Monday, May 28, 2012

A Healthy Diet

At one point, I thought that our family ate a pretty healthy diet.  Cereal for breakfast, lots of sandwiches & cottage cheese lunches, fresh fruits, and pasta dinners.  (And don't forget the Dove dark chocolate!) But lately, it has been occurring to me that most of these foods, while low in fat and calories, are very processed and probably not all that "healthy".  I've read a lot about gluten free and am reading more about the excessive amounts of sugar in our processed foods and have come to the realization that our family really could eat better.  So while I'm not ready to cut out dairy and go totally grain free, I think reducing our dairy, grain, and gluten intake while increasing fresh produce and fish would be good for us.

A friend recommended looking into "Paleo" eating.  (Paleo is basically eating a diet like our ancestors did during the Paleolithic time period.  Which, basically comes down to eating off the land --fruits, veggies, and some grass fed beef, free range chicken, and wild caught fish.  It also means cutting out dairy, grains, and legumes.) She recommended a cookbook ("Everyday Paleo"), which I ordered online and it arrived about a month ago.   I was so excited to look through it and get some new dinner & snack ideas.

And now, we've been eating "Paleo" dinners for about three weeks.  I'm proud that we're doing this but it was HARD at first!  I miss grains and sugar and dairy.  (Although, I must admit that I don't crave it nearly as much as I did) I do feel better and have more energy.  But I haven't gotten miraculously skinny-- which better happen if I'm giving up cereal!  I also don't like obsessing about what I eat-- and when I'm watching what I eat, I tend to get a little over- anxious about things.  I have to remind myself that my goal in doing this is to really increase our health through our diet.  It takes a bit of planning, but I've been meal-planning for well over three years so we're okay on that front.  (Unfortunately, we can't always get to Hy-Ve or Roots which houses a lot of the ingredients necessary for Paleo cooking.  I guess it's time to look into online ordering?) Now that I feel like I have a handle on the dinners, I am hoping to incorporate more lunch and breakfast ideas this summer.  The look of our refrigerator and pantry is slowly changing-- as we stock things like almond flour and unsweetened coconut flakes and remove things like blueberry mini muffins and goldfish crackers.  But we still have milk and cottage cheese in the fridge and I don't plan on those going anywhere anytime soon.   Maybe someday, but in Spahnville, we're all about baby steps.

1.  I think the first step is coming to an awareness that the way we were currently eating was not the healthiest.

2.  I know that I will not stick to any kind of "diet" especially if there is nothing "tasty" available-- so we're trying, but also forgiving ourselves when we make a bad choice

3.  We allow some "breaks" once a week.  We have had Friday night pizza at Nana Rosa's.  The closest thing to "healthy" that was on our table was the ice water.

Here are the tiny baby steps we've made that seem to be sustainable:

* HUGELY cut sugar.  Did you know sugar is lurking in everything!?  Especially "healthy" treats like yogurt, peanut butter, and dried fruit.  So, we've been nixing the yogurt, switched to almond butter (yum!) and really limit dried fruit (and I'm trying to find a food dehydrator!).

* Started drinking pasteurized, non-homodenized milk.  Paleo involves cutting out dairy but I just can't go there yet.  I figure this is a tiny bit more 'natural'.

* Take a TBS of Fermented Cod Liver oil every night.  (Yes, it tastes as bad as it sounds [although the licorice flavor is pretty good!] but it is supposedly the #1 superfood out there, and one of the BEST immunity boosters around. C even takes it-- and often asks for more)  And... knock on wood... Spahnville has had a really healthy winter!

* Buy local eggs

* Started buying grass-fed beef and free-range chicken breasts  (Thank you Hy-Vee for these options)

* Drastically reduced grains (breads, noodles, buns, cereal, chips, etc.) We have bought a few gluten free varieties like GF Rice Crispies and the Almond chips which aren't too bad.

* Increasing our fish intake-- We have had fish tacos several times (which are AMAZING) and we've had salmon fillets for the past three weeks.  (I need to find some more salmon recipes and tilapia recipes because we love it)

* Increase our produce intake.  For the past two weeks, over half of our grocery bill was spent on fresh produce.  It is pricey but soooo good for you--especially if you know how to prepare it.  We've experimented with kale and chard--both of which aren't too bad.

These are tiny tiny steps, but ones that I think we can continue.  At first, I was very concerned about how to get C to eat more of these things.  We always put "our meal" on his plate and he always tries it.  Sometimes he likes it, sometimes he doesn't.  But at this point, I realize that if he's eating a lot of deli meat, cheese, fruits, and veggies at supper time, that is better than what previously filled his plate.  I felt bad for not piling on the noodles, chicken nuggets, and tator tots, but I'm slowly getting over it.  Baby steps, Karah.  Baby steps.

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