Saturday, August 6, 2011

{food, health} Trying to Make Changes

I've had a lot of conversations with people lately about eating healthier. I may need to explain my definition of healthy eating. I don't mean calorie counting, nor do I mean counting fat grams. I do think these are important for someone who is in the very beginning of a healthy eating journey because it helps a person understand what they are putting into their body on a basic level.

However, I also believe we have been conditioned to think that fat and high calorie counts in our diet are automatically bad for us because we have a problem with obesity in our country. I think the problem is not necessarily only the fats and calories; Our bodies need fats, but healthy fats, and in moderation in a balanced diet. I think this problem is from a lack of education about what eating healthy really means. This need is trying to be filled, not by people eating more vegetables and local, fresh foods, but by buying pre-packaged, processed foods claiming "low calorie" or "low fat" that may have some nutritional value, but are not the best for our bodies. The problem is, especially in our country, we always want bigger, faster, more convenient, and I think our bodies are paying for it.

Eggs from free range, grain fed chickens

My explanation of eating healthy is cutting out processed foods, chemicals, and preservatives, while incorporating as much fresh, local food in my diet as possible. Mostly vegetables, but also meat from local farms, while not requiring meat as a necessity for every meal. Also, eating when we are hungry, and not only because it is "meal-time", and being aware of my portion size. (I cannot tell you how many times I've eaten an entire meal when I wasn't really hungry, simply because it was "supper time") Most of my friends hold these same views, so i've been getting a lot of advice and information from people who are keeping these habits.

Tiny tomatoes from my garden

We have begun our "healthy eating journey" with trying to cut out so much meat from our diets. We aren't going completely vegetarian ( I mean, come on-- my favorite meal in the world is good, grilled ribeye steak and mashed potatoes. Simple, I know. But how can I give that up?! maybe in time, but not yet :)), but we felt we needed to make some healthier choices. Not to mention the price of buying healthy meat (when I say healthy i mean organic, no hormones, no antibiotics, etc) is at least twice the price of other meats. I found myself slipping on my convictions about healthy meats because I couldn't afford to buy the kind. I would leave the grocery store so upset because I wasn't able to feed my family (small as it is) what I felt is best for us, all because it is just priced too high. I find that in some stores I am forced to buy things that I don't want to buy, only because the healthier option is priced too high. So, the solution? Take the need away. Replace those things with healthy options that will be more nutritious, and just as delicious!

I'm realizing that there are so many things that I have as a staple in my pantry that are not healthy for us. Cutting processed foods from our diet is the next step. When we are more conscious of what we eat,  we will begin to notice things here and there and wonder why in the world we continue to use them. There are healthier alternatives. Most of the things that I use that are processed are simply for convenience sake. Why do I feel like I NEED cream of mushroom soup and Minute Rice?! If I just take the time to make these things, they are much better tasting, and much better for me. All the preservatives and chemicals added to those types of foods are terrible for our bodies.

This week was our first week eating mostly vegetarian. I think we did pretty good! My favorite Recipe this week was Vegetarian Spinach Enchiladas (I will post this recipe another time). Now, since I am also phasing out all processed foods from my pantry, and this recipe did include a jarred enchilada sauce, I used it this time but my goal is to learn how to make a good enchilada sauce homemade.

I'm a sucker for shopping bags. I LOVED this one and couldn't pass it up!

I have a feeling this little blog about my life may end up having a lean towards eating and health and my struggles with both. I hope you will leave comments about your habits that you have found helpful, as well as the ones you are trying to leave behind.

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