I was cleaning out my fridge the other day (long overdue) and stumbled upon a very stinky jar of kefir grains in the back corner. My lovely neighbour had given them to me, I cultured my milk for a few months and then, somehow they disappeared into the depths of my overcrowded fridge and dropped from my mind.
Now I Hate (yes that is supposed to be a capital H) food wastage, but alas, these babies were unsalvageable and though disappointed, a small part of me felt relieved. You see I have a tendency to strive for perfection, especially when it comes to my health (I wish I could say the same for my appearance – several days without running a brush through my soon to be dreadlocks is not unusual). I also have a tendency of becoming seriously overwhelmed by all of the things I really want to achieve in a day. I’m getting better at this, but I often find it difficult to prioritise because I think I can do it all and then, end up juggling a million balls and not really achieving much at all. I’m sure this sounds familiar to many mums out there?
My poor stinky kefir got me thinking of this world of online information overload and sharing of social media ‘perfect’ lives. Personally, I marvel at many of the seriously popular bloggers I follow who seem to manage to regularly brew kombucha and kefir water, ferment vegetables, sprout, bake daily loaves of gluten-free sourdough, make their own yoghurt, butter and ghee (because it’s TOO easy not to), always soak their grains and only eat activated nuts and seeds. They start the day with hot lemon water, oil-pull on rising, eat three tablespoons of coconut oil a day, make their own skin care, always find the time for exercise and mindfulness (and also manage to brush their glowing locks daily). It’s enough to make this regular mum feel rather inadequate.
Now I do my best to focus on the big picture with the information I chose to share here at Well Nourished – that is enjoying real, whole food and the awesome possibilities of creating a meal to share with family and friends. But the details of the best case scenario often sneak in; I figure you can decide what you can manage and what will work for you; fermenting, soaking, activating and preparing your food in a time honoured traditional way, really is perfect…in a perfect world.
Every day I’m questioned asked about my habits in the kitchen – to be honest, they are always changing and evolving. I try to soak grains and activate my nuts, but sometimes I don’t. I used to make my own yoghurt, but at the moment, other things have taken priority and I buy it. Sometimes I sprout, bake bread, ferment vegetables and god-willing start the day with lemon in hot water. Sometimes, it all goes pear-shaped and I pick-up takeaway for dinner.
My point is that the intricacies of the way we eat seem to have become the big picture and a source of stress for so many (which really defeats the purpose). Try not to get hung-up on all of those little things you “should” be doing. If you’re simply able to enjoy delicious home cooked meals made from fresh, seasonal and local produce (and largely avoid processed foods) I think you’re in a pretty good place.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by a whole-foods way of life and wondering where best to direct your time and energy, my advice is…
- Prioritise your week to shop for the best quality local and seasonal (organic if available to you) whole ingredients, I’ve written more about why here. Having well-stocked pantry gives you a good head start to prepare nourishing meals each day. My once a week trip to my local farmers market is not negotiable for me, because it fills my cupboards with the best quality produce, saves me money and also time.
- Focus on putting together simple dishes such as grilled/BBQ’d/ baked/ roasted/ steamed meat, fish or vegetarian protein served with salad or vegetables and a nice home made the dressing (recipe here). This type of meal meets all of your nutritional needs (protein, carbohydrate, fats are all covered plus a good variety of micro-nutrients). Unless your basic diet is nourishing, it won’t make a blind bit of difference that you are consuming a cup of sauerkraut and three tablespoons of coconut oil a day.
- Always cook more than you need and have leftovers for breakfast or lunch. If you are baking healthy snacks or treats, double the batch and freeze them. This is largely how I manage to avoid processed snacks for my kids – by streamlining my efforts and keeping my fridge and freezer full of options.
- If you have the time and the forethought to soak, activate, sprout, ferment, make your own bread, yoghurt, butter or ghee – fabulous. But if buying yoghurt or bread that week saves you a little sanity, then it is not the end of the world. If you forget to soak your quinoa in the morning, give it a real good rinse and enjoy it anyway.
- Direct your time and energy into the things that you eat most. Personally, we don’t eat a whole lot of bread and usually, only buy one loaf a week. So I shell out for a quality loaf of sourdough and we all really enjoy it. However I have lived semi-remotely in the past where a decent loaf was hard to come by, so at that time, I did my best to make it myself.
- Also, focus on what serves you best. So for example, if you have a gut issue you might like to prioritise fermenting and soaking to support your gut. But if doing so is super stressful, then you won’t benefit anyway.
My take home message is to focus on the big picture and aim for real, not perfect.
You might also like my post “Finding Peace with my Plate.” – an insight into why food stress has no place in my life.