When the doctor told us he believed my son was struggling with irritable bowel syndrome everything about the way we do food changed. After reading 100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake and educating ourselves about how food is made and processed we made the decision to do what we could to minimize processed foods, check labels, bake from scratch with better ingredients, and buy organic.
UPDATE: For a great source of whole food and organic recipes I highly recommend Jilly Winger’s book The Prairie Homestead Cookbook.
I’m by NO means an expert and I’m still learning, but I’m going to share what that process looked like for us in a series of posts and hopefully give you some helpful tips if you’re looking into healthy eating habits, as well!
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Making the Switch
We really decided to make the switch to organic for vegetables and a few other things after looking more into pesticides and reading a blog about a woman who was a healthy eater but struggled with IBS. She often ate salad and her doctor suggested she just switch her salad to organic and see if it worked, so she did and noticed almost an immediate change. That was the clincher for me!
But it’s so expensive!
It did give me sticker shock when I first started buying organic, but thankfully places like Aldi and WalMart are starting to carry more and it’s getting to be affordable. Natural Grocers is also very reasonable most of the time and similar smaller grocers like Sprouts Farmers Market are popping up and making a difference, too.
It’s not always in the budget so sometimes I pick and choose what’s most important for our family. When we made the switch, we didn’t change our budget amount for food. We stopped buying junk food like Doritos and Oreos and other items that used to be staples in our house and it mostly evened out. It’s not always easy, but it’s proven to be worth it for the health of our son and I know the rest of us are benefitting, as well.
For our produce I try to at least stick to buying organic when purchasing fruits and veggies from this list:
The Dirty Dozen
We also decided to take up gardening this year, which I’ll talk more about in a later post. It’s always fun to check out your local farmer’s market on the weekend’s. Not only are you supporting local farmers, but you also get a great variety of produce and it’s educational for your kids! Just be sure to ask if it was organically grown if it’s not clear. A lot of times you can also purchase local grass-fed beef at the farmer’s market, as well.
For our dairy, I buy organic for milk because it’s been processed with no hormones, antibiotics, or toxic pesticides. I try to buy organic for butter, yogurt, and cheese, as well.
When I buy packaged food I still try to buy organic because even though it’s been processed more, at least the ingredients are better for you. When I stayed at home I cooked A LOT from scratch using whole ingredients. I still try to but don’t always have time.
My Purchase List
Here’s my list of organic items I’m able to purchase at Aldi for a reasonable price:
spaghetti (I buy a box of whole grain and a box of regular and mix it because high amounts of fiber can worsen IBS symptoms)
strawberries (when available)
grapes (when available)
eggs (free range brown)
salad greens mix
snack size cucumbers
Bone broth or cream of chicken/mushroom (it’s not always available so see below for another brand I buy)
I have a few organic items I purchase at Sam’s. We like their Member’s Mark Organic Marinara Sauce, their organic maple syrup, and On The Border’s organic blue corn tortilla chips.
I also buy organic cereal, broth, and cream of anything soup (when Aldi isn’t carrying it):
Cream of anything soup: Pacific (they also have bone broth and a variety of other soups like tomato, etc. and I usually buy it at Natural Grocers)
Cereal: Kashi (we like this one), Cascadian Farms (they have a great variety, this is one my kids like), and Nature’s Path Envirokids (my kids like this one, too)
Again, I buy organic cereal because the ingredients are better even though the amount of sugar can still be on the high side. I do make breakfast on the weekends and sometimes make homemade bread or muffins they can eat so it’s not cereal every day. And they love smoothies and overnight oatmeal which are easy and healthy breakfasts.
Where to Buy + Resources
I touched on this a little bit earlier, but there are more and more places carrying organic food for reasonable prices. If you don’t have an Aldi close by, WalMart is starting to carry more organic at affordable prices as well as Target when they’re running a sale. Natural Grocers is also great and when you sign up for their rewards program you qualify for their special promotions.
We have Sprouts Farmers Market and when you shop there on Wednesdays you can take advantage of the sales ad for the previous week and the current week! Akin’s Natural Food Market is another one we have. Just check your area and see what pops up! And of course, look up your local farmers market!
UPDATE: If you’re not near a place that sells organic, sites like Thrive Market are making it easier to access by allowing you to order online and have it shipped to your door!
If you’re new to organic and things like “grass-fed” and “free-range” are foreign to you, Organic Valley’s site is a great resource for learning more about the importance of what goes into our food. They also have a great product line, however, they are a little on the pricey side. Also, check out Lisa Leake’s site to read more about her journey and 100 Days of Real Food.
I hope this has been helpful! Part 2 of this series covers reading labels and I’ll share brands that use the best (and fewest!) ingredients. Please feel free to ask questions or leave a comment below!
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