As a follow-up to attending the Women’s Health Conference at the end of September I have been thinking more and more about the food I eat and what I put into my body. There is such a variety of information out there, it is hard to know what to do. Gluten-free, low-carb, low-fat, Paleo, South Beach are just a few diets you hear of. If you don’t follow a certain diet you are advised no sugar, no refined carbs, no white foods. Some days it feels like too much of any food is bad for you.
So, how are we supposed to know what to eat? For example, the U.S. was instructed to eat a low-fat diet a few decades ago. Egg yolks and butter were bad and in came tons of low-fat foods, pre-packaged for our convenience on shelves. Well, you can see where that got us. Way too much obesity and a high diabetes rate as a nation. Now there are people (fanatics, maybe?) who profess only to eat organically and grass-fed beef or you are bound to kill over tomorrow. No sugar, no soda, no canned foods, no packaged foods, etc.
Geez, that’s kind of severe isn’t it? If you eat a diet of take out food, pre-packaged goods and minimal fruits and vegetables, this is a pretty severe shift as a way of eating. The two big take aways I got from attending the women’s health conference was: eat real food and no food shaming. As far as the food shaming – why would you mock the way someone eats? I certainly wouldn’t mock someone for something they choose to wear, the way they walk or where they choose to go to school/work/church. These are all every day things we do, so who am I to say what another person does is “wrong” as long as they aren’t breaking any laws? I’m not saying I agree with the way every person eats, but that is their choice. I think education and sharing is a key to see change happen, certainly not by shaming them or saying to only eat a certain way.
To me, eating real food means foods that are not processed and are in basic form. For example, fruit and vegetables from the ground, meats from animals, (not chicken nuggets!), whole grains, homemade sweets and breads, etc. If it is something you could make at home, grow or butcher, it is pretty much a “real food”. NOW, this doesn’t mean I subscribe by this 100%. I work very hard during the week to meal prep and plan healthy breakfast, lunch and dinners at home. I don’t go out to eat during the week and I always try to make sure I have healthy food on hand to prepare for the work week. But you can tell by this blog I love to bake, I eat sugar, I enjoy beer, I drink pop and other “unhealthy” indulgences. I don’t think it has to be an all or nothing. Balance.
I agree with shopping local, keeping your money local and supporting area businesses. But again, that isn’t always an easy option for people. And let’s be real, sometimes easy is what we need to just get through the week and get food cooked and ready in addition to all the other things families have going on every week. If you can’t go buy your eggs, get to a farm for produce, buy local beef, etc. try to start small by going to the farmer’s market a few weekends next summer. It’s a great gateway to learning more about buying local produce and hearing about where food is offered. Bananas obviously aren’t grown locally in ND, that doesn’t mean I don’t buy them. They are a great addition to breakfast. Again, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. But we should try to start somewhere.
I won the t-shirt I am wearing above from LoseIt – an app I have been using for a year and a half to track what I eat and exercise I do. I love the app and I love this t-shirt. It is a slice of pizza on it and it says diet food. On the back it says everything in moderation. This! Exactly!
I try to be pretty strict on my workouts during the week (along with my food) but then on the weekend I relax a bit and on Sunday I usually just eat whatever I want and it generally isn’t healthy if I am being honest. Let’s see, last Sunday it was pizza (ha!) and cookies I made. It’s OK. I’ll be back on track Monday and I know I personally can’t live without enjoying those treats. Just not every day.
Sometimes when I go out to eat, I eat something healthy like this salad.
And sometimes I don’t. I had nachos and beer after I had theses chips and salsa. And it was wonderful and I enjoyed my company and had zero guilt over that meal.
I came across two informative posts about eating well that really resonated with me. I think they provide great information and that first link is quite frightening to be honest. I do think education is key and while I won’t ever cut sugar out of my diet, I certainly pay more attention to how much I consume. But I really like these parts:
“Parents should purge their cabinets and shopping lists of junk, and they should set and enforce rules on what their children are allowed to eat. I can be even more specific: Teach your kids to snack on carrots and celery and fruit and hummus and guacamole — things made from fruits and vegetables and beans and grains. Offer these things all the time. Make sure breakfast and lunch are made up of items you would eat when you’re feeling good about your diet. Make a real dinner from scratch as often as you can. Worry less about labels like “G.M.O.”and “organic” and “local” and more about whether the food you’re giving your children is real.
Parents need discipline, strength, a plan and determination. But they need a more supportive environment too, because the battle over feeding children really pits Big Food against parents, and Big Food’s resources are vast: almost unlimited money, little regulation and tacit government support. Parents,meanwhile, are busy and bombarded by misleading ads. They want to make their child “happy,” and it’s hard to say no when the child insists that a Happy Meal will do just that. What American parents need is support in the form of a food policy that encourages the production and sale of real food and strongly reduces the ability of food marketers to peddle their junk to children. Another thing that would be great? Let’s make cooking lessons (and good old home ec) in school standard, not a rarity. Not every parent can be a cookbook author, after all.“
I don’t have kids but I think this applies to me as well. It’s great advice. I don’t want to tell people how to live or eat, but look into food and educate yourself on what you are putting in your body. I’m not a fanatic one way or another but if you want to improve, there are great resources out there. If you don’t like veggies, try cooking them a different way. If you eat sugary yogurt, try one with less sugar and more protein. Taste buds do change and adapt over time.
If you want to improve your diet you can. I urge you to make small changes and build over time. If you try to change it all at once, you will likely feel overwhelmed, fail and go back to your unhealthy habits.
I guess that is kind of a heavy topic and people can get pretty heated or debated. I like to think I’m pretty laid back and like I said – do what you want. I am more concerned about myself. BUT, I did want to share what I have been learning. So, to lighten things up let’s talk about my pets. I haven’t featured them in a while!
Here’s Brinklie, our little house cat, giving me some serious side eye for interrupting her nap. My husband got her for me as a Christmas gift a few years ago. She was just a little sick, wimpy barn cat and she has turned into the most fun and cute little cat. She has such a great attitude and loves to be outside on her leash in the nice weather. Otherwise you might find her napping in the spare bedroom, on her cat condo or on my husband’s lap while he is watching football.
And here is our faithful yellow lab, Winston. As soon as the kennel gets put in the truck, he gets in there because he knows he is going somewhere. Hopefully hunting or out to our friends ranch where he can roam around and sniff all the cow dung he wants. He will be 9 years old in a few weeks and he is getting more and more white in the face, it takes him longer to recover from pheasant hunting and he is getting some tumors on his body. But he is still the sweetest love bug, he barks whenever my husband tickles or hugs me (protective!), he’s always happy to see us and he still has stinky farts. Ha! These two are quite the duo – the 8 lb. cat and 85 lb. dog. Let me tell you, the cat rules this roost. She jumps all over the dog and bugs him. Once he finally gets worked up to take after her she runs and hides!
Make it a great week friends. Maybe try getting your healthy meals ready for your work week today to start a small change.