I’m a bit of an all-or-nothing kind of girl. My life, particularly where it relates to food and exercise, has been filled with periods of “good” and “bad”, “on” or “off”. It wasn’t until recently (like last week when I blogged about progress) that I realized I’ve actually found a semblance of balance. It turns out that my balance looks a lot like a teeter-totter, not something straight across and even but rather something that goes up and down. Still it’s fairly balanced. I don’t eat perfectly Paleo, but I get back to what nourishes my body pretty quickly, and I don’t workout with perfect intensity every time, but on most days I get my workout done. The thought that I’m finding some consistency in my habits, even if what is consistent is that there is variability, is one that I welcome. It feels good.
I remember when I first started eating Paleo and learning about what is best to put in our bodies. I wanted organic fruits and vegetables only, grass-fed meat and dairy only, everything the best that we could get. I was all-in for sure. I recognized the value of that and wanted to do everything that I could to help properly nourish my family. But it can get expensive and sometimes it can be difficult to adhere to all of the best principles. So what’s a person to do? Throw in the towel and eat cupcakes and pasta because they’re easy to get? I don’t think so.
In my opinion, the answer is to do the best with what you have! In general, choose the best quality fats and protein that you can afford. Coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, avocado oil – these are all great fat sources. Canola oil and processed vegetable oils? Not so much. In fact, I avoid these oils as best that I can and never use them at home. As for meat, if you are cooking with a fattier cut, it’s worth it to splurge on grass-fed or pasture-raised, especially if you plan on eating the fat (like chicken skin). Fat from these sources is actually healthy for you, but it’s a different story with conventional, feed-lot animals. If this is what you can afford or have access to, though, don’t despair and give up. Consider sticking to lean protein or removing the extra fat from other cuts. Here’s the thing: it’s better to go with the lean (conventionally produced) protein than to skip it all together and head to the pasta aisle. Your body gets abundant nourishment from protein and risks inflammation and leaky gut from grains.
The same goes for organic fruits and vegetables. I would love to eat homegrown all the time, but that’s not realistic for my family. I’d also like to eat locally and organically all the time, but even that isn’t practical for us all the time. That doesn’t mean I give up on the desire to support our local farmers and focus on organic produce, it just means that sometimes I have to make a different choice. As often as we can, we choose local, organic produce but in the end, I’d rather eat conventional zucchini than no zucchini at all. I have to have my zoodles!
If you’re choosing when to buy organic, I recommend you shop judiciously. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
- Snap peas
If you can get these organic, do! If you can’t, though, these foods still offer valuable vitamins and minerals and are worth keeping on the menu. Just wash really well and peel when you can, but don’t stop eating vegetables because you can’t get organic.
Here are the Clean 15. These foods don’t have a lot of pesticide residue or have a thick peel so you can stick to conventional to meet your budget.
2. Sweet corn
5. Sweet peas – frozen
15. Sweet potatoes
You don’t have to be perfect to nourish your body. Just remember to do the best that you can and never stop learning and striving to support your life with delicious, healthy food. It’s totally worth it!
P.S. If you have any questions you want to put out there, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to explain more!