Confession: I used to silently giggle at coworkers who lovingly called their diets a lifestyle, and I now admire such dedication and strive to better myself and improve my family's overall health and environmental footprint. There are still some things that I'm not completely sold on when it comes to revamping our diets and way of life, but I am willing to invest the time to research all facets and make a wise and informed decision. See, I'm a very opinionated person, and if you know me personally, you are probably violently nodding in agreement. BUT, when it comes to non life and death matters, for the most part I am quite reasonable (just don't ask my husband =) ) I realize that there are 2 sides (sometimes more) to a fence, and everyone has to take their own path and make their own choices/decisions in life. While some choose to completely avoid meat all together, I have chosen to cut back, and add more variety in our diets. Others have even cut out animal by-products such as eggs, cheese, butter, etc... I have to say, that I LOVE cheese, and butter, and I enjoy the occasional egg here and there too... So that would not work for me! I also believe that these foods were meant to be consumed, aswell as animals (to an extent) because God put them here for us to enjoy as companions but also as food (usually not at the same time.............).
To me, any lifestyle/diet change doesn't have to be all or nothing. So many people think it does, get overwhelmed and discouraged, and give up. This is what scared me at first, but when I realized slow and steady changes, that we could deal with worked better, I felt so much more encouraged to do this thing and make changes for the better! If you know that you aren't eating as healthy as you like, you feel that you're taking too much medicine/pharmaceuticals for too many ailments that seem to keep making you feel worse, and you just to improve your life/health in general, then what's stopping you? I believe that if you want something bad enough, you'll go for it until you get it!
Baby steps are your key here, and research, research, research! Firstly, Netflix and YouTube are AMAZING resources that you can use to your (and your family's) benefit! My husband for one, does not enjoy reading books/researching online/etc... so I try to get him to watch documentaries with me instead. It's actually easier on me too now, with a small baby, to watch something rather than find the time to read about it. A few really good documentaries to get you started are Forks over Knives, Fat, Sick, & nearly Dead, & Food Matters. That's just the tip of the iceberg, but it's a good start, and gives you an idea of all of the hidden dangers out there. Part of my brain is rocking in a corner, in the fetal position screaming "WHY DID YOU WATCH THAT!! WHY DID YOU FILL ME WITH SCARE TACTICS, NOW I AM SCARED TO EVEN BREATHE OR LEAVE THE HOUSE OR DRINK WATER OR LOOK AT A BABY CARROT!!!!" but alas, it's better to know - because when you know better, you do better!
Yes, now that I know the dangers of food dyes, GMOs, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soy, etc... I think twice before every purchase... Yes, I still do buy some of these things, because they are cheaper and my family is used to them. Yes, it scares me and I worry more than I used to when I was in the dark (ignorance is bliss, aye?) BUT... I have made some positive changes, I have been more careful about what we buy, I now make more things from 'scratch', I plan to start a garden this year, I try to help other people with my new-found knowledge (without overwhelming them to the point where they run away screaming and crying - that only happened once....I think..), and I feel better equipped to make healthy choices for my family.
I still enjoy Cola, although I know the dangers of soda. I justify it because I used to drink 2-4 cans of soda per day, and now I only have several glasses a week (if that, sometimes we just don't buy it, if it's not around to tempt us, we don't drink it!) We have switched to farm eggs, rather than store-bought eggs, for quite a few reasons, one being the fair treatment and diet of the chickens - as well as supporting local business! My son and I no longer drink cow's milk, we switched to Almond, which I actually think tastes BETTER! My husband wasn't an easy sell for that, and is still drinking cow's milk *blegh*. We also still buy the occasional loaf of bread (I don't have a bread machine yet, and rarely find enough time/will/gumption/motivation/energy to make homemade bread - although I LOVE it and find it so delicious UGH *note to self stop being lazy pleasethanks*. Cereal, and Knorr Pasta are two of are pantry regulars also, cereal because my son loves it for breakfast... and pasta for quick/easy side dishes on rushy-rush nights.... I know, it takes about the same amount of time to make actual pasta, but it's one of the things I usually coupon for, and stock up on for the mean time.
A lot of the health problems that we experience in this country are due to our poor American diets (among other things), and can be prevented/reversed if we would just take the time and energy to prepare real, wholesome, hearty meals from natural ingredients, and stay away from boxed and processed foods as much as possible. The best advice I ever got for grocery shopping was "Don't take your husband or kids" but no seriously, the best advice I got for visits to the grocery store was "Shop around the edges!" and it makes sense! Fresh produce and most 'staples' and basics are around the perimeter of the store, where most junky, preservative-laden and boxed foods are down the aisles.
Basically, you need to be realistic and make small changes that work for you, or everyone will be miserable and your healthy food will slowly rot in the crisper drawer, turning into a pile of green mush with blue and grey fuzz, for you to find 2 months later when you finally get around to cleaning your fridge only because the condiments stick to the shelf when you try to pick them up.... not that that's ever happened to us or anything *coughbrusselsprouts* Butttt... yea! Use your brain, not your eyes/stomach, and you'll do fine, kid =)