This is War (a food post)

This is War (a food post)

I haven’t talked about food in a while but it’s never far from my mind. I’ve talked in the past about my research into nutrition for parkinson’s and cancer treatment and prevention (my Dad had cancer/has parkinson’s) and how we’ve adapted our shopping and eating habits, within means and reason.

The challenge of feeding anyone, even one person never mind five, a clean healthy diet these days is more than a challenge, it’s a war.

It used to be simpler because we didn’t know. We thought healthy meant low fat and choosing brown over white grains and bread, eating more fish and eating our veg, maybe some cereal.

We thought by making these simple choices we were supporting our health, we were wrong. Now we know that low fat, wheat, farmed fish, cereals and non-organic veg = chemical shit storm and don’t even start me on water and fluoride. That’s the lowest of the low really isn’t it? That we can’t even be sure of clean water.

The day I learned there was something like 27 spoons of sugar in a bowl of Special K I went out and bought doughnuts. Conversely the more I’ve learned the more I’ve relaxed some of my previous habits. I just think it’s better to know what your’re eating, to know this is crap but it’s a treat so ok.

a plate

Lets look at wheat because it’s the one I think a lot of people still don’t know about.

Most of us know that whole wheat is better for us than white. So does that mean we should eat whole wheat? No we shouldn’t eat wheat at all.

Wheat isn’t what is used to be. Since 1970 it has changed drastically in appearance and nutritional value.

Wheat plants are more than two feet shorter than they used to be.Β This change allows for more seeds on the plant without it toppling over from the weight.Β The effect on the body is such that wheat increases the body’s blood sugar so dramatically that it’s making us fat and sick.

So even whole wheat products, even organic whole wheat products. The change is universal, we can’t buy the wheat/bread our grandparents bought, it doesn’t exist any more.

How did this happen? It will not surprise you to know that increased profits were behind the changes. The newer breed of wheat is a result of cross breeding and hybridization that makes the plants more drought resistant higher yielding.

But the way our bodies react to today’s wheat costs us all more in increased health care costs, not to mention increased food purchasing, because wheat is addictive.

The basic problem with wheat is that is converts to blood sugar more efficiently than any other carbohydrate….even sugar!
In fact, just two slices of whole wheat, increases your blood sugar to a higher level than that doughnut I mentioned earlier.

The obvious result is weight gain but also cancer, diabetes, and arthritis not to mention damage to your brain.

When you consider that so much of our diets are comprised of wheat, it’s no wonder we’re so fat and tired and sick.
The solution should be simply eliminate wheat but it’s not easy is it? We haven’t managed to do it, it’s especially hard with children but we have cut down a lot.

To take just one more food, fish. We eat a lot of fish, we like it, it’s healthy right? Wrong. More than likely any fish your’e eating is farmed and toxic to your health so what can you do?

You need to look for fish labelled ‘Alaskan’ and/or a logo from the Marine Stewardship Council.

photo 3 (84)

‘Most people don’t realize seafood labeled as ‘Alaskan‘ cannot be farmed. Β Alaska is incredible at protecting their brand when it comes to seafood, and do an excellent job to ensure quality and sustainability. Β If you don’t see the ‘Alaska’ label or a logo from the Marine Stewardship Council – the seafood you are buying is likely farmed.’ Click HERE for more on the dangers of eating farmed fish.

The good news, yes there’s good news, I don’t want to depress you entirely! You can buy Wild Alaskan Salmon fillets (frozen) and certified by the Marine Stewardship Council at Lidl plus they have fish fingers and fresh cod also certified as sustainable by the council. Unfortunately their other fresh fish is from farmed sources but I’m happy to have easy access to even this much.


I had a lovely chat with a woman at the fish counter in Lidl, Carrick on Shannon recently. She was wondering what to choose and I told her I only buy the cod because of the reasons I just gave here, she was thrilled. She’d heard of the dangers but didn’t know she had options. I had to wrestle her for the rest of the cod. I last saw her filling her basket with Wild Alaskan Salmon fillets while clueing someone else in, result!

But it’s not without a certain level of anxiety I tell you these things. I mean what if when I go to do my food shop the good stuff’s all gone!

Well to be honest with you that’s a risk I’m willing to take if it helps increase demand for this kind of produce. It’s like I was saying to someone at the weekend who was surprised I bother with free range eggs as it turns out the poor chicken is still in a cage, just a bigger one πŸ™

I said to that person, ‘I buy free range to show my commitment to the free range/organic industry.’

‘But what about the expense?’ I get asked that a lot. It’s not easy to balance knowledge with a small budget but it is possible. I can’t not buy free range eggs, meat especially and veg when it’s available. I’d go without first and I might add I’m still keeping our shop to below or close to €100 a week for five people, and we’re still eating very well I think.

‘How in the name of all that’s holy?’ I hear you say? Well most of you have seen my famous (most popular) post on this very subject Feed Five for Two Weeks on €100 (I’ve another one of those in the pipeline) but I believe this is how it’s done.

First, you have to know how to cook.

Second you have to have time and be willing to cook (I’m often not willing myself)

Third you have to know what’s going on with our food, what is truly healthy, the profit industry running it.

Last and by no means least, if you can grow even the smallest amount of your own food it makes a huge difference, to health, the industry and your food shop.

Most people claim to eat healthy but they’re either lying to themselves or they honestly don’t know. I don’t blame them at all.

I went through a phase there where I’d be shopping and feel I was so limited for choice there was no point in trying. It’s that thing of looking at rows of lovely looking veg, food that should be healthy and knowing it’s all been sprayed with toxic chemicals.

I even went off food for a few weeks which is really not me, I love food more than life normally. ‘But you have to eat something.’ ‘There’s nothing you can do.’ Yes, I hear it all but I’m not giving in. Maybe there’s not much I can do but I’m a fighter and the war’s only beginning.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject? I could go on and on and on but I’m calling a halt now! I’ll be back with posts on my sample grocery shop lists, weekly food plans, our garden and the challenges for feeding a family when your’re as neurotic as I am.

P.S. I know a lot of you shop at Aldi and other places, perhaps let us know if you can find these products there too? Certified sustainable fish, organic free range chicken, fish, steak mince? That’s what Lidl has.

P.P.S Disclaimer. I’m no health expert I just have a passion for good clean food and health, the connection between the two. I’ve done a lot of research myself, thousands of articles, millions! I of course urge you to do your own and make your own decisions based on what you find with one thought. When you find advice that contradicts what I’m saying see if you can find where they’re funding comes from, just saying.

Have a great day people, I think the motto is don’t feel bad about the doughnut, throw the bread and salmon, the low fat products and cereal away.

a herb garden





22 thoughts on “This is War (a food post)”

  • I really liked this post. As a person who has suffered (and is still suffering) with chronic illness since 2007 I know the importance and difficulties in eating non toxic food on a budget. I don’t find it easy at all. However my first reaction to the article was a little negative. With the severity of the Holocaust like war that is on going in Palestine right now I feel the title a little triggering. But you are right, it is a war and nothing short of it. We are being killed loudly and silently by what we are being forced to eat and drink and it is very wrong. I am glad I read beyond the title and continued to read as I learned a lot from this piece. A great blog post.

    • Thanks Avril, I agree with you which is why I deliberately added (a food post) as I felt the same but also feel very strongly that we are in fact fighting a war on the food front because after all what is more essential than water and food? I think we are being killed as you say ‘loudly and silently’ by what we are ‘forced’ to eat and drink and for now at least the extent of that and even the extent of poverty in this country is largely hidden. I feel bad about the triggering now that you say it but I do feel that strongly about this and I’m so glad you felt I made amends for that, perhaps my passion got the best of me. I am, for the record in support of Palestine which you would probably guess. Behind both scenarios is profit before people, to put it in the simplest sense. I’m so sorry to hear you have health issues. Thank you for commenting, I really value your input

  • It can be very overwhelming when you think you are doing everything right by you’re family with what you’re feeding them only to realise it’s not doing them any good. It’s hard in a budget and there can be a real sense of information overload, I will read more of you’re food posts for more tips, I’m very interested in clean eating, hard to know what I’m doing right though…

    • Sara, I completely agree, it can be very overwhelming but if it’s any consolation I think it is possible to get a good handle on it without losing your mind completely! I’m not really purist I just do my best, it’s a constant learning process and that old chestnut, balance. Added to that I think it is cruel we’re being treated this way, we’ve been led to believe things like yoghurt and cereal and juice are health foods when they’re lethal! It’s criminal. The way I look at is this, I still buy those things, ok not juice except for birthdays and eating out, but they’re treats not staples, balance. I hope I haven’t depressed you too much, I have some posts coming up based on our experience that may help. Hard for any of us to know what we’re doing right but a good rule of thumb is the more ‘natural’ the food the better. We’re up against it but for me it’s worth the effort. Thank you for commenting and please feel free to ask anything on the subject, we’re all in this together

      • Yes at one point I thought I was doing the right thing with low fat foods but I developed reflux last year and my stomach was very inflamed and the doctor told me about aspartame and sweeteners in the low fat and how bad they were which confused me no end because we are constantly told to have these products as they are healthier. Not depressing at all I would rather have all the right information, I think it will just take me a while, but that’s ok plenty of reading and research for me and a massive step in back to basics when it comes to cooking πŸ™‚

        • I think Clare’s advice, on this thread is a good place to start, to eat ‘food’ your grandmother would recognise! Low fat wouldn’t come under that πŸ™‚ Another one is that any food that has its own tv ad isn’t a food. She also mentioned Michael Pollan, if you look him up online he has some excellent articles on this subject, very inspiring too.

  • Great post, Jane, very educational and important. Well done on all the produce from your own garden, the very best stuff to eat and no carbon footprint.

    • Thank you Joanna, I see your own garden is doing really well this year. Nothing has ever made me feel virtuous like eating our own food has πŸ™‚

  • Great post Jane. I had heard whole wheat was still just as bad as white bread but wasn’t sure why. This has clarified it. Bread is my weakness and I always feel absolutely crap after eating it…tired and bloated so this has made me more determined to stay away from it as much as possible. Thank you! x
    Oh and I get them fish fingers from Lidl too!!

  • Great post Jane. Sometimes it’s not just the ingredients it’s the way the food is processed. Like shredded wheat – 100% whole wheat which makes you think it’s an all natural product – but I learned that it is cooked at ultra high temps in order to make it into those unnatural shapes, which chemically alters the food into a substance no human should eat. I had been eating this with fruit for breakfast for a long time, before I found this out :(.
    But I agree with you – you don’t have to drive yourself crazy trying to figure stuff out – I like Michael Pollens first rule, which is “eat food”! He has another one which is if your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, then don’t eat it! Kinda works for neon orange Doritos, gogurt (?) and weird shaped breakfast cereals!!

    • Completely agree, Clare this is why I had to stop when I did or I’d still be writing! I love Michael Pollan too. Another one guideline I like is if a food has its own tv advertisement…you know the rest! But yes our being told always these foods are healthy when they’re lethal really makes me angry

  • Great post Jane. Our food industry has changed so much with its focus being on big profits with very little regard for food quality. The increase in digestive problems and reaction to wheat and gluten among younger and younger people is frightening and this is as you said down to the change in the grain and also the poor mineral content of the soil. However knowledge is power and we must take comfort in the fact that although sometimes it can be head wrecking to find alternatives they are there but spreading the word is key to ensure demand for these products remain high.

    • Thanks Helen, I saw your’re comment on fb earlier but when I went to reply couldn’t see it! Not sure if that’s me or what’s going on but you mentioned in it about David Perlmutter and yes I follow him and his recommendations. Did you see his piece with Dr Oz? Don’t have the book yet but I’d say it’s just a matter of time. How do you navigate all this with your kids ?

  • Fab post Jane, it really is very confusing all the advertisement and lowfat/low sugar that is being thrown at us, the amount of times My little guy has asked me about this “new cereal” he has seeing on TV!
    The difference I feel after having a homemade brownie/biscuit with my cuppa at night (my lil treat) instead of shop bought or biscuits is unreal, yes it has full fat butter in it but one lil portion satisfies as opposed to the copious amounts of shop bought stuff!
    Love the food posts πŸ™‚

    • Butter is good, that’s the best news in all this. I agree 100%. I can’t bear the taste of shop bought sweet stuff now, bar the odd Wispa! Cake is the worst, I find it disgusting. Home made stuff is always lovely though when I make anything I always use much less sugar than they they suggest. Best advice is don’t trust ads, stick with as Clare said here, ‘real’ food your’re granny would recognise πŸ™‚

  • Another excellent post Jane.

    I decided a couple of weeks ago to go on a 60 Day Energy Adventure to look at what I was eating; how I was feeling and how I could increase my energy.

    I found myself feeling depressed and I believe that a big part of it is the food and alcohol I’d been putting in my system.

    So, for 2 weeks I cut back a few things but not really that much.

    Then a friend bought me a 21 day eating programme that eliminates soya, sugar, gluten, eggs and dairy, pasta

    I started 3 days ago and feel really good [and already lost something like 4 pounds – and yes I do want to lose weight and won’t pretend otherwise].

    My friend set up a private FB group for those of use doing the 21 day programme and we’re supporting each other and sharing recipes.

    I adore quinoa and it’s now a staple along with the usual chicken,fish and loads of vege. No alcohol for the next 3 weeks so I can give my body a rest.

    I always knew that food affected my moods/emotions and that I used it and wine to reward myself for any effort!

    My 60 Day Adventure is about being more conscious of how I feel and what I eat and I’m really pleased that I’m still doing it.

    I very much admire how you create lovely meals for your family.


    • Thank you Liz, the 21 day programme sounds brilliant. We’re all up against it with food one way or another, whether that’s in wanting to lose weight, help our mood, health or even keep a family on the road to good eating, nutrition and satisfaction which I think is important. Food is definitely THE hot topic of our generation don’t you think? I read recently it’s the second most googled thing after porn on the internet! Good luck to you in your efforts πŸ™‚

  • Hi Jane, great post! and always on my mind too. The quality of what we are buying, cooking and eating is a big worry. It is a job in itself covering all nutritional bases for yourself and family but an even bigger task sourcing healthy ingredients. Grow Your Own is really the answer, however choosing food carefully and cooking well goes a long way towards healthy eating.
    ‘Let food be your medicine, and medicine your food’ you said it Hippocrates and we are trying!

  • Kids as you know learn quickly and as you are with your girls involve them in the prep and cooking process. It is a bit more challenging as they get older and I don’t exclude wheat from their diets (I don’t eat any gluten grains) but we have rice cakes and oatcakes in the house and they will choose these these as snacks with nut butters themselves. Claire loves cooking and is willing to try anything and she encourages the rest of them to try new things.
    By the way we have always used butter I would use full-fat milk all the time but for me it would have to be organic (as all antibiotic and hormones residue end up in the fat of the animal. I use extra-virgin coconut oil in stir-fries, when sweating vegetables, on oatcakes and sometimes in porridge – it contains lauric acid (the highest content of which is found in breast milk) so is a huge immune booster.

    • Thanks Helen, great information. Where do you buy organic milk? I think Lidl stock it only I thought our full fat milk was ok! I’ve always used butter too and switched back to full fat milk about a year ago. Completely agree about involving children from a young age, mine much prefer raw veg and I think it’s because they’re so used to handling it and having it around. If you get a chance to answer this share your page link with it too

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