The chart is trending up for a second consecutive month. The markets were a mixed bag with domestic equities up a bit while bonds and international funds fell. We continue to plow in large contributions pushing our asset values up a respectable 1.36% for the month. Overall our assets as a multiple of our spending went up from 16.4 to 16.9 times. This ratio was further bolstered by a $73 drop in our rolling 12 month average monthly spending as we had a low spending month. While spending overall was low for the month, in one category we spent much more than usual.
Eating Only Organic Elephants?
Each month as part of our monthly update, I share a thing or two that we have learned, have started to do differently or things we are thinking about with our finances to be consistent with our theme that this is an ongoing process. We are eating the financial elephant one bite at a time.
We started this blog as a way to help others. We were helped immensely by reading other blogs and so we want to pay it forward. However, this month we’re going to turn the tables a bit and ask you the readers if you can help us out a bit.
This month, the dominant factor in our budget (and our life) was our spending on groceries while altering how we eat. Mrs. EE has been dealing with a variety of odd medical symptoms and so she decided to try a totally different diet rather than jumping into conventional medical treatments.
This increased our monthly grocery bill substantially. We spent over 2.5X what we do on an average month. This diet had an even more dramatic effect on the way we spent our time, dramatically increasing time spent on shopping, prepping and cooking. It also made it difficult to get out and be active.
This is where we need help. I’ve asked Mrs. EE to share some details of what we’ve done and why we chose to try this. We want to make permanent improvements in our diet as a family, but need suggestions for more books, websites, resources or other personal tips from others that have done what we are trying to do.
With that, I’ll let Mrs. EE take it away…
We blew the grocery budget
Not that we really budget groceries, but we always spend approximately the same amount each week. Well, this month nearly tripled that usual amount, adding nearly $1,000 to our monthly expenses. It was my new diet. You may think diet = less food, so should = less money spent. Not the case!
As a background, I have been having some health issues. I’ve seen many doctors, gotten many, many tests, and heard how we can treat symptoms with medications. It looks like I have an autoimmune disease, but which one has not been definitively diagnosed. In the meantime, I don’t want meds to treat symptoms. We started looking for different solutions.
We came across a book called “The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases“ by Ann Myers, M.D. This is an interesting read that helps explain the relationship between what you put into (and on) your body and the autoimmune spectrum of diseases. If you have odd symptoms, have been diagnosed or think you may have an autoimmune disease, I recommend this book. Dr. Myers researched and then wrote the book after having an experience similar to what I am going through.
The 30-Day Challenge is on!
I never ate any particular diet. I exercise and eat well (or at least thought I did!). I never had a need to watch what I eat as far as weight goes. I am a carb munching, sweets loving, snack on anything kind of person. Well, I had to give up all of that, plus caffeine. Yep – no more coffee every morning!
Nothing in this diet comes out of a box or bag. It is basically all fresh fruits and vegetables and meat. No dairy, eggs, nuts or grains. Nothing processed either. Hence the challenge – this is the complete opposite of my lifestyle.
I have climbed high altitude mountains, suffered with major migraines on occasion, and had natural med free childbirth. I can handle a diet…right?!
Let me just say this was very tough, especially when the rest of the family goes on more or less as normal. Little EE’s candy jar from Trick or Treat resides on the counter. It stares at me daily, and I swear I think it calls out to me!
I did have a minor breakdown after 2 weeks when Mr. and Little EE were eating my homemade chocolate chip pancakes while Mr. EE was sipping on fresh brewed coffee. I had squash and chicken on my plate with a side of gut healing broth. I got over the brief meltdown and went on. I wasn’t quitting after making it to the half-way point of this 30-day program.
There are also supplements with this 30-day program. I HATE taking meds, supplements, vitamins, etc. I just don’t do it unless necessary. Well, not only do I have to take some with this plan, but I have to take a lot! I actually had to make a spreadsheet to track them daily – no joke! That certainly put a hit on the monthly expenses as well (~$400-$500). That part was one month though – I can do it for a month.
So What Happened to the Grocery Bill?
This program calls for all organic produce and meat. Let me tell you that it is not cheap to eat this way!
Dr. Myers lays out a very specific plan in her book. She gives you a breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu along with recipes.
The recipes are great. We felt like we were eating gourmet restaurant style meals. But, there are so many ingredients, some of which I never even heard of! I pretty much got to know the produce guy at the grocery store because he had to help me with my list the first two weeks.
Organic is expensive! Eating wild caught seafood, pasture raised, grass-fed beef and pasture raised chickens is expensive! I was in shock when my grocery bill was $330 dollars for a week of food (usually ~$100 each week). I thought maybe it will be better next time now that I have some of the odd spices, etc. Nope – $300 the next week, and close to that the third week. It is what it is – if you want to eat organic, you have to be willing to pay.
Is It Worth the Expense?
So, my first question is – is it worth it? Does eating organic make that much of a difference? We have to determine if we are going to continue eating like this after this 30-day program. My thoughts are yes and no.
I am not going to be this strict, at least not with not eating any grains, eggs, dairy, and an occasional sweet. I know I need to find a way to get some more carbohydrates in my diet. But, I am going to continue to eat as much organic as I can, both produce and meat. I will also try to limit gluten in my diet.
After reading the book and understanding the effects of the chemicals on the produce, genetically modified foods (that just doesn’t even sound good when you say that out loud), and the crap pumped into the animals, I think for the sake of all of our health, it is worth it.
Little EE is only 3, so this is the perfect time to do this. Get her started in the right direction early, giving her healthy foods, ones with no chemical impact, ones with no hormones and antibiotics. This will hopefully help reduce her chances of an autoimmune health issue later in her life. As for Mr. EE and I, we want to be healthy so that we can play with Little EE and do our adventures once we retire early.
It can also be seen as an investment. Once retired, we pay our own health care, so the better care we take of our bodies, the less likely we will need doctors, hospitals and medications.
What About the Time?
So, expense-wise, yes it is worth it to me. Now, time-wise is a different story.
Not only did I triple the grocery bill, but I doubled the shopping time. With so many ingredients, and being on a constant hunt for these odd ones, it is so time consuming.
And now dinner is a project every night. It is stressful, which defeats some of the purpose of this 30-day program. These meals take a long time to prepare, taking away from the little time each weekday that we have with Little EE.
Right now, while we are working, this diet isn’t sustainable. I don’t want to lose time with the family and be in the kitchen cooking all evening and weekend. This strict diet also makes it nearly impossible to travel as required for my work and makes it difficult to get out and be active for even a day. I actually enjoy the cooking, and once retired, I would love to do this each day. Not right now though.
That again leads to the conclusion that I will not continue the diet to this strict regimen after the 30 days are up. We will incorporate some of the easier recipes, and some harder ones for the weekends when we have time. But it certainly will not be a breakfast, lunch, dinner each day. I will try to avoid the ‘toxic’ foods as well, but if one slips in here and there, so be it.
Any Help Out There?
Do any of you eat this way…all organic, fresh, no processed foods, no gluten, no grains? If so, I would love to hear any ideas and/or recipes that are less time-consuming and maybe less ingredients.
I am looking for ideas that will also suite Little EE (she’s a picky eater!). Have any of you had much success with kids with this kind of diet?
I need ideas for active people on this kind of diet. What do I take to put in my pockets or pack for when we are out on the slopes, on a long hike or climbing for the day?
Also, if you eat this way, has it helped your health at all? Do you feel more energized, healthy, and mentally sharp?
Being honest, I don’t. I feel less energized, which is hard for me to deal with. Hopefully I am just still adjusting to this new way of eating. I know I have to find some more calorie dense foods that I can tolerate to support my active lifestyle. Any ideas here?
My body is used to 30+ years of the other lifestyle, and I am only 4 weeks into this one. We are committed to making this a lifestyle change for our family, but realize it is not easy. We’ll keep researching and experimenting, but any help you could offer to speed up the process would be appreciated!
Has anyone else had success treating autoimmunity with diet and have any tips? Do you have any particularly helpful resources for further reading, recipes, etc? If so, please share in the comments or send us a private e-mail. THANK YOU!