This weeks post was mammoth so I've split it into two semi-mammoth posts you can absorb over the week one at a time.
Lets talk healthy eating...
Next week I really want to focus on the "why", the collective 'we' might have gone off track/got ourselves in a bad place/complete mess/developed bad habits but right now I want to concentrate on the how, how much, when & what of food. This leads nicely into more on making that pantry healthier too. Lots to absorb here [no pun intended] so take all week to read through.....
According to almost everything I've read on healthy lifestyles & nutrition, the same economics about dealing with food apply.
How - fresh, nutritious, cook it yourself, use as many single ingredients as possible [unprocessed], use good oils [coconut, macadamia, olive], chew more slowly, enjoy it
How much - watch portion sizes for weight loss. As a rough guide.... imagine an entre plate size of food & divide into 8 sections. 4 sections [half the plate] for vegetables [the good carbs], one section for good fats & oils, the 3 remaining sections for protein. If I could avoid calorie counting & learn the approximate right mix, it would become instinctive over time, I'd be less stressed & more healthy!
When - breakfast is super important & can help decrease evening snacking, regular meals, snacks prepared & ready to go
What - this varies according to your own philosophies of food but I haven't come across a style of eating yet that doesn't promote vegetables so if you don't like them, Houston we have a problem.
Some of the philosophies on food I have been reading about & make alot of sense to me are Paleo which also incorporates the other two - quitting wheat & quitting sugar philosophies. A Paleolithic diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.
Its not my intention to dictate meal plans or philosophies on food but its the one that interests me most, with a few changes. I said up front I wouldn't be aligning myself to anything 100%. Everyone needs to subscribe to their own beliefs but these are my current thoughts and at this stage of my 52 weeks, I am just looking to make positive continuous changes over time, not get obsessive about sticking to anything too extreme.
Here's the food list I'm aiming to have in my kitchen FOR ME, over time.....
Staples - Lean meat, chicken & seafood, eggs, vegetables & fruit, nuts, herbs & spices, good oils, seeds
The occasional &/or smaller quantity foods - good quality cheese, natural yoghurt, some grainy carbs [millet, quinoa & I'll be searching for a bread or recipe for bread with spelt or sprouted grains], butter [not margerine], brown rice.
My children will eat all of that too but they will continue eating cereal [although we have cut out the worst of them & replaced with less sugar or gluten free varieties], milk at breakfast, some processed crackers, a little bread and a few treats. I'll definitely be looking to improve this over time adding nuts & seeds but I have plenty of things to concentrate on right now. Its a process.
So how is your pantry looking? A bit healthier this week? Are you ready to make some more changes?
I have stocks of a few processed foods left but the worst culprits in my pantry are not to my liking so I’ll let my family enjoy them for another few weeks mixed up with healthy options before I cut them out leaving just the more nutritional snack options.
And I think that’s the key here. Any ‘diet’ imposed on families puts a large strain to not only kick all bad habits, start exercising, makeover the pantry, learn how to cook a completely new meal plan, get over your confidence/anxiety/confusion – ALL at the start! Aaghh! That is not taking into account food allergies, fussy eaters, cost of discarding & replacing food or any other circumstance particular to your family.
So we do this one week at a time, positive moves forward. If you want. Your choice. But maybe its not 100% your choice?
If you have people in your home that aren't subscribing to your fresh & healthy plans for this year, perhaps you both can agree to disagree. A little rearranging can take care of that. Look around your kitchen for all the healthy things that you can move into the pantry [to replace the temptations] and then shuffle bits around to make a space in a cupboard that is set up for 'the difficult one's' stash. When its out of your view, hopefully you can find the strength not to dig into it. I let Jeff keep things in our kitchen that I really don't enjoy and anything that is too tempting for me, he keeps in his work bag or in the car boot. He is a total lolly head and I'm not sure he will ever give them up. So that's how we overcome it.
Habit - Eat healthier!
Now how to transition from the regular meal routine we are used to, to a healthier eating plan. Try these steps over the entire 52 weeks....
1] Start by writing a list of the healthiest meals in your usual rotation, maybe they can be improved even more? Cook with better oils, add more veg, reduce the processed carbs, add purees [extra nutrition] to your cooking.
2] Keep trying to 'health up' as many meals on your list as you can - maybe make your own homemade stocks & sauces? Home baked potato wedges are better than fast food French fries. A baked potato is better than wedges. A sweet potato is better than a white one. Positive steps forward over time.
3] Try a new healthy recipe each week and then add the winners to your weekly meal plan. As time goes on, you are sure to have a vastly improved healthier meal rotation for your family. I know you have healthy cook books right? Get stuck into them. You can also check out my Living to 100 Pinterest boards on Food Economics, Breakfasts, Kids lunchboxes & snacks, Snacks & Finger Food, Lunches & Dinners for ideas. Pinterest was down ealier when I was ready for a pinning frenzy but I'll keep adding of course!
4] Have a free meal once per week. Whatever you like but be sensible. 2-3 slices of pizza, not the whole thing, right? Enjoy dessert, just not the whole ice cream tub.
5] Make shopping lists
6] Shop only after you have eaten a meal and try as much as possible to shop for fresh produce & avoid the large processed section in the middle of the supermarket. I got that tip from my friend Tamar [makes total sense, didn't even think about how supermarkets are set up that way]!
7] Set an alarm each morning to remind you to take meat out of your freezer [if you bulk buy & freeze]. That way you'll have no excuse at night for not having any thawed meat ready to go.
8] As ingredients run out, switch them to something healthier. Or if they are processed, don't buy them again.
9] Prepare snacks of cut up vegetables, nuts & have fresh fruit available always. Some fruits are better than others but any fruit in place of a Coke or a chocolate, or both, is a better option right now.
10] Baby steps, just commit to having your new week a bit healthier than the last. Keep going.
Dare to imagine how your meal plans could look by year end? Enjoy.