The Healthiest Thing You Can Do in 2012

When the new year rolls around a number of us tend to make resolutions to become healthier. This can involve promises to eat better, to make healthier meals for our family, to lose weight, etc. But, when we resolve to change in these areas, we're often left pondering... what exactly do we change? In the early months of the year we are inundated with numerous advertisements for weight loss programs, gym memberships, and diet meal subscriptions, all promising to help us achieve these new year goals. But, do these really hold the answer we're looking for? How do we know what foods will actually make us healthy when there are thousands of books written on thousands of different diets?
If there is one thing we can conclude, it's that Americans have never been as concerned about health, diet, and nutrition in any other period of our nation's history. And, is there any wonder why? Today, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, fertility problems, mental disorders, and various other diseases run rampant even though millions upon millions of dollars are spent each year in research to find cures.
Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, said it well when she wrote,
"Clearly something is very wrong, even though many Americans have been conscientious about following orthodox dietary advice. They take exercise seriously, many have stopped smoking, consumption of fresh vegetables has increased, many have reduced their intake of salt, and a good portion of America has cut back on red meats and animal fats. But none of these measures has made a dent in the ever-increasing toll of degenerative disease. We buy foods labeled lowfat, no cholesterol, reduced sodium, thinking they are good for us. Why, then, are we so sick?"
While all of this information seems to suggest we are bound for debilitating disease, the good news is: you have a choice. There is an answer, and you have the power to make healthier decisions for yourself and your family. No, this is not another fad diet. In fact, changing your diet to traditional foods, I believe, is one of the healthiest changes you can make for yourself and your family this new year.
What are traditional foods?

Traditional foods are those foods which have nourished people for thousands of years before the industrialization of food which began roughly in the 19th century. The foods of our ancestors were whole, unrefined, nutrient-dense, and have a long history of supporting good health. Traditional foods are unaltered and organic. They are also simple and fundamental. Traditional foods tend to be local. If you live on the coast, you may eat more fish. If you live on the plains or in a valley, you may eat more fresh, raw dairy and vegetables. In this way, traditional food is NOT a one-size-fits-all type of diet. Additionally, traditional foods are NOT low fat or low cholesterol, vegetarian or vegan, processed or packaged and sent around the globe.
Why eat traditional foods?

The best reason to eat traditional foods is for health as these foods contain the highest quantity and best quality of nutrients when they are grown properly and sustainably. Data from anthropological studies suggest that those cultures which followed a traditional food diet were also virtually free of those chronic diseases which plague our families today: cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease, dental cavities, etc.
Conventional and processed foods taste very differently than traditional foods. By adding traditional foods into your diet you will be embarking on an adventure of aroma, flavor, and texture.
By eating traditional foods you also support small, family farms and other similar food operations. You avoid giving your money to big corporations which truly do not have your health first and foremost in their mind. Remember, every time you purchase food you are voting with your dollars!
Which foods are traditional foods?
  • Grass-fed, sustainably raised animal meats and poultry. This includes organ meats which were highly valued by ancient cultures.
  • Wild, sustainably caught fish and seafood preferably caught in non-polluted waters. This also includes cod liver oil, a prized natural food supplement by ancient cultures.
  • Bone broths made from the bones of the above-mentioned meats, poultry, and seafood
  • Organic eggs from hens raised on pasture, that are allowed the full benefits of being free range: able to eat grubs, insects, and worms in additional to plants
  • Raw, unpasteurized, non-homogenized dairy products from pastured animals. This includes traditionally fermented dairy products: yogurt, cheese, kefir, sour cream, buttermilk, etc.
  • Whole grains that are sprouted, soaked, and/or used to make baked goods from traditional sourdough fermentation methods.
  • Organic and/or ecologically grown vegetables and fruits
  • Lacto-fermented vegetables and fruit condiments, such as pickles, sauerkraut, salsa, chutneys, mayonnaise, etc.
  • Traditionally fermented beverages, such as kombucha, water kefir, apple cider, etc.
  • Healthy fats such as butter, unrefined coconut oil, lard, tallow, suet, palm oil, and extra virgin olive oil
  • Wholesome sweeteners like raw honey, organic maple syrup, dried fruits (all in moderation), and small amounts of unrefined sugars like Rapadura and Sucanat
  • Unrefined, mineral-full sea salt, as well as organic, non-irradiated herbs and spices.
As you can see, there are many foods included in a traditional food diet. And, it does take a bit of effort to switch to a new way of eating, but, then again, you have so much to gain for it! By switching over to a traditional diet you can help you, your spouse, and your children avoid those diseases which many Americans develop. Those who eat these nourishing foods have also noticed decrease in colds/flus and thus, trips to the doctor, which also means you'll save money in the medical portion of your budget, not to mention a decrease in the amount of days you feel crummy each year. 
In the next several posts we will be diving into the details of the above-mentioned traditional foods and suggesting steps to take to convert your and your family's way of eating. This is a new year's resolution you won't regret, and have only better health to gain from it!

What traditional food do you want to learn more about?

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