The decision to eat whole foods is not without its sacrifices, especially if you’re on a budget.
“Shopping this way wasn’t about getting what you’re craving, but buying food you could afford and be creative with,” she said.
“Definitely, the initial transition is the hardest part, as with any big change you make in life,” she said. “Once I got over that hump, it felt like a new normal, and it’s just a way of life for us now. It is more cooking and more dirty dishes, but based on the changes in health, it is worth that effort.”
Along with saving money, her family has seen improvements in their health, such as improved cholesterol and fewer asthma and digestive issues.
It’s important to involve the whole household, Leake said. Her children were 3 and 5 years old when the family did its first challenge.
“We explained to them what they were doing and why,” she said. “We told them that we want to live longer lives. Now that they are older, we get them a little more involved.
“They are still kids,” she said. “If they are at a birthday party or pool snack bar, we give them flexibility.”
The change in lifestyle isn’t just about what Leake and her family eat.
“Most importantly, I am teaching my kids to cook,” Leake said. “They are 11- and 13-years-old now, and they can both cook really good meals without any help.”
Leake, who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, is convinced that even people who are on a very tight budget can eat in a healthier way much of the time.
Still, she said she realizes that resources, such as reliable transportation, a variety of nearby grocery stores, an herb and/or vegetable garden, a well-equipped kitchen and, perhaps, most valuable of all, the free time to prep food and cook all played a major role her ability to pull this off.
Without these, one might be hard-pressed to stick to a 100 percent whole food diet, but people can make healthier choices more often, she said.
“Any little positive change counts,” she said. “Even if you can’t completely overhaul your diet, start with breakfast and try to clean up the first meal of the day before you move on to something else.”