Friday, September 19, 2014

Baby-Steps To Healthier Eating

Food matters y'all.  Everyone knows that right, everyone knows that what we put into our bodies effects how they function. 

But, that doesn't mean that eating healthy is easy.  It isn't. Things like lack of time and lack of money and lack of know-how get in the way. 

It takes a lot to change eating habits, and you don't get there overnight.  We eat a mostly whole foods diet, but we didn't always eat that way.  It took a lot of "baby steps" along the way to reach the point we are at now.  

I thought I would detail some of the steps I took along the way...and how I moved from more conventional eating to healthier eating.  Maybe it will help someone.

To start at the beginning, I did have an advantage in the healthy eating lifestyle.  When I was a kid, while all the other kids were eating Twinkies and Lucky Charms and marshmallow fluff Sandwiches, we had to eat stuff like homemade whole wheat bread, collard soup and home grown green beans.
Plus, we had to go out and weed the HUGE vegetable garden every day in the summer (I hated weeding!). 

However, once I left home, like your typical college student, I didn't eat well on dorm food, and then I fell down the low-fat, low-calorie rabbit hole where I thought diet Pepsi was the best thing ever.  It took many years to dig myself back up to a place where I would voluntarily eat collard soup again. 

So here 7 steps I took to get into a more wholesome eating lifestyle....and keep in mind that these steps took YEARS, to get me where I now am.  And, our diet still isn't perfect, we do enjoy treats and during times of travel or holidays healthy eating goes out the window. But the rest of the time, we try to stick to whole, clean, unprocessed, healthy foods.

1)  Eating vegetables every day at dinner. I started out with canned vegetables, then moved onto frozen vegetables before finally tackling fresh vegetables. It took a long time for me to be comfortable cooking or preparing fresh vegetables
on a regular basis, but now I find them some of the easiest things to cook. 
e 2) Avoiding certain ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, BHT, BHA and MSG, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, unpronounceable things, etc.

3) Learning to make everything from scratch...learning how to cook things like breads, yogurt, cookies, soups, sauces, salad dressings was the next step.  This sorta goes along with step 2, because to avoid all those "bad" things, you either need to spend a fortune at Whole Foods or learn to make everything yourself.  I chose making it myself. 

4) Adding in high-nutrient foods like bone broths, fermented vegetables, new vegetables (like avocado). 

5) Giving up gluten. Now obviously lots of people don't need to do this, but once I realized that gluten didn't agree with me, it was the kiss of death for processed food in our household.  No more crackers, cereals, pretzels..things I had held onto before were no longer a regular part of our pantry.

6) Following the perfect health diet (liming dairy, grains, sugar etc.)  After Elsa was born, I started following the Perfect Health Diet.  Not perfectly by any means, but it was an impetus to limit dairy and avoid certain grains, like corn, sugar, etc.  We always still allowed ourselves treats, but I no longer made these foods a regular part of our everyday diet. 

7) Trying Whole30.  I'm still in this right now, but this seems to be another step I needed to help me really clean up my diet.  I had gotten into the bad habit of stress-eating chocolate and cooking with too much cheese (which really isn't good for us) and eating too many carbs (like rice pasta which is pretty nutritionally defunct). We still eat those foods, but not in the same frequency or at the same quantities that we used to.

Keep in mind. This was NOT a linear progression.  There were LOTS of backwards steps and regressions...sometimes for things like pregnancy or a new baby or a move and sometimes just because life was extra stressful.  But one thing I've learned is any baby steps I make are positive, because even if we regress on them, it's a lot easier to get back into healthy eating once I know-how to do it. And, we still eat ice cream on Sundays and chips on occasion, but generally I try to follow the 80/20 rule.  If 80% of your diet is good, it's okay to eat junk food 20% of the time. 

(linking for 7QTF)  
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  1. Thank you for this post Amelia! My fiance and I have been slowly trying to rid ourselves of gmos/non-natural etc. food. I wrote a post about it a few weeks ago. I would love to talk to you about possibly guest posting on my blog :-)?

  2. That was great. Thank you! I'm in the new baby phase. Dominic is almost six weeks old so I'm reestablishing the habits of making my own bread and granola. But our laundry is suffering because of it! :-). Whenever I see the mountains I think, "laundry vs. healthy food" and the food always wins when my hands are free.

    After weeks of enjoying meals made by friends (which almost always included desserts), we're getting back to desserts on Sundays and big feast days only. And because we eat veggies every night at dinner, my boys all LOVE roasted broccoli now and one out of three will willingly eat his salad.

    I wonder if you'd write a post on all the nut/grain based milks out there. Almond, rice, and now they even have quinoa milk (!), most of which are sold in the non-refrigerated grocery aisle. They seem very suspect to me. Maybe you know something about them or have the brains to tell us something worthwhile about them. I'm guessing you have both! TB


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