Today I’m starting a series on healthy eating that will include recipes, tips for health & weight loss, tips for shopping, and any other thing that would fit into this topic that I think we’ll all find useful, helpful and inspiring.
Many of you mentioned eating and living healthier as something you’d like to know more of in our survey, so this series started in my mind with the idea that I could round-up some of the healthy recipes in the areas of soups/stews, main dishes, snacks, breads, and, yes, even desserts, that I’ve already published. As I was putting them together, though, I realized it had been awhile since we’ve talked about this in depth and since it’s usually on a lot of people’s mind at the beginning of the year, it seemed like a good time to revisit this topic and hopefully open a discussion that will spur us on to living (or continuing to live) a healthy lifestyle.
Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing recipes for healthy soups, slow cooker dishes, and others with you, and I plan to intersperse the recipes with discussions and tips. First though, I thought it would be good to talk a bit about what “healthy” means to me, as a real-food, most-things-in-moderation, but-still-needs-to-be-frugal-and-easy kind of woman.
If you’ve been here awhile you will know of my history with weight loss, but basically I tried pretty much everything out there from my teen years on to lose weight and it wasn’t until 5 years ago, went I concentrated on eating less of real, whole foods, that I was able to reach a healthy weight that I never thought I’d see! AND I’ve kept it off – easier than any of the other things I tried.
SO, all that is to say: I am not ‘against’ any real food – I think butter, bacon, dairy, and red meats are ‘healthy’ – as are any foods that you could grow/raise/make on your own if you chose to. I eat pasta, bread, and tortilla chips sometimes. I eat honey, maple syrup, and a teaspoon of chocolate syrup in my morning cappuccino, though I do try to limit sugars as a whole.
The only thing I’m ‘against’ are all the bagged, packaged, & canned foods that you can find throughout most of our grocery stores. But I’m not all-or-nothing about it – I will eat most things we’re served at other people’s houses without questioning the ingredients – and there were dark chocolate mint M&Ms in my Christmas stocking and I’m most definitely eating them! It’s an 80%-20% rule (though I do aim for 90%-10%…), really, because if it’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that a diet (aka, new way to eat) won’t work if you beat yourself up over some food item – and it won’t work if you try to tell yourself you’ll never eat again for the rest of your life.
That’s what I don’t believe in – so, what DO I believe in for health, after navigating this path for so many years?
What Healthy Eating is to Me:
- MODERATION. I know – it’s not sexy, new, or revolutionary. In fact, it’s hard, because it looks different for each person (Brian’s serving size is 3-4 times mine, for example). This is even harder today with our country’s out-of-control portion sizes, but it’s doable and KEY.
- REAL, WHOLE FOODS. All the fruits, vegetables and protein you’d expect, but also including healthy fats, whole-milk dairy, and sugars like honey, maple syrup, and even cane sugar on occasion.
- LIMITING CHOICES. One-dish meals are easy, as is eating the same thing for breakfast, snacks or lunch – and when there are less options to taste, there’s less to overeat.
- AS LITTLE JUNK/PROCESSED FOOD AS POSSIBLE. But again, nothing is totally off-limits (unless it’s easy for you to say no to) because then it gains some kind of power over your life.
- AS FEW INGREDIENTS ON LABELS AS POSSIBLE. When I do eat or buy premade foods, I look for options with less ingredients, preservatives, and are things I could make at home if I wanted (this is true of things like oils – I could press olives or sunflower seeds if I wanted to, but I could never get oil from corn without a factory machines…).
- ENJOYING EATING. Savoring the flavors of roasted vegetables as well as the piece of bacon – and not feeling guilty or like I’m being ‘bad’ because I ate cake at a birthday party – this is empowering. It puts food back where it’s supposed to be in our lives: as sustenance and pleasure, but NOT controlling.
Like I mentioned, over the next few months I want to go into a bit more detail on some of the above ‘DO’ topics and also am excited to explore with you how eating healthy can become a real part of our lives with tips for quick meals, shopping strategies and more.
I know it’s not always easy to comment, but I’d love to get your take on this and if this is a series that you are excited about! Also, I was thinking about starting a small Facebook group where we could talk more and support each other in our journeys towards healthy eating (whatever stage we’re at), losing weight, shopping with health in mind and anything else around the topic – would any of you be interested in that? Leave a comment, email me, or message me on Facebook if you’d like to see that happen and I can get it set up!