Hey, Jenna here.
I wanted to use this page to let you get to know me on a more personal level. So here’s my story!
I haven’t always been “crunchy”. Kevin was always the one with the crunchy side. I didn’t really embrace my crunchy side until our son was born, but there was a long road leading up to that point.
I was born and raised in Wisconsin in a family of 5; my mom, my dad, myself, and my two younger brothers. My middle brother is severely autistic. Growing up with him had ups and downs. Living with a permanent toddler in a normally-growing body meant more, and bigger, messes. It meant more of me helping my dad because my mom had to watch my brother. It meant more diets. I know that might seem like weird result of having an autistic brother, but when I was a kid my mom used behavioral diets to help my brother. To do that, she cut out food after food, only adding things back in occasionally to test for a reaction. At the time, I absolutely HATED it. As a show of family togetherness, we all got to participate in a no wheat, no yeast, no soy, no artificial, no preservative, no salicilate, no dairy diet. My youngest brother and I lived off of canned pineapple for what seemed like forever (I think it was a month or two); that was the only thing left that we liked. When Kevin and I met, I told him in no uncertain terms that I would NEVER, EVER, EVER have dietary restrictions like that. I believed in the “everything/anything in moderation” motto. I continued to eat whatever I wanted for years as I watched Kevin experiment with every diet he could find/think of. As Kevin would say, “Life is full of delicious irony”. And then he would laugh at his own pun.
Maybe he wore me down, maybe it was my mom’s lessons kicking in, but I started to agree with some of what they said. Why do they need to put chemical additives in our food? If it needs a preservative, shouldn’t we be buying it fresh? Why use artificial dyes? Over time we both began to become more aware of the chemicals that are in everything and did our best to make more natural choices…as long as those choices were convenient. I swore to myself, though, that I would never jump on the wheat-free bandwagon. This was out of stubbornness and spite.
After we moved to Ithaca, NY, I started eating a lot of sugar. My weekly tub of ice cream was lucky to last more than one day and I frequently bought an extra emergency tub from the convenience store down the road when the first was gone. My weight didn’t go up *too* much, just 20lbs or so. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that I was also building up a strong sugar addiction. Pregnancy made those cravings SOOOOO much worse, though. I had never really liked chocolate. Pregnancy changed that. Suddenly I didn’t just LOVE chocolate, I NEEDED it. I would eat 2lbs of strawberries in a sitting, then follow it up with a quarter of a watermelon. Hershey bars were my favorite. This drove Kevin nuts! He always said, “If you’re going to eat chocolate, can’t we at least buy *good* chocolate?” There were a couple doctor’s check-ups where I was actually scolded for gaining too much weight.
And then, our Little Man was born. That little boy is my everything. This was where I went full-on crunchy. ALL chemicals out of the house, no solid foods until after 6mos, and those foods wouldn’t be starches. We started making our own toothpaste, soap, laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, cough medicine, bug spray, sunscreen, skin moisturizer, and deodorant. But still I ate my buttered noodles 3-days a week and chocolate and ice cream were a big part of my diet. I was down below my pre-pregnancy weight pretty quickly though thanks to breastfeeding.
Then we noticed Little Man’s hives. We thought it was “baby acne” at first, but it was all over his body and it came and went. Kevin was the first to suggest a food allergy, not too much of a stretch considering all of his. So, I went back on an elimination diet for the first time in 8 years. If I ate wheat, he broke out in hives. If I ate soy or peanuts, he had intestinal bleeding. Guess what I don’t eat anymore.
The sugar was the last to go. Seeing some real data on the effects of eating sugar on our bodies helped, and a great diet supplement helped me finally kick my sugar habit in Winter 2014. If you are curious about the effects of refined sugar on our bodies, check out this book. If you want to know more about the other things in our food system that are poisoning us, try this one.
Now I eat a wheat-free, soy-free, no artificial, no preservative, all-natural, local, mostly-organic, mostly pastured meat diet. Kevin is grain-, legume-, and (occasionally) dairy-free on top of that. There’s no way I’m going that far, though.