In the kitchen: no more rules.

No more rules: making peace with food. | Clean

During my forty years (and counting) in this body I've had my share of rules around food.

For nine years I was a strict vegetarian. Strict in a: "Is there a chicken bullion cube in that vat of soup? Then I can't eat it." way. Strict in a never once "cheating" in nine years way, even if it meant missing meals on account of my rules.

Even in Russia. And China. And Europe.

And then my family's journey of healing through food led us down some very different – and very helpful – paths.

(More on that over here.)

Months or years when our family did not eating rice. Corn. Cashews. Almonds. The list goes on and on.

And then I spent one (incredibly healing) year on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet that absolutely changed my life. This was followed years later by more than twelve months as a family on GAPS.

And two years Paleo.

And four years gluten-free.

And during those phases I saw remarkable healing that I'll always be thankful for.

For the children and for myself.

Chronic belly aches – gone. Autistic spectrum behavior – poof. Waking every 20 minutes at night for years on end – over. Eczema – resolved. Tooth decay – stopped.

All of these things. Healed. Through diet alone.

Things that were gnawing away at our health and happiness for months, years, even decades.

Through the simple magic of changing what and how we eat.

Thank you, real food, for healing us from the inside out.

No more rules: making peace with food. | Clean

But the rules. Oh, the rules.

I'm sorry, that has sweet potato in it. I can only eat winter squash.

What sweetener is that? I can only have coconut sugar, maple syrup, or honey.

Coconut or almond flour. Your choice!

So many rules.

Frankly, I've had enough.

Sometimes I just want my children to have a normal, healthy – and yes – fearless relationship with food.

And I also want that for myself.

For the first time since childhood.

A relationship where whatever you find on your plate can and will nourish you – body and soul – regardless of the carbohydrate load, presence of grains, or the appearance of an unsoaked/unsprouted pecan. 

No more rules: making peace with food. | Clean

I grew up in a pretty healthy home.

Recalling what we ate versus what my friends' ate makes me think my mom should have had a local nutrition show.

We had a garden; my dad hunted; my mom canned.

Cold cereal? Only on Saturdays. Sugared? Never.

We made our own granola and baked our own bread and the whole-grain-with-nuts-and-fruit "cookies" my mom made were viewed with skepticism by my more mainstream friends. (I distinctly remember one neighbor girl saying, "Those aren't cookies. Those are dog treats!")

And yet.

On occasion I'd have one of those "popsicle" sticks that came in the clear plastic sleeve. You know: the corn syrup and food coloring kind.

And I survived.

And on occasion we'd go out to eat. There would be white bread and sugary desserts and fried things.

And I survived.

And sometimes we'd order take out fried rice containing who-knows-what.

And still. I survived.

I remember viewing these foods as a rare and glorious treat – never once with a "will it harm me?" skepticism and fear.

No more rules: making peace with food. | Clean

My kids are well educated about how food effects us.

They know why our family eats organic whole foods and avoids grains, gluten, refined sugar, GMOs and food coloring.

They know how they feel when they go crazy on sweets for a few days.

They are learning through the quiet practice of listening to their own bodies. Their own wisdom.

But they have also grown up so far with – in my opinion – too damn many rules about food.

Yes, on account of me.

Because it's easy for me to be black-and-white about things like food, and it's spilled over into how I've parented my kids in the kitchen.

I did that.

And I'm beginning to regret it.

Grains are bad.

Sweets are bad.

Peanuts are bad.

Fruit and nuts and seeds are (almost) bad and should be eaten only as occasional treats.

So many rules. All mine.

No more rules: making peace with food. | Clean

And so today?

I'm on a new path. Where food=nourishment.

Where we're educated but we know that a treat of grains or sweets on occasion won't be deadly.

Because more than anything I want us all to feel safe and nourished as we fill our tummies.

Not worried or vulnerable or like we're making ourselves sick.

So no, we're not Paleo anymore. We're not on GAPS.

Sure, almost everything we eat is Paleo or GAPS legal, but I'm done keeping score.

We're avoiding foods that we have known issues with (namely: gluten for Lupine and I, and corn for Sage) and we're eating good, nourishing foods at almost every meal.

(Edited to add: Yes, we're also still avoiding GMO's and food coloring and we're still buying organic.)

But we're rolling with the rest.

Because we don't have any health struggles to heal anymore. We're well. Whole. Healthy.

And we're paying attention to how our bodies feel based on the choices we make.

If 90% of our meals are bone-brothed and grain-free and grass-fed and real, the other 10% won't be our undoing.

It's about finding balance in our diet. Maybe for the first time in my adult life.

Oatmeal for breakfast? Go crazy!

A cookie from the coop? Tear it up.

Rice. With. Dinner? Sure. What the heck.

I'm done with feeling guilty when we "cheat". I'm ready to see food from a whole new perspective.

No more rules: making peace with food. | Clean

Because more than I want a black-and-white "perfect", healthy diet for my family, I want us all to have a healthy relationship with whatever is on our plate.

And the tone I set around food in the past few years made that a challenging prospect.


And with that? I'm off to make eggs and toast.



With an actual slice of bread.

(Okay, it's gluten-free. But it's still bread.)

Somebody pinch me.




Edited to add: Hey sweet friends. There are a couple of comments on this post that make me think I might have been unclear with my message. May I clarify?

No, we won't be giving up on healthy, organic, homemade food! Yes, we're still eating mainly grain-free, low-sugar, meat-and-veggies sort of meals. I'm simply talking about relaxing the rules a little here at home.

It's about believing that good, homemade food will nourish us. Period.

And that it's okay to bake cookies now and then without freaking about the sugar and the rice flour.

Because I had lots. Of. Rules. And sometimes that sucked the joy right out of our dinnertime.

So no, this isn't a falling-off-the-real-food-wagon moment. It's a finding the sweet spot in good food and letting go of some of the complex rules I've walled us in with.

Does this mean you should change how you eat? Of course not. No more than my homeschooling means I think you should pull your kids out of school.

I'm just sharing my shifting, evolving path with you. It's what I do here. I like to share the journey with you.


Hope that clarifies!


78 thoughts on “In the kitchen: no more rules.

  1. Heather says:

    My epiphany came when I was sitting at the doctors office (about 4 years ago)discussing all the supplements I was taking and he flat out said “If you eat healthful, balanced meals…you should not need supplements. I haven’t taken a supplement since…and I have not been sick in over 7 years. Period. Eat well…be well…but know where your food comes from. Congrats on your new path!

  2. Michelle says:

    I agree that there are way too many rules for food. I am so confused myself and so I don’t subscribe to any way of eating at all. Real, whole, homemade food as often as possible. Organic if I can find it. And add a good amount of potato chips. 🙂

  3. heather says:

    yay! yay! yay! you enjoy those eggs and toast (with some grains, i’m guessing). yum! 90/10 (or 80/20, even) is my theory as well, and always my point of reference and encouragement when i’m working with others. i grew up very similar to you, food-wise. not too many kids liked having after school snack at my house. 😉

  4. brooke says:

    I feel you! After years of our food rules as a family and what I brought pre-children to the family last year we made the change. I heard my son say things that just sunk my heart when it came to food. I am feeling lighter and free-er now too. I have a huge amount of guilt with the food restrictions we had on our eldest, that I feel like he is starting to wade through and it will take quite a bit of time for me get over.

    You all should ‘tear it up’! Cookies!!!!!!!

  5. Kara says:

    This brings me a lot of peace today. We recently tried cutting out some foods to see if they were responsible for my son’s eczema, and it was a disaster, mainly, I think, because it wasn’t exactly a “gentle exploration.” It was flip-a-switch stressful and overwhelming, and guess what else can make eczema flare — stress, right? 🙂 So we pulled back for now, and we’re going to tackle it again in a few months when we can get out hands on more fresh local vegetables. In the mean time, we’re adding in as much good stuff as we can, which benefits us all. I love your approach. It feels happy 🙂

  6. Tanya Hulbert says:

    I can truly relate to your post. I’ve become quite legalistic regarding food for my family. My nine year old told me she turned down cake at a party because it had food coloring and too much sugar. When my husband isn’t on board every second, it causes friction. Black and white? You bet. I need to relax just a bit. I do enjoy the whole foods God has provided. I want that for my family. Harmony with food AND people is important. Thank you, Rachel.

  7. Rachel Wolf says:

    For our daughter it was eggs, interestingly brought on by our year on Paleo. (We hit the eggs pretty hard during that time.) For our son it was corn, brought on by dipping our toe out of paleo and hitting corn as our one-and-only (frequent) grain treat.

  8. AmyC says:

    Wow. I’m surprised. I have found this blog to be such inspiration in how to make an unusual lifestyle (we too avoid many things) a huge success. You have been my beacon on light that others do this too and make it work. Posts on how you’ve traveled while still living paleo, and recipes on everything from soups to ice creams have been magical. I still very much believe in the healing of food, and the value of letting our children develop on only the best. I’ll miss you. 🙂 Good luck on your new path.

  9. Rachel Wolf says:

    I would never wish to rewrite the path we have taken so far, but now it feels like a good time for our family to have more freedom and fewer rules. I’m glad we have done what we have so far, it’s just time for a fresh interpretation of what is most healing around here. I’m not going anywhere, Amy! I’ll keep sharing recipes and thoughts on things that are relevant to your family. Just being honest about where we’re at today.

  10. Lissa says:

    I feel the same way AmyC does I think. While many of us grew up in homes that allowed the occasional sugary treat, I would wager none of those treats were full of GMO’s, and there are certainly a plethora of lab produced additives now that didn’t exist then. I feel like giving in to big corporation on health issues only sends the message that we are willing to accept sub par food. I do agree that it’s okay to stray from GAPS or Paleo from time to time (we’ll have raw dairy occasionally, or oatmeal once in a while) and I don’t think everyone needs the strict boundaries of a food philosophy. But I can’t bring myself to say it’s okay for my kids to have hormone injected meats. Or corn syrup from genetically modified plants. I don’t want them to think it’s reasonable or safe to eat this stuff, when it’s linked to life changing problems for people. I too will miss the inspiration you’ve brought on this subject. It’s hard to imagine you introducing bovine growth hormones and preservatives to your family’s diet. I also felt inspired by your dedication to raising healthy, happy kids in a society full of things that do the opposite.

  11. Rachel Wolf says:

    I think you misunderstood what I’m saying. My message is: a slice of homemade gluten-free bread won’t kill me. It’s organic. It’s homemade. But it’s not evil. I’ve just had so many unbreakable rules around our kitchen that it has taken some of the nourishment out of eating. My kids want to bake. To make treats now and then. And I’m ready to loosen my grip enough to let them. Will we be dining at McDonalds or buying conventional groceries. Of course not! But we’ll be having treats now and then. Sorry if that was confusing!

  12. Fawn says:

    I agree…..when I look at how so many people around us are eating- fast food, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pepsi, Velveeta, etc. I realize how we’re eating is so much healthier and an occasional not-so-healthy food isn’t going to kill us. I think its just as important to teach your family to listen to their bodies as well as educate them about sugar, food dyes….. and the good stuff.

    I was soooo proud when my 4.5 year old son turned down candy that was offered at school because he told me it makes his tummy hurt (M&M’s). 🙂

  13. Rachel Wolf says:

    What a gift that your little guy is already (or more accurately – still) able to hear what his body has to say. Sage is the same. He is off corn by his own choice. He loves it but it gives him eczema. And while he said the eczema didn’t bother him, he won’t touch corn anymore. He knows. Be well over there!

  14. brooke g says:

    This is exactly the mindframe I am struggling with right now… not because we have a bunch of rules right now… but rules put me off. We eat pretty healthy right now, mostly organic, not necessarily Paleo, but we are on the verge. We have no real health problems to solve (except that extra 10 lbs I carry around) but really, I just want my kids to have a healthy relationship with all food. To know that there are boundaries they need to have with limiting certain foods and eating certain foods when I am not around… but not making them guilty for choosing that Popsicle every once in a while 🙂 thanks for this, as always!

  15. Tamika says:

    I have always wanted to implement paleo, but it had too many rules for raising my kids I have learned. We too skip gluten due to real reasons, but we consume sugar and oats. We might starve without the oats and rice honestly! My kids appear restricted to our family (they are all a bout gmo and take out…sadly) but they eat real food! Organic is always first, non gmo, coloring second. I worry about real organic sugar or oat flour after all of that. Cookies…can’t live without a treat from time to time!

  16. Tamika says:

    I meant to say my kids eat real foods…not that my extended family does.

    We have also learned that conventional meat (when at family homes) causes sever stomach upset vs grassfed or game meats, so we skip the hamburger when we know it came from a normal grocery store.

  17. Natalie says:

    I’ve been through some of this myself and came to a similar place. Working to understand what my body needed to heal I eventually learned that no gluten and no dairy are best for me. And of course lots of good vegetables and very little sweeteners. But after two years of being very careful, and healing well, I decided that I didn’t want to live my life being paranoid about what is in my food, especially when I am being blessed with food from others at a potluck. Okay, I still don’t eat wheat bread at a potluck, but if it says they are gluten free muffins, I don’t ask if they have butter in them. I don’t worry if there might be non-gluten free soy sauce in a dish. It is more important to me to eat with gratitude and joy than with paranoia. And I too have found that if I am eating well most of the time, a little bit of something not so good for me, does not cause a problem.

  18. Rachel Wolf says:

    This is it. I think often it comes down to our personalities, too. Because I began to hate potlucks. Because I was never sure what I could eat! And I invested a lot of time in worrying about how the food might effect me, likely doing more harm through fear than I would have through eating it. Thanks Natalie.

  19. Nahuatl Vargas says:

    good realtionship with food it’s very important, so I’m happy for you all. But then, your post made me a little worry, i think we eat heathy I avoid gluten and milk products because they make sick, but why not rice, fruits, grains?

  20. Mandy says:

    I’m feeling the same way, I am starting to notice some unhealthy relationships with food from my oldest son who is 8 and we are starting to have arguments about food. It just feels silly. I am all about the 80/20 thing right now!

  21. Knitting Mole says:

    I really need to apply this better to my family’s lives. Although we NEVER eat at McDonalds, and try to buy the dirty dozen Organic instead, we are definitely guilty of eating too much sugar and carbs and not enough veggies and fruit. (I’m guiltily scarfing down a cinnamon scone from Panera as I type…) I really don’t want my daughter to have the same bad relationship with food that I do though. And it would be wonderful to actually feel healthy for the first time in my adult life…
    Thanks for the inspiration Rachel!

  22. Rachel Wolf says:

    Grains (including rice) are hard for most bodies to digest. They have phytic acid which is a bit of an anti-nutrient for our bodies. We have a history of digestive issues as well as tooth decay (both made worse by whole grains), and Sage had a rice sensitivity as a little guy that caused him a host of issues. As for fruit – Lupine had/has tooth decay. Fruit is sugar, which I have tried to limit. But I’m ready to be moderate. Doesn’t that sounds better? Because none of it is bad. None, none, none. It’s just about moderation.

  23. Kate says:

    Im normally not one to leave comments here, but today I feel compelled. Thank you for your honesty and perspective. Our family has SO MANY food rules. Its funny, I started down this path because I loved my babies and was inspired by beautiful whole local foods at the market. I wanted to provide the best, and I have… the best I knew at the time. From vegan to gluten free so on and so forth. We are fortunate to have a coop within convenient walking distance and a community of wonderful local farmers we call friends. But… all the nourishing food that I have provided has had a giant side guilt and fear. (I believe) I know exactly where you are at today. Im going to try to take a deep breath and release some of the fear today without disregarding all the wonderful truths Ive found along the way.

  24. becca says:

    I too, have been very strict in the past with food. We were gluten, dairy & soy free for a long time. Now for ethical reasons I’m not eating meat and eating mostly vegan (I’m against factory farm practices). I so agree with being flexible though. I don’t worry about it too much when we go out or have meals at friends homes, etc. I enjoy feeling free to eat what I want, just mostly avoiding food that weren’t ethically treated. I also think that there are so many dif diets out there that it gets very confusing about what’s right. Opinions shift and change like the wind through the years. I think also that we don’t fully understand the connection between thought and food. I truly believe our thinking about food is very powerful. So balance and knowing that health is a natural state of life is so important. Just my 2 cents, hopefully not to “out there”. lol

  25. Rachel Wolf says:

    I have so much respect for your ability to reach for flexibility. I’ve always been an all-or-nothing girl myself. (I suppose that’s the crux of the issue over here.) And I agree – our thoughts about food are so powerful. Thanks for your contribution!

  26. KC says:

    The rules of all these diets stress me out. We eat a diet of local pastured meats, eggs, local veggies, homemade bread and so on. But there is only so far I can go before I can’t figure out what I can or can’t eat anymore. We are lucky enough to have no allergies that I know of. My daughters do have weak teeth so we stay clear of processed foods and only use natural sweeteners. However if we are at a party and they ask for a cookie I let them have it knowing that the rest of their diet is pretty amazing.

    I’m glad you a relaxing a bit on yourself. Like Michael Pollan says a hamburger out once a year won’t kill you.

    I make a rockin’ spelt sourdough bread and I can’t imagine giving that up.

  27. laidback learner says:

    Love this post, although I am currently trying to introduce more rules into the family eating, in a campaign for Real Food!

    Trying to recruit the family into only *eating words we can understand* asking:

    Does it grow in the ground?
    Does it grow on a tree?
    Does it live on the land?
    Does it live in the sea?

    Not having much luck… My latest idea is to experiment with the one good meal a day, just for a couple of weeks. To try to stop myself and my six year old having any more tooth decay… The kiddles seem up for it, but I fear we may fail (a bowl of soup was a non-starter at lunch today, so I can only guess what stew will do!).

    Actually in awe that your children ate the food you made…

  28. Rachel Wolf says:

    Small steps are a great way to approach it! I found that anything my kids helped cook they would eat. And when the less nutritious food went away, they dug in to what was left behind. Good luck on your own journey!

  29. jane at the flight platform says:

    wonderful! I am like your mirror image! I grew up with a sugar obsessed, food is love, compulsive eating mother… eat too much or mummy will get upset upbringing and have just taken control and added rules (after all at 45 nobody is responsible anymore for what i eat but there is a lifetime of habits to undo!) ….i am on day 8 of the whole 30 and am loving the change. i get what you say and i think its a wonderful viewpoint of an obviously well versed and educated eater. good luck x

  30. Juli says:

    Oh yes! This is a hot topic in my family. We have gone through various ways of eating. I was vegetarian for many long years, then gluten free, grain free, dairy free trying to help my infant girl with reflux, poop issues, and eczema. Which did not help actually for us or her. I feel like food has become a war zone. My three year old will take a bite of something and then say it must be bad because it has wheat or dairy or sugar….ugh…I do not want to foster eating issues in my girls from the get go. But these days it all depends on what bandwagon you want to jump on…rice is bad, rice is great since Asians are very healthy… grains are bad, they are good, they are only fine if soaked, fermented, or sprouted…dairy is evil or dairy as a great thing. How are we suppose to navigate this for ourselves, nevermind our children?! Right now I feel lost about how I should be feeding my family. We try to do lots of organic, grass fed meat and organic veggies. I have a spelt sourdough starter fermenting on the counter next to some homemade sauerkraut. We have goat cheese sharp cheddar and raw local grass fed milk in the fridge alongside our own chickens organic free range eggs, but I am to the point that I feel conflicted and guilty about all of it….hence the secret eating of vegan chocolate chips as I type! And the cost! We live on a single salary of a music teacher and our food bill is killing us! Sometimes I long for the simplicity of not worrying over what we eat and just enjoying it. So tomorrow on my daughter’s fourth birthday we are having my Mom’s famous Boston Creme cake…wheat, dairy, and sugar filled. I bet it is going to be delicious and that homemade buttercream frosting is to die for. The next day I will get back on the horse and try to figure out how to feed my family a healthy diet without breaking the bank or fostering long term food issues in a world where it seems no food is good for you anymore. I hope that you have all the success in the world tossing some rules and enjoying food again…I sure wish I could get there!

  31. Annie says:

    So needed to read this tonight. My rules have been painful lately. I’m pretty much paleo minus most nuts right now 🙁 (whereas my family at home is gluten free because my son and I need to be gluten free). My son also has other rules that I’m hoping to lift shortly… Currently still healing my own body and praying that in the next few weeks I too can embrace this attitude!

    Happy new journey!

  32. casey u says:

    That’s seriously exactly our dietary views and style. we do healthy, whole, homemade, organic, homegrown. We try to do as much of that as possible. But sometimes I toss in a frozen pizza. And I don’t feel guilty. Because my kids ask for carrots and dried mango and homemade yogurt. Rock on with your healthy attitude and perspective.

  33. Anita says:

    Hi Rachel, I love reading your posts, today you seem to be beating yourself up over this…. be proud of the food you have provided in the past, even if you feel it came with a little too many rules!!, we all make changes as we go along… Most of us have not been as healthy or consistent, so really it sounds to me like you have done so well.

  34. robin says:

    i have been following your blog for a while now and love it, but have only now been inspired to comment. (not that i haven’t found inspiration in your posts). i travelled the world as a vegetarian and vegan. for years i read labels and shunned often the most gracious hospitality. now, i am a farmer and mama and omnivore. we raise and eat our own meat and dairy. we grow and preserve our own produce. we buy whole grains from our local coop. and yes, we eat chips. not all the time, but when the time is right, we dig in. we accept invitations and don’t worry what will be served. it is liberating and lovely. the road to this point has been long and not always easy, but we are here, in a place (fingers crossed) where we are all nourished by what is on our plates and the feeling that got it there. thanks for your insights!

  35. Rachel Wolf says:

    Thank you for your tenderness and sensitivity, Anita. I’m not beating myself up so much (anymore?) as realizing that the path that has served us before is not longer serving us. I suppose it came down to a simple cost-benefit analysis. But you’re right – being thankful for the journey is such a key piece of it all. Thanks for your kind words.

  36. Marlena says:

    I remember meeting with a natural food practitioner once and being overwhelmed at all the rules. But after talking, she told me to consider changing my lunches (then frozen meals, although organic). If I changed that one meal, I was changing 20-30% of my diet. I did, it made a difference, and that small step made a difference.

  37. iilene says:

    I didn’t read all the posts but I am surprised by the people who are misinterpreting your message for wanting to have a healthier relationship with food. Down with the rules (some of them)! My goodness, you are still providing you and your family with great and healthy and nourishing food. Dammit-some people have no food to eat at all people! Relax the rules a bit? Yes! Have fun in the kitchen?? Yes! Good for you Rachel, I am sure this was a huge post for you. Do you feel a little lighter today?

  38. Julie says:

    This is a great post and I totally agree with you. We are lucky in that we don’t have food allergies/sensitivities, so focusing on eating whole foods, organic, lots of plants, etc. works for us. My children are older — teens — and I have to say, it’s important to remember that we are not just raising children, we are raising future adults who have to make their own decisions around food, eating and what they buy. And there are many ways to have an uncomfortable relationship with food, and one of them is fear. We focus on voting with our wallets, and I do think it’s important for me to (mostly) purchase food for our home that I feel good about. But I do not require my teens to grill their friends about whether a snack at their home contains corn syrup, or whether they are being served a meal with dairy that might have BGH. And when I am out and about, I accept gratefully food that is served to me. I do know teenagers who have disordered eating because of too many (well-intentioned and focused on health) rules around food.

  39. becca says:

    I wasn’t always very flexible. For a long time I wasn’t. But now, my goal is to make more “vegan choices”. I do that as far as I can with my budget and also making sure I can enjoy meals with friends or family and not worry about what I’m eating. At those times, when I am at someone’s house as their guest, I feel it’s more important to show them love and neighborliness & eat what they offer. (Unless it’s my Mom, if she cooked up a juicy steak I could probably turn up my nose without offending her. lol) In short(ha ha, ironic) I don’t want food to have power over me. I’m working towards that, it’s a process. 🙂

  40. Misty says:

    This post is wonderful. I’ve been so stressed out by food. For decades. Definitely more hate than love in this relationship, and that is an exhausting state of affairs considering I have to face it multiple times a day. This is the year I’ve decided to make peace. Surrender to common sense and really listen to my body. Maybe it’s a 40-somthing thing 😉

  41. Karen C says:

    I so get the point you were making with this post, and oh my, the rules I have with our food. And it is very stressful. I know I need to lighten up a bit, so thank you for this post. Moderation is hard for me since I have a black/white personality, but I know I need to allow moderation with my kids so they can have a healthy relationship with food. My son gets it, though, since he has several food sensitivities that it has taken over a year to figure out. He wants to eat healthy, nourishing foods. But my daughter is a different story. She is a junk food junkie just like her dad, and turns her nose up at almost every meal I fix. It is a challenge, for sure, but maybe if I lighten up a bit on the rules, she will be more open to eating healthier foods.

  42. Xan says:

    Hi Rachel, well done! Changes always take courage 🙂 My husband and I were only taking about “tweeking” our notion of ‘balance within our own life’ earlier today. May I recommend a book I have recently acquired called “Wholefoods Baking” (link below – Book Dep. offers a better description but it is available through Amazon as well). It offers brilliant recipes and insights on how alternative sweeteners behave with different flours etc. I am thoroughly enjoying reading it and trying out the recipes.

    Look forward to sharing this newest path within your journey 🙂 xx

  43. Bex says:

    I often say to patients that it’s not so much what you eat, but what you don’t eat. This isn’t to be taken literally, but simply means that a bit of sugar isn’t going to pull out the last minerals in your bank account and cause massive damage. It means that when you’re getting enough iodine, the other halogens (chlorine, fluorine, bromine) aren’t going to have so many empty spots to fill to wreak havoc in your body. And on and on….
    Hippocrates wrote about dairy allergies/intolerances in Ancient Greece and clearly, human beings did not evolve to a specific environment and a similar food source, we evolved for changing, inconstant environments. We have different food needs based on what nourished our ancestors. And, there are a flood of genetically modified ingredients that have hit the pool of foods that are available to us and no human gut has seen those before and it’s not surprising that we are seeing so many reactions.
    With all of this though, our health isn’t just about diet, it’s also about our lifestyle – the spirit and art in which we make our lives. If we are constantly hearing, even if in our own heads, that this food is bad, this food will hurt us….then all food becomes potentially suspect and food in general is no longer nourishing. It is the enemy. In that same manner, if we eat on the run or choke down our food without a thought of gratitude for the Earth, the Sun, the farmer who grew it or raised it, the person who killed it or harvested it, the cook who prepared it….then again, we eat with a sense of entitlement and our notions of food are base rather than sacred.
    It is important that we look on our food with positivity and gratitude and that we build sacred ritual around our food. In my own family, our digestion improved through the use of a poem of gratitude before eating, lighting a candle on our table, taking time for each meal and making thanks for it as well. I’ve seen these acts result in bettered digestion for others – and I’ve been taught that it is not only the physical food that goes into our bellies but our thoughts around it as well.
    So, blessings to you and yours. This is beautiful!

  44. Julie says:

    I think it is wonderful that you are able to make the transition to being a bit more relaxed. Enjoy your new freedom! You know you have done your job well when oatmeal is a treat.

  45. Bronwyn says:

    Hello Rachel, thank you as always for your candor. I thought this post was great and it reminded me of a family story we have: one day my mum picked me up from a friends’ house and her mum said we’d had a great time,but I hadn’t had any lunch. As we drove off, my mum asked me about it and I told her that they’d only had white bread and I hadn’t wanted to get sick. It was then she realized it might be time to ease up a bit on the food rules! I suppose we all have to find our way with these things over our lifetime! I am considering tightening our rules at the moment (out with the sugar and the grains). I am curious about a couple of things. Do you know what it was that helped your children –
    In particular: Chronic belly aches, and years of wakefulness – we have been experiencing the same things, and while I know every body is different, I would be grateful for some starting points. I’m also curious about what you think may have been linked to autistic spectrum behavior. While we are not struggling with that, I am fascinated (but not surprised) that such a strong behavior can be influenced by food.
    Thanks so much for your post. I loved it

  46. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hy Bronwyn,
    When Sage was small he was diagnosed by my OT mom as being on the spectrum. He had verbal, physical, and social indicators. There were other things going on as well, as in: we woke every 20 minutes until he was 2 1/2. What changed is this: it got a lot worse and so we got help. Sage had some neurological issues that culminated in a sever seizure (I discussed this in the recent post about cranes which you can find through my search bar). We took him to a naturopath who said that his system was overwhemed by anything we had too much of. She first removed him from rice, later corn and several other things that we ate daily. Eventually she put him on a food rotation. (As in: eggs, dairy, and any particular grain or nut only eaten four days between. For example, oats on Monday then not again until Friday. Hope that makes sense.) When we did this EVERYTHING changed. Within two days he went from waking – screaming – dozens of times a night to sleeping 5 1/2 hours straight. No weight gain between ages 1 and 2 – gained three pounds in three weeks. The autistic behavior melted away over several months. I still remember the first time he made sustained eye contact with me. It brought me to tears. As for my mom, she told me that what she saw happen in Sage on account of food went against everything she learned about autism in school. Will it work for everyone? No. Were we blessed with finding our right answer before he even turned three? Absolutely. So you can see why food has become such a big deal for me. Be well! Thanks for asking.

  47. renee~heirloomseasons says:

    Well we sure have some similarities here. I (husband too) was vegan for 17 years, never once cheating, not for family, not for special occasions, not even for wool 😉

    Probably the two things I am most grateful for about having been vegan is that it made us give a lot of thought to our food choices (this wasn’t such a common thing to do twenty years ago!) and it made us have to cook our own food (again, the 20 years ago thing, if we wanted bread or cookies we had to make it ourselves…) Oh, and 3rd thing would be that we surely avoided a ton of awful/harmful to our bodies food during all those years.

    So when we came to the realization/decision (slowly over a year or two) that we were going to start eating animal products we did it in a way that really was consistent with how we had always approached our food choices. For us it is not about rules, and you cannot necessarily put a label on how we eat (even though we did use the vegan label, and now I suppose you could use an organic label, but let’s not)…

    Funny that even though we now eat pastured meat, organic dairy (sometimes raw, sometimes not) and eggs, it is still the same as when we were vegan because we are so very particular about where we will let our meat and dairy come from. (Still obviously completely opposed to factory farming. And not even comfortable with very large scale organic animal raising…)

    Hmm, that’s all still sounding very rule-like. And the organic and GMO thing, we are just too afraid (call it concerned if you want, so as to not give in to fear, but really, yikes…) So, only organic. And we just never ate much packaged/processed food anyhow.

    But! We have always, always, always baked cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. (And our grains are definitely not always soaked) And we bake and eat bread almost every single day. Happily.

    Also we are so so so grateful to not seem to have any real food sensitivities or health issues in our family.

    (Also, sorry, sometimes you get me writing/thinking more here in a comment than I even do on my own blog…)

    Food is good, so are you, thanks for sharing!
    With love, Renee

  48. Bronwyn says:

    Wow, Rachel. Again, thanks for sharing so much. I am amazed at the changes you found worked. How lucky were you to find that practioner? I am do very glad for you. We are not dealing with anything as severe but I am so interested in foid and yours I’d a wonderful success story. You’ve done an amazing job protecting your family from what boils harm them. Enjoy your new freedom.

  49. Laura says:

    My husband and I both grew up with fast food and whatever was easy to make. Trying to change that lifestyle in our family has been a real struggle!! I love this post. I try very hard to feed my family “real” food, organic food, but we have a long way to go…. So reading your post I wonder “what do they eat?”

  50. Lori says:

    I thought your message was clear as well. I think some of these comments go to show that some people are making idols of their food choices. Perhaps there ARE too many rules.

  51. Erin says:

    Thanks, I really identify with this. I can’t have gluten and my son can’t have corn, and we eat organic whole foods as much as possible. I’ve heard great things about paleo and GAPS diets but have been hesitant to add them in because we already follow so many rules in the kitchen that we either can’t change (allergies) or I’m not willing to change (organic, whole foods). I will be coming back to your blog to read more in the future (saw the link from Simple Homeschool).

  52. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Laura, We eat lots of meat and veggies, homemade yogurt every morning, and eggs from our hens. We rarely eat legumes and grains but enjoy them now and then (and only recently without guilt!). My kids love to bake and make gluten-free breads, muffins, and the like. Hope that answers your question somewhat!

  53. Heather Brandt says:

    My son has been on GAPS for 2 years (and found healing)and now we have adopted 2 older children who (surprise!) also have problems that ideally would benefit from GAPS and I’m so tired…here we are ready to come off GAPS only to have need of it for more of our family. I love your post and am so so relieved to hear of someone who’s had a similar experience and that there is light at the end of the tunnel and peace….I’m saving to re-read again as we ponder the decision of what to do next or not do next with regards to our family’s food. So thankful for this post today!

  54. Michele says:

    For my son, it was dairy (casein). It was clear when it suddenly came back one weekend when we bought probiotics (with casein) on a trip and the next day our friend served us scrambled eggs with some milk added in. At the time, we were also GF.

  55. Ida says:

    Loved reading this article. We did a various very restricted diets for four years, which sort of stabilized on a restricted, everythign-free “traditional foods” diet. Then we attempted GAPS for almost 2 years. I cannot say that it helped any of us with our issues (and we did not cheat), except that going too low carb unintentionally, probably did not do good things for my body’s stress levels and my health tanked. I was too tired to keep up with GAPS, so adopted Paleo for another year and a half. This year I decided to add in more grains, because it is a weird world when rice is seen as “bad” for you. We still avoid allergens, which means basically everything (nope, hard core GAPS didn’t heal that), but I make cake with GF flour, we eat rice and beans and we don’t freak out about sugar. Now we did some genetic testing and for the first time I have hope for my daughter, whose health was the main motivation for all the diet craziness. For us there are so many mutations involved that influences inflammation and gut health, that drowning in bone broth was not going to touch it. So, I traded food craziness for supplement craziness, but it is a limited time. And my children cannot wait to eat eggs, something that might actually happen for us. At the moment I am a little sour about putting so much energy and time into a fruitless endeavor. But it is part of the journey and I am thankful for where we are now. We are sleeping, we live sort of normal and one of these days we might be actually eating as well!I fully agree that stressing about it so much is detrimental, not helpful. Wish I kept that in mind the past 7 years.

  56. Lissa says:

    And after a short 2 months of relaxed food rules, it seems some are being reintroduced because, let’s face it, we all feel better when we eat what is best for our bodies. That’s not the same as making idols. Sometimes it’s easier to follow what others perceive as ‘too many rules’ and feel good…

  57. Tori Spinoso says:

    I get what your saying but there are still rules that you are following. What I find difficult is if I don’t say “we’re doing this 100%”, then slowly it goes to 90%, then 80%, then…. Well, you get the idea. That’s the hard part for me. One cookie today leads to, 1 cookie, a piece of GF cake and then some ice cream that evening )-: I need to find a way to stick to that 10% eat what we want and not let it get out of hand.

  58. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hey Tori, For us we feel crappy when it slips to 80 or 70%. And then we buck up again. Shortly after this post Lupines eczema came back because eggs became a more frequent affair. We corrected, but we didnt overcorrect. Its a dance, for certain. Hope you are well. x

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