A super easy, fascinating book to read (not a diet book) is Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck. I think it is about $15 or so new, can be found used (or at the library?). It covers all the basic food groups and is very common sense. Heavily referenced if you prefer to do your own research as well.
My basics are: I endeavor not to purchase groceries that have ingredients I can not pronounce. I don’t eat everything organic but just whole and fresh or fresh frozen is way better than processed. I almost never buy organic fruits and veggies that are on the cleanest dozen or is it ten? list. I did recently switch to organic potatoes when I found out they had the highest pesticide concentration of anything. I care more about having clean meats and dairy than I do organic produce. Oh, and we plant a garden usually. I almost always buy meat that does not have growth hormones and antibiotics. Occasionally grassfed beef, but that is not the norm, because of price in my area. I take cod liver oil and wild sockeye salmon oil, use whole wheat flour, raw honey, make chicken broth from whole chickens (super economical for a whole chicken!), soak my grains usually and slow cook beans and rice. I avoid soy. I don’t do lots of vitamins, even if it is organic. I run away from canola oil, corn syrup and don’t stock white flour, rice or sugar. No on refined stuff for me. And we use unrefined sea salt to our hearts content. Add to the above fruits and veggies and dairy of all sorts and whatever spices we want to cook with and those are the basics of how we eat.
I eat the way I do because we like the foods and I have come to believe they are actually healthy, nourishing foods. I figure if God thought cow’s milk would kill us he would have taken the cream out but he didn’t. I also look at the plethora of research that supports the way we eat as healthy, and the fact that for thousands of years across many cultures people ate these foods and were healthy. I have come to believe that the diseases of civilization are diseases of industrialization and we have really messed things up in the last hundred or so years. Also I considered scripture, how God’s promised land was a land flowing with raw milk and raw honey. He didn’t send the Israelites there to die but to be blessed, and those foods were an example of abundance of nutrition and blessing. I remembered too that the fattiest part of the offering was first for the Lord. If it wasn’t the best part I don’t think he would have wanted it. Even native Americans could die of rabbit starvation if they only had lean meat in the winter and no fat. At any rate, I am not scared of any food if it is the way God made it (grassfed, pastured, not GMO, etc.) But there is so much out there to research. I often go to www.westonaprice.org whenever I want to learn about something.
COD LIVER OIL DOES WONDERS!!
The first, most basic changes I made (after two years of marriage with only one pregnancy which resulted in miscarriage) were: threw out my Crisco, quit eating soy products or soy milk, ate lots more butter and started taking cod liver oil- which isn’t bad with a little oj. Now I take even more for breastfeeding and I take so much I reverted to capsules because I just didn’t want to swallow that much oily liquid. The things cod liver oil does seem endless, but it is great for fertility, flu prevention, eyesight, on and on.
Eventually, I started to slow cook more food (like beans for a LONG time), soak my whole grain oatmeal, flour and also my rice or other grains (makes it more easily digested and reduces the phytic acid.) This could sound time consuming, but essentially it isn’t a whole lot more than putting my oatmeal in the pot the night before we want it for breakfast, rather than doing that step in the morning. Soaking has been a traditional way of preparing grains for thousands of years across different cultures. And there is research that shows why it is actually beneficial. Not eating properly prepared foods like these can shorten the health and strength of your digestive capabilities, which is why I have an early 30’s relative who was in the hospital for one week with diverticulitus.
Also, an extra trick is to use raw honey on oatmeal or toast as it starts pre-digesting the grains and making it even easier on your system.
Basically I have loved to cook for over ten years, but I intentionally went even further away from anything processed so I cook even more. I cook in batches usually so I cut my kitchen time in half, always putting a meal in the freezer. That has become my healthy fast food.
I shop at Costco and Henry’s. I get all my cheese at Henry’s, and they also sometimes have raw cheese for a good price. Generally I stick with Tillamook, which does have some raw cheeses. They also have great prices on both Foster Farms whole chickens .99 cents or Organic chickens 1.99 per ound. My biggest dollar stretching way to go is to always buy the whole chicken now. I get several meals out of it, 10-12 quarts of chicken stock (which makes rice more digestible too) and the dog gets all the very soft bones. Foster Farms is labeled no extra growth hormones or antibiotics. Either one is healthier than standard chicken. In general I just try to stick with the best I can afford. I love getting the $5 bags of frozen veggies at Costco too. Often they have so many organic bags of frozen freshness. I don’t freak much over everything being organic but most of that I will get at Costco prices if I do.