Hi! I hope everyone is having a great week so far. Since a few recipes have been shared with my readers, it is probably time to talk about healthy eating. While I would love to say that I have always maintained a healthy diet, that is far from reality. As with most lessons, I learned the hard way the importance of healthy eating. Today, I am going to share five steps that you can take to clean up your diet. I would be a hypocrite if I said that I follow these rules all the time, but my family does a pretty good job of following the 80/20 rule. Everything in moderation, right? I am currently completing a Whole30 challenge, but the “rules” I outlined below are much more manageable and can easily be followed year-round.
For the first thirty years of my life, I thought that I was fairly healthy. Almost everything that I ate was low-fat or marketed to be healthy in some way. For much of my adult life, I was struggling to lose those “freshman 15” and could not understand what I was doing wrong. I was eating food that tasted like cardboard and was lucky if I ate more than 5 grams of fat a day. Why was I not losing weight when I was miserable and deprived?
Several years later, my daughter was born and we were constantly in the doctor’s office for ear issues. The doctor prescribed antibiotic after antibiotic and my daughter started to experience some horrible side effects. Over the course of six months, she had thrush, a yeast infection and candida overgrowth. I was so frustrated and started to take matters into my own hands and did some research. We needed to cut out all forms of antibiotics in order to fix the issues in her gut. This sounds easy, right? Well, what I found out is that much of our animal products contain antibiotics. In order to effectively treat the issue, we needed to remove ALL forms of antibiotics. At the time, I had no idea there were antibiotics in our milk, eggs and chicken!
Steps to Healthy Eating
I have learned a lot since then and plan to share some more “lessons learned” as we continue on our journey together. However, we have to start somewhere right? There are some very easy steps that can be taken today to make you healthier.
Fat is Your Friend
For so many years, fat free yogurt and milk was the only dairy products that I ate. After I had my daughter, my digestive system started to have some issues. For the longest time, I thought I was lactose intolerant and cut out all dairy products. I could not give up my ice cream, but I paid for it big time if I ever did splurge on a treat. A few years ago, I learned that oftentimes the fat-free or low-fat dairy products lack the enzyme needed to digest the lactose. This explains why I was probably having so many issues. In my research, I also discovered all of the added benefits of healthy fats.
I am not saying that you should be a trans-fat junkie. However, you should include a good source of fat at each meal. Eggs, avocados, nuts and coconut oil are staples in my home. If I feel I have not had enough fat for the day, I will enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate with a tablespoon of coconut oil. Despite what we have always been told, fat does not make you fat. Recent studies have also show that fat is vital for brain development. So next Taco Tuesday, feel free to load up on the guacamole!
While this one seems obvious, I talked to so many people who do not eat breakfast. Even if it is just a green protein smoothie, starting your day out with a healthy meal is vital. If you do not eat anything, you are wreaking havoc on your metabolism. In addition, you are depriving your body of vital nutrients and fats that it needs in order to function at optimal levels. If you want to crush it in the board room, make sure you take the time to eat in the morning! In order to get the most benefits, make sure your meal is high in protein.
Sugar is what was sabotaging my waistline in my fat-free days, even though it was the fake stuff. Sugar is one of the worst things you can put into your body. In fact, it has similar addictive properties as cocaine. That is why many of us get those sweet cravings in the evening. Fructose likes to play trick on your mind and make you feel hungry when you are really not. Sugar is especially bad for our children. In our home, we use maple syrup, honey and coconut sugar to replace the white stuff and my kids do not even know the difference. This is a great cookbook, if you are looking for some recipes that use more natural sweeteners.
Despite what the food pyramid used to illustrate, grains are not as healthy as you would think. While I am not saying that you cut them out of your diet completely, there is no need for you to have several servings at each meal. I tried to go grain-free for a while, but my body was not happy. I do tend to look for healthier alternatives, such as spelt and einkorn, when I do my baking.
Most grains contain lectin, gluten and phytates. All of these “chemicals” wreak havoc on your system and are best avoided. Anything that causes an inflammatory response is best to be avoided or eliminated. One of the main issues with grains is in the way in which they are processed. Due to mass production, wheat, oats and other forms of grains are no longer in their pure state. If we do have grains at our meal, they are usually sprouted or one of the healthier alternatives that are available. We are a big fan of spelt flour and use it in almost all our recipes that call for flour.
Plan Your Meals
Planning out meals in advance is another tip that seems fairly obvious, but is not often practiced. Writing out a meal plan and shopping for the week will reduce any “binge” purchases. If you do need to run in for a last minute meal, make sure you are keeping your “food rules” in mind and don’t settle for something because it is fast. There are many quick and healthy options that you can whip together in no time. I encourage you to have some meals to fall back on if you are in a bind. I will be sharing some more great family recipes as we continue on this journey together.
As you can see, none of these tips are all that difficult to follow. If you cannot commit to all five up them, pick one or two for now. Remember, gradual changes are what lead to amazing results.
Please let me know how these changes work for you and your family. I am hoping that you see just as many benefits to healthy eating as my family did.