Monday, April 22, 2013

navigating a world of "eat this, not that"

How does one begin to navigate the world of nutrition and health?

I have been blogging for about a year now.  I write about living a good life. For me, a large portion of it is whole foods. I am in awe at the amount of information that is out there. Someone looking to "eat better" can get overwhelmed in a real hurry.  If you look up real food or healthy eating on the Internet you get so many different opinions and differing strategies. everyone is yelling "EAT THIS, NOT THAT!". It seems that there are so many rules, regulations, must haves, and can't haves. It makes you just want to give up and go back to what you were doing; even if it is not working.  It is all overwhelming and many give up before they even begin. 

I have found some things that have really helped in the beginning stages of trying to break free from the cycle of processed foods. 

1. First and farmost, turn off all the voices. You hear so many things out there, and it gets so confusing. There are many people out there promoting their products, book or program. Turn it all off for a while. Listen to your inside voice. Once everything esle is quieted down you can hear that innervoice that will guide you. Until then......

2. Start by increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables in your diet. A fruit or vegetable at every meal or snack. Reach for a fruit instead of candy. You can train yourself and kids to do this. I wrote a three part series on taming the sugar beast. The first key was to increase your  fruit consumption. Buy a heap of produce and keep it in sight. Spend a little time cutting up the fruits and vegetables, put them in containers ready to go. This really helps in getting a real food dinner on the table in a hurry.

 I always start in the produce section of my grocery store. I fill up half my cart with produce. I end up in the frozen food section and find some more frozen fruits and veg. When I am done 3/4 of my grocery cart is fruits and veg. You may look into a produce share, a CSA group, or a co-op. This way you can get more fruits and vegetables into your diet. I will include some links below for help in this area

3. Do not worry just yet if your choices are not perfect. By choosing fruits and veg you are making a better choice. Later on, you can worry about if you are making the best choices as you search out info on locally grown and organic produce. We are just now starting to worry about where our produce is coming from. We had to start by getting whole foods on the radar, We are just now getting to a point where we can worry about all the details to make it better.  

4. Stick to the simple foods. Some of my best recipes are very simple and simply prepared. There are times I go to great lengths to prepare a fancy feast, but most often my meals are simple and tasty. I consider myself a peasant type of cook. I cook with what I have on hand and available to me. Sometimes the simple things are the most pleasant.

5. Begin to overhaul your family favorite recipes. One example could be taco night. It is easy enough to replace a portion of the taco meat with lentils. Spice it up, and it is hard to tell they are there. We make alot of casseroles and stir frys adding a ton of vegetables instead of so much rice, potatoes, or pasta. A vegetable lasagna instead of  meat and cheese. We have added whole grain flours to our baked items. You get the idea.

We have cut down the amount of starchy side dishes. Instead of an extra large portion, we have cut it back to maybe half a portion and serve a salad with it. Salads can be made of just about anything. We have been learning to make salads with whatever fruits, veg and whole grains are cooked and ready in the fridge.  Sometimes the meal consists of a lean meat, and two types of salad. No starchy side dish. I still struggle with the thought that I need a starchy side dish, but I am getting the hang of it. We did not get there all at once, which brings me to the next point.

5.  Start small  You do not have to do it all at once.  If you overhaul  the kitchen and start on a totally brand new way of eating all gung ho; it usually ends up going the way of  the New years resolution. It lasts a few days or weeks, but then fades quickly. The trick is to find a way of eating that will sustain and nourish you for the long haul.  Keep alot of the old stuff you love, but make it better. You do not have to make it so healthy that people will not eat it.  Up the nutrition where you can. Sneak nutrition in. Smoothies are a great way to sneak in fruits and vegetables. Pasta sauce can disguise alot of vegetables if you puree them in the food processor.
Eat smaller portions of those things your body craves, and more of the things that your body needs. We have found that we are craving less and less of the processed foods, even finding some of our old favorites disgusting.

6. Once you start eating fruits and vegetables your brain will start thinking clearly. With a clearer brain, you will be able to navigate the information better. Your cravings will be less of a controlling issue, and you will be able to make better choices. I no longer feel like a rat in a maze. I am no longer subject to candy and sweets. As a family, we are getting clearer in out food choices. We are finding things that help us to feel better in body, mind and spirit. You will find a way of eating and living that works for you and your family too. Start with some real food, then you can find the path that works for you.

Robb Wolf why a CSA and how to find one

bountiful baskets


tame the sugar beast here at life less hurried

1 comment:

  1. Great tips! I'm trying to get into the "more fruits and veggies" one. I'm enjoying them. :)