Making the Switch: Eating Organic

A couple of months ago I went to Jillian Michaels’ Maximize Your Life tour in Lowell with my friends Ashley and Lauren.  My wellness obsessed co-workers Sheila and Dawn were also in attendance at this show.

Jillian Michaels Maximize Your Life

During the first half of the motivational talk, Jillian spoke a lot about diet and exercise.  A lot of the concepts she talked about were already familiar to me as a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor, but they were nice reminders.  I especially enjoyed hearing them come from her because it reinforced a lot of the things that I already teach and preach!  The second half of the show was more motivational and inspirational, which was right up my alley.  It was all about living life to the fullest, bringing your intentions to action, living the life that you should, and aligning your passions and purpose.  Love, love, love.  I could go on and on about that kind of stuff all day long!

do what you love

However, one of my biggest takeaways from the first half of the show was hearing Jillian talk about what types of foods to avoid.  She rattled off almost every type of diet or diet label out there:  gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, Atkins, South Beach, pescatarian, Weight Watchers, low-fat, low-carb… the list goes on.  Jillian said that people are going to do their own thing and all the power to them, but the one thing she recommends avoiding actually isn’t a carb or sugar or meat, but any type of chemical food additives in the things we eat.  Think trans fats/hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, sodium nitrates/nitrites, growth hormones, MSG, BHA and BHT, antibiotics, and pesticides.

I will admit that I never paid much attention to these things before.   I definitely used to just focus on what I was eating in the sense of ensuring I was getting all the right food groups, but it goes well beyond that.  Seeing Jillian on tour motivated me to start educating myself more on the chemicals we consume on an every day basis.  I’m definitely looking well beyond every “all natural” or “only 90 calories!” label on products and making sure to look at the actual ingredient lists instead.  This is still a work in progress, as sometimes I just can’t resist a treat that has high fructose corn syrup in it!

I’d say the biggest change that I’ve made to date is that Tim and I have decided to make the switch to eating organic.  Making this switch hasn’t been easy, and it most certainly doesn’t happen overnight.  There have been a lot of conversations back and forth on the topic and let me tell you, we are definitely not eating EVERYTHING organic because we just can’t afford to and it’s too difficult to make a complete switch.  We are just trying to be more mindful and have made the following adjustments in our diets:

Artificial Sweeteners
I went cold turkey with Splenda and am now drinking my coffee with only a little splash of organic skim milk, almond milk, or coconut milk.

Meat
We now only buy organic meat.  Looking at pictures of cows treated with antibiotics versus those that are antibiotic free is crazy!  There is SUCH a difference in both look and taste.  I actually feel like gagging a bit now thinking of some of the meat I used to eat.  The hard part is that no matter what store you go to, there are just SO many labels.  There’s free-range, cage-free, grass-fed, all natural, no antibiotics, no hormones and so many more before you even get to an organic label.  It’s just been hard differentiating between all the different verbiage out there and knowing for sure what each one means.  I’m still learning.

Eggs
We are getting our eggs organic and cage free.  Unlike meat, deciphering between the different types of eggs has actually been pretty easy.  It’s very clear which eggs are which!

Dairy
We are TRYING to go organic whenever possible here, but we have not made the full switch.  We have with milk, but with cottage cheese, yogurt, and other cheeses we are still on the fence.  I just love my Chobani too much.  I’m open to suggestions for brands if you guys have them, but I’m not sure we’ll ever get to this point.  I tried organic cottage cheese from Whole Foods for a total of three days and thought it was so watery I could barely eat my breakfast.  Non-organic fat free from Trader Joe’s seems good enough to me.

Produce
We do not buy all our fruits and vegetables organic, but we are following the dirty dozen rule.  If you do a Google search for “The Dirty Dozen” you will find a lot of information on the twelve pieces of fruits and vegetables that have the highest amount of pesticides versus those that have the lowest.  If our produce is on the dirty dozen list, we go organic.  If not, we get the regular versions.  Participating in the farm share is also helping us eat more organically, and we definitely notice a difference in the quality of our food when we do.

Red White & Blue Salsa

I think most people shy away from eating organic because it does come with a cost, mainly a higher grocery bill.  And trust me, I am someone who would calculate what I was spending as I put each item in my carriage so I wouldn’t go over my $75-$80 weekly grocery budget for two.  However, when it comes to what we’re putting in our bodies, we’ve decided it’s worth it to spend a bit more.  What we are spending each week varies on how much, if any, meat we buy as part of our weekly meal plans.  For example, last week we didn’t need to buy any meat and our grocery bill actually came in really low at around $60.  However this week we bought two packs of chicken and a pound of steak, and our bill was around $120.  Of course other things also come into play, such as whether we need to stock up on staples, how many meals out we’re planning on, and how many ingredients our recipes call for.  Either way, I am confident that we can cut the difference in what we are spending for better quality food from another area in our lives.

Tim and I have also noticed a difference in how we feel.  You know the feeling you get when you eat like crap one day and just feel sluggish and tired?  But the next day you eat well-balanced meals and feel pretty good?  Maybe it’s mental, but we think we actually feel even better about ourselves in terms of energy levels after making the switch to mostly organic eats.

Boston Public Gardens

All this being said, my recommendation to you if you are on the fence about making the switch to an organic diet, is to just do as much research as possible before taking that leap.  You want to make sure you are well-informed and stand behind your decision.  Also, it’s fine to take it day by day!  Again, this kind of thing doesn’t happen overnight.

Do you eat organic?  Any tips for someone looking to make the switch?

I’ll be back later with my Weekly Eats post!  Catch you guys then.

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16 thoughts on “Making the Switch: Eating Organic

  1. This is very helpful as I do not think of buying organic. I always think of food groups or how something is prepared. Even though I know about the dirty dozen I need to be more mindful of just starting in small ways to make the change to organic. One thing I am getting better on is to read the list of ingredients-if it is a long list of chemicals, additives, etc, I avoid the product. Thanks for the inspiration to make the change!

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  2. I try to buy organic for me and my boyfriend whenever I can. Yeah, it drives up the cost of our food bill, but I believe in investing in health. It’s the best way you can spend your money. One good tip if you want to save money on meat is to shop around. Shaws/Star Market is very expensive for meat, but Stop and Shop is much cheaper, even with their organic brand. Pay attention to the sales at Whole Foods. Know your dirty dozen and clean fifteen. It all adds up in the end!

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    • I 100% agree with your “investing in health” comment. The way I look at it, you are saving money in the long run because if you take care of yourself now you won’t end up with so many medical expenses (hopefully!). Thanks for the tips!

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  3. Athena,

    Very excited to hear that you love CHO, but sad that you’re losing faith due while looking for a more organic option. While we aren’t organic we are made of only natural ingredients, like real fruit. We do have 13-18g of protein in every 6 oz cup and no artificial sweeteners.

    Our goal is to price our products so that everyone, regardless of income, can enjoy our high-quality, tasty yogurt that’s made with only natural ingredients. As a result, Chobani isn’t organic. Producing it as such would force us to raise our prices, making our authentic strained Chobani Greek Yogurt accessible to fewer people. We hope we can win your heart back proving we’re as real as it gets : )

    Becky at Chobani

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    • Hi Becky,
      Thank you for reaching out. By no means do I want you to think I am losing faith in the Chobani brand. The reason that my boyfriend and I haven’t made a full switch to organic dairy products like we have with meat and the dirty dozen for produce is because we trust in the natural ingredients of our go to yogurt and cottage cheese brands. I’m not sure we see a real benefit to switching to organic in these areas! We know Chobani is real and we are tried and true fans – Like I said, we love it too much to ever give it up. 🙂

      P.S. I can’t wait to try all the new CHO flavors that I’ve seen all over social media lately… ESPECIALLY blackberry!

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  4. Great post! My fiance and I do buy almost everything organic, and we try to buy locally whenever possible (mostly in the summer at the famers markets!). But you are right, it does add up, and like you, not every single thing we buy is organic. I still go with regular cottage cheese and fage greek yogurt, but the important things to me are eggs, meat, poultry, and certain veggies. It is expensive and it’s not for everyone because of that, but I really think that your health is well worth investing in, even if you can only afford a few organic changes!

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  6. It’s interesting that you just posted this. My sister in law has done a ton of research on organic and non GMO foods. My whole family is switching and her parents as well. The driving force behind the genetically motified foods is Monsanto. If you google them you will get lots of results. There is an iPhone app called buycott that you can use in the grocery store and it goes you what companies are associated with Monsanto. It was eye opening to how many are! Great article!

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