oil for cooking. If you are just going to put it in a frying pan and heat it to 350 degrees, you really don’t have to use a raw, virgin oil…..I would save the expensive raw oil for eating, skin care, smoothies etc…

      –Heather

      • ThriftyNut said,

        April 10, 2012 at 9:27 AM

        lol, everything I click on is out of stock… Thank you! I will keep checking back to see when they supply their stock.

  2. momgonepaleo said,

    April 10, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    Great post! My health journey started with eliminating the foods I was sensitive too. It began as a Candida cleansing diet then as I added foods back in like Dairy or Gluten I could really feel the impact they had on me. Apparently when you live in a chronic state of yuckiness it is hard to figure out what exactly makes you feel yucky. When everything is cleared out then as you add back in the body’s reaction is much more noticeable.

    I totally agree with the bad fats. It’s such a huge hidden danger and 95% of us have no idea. Great Job! 😉

    • April 10, 2012 at 11:16 AM

      an elimination diet is a great way to figure out your optimal diet! I also think that as peoples guts heal, they can try every 6 months to add that food back in and SOME people can eventually eat that “reactive” food again. I was one of the lucky ones, fasting from wheat for over a year healed my body enough that now I can eat it, in small amounts, with no problem.

      • RobynJgc said,

        April 27, 2012 at 4:50 PM

        The exact same thing happened to me with wheat. I still don’t eat white flour products much though. What do you think of rice bran oil? I keep to a low gi, low carb, no fake food diet and that has really helped me loose baby weight and recover from post natal depression. I still have to take a small dose of an anti anxiety drug though which is frustrating so I am going to try and give up caffiene. Thanks for the info. Your doing a wonderful job.

      • April 27, 2012 at 4:57 PM

        I haven’t used rice bran oil before, but I tend to stick to oils that existed 100 years ago. Would they have been able to get oil out of rice 100 years ago? I don’t really know..??.As far as anxiety goes I would recommend The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. She is the Amino Acid expert, and has really helped me a lot in that area. I also posted about how to quit caffeine with no headache here….https://arealfoodlover.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/how-to-break-the-caffeine-addiction/

  3. denlyn3 said,

    April 10, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    You are correct that healthy living is a journey that we all need to take. I need to re-evaluate my journey to get past a period of being kind of stuck. As my wife and I age (both 54) we find that our middle keeps growing no matter what we do. A new strategy is needed.

  4. April 10, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Enjoyed a little peek into your journey. 🙂 It’s nice to see what started it for you and how you’ve worked up to where you are to change. I have a friend who says “I want to be like you” in the way of health and food and such, but I always tell her we started out slowly. We started with buying organic and then it’s slowly changed into what it is now. It’s ALWAYS changing isn’t it? I guess if we stop learning then we die. It is about not overwhelming yourself, how easy it is to do that. When people look at us now and they are still microwaving and eating margarine it seems like an impossible task to get to where we are, but you have to start somewhere!

    • April 10, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      Exactly. I learn new things about this journey every day. I really think the more you research and delve into these subjects, the more confused you get. You end up having no earthly idea what to eat 🙂 Start small. Keep it simple

  5. April 10, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Your story about starting to eat healthier sounds similar to mine. Actually, mine started out as finding a way to eat cheaper when my spouse was laid off, but once he started working again and we had switched to making everything ourselves, it became a larger emphasis on cooking everything with healthy ingredients.

    I love coconut oil!

    • April 10, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      I definitely try to be as cheap as possible. Out of neccessity and also I think I’m just a cheapskate by nature. 🙂

  6. April 10, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    Great post. I’m curious what eating wheat “in small amounts” means for you. I went off gluten for over a year and am now experimenting with reintroducing it. It seems to be going smoothly but I don’t think I could handle eating it daily.

    • April 10, 2012 at 8:30 PM

      Let me think, this week I had a homemade whole wheat tortilla made with sprouted flour, and two or three crackers (same flour) with some amazing imported cheese. That’s all for a typical week. Just listen to your body, if you have a bad reaction stop! I also don’t digest unsoaked grains very well, so that really helped.

  7. April 12, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    well said! exactly what i think, but u explain it way better. Have you heard of green pastures fermented cod liver oil? just wondering your thoughts.

    • April 13, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      I take Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil/ Butter Oil Blend every day. I love it and think it is the highest quality cod liver oil that you can buy. I have had two tooth cavities remineralize since taking this (post to come) and I highly recommend it.

      • April 13, 2012 at 10:44 AM

        that is right- u said that. I meant peaceful pastures coconut oil. Have u seen that one?

      • April 13, 2012 at 10:54 AM

        I haven’t heard of Peaceful Pastures. I’ll have to check them out

  8. Natural Nutrition Nurse said,

    April 22, 2012 at 11:14 PM

    Tropical Traditions (tropicaltraditions.com) is another wonderful family owned company making excellent quaility coconut oil the old fashioned way. They are sustainable and support about 8 farmers in the mountains of the Phillipines.

  9. April 27, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    […] Your Journey to Health (and where to start first) […]

  10. April 11, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    […] I am the ultimate cheap skate. I was standing in the grocery store aisle reading labels (yes I am a Label Nazi, and you should be too!) and after much searching, finally found a deep conditioning hair mask that […]


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