Now that the glow of yet another holiday is beginning to mellow, I find that it is time again to confront the kind and quantity of the food I’m putting in my mouth. Truth to tell the stomach virus that plauged us over the break kept most of my holiday indiscretions in check, but man that sugar craving is an opportunist. A couple of chocolate eggs (the little ones, not the big honkers) and it’s over. I’m all in, wanting it all the time. When I’ve been relatively well-behaved, I’m a salt kind of gal, but straight up candy or cake can get that sweet tooth rolling… I find myself returning to my own baby steps, reviewing the things I’ve learned over time that work for me: indulging the sweet tooth with fruit for a few days while watching the other carbs, upping the veggie intake to promote well-being and satiation. It occurs to me that many of you may find yourselves in the position of returning to food sanity after each of these holidays as well, and that what’s more a few more folks might be interested in climbing aboard after a weekend of peeps and coconut cake. Continue reading
Even a baby step moves you forward. Look down and gaze at those lovely toes of yours and see how they are inching down the road to better health. Even a little healthier is better than no healthier… and it’s a whole lot better than less healthy.
There are many reasons, both sensible and reprehensible, why the American diet is full of chemicals and other substances that seem to wreak havoc on our bodies. Whatever the reasons, however, the result is the same – vastly increased rates of obesity, diabetes, coronary artery disease and hypertension. So what are we going to do about it? Make the change towards real food one step at a time. If you are new to this journey, you might want to skip back in the blog to Baby Step #1 and catch up, but you are welcome to ease on down the road with us from any junction.
Baby Step #2 suggested you make note of what you are eating so that you can become more aware of what you are eating. Of course you know what you are putting into your mouth, but when you think a little bit more about it, there might be time for planning to make a change.
If a healthful meal happens one more time a week than it used to, then you are making progress. I certainly couldn’t change the way I feed my family dinner every night of the week in one swell foop! (What the heck IS a foop, anyhow?) Baby Step #3 takes you into your pantry (or cupboard, fridge, freezer) for some more observations.
Baby Step #3: Pantry Perusal
Pantry perusal is taking a good look at what you keep on hand. Little Sis and I both have a short list of items that we try to always have in the pantry because they are ‘go to’ items. They are items that help us on the nights when there is no time, or there was no planning, or when the alternative is overpaying for some food that is bad for us. Here’s a peek at a corner of my pantry.
Make a list of what’s in your pantry and give those items a little thought.
– What’s IN what’s in your pantry?
– Are the items in your pantry INGREDIENTS or are they things you need to warm up or simply unwrap to eat?
– Are you buying foods that you know you shouldn’t eat but can’t resist eating if they are in your house?
– Are you buying foods you would like to limit for your children?
– Are you buying convenience foods that are not really good, but “who has time to make that from scratch?” (We’re going to help you with this one… I promise!)
Perhaps your pantry perusal brings you back to Baby Step #1 where you decided to switch something out. Maybe you’re ready to make another switch like brown rice in place of instant potatoes or stuffing. Maybe you’re going to switch out dried fruit and nuts for candy. Maybe you’re going to acquire some new grains like quinoa that are healthy and quick.
Little Sis and I are going to share our lists for what the ‘go to’ items are in our pantries and provide you with links to ideas for easy healthy meals using those items in a few days. For now, just take that Baby Step towards being more aware of what kind of food is consistently present in your house.
Again, Baby Steps 2 & 3 are prep work. You are preparing to be enlightened (in more ways than one, know what I’m saying?). You are going to become more conscious of, and thoughtful about, your food choices. Because they are choices. They are often difficult choices, especially in light of the speed of our culture and the incredible advertising machine that profits the Prepared Foods industry at the cost of our health. But you set yourself up for better choices if the stuff of better choices is readily available.
The wonderful thing about choices regarding food is that you get another chance at the food choices at least 3 times a day. We’re right there with you making choices every day, so respond with questions or comments and come back in a few days for a peek inside my Sister’s pantry. No, my Sister’s pantry. No, my Sister’s pantry. My Sister’s pantry. Mom! She’s bugging me!
This post was shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday.
The Sis sisters want you to feel good, to eat well, and to enjoy your food. We do not want you to go on a diet. There are so many diets out there, so many plans that will tell you exactly what you will eat and will give you a variety of ways of measuring, quantifying, and analyzing your food so that you can be sure you’re staying on plan. This is not what we’re about.
Baby Steps to Better Health is a way to learn how to eat real food, healthful food; to learn how to change your relationship with food and to move from a place of deprivation to a place of healthful and satisfying abundance. So the first step asked you to make a switch, to find one unhealthy item in your diet and switch it out for something healthier. Didn’t do it yet? Didn’t go so well? Went great? It’s all good. You can jump in where we are, start from the first step, whatever you like. Any step you take towards healthier eating is a good one. Today, we’re going to get started on Step 2: Be Fearless. Be Honest. Huh?
I used to teach and one of the things my colleagues and I constantly reminded ourselves was that you have to teach where the student is. You have to figure out what they know if you want to teach them something new. The same is true for any habit or change that we are trying to make, isn’t it? If I want to build a table, I need to get real honest with myself about my carpentry skills; I have to see if I have the materials required; I (this is certainly true for me) would have to learn some very specific skills; then I would be ready to start building successfully, rather than making the kind of table I would make if I just started banging away with hammer and nails(and believe me I speak from experience here as I am a long-time bang away at the unknown kind of gal).
The next few baby steps are prep work, getting honest with ourselves about what we eat, investigating the materials we have on hand, and learning some new skills. Rather than thrashing about and banging away at our food, our self-esteem, our bodies, and our nerves, it seems wise to take some time to gather our resources and suss out exactly where this road starts so we can get on with making it go somewhere healthy and delicious.
What I’m going to suggest here may put some of you off, and perhaps that’s why I’ve been jabbering (stalling) here. I want to suggest that you keep a food journal… NONONONONO don’t click away. I’m not talking about THAT kind of food journal. I don’t want you to measure your stuff and write down how many calories are in things. I don’t want you to assign numbers to your food. I don’t want you to categorize your food and check things off. I don’t want you to freak out about writing these things down.
I just want to suggest that you make a note of what you’re eating (including snacks). Why? So we can post them and judge each other? I’m hoping you know us better than that, but in case you’re concerned, no, there will be no judging. The Sis sisters both know from experience that a lot of eating is driven by habit and convenience. A great deal of our munching is not really considered, it may be reflex, it may be habit, it may be a lot of things, but getting it on a piece of paper makes it really easy to look at our choices and find some places to begin, to set some goals for ourselves, to identify good candidates for the kinds of switches that we’ve suggested in Baby Step 1.
Be Fearless. Be Honest. Write It Down.
A few months ago I realized that I was putting on a little weight and was feeling a bit lethargic, weighed down, a little slow and unmotivated. I began to pay attention to, and to write down, what I was eating. I realized that every day while I was making dinner, there was quite a bit of snacking going on. The exact contents varied, but more often than not a fair amount of salt and fat worked their way in there. Some days I nibbled so much that I wasn’t even hungry for the delicious, healthful meal I had prepared for my family. It took my attention to identify that habit, to realize that I was letting myself get too hungry at that hour and to be sure to listen to the call of the wild stomach before I became a ravening beast. I needed to see it to make the change. Once I saw it, it was very easy to identify some changes that I could make. I didn’t need anybody to tell me what to cut first – I knew it. I could see it right there on the page.
Be Fearless. Be Honest. Write It Down.
So what should this food journal look like? You know what I’m going to say, right? I don’t care what it looks like. I don’t care what you write it on. I don’t care if you use shorthand. I don’t care if you write it with a crayon with your toes. My only recommendation is that you put it together in such a way that you will be able to look at a whole week or so without a lot of effort – so writing each day on the back of a receipt that is in your wallet full of receipts from the last 4 months (is this just me?) is probably not the way to go. Beyond that knock yourself out. Write it wherever, however, this is YOUR exercise. You are finding the real starting point for YOUR road to healthier eating. No numbers, no measuring, just a log of what you are doing. No judgment, no fear, no recrimination. You can do this. Just take a step, with a pen (or a crayon) and a piece of paper. We’ll take it with you. We can be fearless and honest together. Okay, GO!