When “Better for You” Isn’t Better

A few months ago, my husband and I were driving home from a dairy in PFE (Poorganic Freakin’ Egypt). We had spent our Saturday morning picking-up and delivering raw milk to friends in our raw milk co-op.  The back of our car was finally cleared of coolers, ice, wads of cash and the 30+ gallons of milk we had dropped off to our other poorganic friends. We stopped at my mom’s to pick up our littler kids before a milk drop off at our house before heading to Charlotte to pick up our oldest daughter from a sleepover.

Carting the kids and our raw milk inside, the ProvidinaTOR and I were both wiped out and glad that our turn as deliverers would only come every 12 weeks. It was then that I, um, . . . . observed that my two year old needed her diaper changed.

I took her to back to her room to discover, lo and behold, another horribly runny, enzyme-full diaper.

You may know that raw milk contains enzymes and pro-biotics that, though preportedly better for digestion and gut-flora, are a bit, well, activating. Ahem. (Don’t you love it when I start talking all  . . . REAL FOOD on ya’.)

Theoretically, our bodies adapt to the increase in enzymes, but after 3 months on raw milk, our daughter, who is totally a dairy-aholic, wasn’t comin’ around. Also, I was suffering adolescent-like acne issues that had seriously tested my vanity.

It was then and there, elbow-up in enzymes, when I had a lightening bolt-like break-through.

Sometimes what is “better for you” isn’t better for you.

Since starting into real foods, I’ve heard a lot of things that are “better.”

  • Raw whole milk is better.
  • Freshly ground grains are better.
  • Sprouted grains are better.
  • Local is better.
  • Organic is better.
  • Sucanat is better.
  • Coconut oil is better.
  • Grass fed is better.
  • Wild caught is better.

That is just a tiny, eensy weensy list of things that are better than . . ., you know, . . the diabolical evil that will overtake your life if you settle for what isn’t better.  But just in case you haven’t yet arrived at this point, I am going to list a few things that are NOT BETTER.

  • Driving insane distances to obtain a single food item.
  • Paralyzing fear of food that isn’t real
  • Helicopter-moming your family’s diet in an obsessive way
  • Months of changing diarrhea diapers
  • Frenzy
  • Manic paranoia
  • Depressive inability to concoct a meal out of the 6 whole food ingredients: spelt, asparagus, unsoaked lentils, kefir, kale, and wheatgrass
  • Fear, worry, and fearful worrying
  • Delusional belief that controlling your food will give you god-like sovereignty over your family’s health and wellness
  • Fighting with your spouse about food
  • Fighting with your spouse about money spent on food

If you can identify with any of the items on the above list, you probably know at least one or two things that are “better for you” that aren’t actually better at ALL.  Some aspects of your real food lifestyle might be making you crazy, which means that they aren’t BETTER FOR YOU.

In our case, I realized that raw milk, the drive, the co-op, the persistent runny diapers, and the perpetual acne was making me crazy, which meant that it is NOT better for us.  The mental and emotional health of our family is JUST AS important as our physical well-being.

I’m going to repeat that. The mental and emotional health of our family is JUST AS important as our physical well-being.

We are back to drinking regular milk that is not even organic. (You can read our whole dairy story here.  There are some good comments about conventional dairies too.) But one thing I have concluded is that the milk we are drinking now actually IS better for us in the long run.

What have you found isn’t really “better for you” after all?


33 thoughts on “When “Better for You” Isn’t Better

  1. This is an awesome post and so true. What wasn’t better for me was the constant annoyance at all the crumbs created by homemade bread and the frustration over how quickly we were eating it. Back to Aldi 100% whole wheat at 1.29 for us!

  2. Awesome post! I always like to hold things up to the “quality of life” gauge when making a decision. And sometimes you have to wade in waist deep (or elbow deep in the case of cloth diapers 😉 before you can make the call. Thanks for wading in for the rest of us! 🙂

  3. Yup, that about sums it up…..there has to be compromise in the quest for a poorganic lifestyle or else it just becomes obsession. In the past several years I’ve gone through just about every thought you posted up there as “not better” and have been forced to become more relaxed and re-place my children in God’s care as I seek to do the best for them with the resources I have. To my mind time together with my children (our emotional well-being) is definitely more important than having perfect food!

  4. Yup this sums it up perfectly. I often have this internal struggle with what “is better” vs. what’s realistic. For example, homemade organic pasta sauce is better (and I often do make it), but at 6:00 pm when I am 8 months pregnant and my toddler is being a toddler, a jar of pasta sauce won’t kill me or my family. Moderation and balance are key to everything in life. As long as you try to do the best that you can do for the majority of the time, you’ll be fine with you and your family’s health.

  5. “All things in balance” definitely applies here. Eating healthy is definitely a priority, but going overboard can be exhausting and is it really worth it in the end? Mom was the “super health-nut” mom while I was growing up. I mean we had soybean pie or carob pudding (made from tofu and carob) on our birthdays! However healthy as mom was for years and years (and forced us to when we were little), she still came down with lymphoma. Eating healthy is definitely important, but it sure didn’t prevent her from getting a terrible illness. So I now just try to keep things in balance but not freak out about food.

    1. That is what I am trying to remember. I also am realizing that immediate results (acne and diarrhea) might be just as important as long term ones. Our parents were promised that low-fat foods and soy were great for them and NOW we are hearing the opposite. How frustrating! Becky, I’m curious what your mom says about healthy eating these days.

  6. Thanks Katrina! I think whenever we’re doing things out of fear–even good things–or maybe especially good things–then it’s not a good thing. It’s hard, though, when it looks like such a good thing… hardly anybody will tell you to stop doing good things 🙂
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    1. Yes, fear is my red flag in lots of areas that I’ve got my scrawny fist wrapped WAY TOO tightly around something, good or bad. The trick is recognizing how people will ENCOURAGE our crazy love of “good” or “better for you” things, and resist the desire to please them. Control freak + do gooder + people pleaser = strung out crazy lady. (Now I will stop preaching to myself. That was enough for one day. ;))

  7. Many, many years ago, :), we all drove into Waxhaw to the dairy on Hwy 16 which is just north of the bank to buy real raw milk from the cows that grazed on that farm there. That was scotched, though, when word came back from someone that had visited with friends at Jaars and had the milk while here and had been diagnosed with brucellosis (undulating fever). Of course, as my husband pointed out, the odds of getting that from raw milk are very small and this was only one case out of many people who had been drinking the raw milk for a long time; nevertheless we all went back to drinking pasteurized store bought milk. Probably standards of testing are more stringent nowadays in raw milk facilities.

    1. I’ve wondered if they sell milk there because that would be SO convenient. Actually the dairy we visited wasn’t as pristine and lovely as I’d hoped it would be, especially compared with that farm. I’m sure we are foregoing some beneficial enzymes, but we are also eliminating some detrimental risks AND ginormous annoyances! 🙂

      1. I think they quit selling milk direct years ago. And I don’t even know if it is still a functioning dairy at all. They may have retired. Ellen

  8. You are awesome.
    I love this post. Because we often do get so wrapped up in doing everything “right” that we stop and forget to analyze what is REALLY happening…

    Your second list is vitally important… because the journey toward a healthier life can easily become all-consuming… and negate the very good that we were hoping to achieve.

    Thanks for being real.
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  9. Well said, and fun to read. I know I have to be open to change in every area of life (not the lifelong ones, don’t worry) because that is life. Living things grow, change, and are prone to making messes:-)

  10. better for me… not using styrofoam plates. reality: moving in and no dishwasher makes me crazy.
    better for us: balanced meals with whole foods. reality: peanut butter will have to not be homemade right now, and they will be eating a lot of of it.
    better for me: vegan diet. reality: makes me fat.

    i could go on and on. trying to be healthy and flexible at the same time… it’s easy to over think things and i am trying to make good choices but not obsess.

  11. This is a great post Katrina! In my case, mental well being takes precedence. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t let my family gorge on Twinkies and Kool-Aid but I have been known to offer M&M’s for breakfast so I could have a moment to allow enzymes do their enzyme-y thang.
    Thank you for your writing and your constant encouragement!!

  12. last month we made refried beans from a bag of dried pinto beans, savings was maybe $2.00 for a very time consuming project to soak overnight and cook all day. Just hard to plan all the steps at this stage in our lives. Think I will stick to canned until I can work out a monthly process of cooking several pounds of beans at one time and freezing all.
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  13. Better for us: sometimes we use paper plates on top of our dinner plates to cut back on the number of dishes to wash! It works for us! 🙂

    I was wondering if you could share the co-op info with me? I am very interested! 🙂

    Heather recently posted…What Were We Thinking?My Profile

  14. Excellent post, my friend! I’m glad followed through with the idea as you were explaining it to me. And I totally get it! If only some of the things that would make me less crazy in PNG would be affordable too . . .

  15. “If you want junk food, make it yourself.” I now have 16 pumpkin cinnamon streusel muffins in my kitchen. Homemade bakery tastes so much better and has better ingredients, but is it really better if you end up eat 2 muffins a day for a week? Hmm, maybe.

  16. Wow, was I needing to read this or what? I too had gotten so consumed by food I was driving my family and co-workers crazy. Take a breath… I think I will try to eat what people have eaten for thousands of years and not worry about non-fat, soy, or whatever. I will stick to no processed, fresh vegies-local when I can but not obsess about it, best meat I can afford, and organic milk from local stores. I bought some milk from a farmer’s market last week, got home, and saw it was processed in AR. I live in GA. I was livid. I got off work, hurried to the farmer’s market before it closed (it is only once a week and closes at 7 pm), and felt good about myself because I was buying local milk. I won’t buy from there again but will buy the fresh vegetables when I can. We can get too caught up in ourselves and stress out over things we shouldn’t.
    I am glad you were able to step back and see what is important. It is not always easy to do that.


    1. Jan, I decided that when I found my reaction to something food related was ANGER, I had probably gone too far. I need to reserve my ANGER for social justice, poverty, and things like that and not waste it on food. That’s not to say I don’t still try to make good choices, but I just have to let the Arkansas milk go sometimes and decide not to buy it again. 😉

      1. That was a great answer. Why didn’t I think of that? You are right Katrina. lol, life’s not about getting the “right” milk. Yes, I think I got side tracked too lol…whew I really needed your post. Thanks again.

  17. This is my constant struggle. I want to provide what’s best for my family and teach them how best to take care of themselves. But, we live in a modern world. I am not a pioneer women who has the time, land, resources to devote myself to raising all our food and using it to make other foods. I need to rely on producers, that are locally available. I’m also not incredibly wealthy, so I need to rely on reasonably-priced products. I’ve now decide that it’s my job to do the best I can, without an all-consuming effort, to take what’s available and make it the best it can be, and teach my kids to do the same. We recently took a week’s vacation to Maine. I had to accept that we were going to eat along the drive (from North Carolina) and I wasn’t going to pack that much food – just didn’t have the time. We did our best to choose the healthiest option and everyone was satisfied – even happy. Confession: I even gave in to my 5 year old’s request for a serving size box of Fruit Loops at one hotel. MAJOR concession! She ate two bites (while her sister lectured her on the amount of chemicals in her cereal bowl) and declared it had too much sugar. 10 minutes of wall-bouncing and one apple later, she was good to go. Curiosity satisfied, good decision made. phew!

    1. It sounds like you are making great “concessions” that are part of teaching your kids to make good choices for themselves in the long run! Be proud of yourself. 🙂

  18. For me it’s beans, the convenience of cans means we actually eat them as opposed to me forgoing bc I didn’t have time to soak and cook them.

    We have no easy access to raw milk where we live so it’s not an option.
    With milk though they say pasturizing basically kills all the good nutrition anyway. I don’t know that it’s worth drinking it at all. We eat plain organic yogurt everyday which seems to have the same vitamins as milk. My kids slowly stopped drinking milk with dinner and mainly drink water now. Milk goes in coffee and cereal/granola. I am ok with this at this point as my youngest is 4. It saves me money on milk and space in the fridge. We were at 5 gallons a week at one point.

    1. I’m totally with you on the beans although I did manage to remember to soak some last night, but that was miracle. They do say lots of things about milk, but I just have had to take all the advice “they” give with a bit of humor. We don’t drink milk for the nutrition so much as the taste, so I just use about a gallon a week now since we aren’t really “drinkers.” We just put it on granola, etc. 🙂 ALL organic milk is HEAVILY pasteurized, more so than non-organic milk. It is practically shelf-stable.

      1. It’s always refreshing to find someone else who agrees that all pasteurized milk (raw and non) is dead. I say that to some people and they think I am nuts. I buy the organic is to try to avoid GMO in the cow’s feed and hoping that it truly is.

  19. We have had seasons in our life where we’ve done more and seasons in our life when we’ve done less. Sometimes I have to let it go, and that can be very, very hard for me. (Read: also very good for me.) One thing that has helped me is adding one change at a time, sitting with it for a while until it either becomes a habit or I realize the impracticality of it, works well. Sometimes we try to change too much at once and it doesn’t become part of our routine. More often than not, it stays a habit, and then we make concessions when needed. Yes, I make my own bread and yogurt, but if we get in a pinch or have extenuating circumstances (moving, vacation, etc.) then I’ll buy it. (By the way, I mostly don’t soak, sprout, or ferment things. I also don’t make pasta or tortillas.)
    I think you did the right thing in trying the raw milk, and making a decision based on what is best for your family overall. (As if you need my approval. 🙂 )
    At the same time, I think sometimes overall we need to evaluate beyond whether a change in food is taking to much time to looking at the whole picture. What else is taking up and maybe wasting my time (Facebook, TV, fill-in-the-blank), and is it something I should cut back on in order to make a change in other areas? I’m not saying that to condemn anyone or make them feel like they need to do everything all of the time. We need balance. I’m just saying we need to make sure we look at the whole picture in making decisions about what works for our families and our mental sanity. 😉
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  20. How timely for me too. We are just trying to decide if making a twice a month haul to get raw milk would be worth the possible improvement in
    asthma and allergies. And thank you for the reminder not to try to control things and freak out about food. There are too many fanatics- we need more Poorganics!

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