First, the initial goal was to stop worrying so much about the fat and calorie content in things, but instead worry about how our bodies are able to metabolize them. It all comes down to liver health - Your liver is the main organ that burns fat, but also the main organ that rids your body of toxins. If it is so busy riding your body of toxins, how can it possibly burn any fat? The other goal (which looking back really should have been the primary goal) was to have better digestive health, and overall start feeling better. Both Chris and I can suffer greatly from eating bad foods. The bonus in all this was learning just how much we can change our digestive health just by changing what we eat!
So here is where we started:
Butter instead of margarine.
*butter is a healthier choice because it is a fat our body can easily breakdown.
No prepackaged foods.
*mainly because it's awfully hard to find prepackaged food with ingredients you can pronounce. That and preservatives. Yuck.
No ingredients we can't pronounce or don't know what they are
*If I can't pronounce it, I don't know what it is. If I don't know what it is, I don't want it in my body
Organic fruits and veggies when possible
*Organic is best not only because of the lack of pesticides, but because they have more nutrients
As few canned foods as possible
*again because there are always preservatives and ingredients I can't pronounce
Whole grains (including pasta, rice etc)
*Whole grains keep you feeling full longer, and require smaller portions. Also they go through less processing than white flour (remember- processing = bad)
No "Fat Free" products
*Often include WAY more sodium and other yucky things to bulk up the product and make it taste "good" (I say that lightly)
No artificial sugar in anything
*Same as with the butter. My body can recognize sugar and knows how to break it down. Artificial sugar also has downsides like... oh, I don't know CANCER
Now. How have we done? Well, seeing as some of this was changing a lifetimes worth of knowledge and beliefs about food, I'd say we've done quite well...
Margarine has been cut out completely except for in some baking- only reason why is because quite frankly butter is expensive, and I LOVE to bake. Can I just say that full fat margarine and butter have the same amount of calories in them? So if that's what's holding you back, let me release you from that. Also, can we talk about how delicious butter is?
No prepackaged foods.... this one has obviously been the hardest, but I'd say it's safe to say we're above 80% success with this. From time to time we will still buy Uncle Ben's Spanish Rice because I think it's super yummy. We've been known to hide 1 box of Kraft Dinner in the back of our pantry *for emergencies only* (We're starved and neither of us wants to cook) Perogies - I have made my own in the past, but don't always have them on hand. That means sometimes I buy frozen perogies (insert shocked face) That's about all I can think of right now. Oh, except salad dressings. I would like to, but haven't started making my own salad dressings.
Organic Fruits and Veggies - We were getting The Organic Box for a while and loved it, but had to cut it out due to finances. This makes me very sad face and I would like to add it back in as soon as we can afford! When the option is available, I will choose organic in the produce section of the grocery store. Especially if the item appears on the Dirty Dozen list.
Canned foods- THIS was hard. I don't know about you, but I had a lot of recipes that called for a can of condensed soup. We turned to sites like Clean Eating magazine to find out how to make things we've always known and loved into healthier whole food versions. Also, a couple months ago I discovered an organic condensed mushroom soup that comes in a tetra pack style container. I'm glad I didn't discover this until I had already reworked a lot of my recipes though, because it's nearly quadruple the price in comparison with canned mushroom soup! It is lovely to treat myself to what still tastes like Mom's shepherd's pie though ;)
Whole grains- we do pretty well here except with rice. We almost exclusively make basmati rice, and basmati brown rice is ridiculously priced, so we still stick with the white stuff.
No Fat Free- we don't buy fat free sour cream anymore (and now I understand why people say it tastes horrible!) we buy either light (which has no additives, but just made with lighter milk) or greek yogurt which is comparable to light in calories and fat. Added bonus- it actually tastes good.
No Artificial Sugar. Period. This one was hard for me. I went through my teenage and early twenty years believing that life was all about calorie counting. Diet pop was a no brainer, as was "light" yogurt. 35 calories vs 100 for 100mL? Seemed like an easy choice. Until I realized that apartame was not my friend, and frankly neither is sucralose or any other form of artificial sugar. Goodbye skinny drinks at Starbucks. Goodbye "easy" dieting. It's been a year now, and it really is true that I don't miss it. I heard once on Dr. Oz that artificial sweeteners actually make a person crave MORE sugar, and not feel satisfied until they get it. Yuck.
So that's it. All in all we feel healthier (less tummy aches, bloating and gas) and I think we have really gotten used to how we cook now. In the beginning it was hard- no more freezer to oven meals found in the grocery store. No more prepackaged side dishes such as Kraft Dinner or Lipton's Sidekicks (I used to LOVE those!) No frozen waffles or toaster strudels. No chicken fingers or fish sticks. No frozen fries. No Pillsbury dough (Which is a lot harder since Pinterest exploded in my life) Only natural peanut butter and organic jam on our PB & J's!
Now we make chicken fingers from scratch, which we both like way more. We quite simply eat very little pasta, but when we do want a quick side dish I make a simple alfredo starting with a roux - we always have fresh Parmesan cheese because we don't buy the powdered stuff anymore. I'll be honest when I say I miss fish sticks (drowned in tartar sauce) but I've come to love salmon, and we make our own salmon burgers regularly. (Well... Chris does)
I think there are a few things I would still like to change - as I said before I'd love to make homemade salad dressings and mayo. Possibly even my own butter. Also, I have still been buying canned beans and chickpeas. New goal is to only buy dried and reconstitute them myself (cut out the added sodium and preservatives in the canned) I'd love to start doing one or two "prep" days a month so I can have meals in my freezer to take out in a pinch, because I'll be honest- on those days when we just don't have time to prepare what is on the meal plan, we often end up eating out. I think if there was some options for "convenience meals" we could cut that out completely and start being more intentional with our "fun money"
Confession time: We still eat junk food once in a while. I'll be honest- all my rules about what I'll put in my body go out the window when it comes to a bag of Cheetoes. That's right, I refuse to put a can of condensed mushroom soup in my shepherd's pie, but I'll mow down on an entire bag of those delicious stryofoam-esq nuggets of heaven any day of the week. Judge me. Go ahead. ;)
Sorry folks - that was quite long winded, wasn't it? Have you made any changes to your diet that you're excited about? Do you have any suggestions for me?
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