I’m Nicki Gibson, mum to Max (5) and Chloe (3). I think there is too much sugar, too many preservatives and too many chemicals in most modern foods and that we, globally, eat too many processed carbohydrates, rather than eating ‘real food’.
I feel we should go back-to-basics and eat more simply with a diet rich in fresh and unprocessed vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, oils and fats. I also feel we should eat full-fat dairy products that have had limited processing, if any. I also feel we should only drink water (certainly for the children) and we should limit sugary-treats, caffeine and alcohol to be ‘occasional’ treats only.
We advocate a ‘real food’ diet for our family because we feel we should obtain all of our vitamins, minerals and essential fats through food alone. We eat ‘real food’ because this is the food that are bodies are designed for. We’re not meant to eat all the pre-packaged processed foods we see in society and we, as adults, are responsible for feeding our kids these foods too and the ones that can do something about it.
Nothing motivates myself and my husband, Nathan, more than to see our two children, Max and Chloe, eat food in it’s most natural form possible. We all, as a family, have seen huge improvements in our wellbeing from switching to a ‘real food’ diet.
I’m not a trained nutritionist or health professional and I don’t work in the food industry. I certainly don’t get paid to endorse any products I mention on this blog. I’m a parent and along with Nathan, just want to see our two children grow up and be as healthy as they possibly can.
It’s been a tough road, a massive learning curve and we’ve had ups and downs but now we’re into the swing of things. I want to share our progress and hopefully help other families who want to do the same thing.
I am busy, in-fact very busy, I’m a mum, there is always something going on in our household and I don’t have time for home baking, curing our own meats or even growing our own herbs or vegetables. We also live in the city centre and certainly don’t have the space to raise animals (for consumption) chemical free. But we want our kids to eat ‘real food’ that contain only natural ingredients, so how do we do it?
We make sure we cook all of our meals from scratch (I make time for that!) then we know what ingredients have been put into our food. When we can’t make it from scratch, we use store-bought products that contain natural ingredients only, which I will be highlighting as our story evolves. We also snack on plenty of readily available vegetables, fruit and nuts and seeds (in moderation), making it easy and simple to live.
We didn’t always live this way though and our change of diet all started because of our son Max.
Max has always been a lively character and always the life and soul of family and friends’ get-togethers, he’s a lovely, sociable boy. When he was two, he was always jumping around, always fun to be with and certainly kept us on our toes. However, there would be certain times of the day when he would get very hyperactive. And I mean very! Grunting, spinning around and sometimes completely uncontrollable. It was almost like he was on drugs and had way too much energy that his little body could handle. At first we thought it was perfectly normal for kids to get this hyper but as time went on and we were able to compare him with other children the same age, we could see he was a lot more hyperactive than others. We started to get worried.
Then we noticed his tummy was looking very bloated, especially after breakfast (he loved Weetbix) and we took him to see a specialist who, after blood tests, diagnosed him to have the cell markers that could one day lead to celiac disease. We were advised to keep him on a gluten-free diet as he had an intolerance to gluten that could one day potentially lead to a gluten allergy and/or celiacs. So we did just that. We substituted all the ‘gluten’ products for ‘gluten-free’ products. As we were, back then, on a conventional diet, I didn’t think of it as much of a change to our normal diet. I thought we were very lucky to have all the gluten-free breads, cereals, pizza bases and pastas stocked on the supermarket shelves and the plentiful gluten-free options in cafes and restaurants.
But we still had the hyperactivity, in fact it got worse and it was all of the time, every day. It was socially embarrassing and this went on for over a year, I would sometimes avoid social gatherings, especially if I knew there would be sugary gluten-free temptations for Max. It took us ages to realise it wasn’t just a personality thing. One morning I ran out of his normal gluten-free cereal (which he insisted on having EVERY morning, boy of routine!) and the only thing I had in the house for breakfast were some eggs. So I gave the kids boiled eggs for breakfast and guess what, no hyperactivity that day! It was amazing! It was the food he was eating!
This then led us to question what he was actually eating in the gluten-free products and also what was he eating in the conventional products before he was on a gluten-free diet too. Foods that we commonly see every day in our nationwide supermarkets and independent stores. So we started to analyse his whole diet and the rest of our family’s diet too.
We felt the hyperactivity was caused by the added sugar, preservatives and chemicals found in today’s convenience and processed foods (more so in gluten-free products because his hyperactivity increased). We never quite got to the bottom of what ‘specific’ chemical or preservative was causing the hyperactivity and we didn’t go through a process of elimination with products that had added sugar in to see if it made any difference. We just saw immediate results as soon as we gave Max ‘real food’. So we started to look at all the ‘real food’ options, foods that are in the most natural unprocessed form so we could avoid additives permanently.
A friend of mine said she was undertaking a Paleo mealplan. It sounded interesting because omitted all modern-day convenience foods, reflected a ‘real food’ way of eating that our primal ancestors were thought to have consumed and was naturally gluten-free. It also restricts processed carbohydrates and I’ve since learnt these are not so good for us either. However, natural carbohydrates (kumara for example) are fine in moderation and essential for active, growing kids. The Paleo lifestyle also advocates a high fat diet too, controversial to mine and Nathan’s food education beliefs from when we were young (myself growing up in England and Nathan in New Zealand) it took a long time for us to get our heads around. However, I have seen our health improve with a higher ‘healthy’ fat diet (we look and feel better) plus I have read a lot on this topic too and can only see benefits in including it in our diet. We also don’t consume added sugar (free sugar), only naturally occurring sugar (intrinsic sugar) from whole fruits and honey, and these are limited too. If we have a rare occasion treat we make sure it’s a special experience and/or occasion and we make sure it’s a good one!
We wanted to undertake this new food plan properly and so after recommendation from another friend of mine, we arranged a consultation with nutritionist Dr Mikki Williden, who helped guide us over to a Paleo-led ‘real food’ meal plan. Mikki is an amazing woman who is undertaking a lot of research in this field. She has been really supportive and informative in our change of lifestyle, ever since we met. Follow Mikki’s Facebook Page here, you’ll love her posts:
Since May 2014, when we made the switch to only eat ‘real food’ in our family, we feel great, our health has improved and it feels like how we, as humans, should be eating and living. We look forward to sharing our journey with you.
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