Baby Steps Down the Road to Better Health

  • You want your children to be healthy.
  • You want to be healthy and feel good.
  • You want members of your family to maintain a healthy weight.
  • You are VERY busy, including juggling various schedules.
  • You have not yet won the lottery.
  • You don’t think you and/or your family can make the necessary changes in your lifestyle to achieve “Hollywood Health.”  You know the kind of health I mean… the kind on the talk shows which requires lots of time and lots of money.

My sister and I (we write this blog together as Little Sis and BiggSis), have both walked a long way down the road to eating well and feeling / looking better.  We have dragged our spouses and children along for the ride, and while it isn’t always easy, it IS possible to eat well, without spending hours in the kitchen and without greatly increasing your grocery bill.  We are talking about Hometown Health here!  Jill Q. Public Health… Happy, Human Health.  (Okay, I’m done now, I get on a roll sometimes.)

If you’ve been on a diet before and tried to change everything you eat at once, then you know that it is easy to fall off the wagon and revert to your old ways.  However, this is not a diet.  This is not a test of your character.  This is an opportunity to change your life.  Eating food : real food is an attempt to better nourish yourself and your family in a culture that encourages mal-nourishment.  Every time you and your children turn around there are advertisements for, and the presence of, cheap junk food.  It’s everywhere… school, church, work, meetings, sporting events and practices, many stores that don’t sell any other food… and did I mention that it is cheap, convenient and appeals to our taste for sugar and fat?

Processed food contains ingredients that make us want more.  It’s not just you who can’t put down the bag of Doritos.  No, you are not alone in this.  Sugar, which is more addictive than cocaine (PLOS, 2007), is also everywhere. The food industry is pumping sugar through their powerful machine that keeps us eating their products, regardless of the effects.  However, the results of better nourishment, and of eating real food, not only include weight loss, but a stronger response to sugar and fat.  In other words, after eating real food for a while, processed food became less appealing and I now notice how badly I feel after eating it.

For the Sis sisters, eating real food began with a desire to feed our children well in a world filled with horrible food choices.  Eating real food was reinforced by what we saw and felt in our children, our spouses and ourselves, as we all became healthier and thinner.  The plan is simple and is touted by lots of celebrities, chefs, and books in various forms, but we feel that it is made too expensive and too difficult via an emphasis on ‘super foods,’ exotic foods, and expensive foods.  It is possible to eat well on a budget.  It is possible to feel better, look better, and even preserve the environment just by changing what foods you buy and consume.

Yes, but it’s still difficult to change how and what you eat, right?  Trying to replace everything at one time is usually a losing plan.  That’s why we are going to begin a series on this blog to present you or someone you love, with Baby Steps.  Some of the baby steps mirror small steps we took in our own journeys and others are steps that make sense under the bright light of hindsight.

You can head down the road to better health one baby step at a time.  Baby steps are wonderful because they don’t demand a huge change from you, are easier to live up to, and they still take you down the road.  The processed diet lies at the beginning of the road, and every baby step forward takes you further from obesity, lethargy, and diseases like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, auto-immune disorders, high cholesterol and cancer.  Of course, everyone knows someone who has one of these diseases despite a healthy lifestyle.  That stinks.  However, you watch the people you know who eat real food.  They feel better and look better, and research is indeed on their side, in terms of their lower probability for chronic diseases.  Feeling better, being thin and having a decreased chance for chronic disease is on my side, my family’s side, and it can be on your side too.  Just take it one Baby Step at a time.

We will be publishing the Baby Steps along with our usual postings of recipes that are made with real food here on our blog, so follow us down the road!  And in the meantime… here are some links to easy, healthy breakfasts from previous posts.  Everyday is a new day and any successes in eating well are just that.  Successes in eating well.

Crock pot oatmeal takes the hurry up out of the morning.

If you have some leftover rice (always make extra rice!!) you can have a very yummy sweet potato for breakfast!

Oats that you soak in milk overnight and don’t even have to cook. – plus some cool pics of a bear in Little Sis’ backyard 🙂

Another soaking cereal that is ready when you wake up – no oats this time.

Eat food.  Real food.

Baby Steps Add Up To Big, Healthy Steps

As the sister who both helped and hindered Little Sis’ foray into healthier eating, I must confess that although Little Sis’ words regarding Baby Steps might have helped me chill out a little earlier, either age or cumulative eye rolls from my victims have tempered my assumption that everyone wants to know my opinions about food.  Indeed, I have a joke with a friend (who has eluded my nutritive grasp for many years) that one reason I became a nurse is that I have a captive audience for dispensing nutritional advice.  That is a delightful perk of my profession, however, I tend to leave my friends alone now….. unless they ask!

Baby Steps is a solution that I have used personally and professionally as a move for positive change.  In all honesty, all of the lasting nutritional changes that earned me the title ‘health whack’  from my 11 year old son have started as Baby Steps.

And so I offer here a baby step that is very much in keeping with the positive intentions of many of you to eat more healthfully, and / or lose weight.  The Salad.  The wonderful, crunchy, healthy, raw, make-it-the-way-you-like-it-all-you-can-eat-salad-bar Salad.  So where is there a Baby Step needed with salads?  It’s all in the dressing baby.  You can dress it up, but you can no longer call it a healthy alternative if you’re smothering it in chemical goo.  That’s right… go ahead and roll your eyes (I’m used to it) – chemical goo.  Check out the label on your favorite salad dressing.  Does it say, oil, vinegar and perhaps a few spices or mustard?  I bet it has some ingredients you can’t pronounce.  AND it has cheap oils that have been refined and thereby block the absorption of nutrients like vitamins A, K, E and choline.  So there goes a bunch of the nutrients from your lovely salad.  And I bet a bunch of the ingredients are vague.  When the ingredient is vague, it’s possible that they don’t want you to know what the actual ingredient is… like HIDDEN Valley Ranch dressing listing vegetable oil as the first ingredient.  What kind of vegetable oil?  What has been done to that vegetable oil?  These are questions that an ingredient label SHOULD answer…, but that is a future and very angry post.

So the baby step is to make your own salad dressing.  You can pour a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar right over the salad – no fuss, no muss.  Rachael Ray recommends squeezing fresh lemon juice over the salad.  There is the incredibly simple approach.  If you want to mix ahead of time, the basic salad dressing mix is 3 to 1 oil to vinegar – be it balsamic, apple cider, lemon juice, red wine, rice or a combo thereof.  Now… if you want to get a little fancy you can then add some dijon mustard, or a pinch of salt and/or oregano, plain yogurt or tahini.  You may have to experiment a little to get it the way you like it, but if you add a little at a time and then taste it, you can always add more.

Here is a more complicated dressing that my family (including my 11 year old son) likes a lot:

1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
1 tsp honey
0-2 Tbsp water (taste it first and see if it’s too strong and then temper with a little water)
Put all in a jar that is at least 14oz, with a good lid and shake it up.

Now go enjoy a goo-free, crunchy, wonderful, colorful, tasty salad (I love nuts on mine) and know that baby steps add up to big steps and add up to a healthier you!