We'd like to introduce Courtney Haswell, a Real Food blogger dedicated to upholding a healthy lifestyle for her and her family, while encouraging and helping others to do the same. This is Courtney's story of Real Food journey. For more information about Courtney, visit her blog—Family Gone Healthy. If you have a story you'd like to share about your Real Food experience, we'd love to hear it! Email us at email@example.com. Here's Courtney's story:
Let's be honest, most of us at some point have eaten a typical American diet. Either as kids, teenagers, or even adults on the go, quick and easy comfort food is what we usually crave. I was no different growing up. I loved boxed macaroni & cheese and hot dogs. My parents would cook most of our meals, but Dr. Pepper and Oreos were constant staples. You could say that back then we didn't know better. We assumed that if it was sold at the grocery store, it was safe to eat.
After I got married and was out on my own, I would make an effort with my husband to cook more often. At the time I thought to myself, "Hamburger Helper is better then fast food," but I really didn't consider what I was putting into my body. Even though I studied the internal workings of the human body throughout college and have a degree in biomedical engineering, I still was oblivious to just how bad these ingredients were for the body.
It wasn't until I gave birth to my first daughter at the end of 2009 that I started to take more notice. Of course, we all want what's best for our children, and I began to research the right foods to feed her. I happened to see the documentary Food Inc., and that's when I really opened my eyes. I couldn't believe some of the things I saw in that documentary. How could so many people be unaware of what's going on with our food supply? The living conditions of the animals? The genetically modified ingredients that aren't even labeled in our foods? I tried to start making changes right away.
Unfortunately, change is hard. A big move and new jobs got in the way, and we slowly crept back into bad eating habits. We were better than before, but we were still eating a LOT of processed foods. This is the story for a lot of people. They are aware that what they're eating is toxic and can really harm their bodies over time, but a lot of people just accept and trust our foods or don't have time to make change. It usually takes something big for change to happen. You get sick, become overweight, or for me it was becoming pregnant again.
While I was pregnant with my second daughter I was having a hard time putting on weight and had severe morning sickness. Most processed foods would make me sick, and I seemed to be craving more fruits and vegetables. I was also having trouble keeping foods down, so I started researching which foods had the most nutrition. I didn't want to waste my small appetite on empty calories! While researching, I discovered so much online about "clean eating" and "real food" and couldn't stop reading.
When my second daughter was born in October of 2012, I was ready to make a huge change, not just tiny ones anymore. I was going to try breastfeeding and wanted to get optimal nutrition for myself that would be passed on in my milk to the baby. I went through our pantry and tossed out everything processed or containing artificial dyes and genetically-modified ingredients. I was finally fed up with our industrial food system, and all the large companies trying to profit over cheap, processed foods. I also wanted to start supporting our local farmers and other families in our area. Regular trips to the farmers' market became a staple in our week.
In early 2013, I decided to start "Family Gone Healthy", my blog dedicated to helping other families take the same steps we took. With a little planning and a willingness to learn more about the food we put in our bodies, every family in American can take the steps to eating better!
Courtney Haswell is a Real Food blogger behind the website, Family Gone Healthy, and lives in North Carolina. She is a biomedical engineer by day and has two young daughters, ages 1 and 4. Check out her free Real Food Grocery Guide and subscribe to her weekly newsletter to follow more of her story.
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