From Experiment to Lifestyle

Welcome to the January 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little greener. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


When I first read about October Unprocessed and the challenge to quit processed food for a whole month, I thought it would be a piece of homemade cake. I reasoned: We already eat mostly homemade food, I usually cook from scratch, and we already pretty much eat that way. It was the “mostly,” “usually,” and “pretty much” that caught me.

In the very beginning, it was tough to avoid all food that didn’t pass the “kitchen test,” meaning that it was something I couldn’t make in my own kitchen with regular ingredients. It was really hard to give up store bought bread, cereal, crackers, salad dressing, snacks, even boxes of “organic” mac and cheese. It was a lot harder than I realized it would be and I ended up eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, more than usual.

As the month went on, I got more and more used to skipping the processed food. I felt great and lost weight without even trying, getting five pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. I was so thrilled with the change! But there were still some things I missed, and I confess to eating too much Halloween candy on November 1. It was also more time consuming to eliminate all of the convenience food. November and December are particularly busy times at work and at home, and after such a restrictive month I slipped too far in the other direction, eating too much junk food and feeling sick and miserable.

I made the decision to make unprocessed food a permanent lifestyle change. I feel like I’m currently in the metaphorical detox stage. I’m craving ice cream, peanut butter cups, and fried chicken. And I’m not even pregnant! I was the only family member participating in the month of October, but now I’m bringing in the rest of my family and changing our lifestyle for the long term.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 10 with all the carnival links.)

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Filed under Adventures, Living from Scratch, parenting, Real Food Resolution, Sustainable Living

28 Responses to From Experiment to Lifestyle

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  7. Oh, man. Huge props to you for going unprocessed. I wish you could come over here and make me do that with you. :) Otherwise, I think I might be too chicken… Maybe I could try it for a week? Eep.

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  9. Wow – good for you! I would love to have no processed food in the house whatsoever. We’re on the “usually” “pretty much all the time” track too, but it would take a lot more effort to get to “all the time”. I’m interested to hear how it goes for the rest of your family!

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  11. Wow mama – I am impressed (and intimidated and intrigued) by the thought of doing this for a whole month! I wish I had someone who could help me shop/cook for such a project! Feel free to share some menu plans ;)

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  13. Wow, you are a determined soul to go completely unprocessed. I know it’s better for us, but yikes. Maybe, we can take little steps for now- like one day and then a week. I must admit the part about losing weight without trying is increasing the lure. Thanks for posting and being an inspiration!

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  15. Well done!

    We are on a similar journey (nothing processed, no dairy, no grains) and it’s taken a few months but it’s definitely getting easier. It’s made me a vigilant meal planner and grocery list maker. While that sounds boring it’s actually been fun to try new recipes and also, to not have the stress of “what’s for dinner?” at 4 o’clock every day.

    Of course, the biggest upside is that I feel awesome. No afternoon lethargy and hunger and my joints feel fantastic.

  16. This is a great challenge, I look forward to hearing how it goes as a permanent decision. We also eat whole foods most of the time but I would love to give up all convenience food. Im with Dionna above, please share some menu plans :)

  17. That’s awesome! Like you, it’s the “mostly” that gets us. Kudos to you for going totally unprocessed. We are gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free so a lot of processed things are out, but they still get me! Maybe I could try for a week? I’d love to get my whole family on board (Hubby and daughter still eat wheat and dairy; son and I do not); I think that would be a big challenge! What does your family think of the idea?

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  22. May I ask what a typical breakfast would turn out like? That’s one area we have quite a lot of ‘processed’ food such as store bought bread, packets of muesli/porridge or other simple grain cereals.

    • Farmer's Daughter

      I need to be out of the door by 6:45am, so breakfast is always “on the go” for me. I typically have toast, from homemade bread. I have been making a whole wheat cinnamon swirl bread that is delicious! I plan to share the recipe soon. I also have a piece of fruit with it.

      My husband tends to have eggs and toast or oatmeal along with coffee.

      My son Joshua eats his breakfast at daycare. I send him with yogurt, applesauce, a banana and a piece of toast or muffin or something else I made.

  23. That’s awesome! I found a website that’s having a whole food challenge all year:

    There are different steps for each month. This month is cleaning out the freezer and pantry. I’m working on this too. I found menu planning really helpful for eating whole foods. I can find time for almost anything if I plan ahead.

    Also, you can still eat ice cream–just make it! We have an ice cream maker and love it. I even keep the freezer stocked with homemade popsicles for Baby T.

  24. Making healthy choices feels so good. I’m glad you found something you can feel good about.

  25. This is great! We are “mostly” unprocessed too. My failings: storebought bread (so easy! so much fluffier than mine!), hot cocoa mix (inexcusable; it’s so easy to make), corn chips, and peanut butter. (Peanut butter, in my book, is okay if it just contains peanuts and salt … but mine doesn’t. I’m spoiled by the super-creamy kind.) My husband also demands baloney, hotdogs, and ketchup, but those are just “his things” and the kiddo and I mostly don’t eat them.

    Ah, and then there are the occasional cave-ins when we just order a pizza or go to Taco Bell. >sigh< Sometimes when you're overwhelmed with cooking every.single.thing from scratch, you're dying for a single meal where you don't have to do ANYTHING. But that's a matter of self-discipline, I guess.

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