Want to Eat Healthier?

About a week ago I received the following comment from an old friend/distant cousin/high school classmate/former fellow pom-pon”er”. (She wears many hats.) Don’t you just love 1980’s hair?

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You know what would be great posts when you write? How you started to eat healthy. What was the hardest food to get used to and what was the easiest to change and make? Some of us would love to change our eating habits and eat to live instead of live to eat but cannot get past new foods, where to buy them and how to make them? Look forward to your posts!

I absolutely love feedback like this. Not only does it encourage me to be reflective, but it also provides inspiration for new posts! I really want what I write to be helpful to others, and I am not always sure that what I am writing is what others want to be reading.

Let me back up a bit.

I began blogging for a couple of reasons. First of all,  I wanted my life experiences to benefit others. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to give hope to those struggling with food and/or body image. But, in order to accomplish this, I needed the courage to share my story. I had to take a risk by letting others see my less than perfect past.

Secondly, I wanted to write! I’ve always enjoyed writing. When I was younger, writing poems provided an outlet to express my feelings. It truly has become my passion, and it continues to be incredibly therapeutic for me, as it allows me to see the progress I’ve made on my life’s journey. When I write, I feel empowered. I enjoy the frustration of drafting, the creativity of revising, and the satisfaction of publishing.

So thank you, Patti for providing the inspiration for this post! I hope you and others will find it helpful.

How did I start to eat healthy?

To begin with, I knew I needed to make a change in my life. At the time, I was extremely unhealthy. I was “surviving” on 1,200 calories a day. And I was exercising those 1,200 calories away. Eventually, I hit rock bottom. I hated how I felt. I hated my body. I hated hating my body. I hated counting calories. I hated exercising. I hated starving myself. I hated feeling guilty about the food I ate. I hated risking my long term health. I hated spending every moment of my life thinking about whether I should eat or not eat. I hated what my life had become.

I came to the realization that I wanted to be healthy and live my life to the fullest. And once I came to that realization, I was ready to make changes.

And a little disclaimer here…I’m aware of the fact, that not everyone is in the same place that I was. I am privy to conversations about how it really doesn’t matter what you eat, because Aunt “So and So” took excellent care of herself and died a tragic young death, while “Uncle Whatshisname”  ate junk and lived to be 90. It’s a tough call. The reality is, you could eat very healthy and get a diagnosis of cancer tomorrow. But maybe, had you not eaten healthy, the diagnosis would have come years previous.

The first thing I did was stop counting calories.

The second thing I did was start eating nutrient dense foods.

I stocked my cupboards full of nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, nut butters, and healthy oils. I loaded up on fruits and vegetables. I stocked up on herbs and spices. I scoured through blogs and books, and found recipes. I started making real food. I was not at all skilled in the kitchen when I began. And there were many “fails”, but I learned. (And still am learning!)

I stopped buying highly processed foods. Once I stopped eating junk, I stopped craving junk, and I started craving real food.

I read ingredient labels. I didn’t buy products that contained ingredients I didn’t recognize as food. I avoided HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), I avoided artificial colors, and I avoided preservatives. I began to see that I could make many delicious alternatives at home!

Most importantly, I started listening to my body. I ate WHEN I was hungry. And I ate WHAT I was hungry for. I’ve discovered that there were days my body craved crisp salads and juicy fruits, while on other days it craved warm comforting grains topped with rich, satisfying sauces. And there were days that I craved chocolate. (There are a lot of days like that, actually.)

What was the hardest food to get used to?

Each season, my goal is to love a new food. I have been quite successful. Some foods have even become addictive. (Hello pumpkin! Glad to make you acquaintance, dates! Asparagus? Where have you been all my life? Green tea…aaahh…green tea. And lentils…sorry Mom and Dad…but you really wrecked these for me as a kid..who knew they could be so addictive?)

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Green Tea

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Asparagus!

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

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Curried Lentil Soup

And what about dates? I never in a million years thought I would eat dates. And now I am always well stocked. Little did I know that dates could add the sweetness I craved in desserts. I didn’t know that they could make the best caramel ever. I never realized I could make my own Larabars out of dates and nuts. I just didn’t know. I use dates a lot as my sweetener of choice.

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There's nothing wrong with these little bundles of deliciousness!

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And bananas? Least favorite flavor EVER. At least it was…now it’s bananas in and on everything! Who knew they could replace eggs in baked goods? And banana shakes? And banana ice cream? How awesome are they? (Very awesome in case you haven’t yet tried!)

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Ice cream for breakfast!

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What was the easiest change to make?

Not eating meat. Never really a fan. Liked it a whole lot less once I learned more about the meat industry. But again…this is my personal choice. For many, eating free range, grass fed meat is a healthy choice. Personally, I’ve discovered TOFU. I love tofu.

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Eggless Salad

Eggless Salad

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 Where do I buy my food?

 

CSA

I love my CSA! Each week in the summer I go to this cute little farmer’s market stand, and pick up a box filled with veggies! But otherwise…I get everything I need at the local grocery store. The best thing about eating healthy, is that the food you eat is basic. Almost everything I buy is on the outside perimeter of the store: nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, fruits and veggies. And I try to buy local whenever possible, as it not only provides me with the freshest foods, but it also strengthens the local economy, and greatly reduces my environmental impact on the earth (contributes less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution).

How to make them?

Coming soon…ideas for simple meals and snacks that even a novice in the kitchen can make!

Have any other ideas? Let me know!

 

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