After a year of interventions for our daughter, it was a sobering beginning to her first grade year when her teacher told us “Abbie doesn’t care about school.” Not our little girl, we thought. Abbie was a full year behind in reading, had clinically significant attention and sensory processing issues and could not follow simple two-step directions in the classroom. It only took that one sentence to trigger me into a full blown Food Revolution on September 7, 2012. I made the simple, yet challenging decision to eliminate the “fake food” ingredients in Abbie’s diet. To everyone’s shock, Abbie became symptom free in under three weeks. She began to blossom in school, and ultimately, she completed her 1st grade year exceeding expectations.

At the start of this food change, I began writing a blog, themullies.com where I shared the day to day swings and misses of the lifestyle adjustment for my whole family. A month later, I found Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution website as I was researching the connection between school food and academic success. I applied immediately to become a food Ambassador because the concept of “better nutrition” was no longer just another article for me to gloss over as someone else’s issue. It was my issue. It became my passion to learn how to grow, buy, cook, and eat more real food for my family table and  I knew our story could help other families.

I immediately worked to change my shopping habits, my cooking habits and my children and husband’s eating habits. I dug in for some hard work. There have been ups and downs and a lot of bombed recipes. However, I found the sunshine and if there weren’t clouds in the way at times, well… how would I ever appreciate that lovely warmth on my face?

My generation of women and men work our little tails off both inside and outside of the home to make ends meet. The food companies have answered the demand for cheap and faster food preparation. It used to be that a home cooked meal tasted better than food from a box. Well, science and technology have figured out how to use specially formulated salt mixtures, additives and sugars to make us and especially our children love and crave processed foods. Finishing your plate has never been easier, more please!

When Abbie became symptom free within a few weeks of the food change it became very clear that this change was now permanent.

These breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners in a box contain things our bodies and brains rebel against. Four years ago, before I began on this Food Revolution journey, I didn’t think twice about it. I hardly ever read a label. I thought we were protected. Our bodies are not meant to eat artificial colors, they are not meant to eat preservatives, chemicals, refined sugars and fats developed in labs.

My previous ratio of processed foods (no label looking) to cooked-from-scratch meals was around 90:10. The bottom line is that if Abbie did not have her issues I would have kept on going like that forever. I’d be doing it today, yesterday and tomorrow. Open a box, unwrap it, heat it up and eat it… or go to the drive thru and get take-out, or better yet, let’s just eat out.

I flipped that ratio on its head and we’re all healthier for it; Chris and I are slimmer, Abbie is symptom free and exceeding grade level expectations, Mac’s classroom teacher has reported positive changes and our youngest Tommy is eating everything we eat.

The more I cook the more I learn and the more I look forward to it and my journey in this Food Revolution has just been incredible.

About Lindsey Shifley

Lindsey Shifley of themullies.com is a lifelong Mundelein, IL resident, Northwestern Varsity Softball player turned coach, wife, mom of three, Super Food Ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Chicago Food Day Planner/Social Media Strategist, public speaker and teacher in the kitchen.