I must admit: raising my family naturally has been very fun. I love reading about health, preparing traditional foods, and experimenting with new health-related projects. One of my favorite things to do and learn about is fermenting food, especially kombucha, milk kefir, and my latest interest: Moroccan preserved lemons. Yum!
Though entertaining, this journey did not start because it’s fun. I wish I could say that my fire for learning fuels all of my interests, but it stems from a less happy root: fear.
Everyone has certain things that they struggle with. One of mine, though I’ve gotten much better at controlling it, is my wild–and, at times, despairing–imagination. I remember many points in my childhood that were filled with tears because I was afraid that I’d lose the people I love. It’s natural and common for the tender hearts of children to ache as they learn and grow, and mine certainly did once I learned and understood that death would one day claim those that I loved most. When I wasn’t busy playing with friends or challenging my parents (I probably wasn’t the easiest child!), I sometimes found myself wallowing in bouts of sad nostalgia and stirring up fears in myself that gave me nightmares, even though I have had an exceptionally blessed life. Unfortunately, these obsessive and unhealthy thought patterns followed me all the way into adulthood and my married life, where they expanded into a greater pool of possibilities, allowing me to indulge in intensely tragic thoughts of losing my husband and our children. Especially after learning about the illnesses of my sweet husband’s parents, my bad habit of despairing increased. My father-in-law suffered from multiple sclerosis for 10 years and died young, and my mother-in-law has been battling cancer for 10 years now. I suppose this is where my health-kick really took off.
In order to counter my husband’s poor genetic disposition towards cancer and autoimmune diseases, I felt very compelled to do everything I could to maintain his health. I was afraid of what would happen if we didn’t try our very best, for his sake, and for the health of our children.
Starting out in my journey, I was a vegan. Fully convinced that the movie Forks Over Knives was the answer to avoiding disease, I strictly followed a vegan diet and got my husband (who was my fiance at that time) to join me. In another post, I describe some of the damage that veganism caused my body. Anyway, after experiencing more negative effects than positive ones on a mostly unprocessed vegan diet, I learned about the GAPS diet and the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF). This was the turning point for us in our healthy-food journey: instead of eating only plants, we started to learn and experiment with traditionally prepared, hearty, flavorful, and filling foods that include animal products. We never stepped back into the world of plant-based diets again. 🙂
In our journey to finding a truly wholesome, delicious, and nutrient-dense way of life, I’ve learned some useful things:
1. Pick something and stick with it. Do NOT overwhelm yourself with obsessive research. I discovered that my anxiety related to health and finding the perfect diet for our family had turned me into an irritable vampire of a wife and mother. As it is my main duty to raise my children and care for my husband to the best of my ability, I realized that I was failing at being the positive influence that I needed to be. In order to be correct about nutrition, I was sucking the happiness out of my family! This lesson was hard to learn, but I was able to improve our family life by refusing to be overwhelmed with the latest conflicting research about nutrition. Here was our solution: only research necessary nutritional questions, and then stop and do something else. It’s tempting to fall down the rabbit-hole of health and research topic, after topic, after topic…just say, “no”! New health ideas come up all the time. If you’re interested in one, look into it as long as it’s not detracting from other areas of your life and duties. We finally chose to follow the well-researched WAPF recommendations, and it has been great for us healthwise and tastewise. Now, we can focus on reaping the benefits of this delicious way of eating, but there are no more big decisions to make. That’s a HUGE weight off my shoulders!
2. Take back control of yourself. This seems like an obvious point, but for somebody who is vulnerable to heavy influence by feelings, I need to be sure that my logic–not my emotion–is my base. Emotions can be deceiving and this is proven over and over to me as I reflect back on my entire life. I spent too much time concerning myself with tragedies that hadn’t even happened yet, and focusing on insignificant inconveniences that caused me much grief for no reason at all. I wasted my own time. Really, our responses are 100% our responsibility, and though we can’t control our circumstances, our reactions to our circumstances are what matter. Choose to take back your life from the deceptive waxings and wainings of irrational emotions! Of course, not all feelings are worth ignoring, but I’ve discovered that the majority of the negative ones are not based in truth whatsoever. You can choose the easy rational route without being derailed by untrue, negative, parasitic thoughts. Health is not only physical, but deeply related to the state of our souls.
In the end, we all do and will suffer to varying degrees. Contemplating the difficult realities of life is not only good, but also a necessary pain. However, we can make whatever we want of life: there are opportunities to learn from our weaknesses if we choose to, or we can allow our circumstances to defeat us. As for me and our family, I choose health, and you can, too!
“Sorrow is a sanctuary as long as self is kept outside. […] let us not foster, embrace, rekindle and indulge our grief. For then our sorrow is a selfish and luxurious fiction, a ground in which the Holy Spirit will not dig.”
― Father Frederick William Faber
Are you considering raising your family naturally? What inspired your decision?
1. My grapple with fear
2. Overcoming personal obstacles
3. Choosing health for our family!
Disclaimer: All information on this blog is for informational purposes only. I am not a licensed medical professional. Please discuss any dietary or lifestyle changes, supplements, or medical questions with your doctor.
She lives in Grand Forks North Dakota with her husband and daughter Jane, and receives raw milk and pastured meats from Bartlett Farms.