The other day while my husband and I were taking our dogs for a run, we got to talking about how much our eating habits have changed in the last couple of years. How we have chosen to change from eating for pleasure to eating for nutrition (don’t ask where these topics of conversation come from ;)). Now don’t get me wrong I enjoy the foods I eat, and actually look forward to my hemp pancake with berries, oatmeal, bean burgers, Granny smith apples, almonds, spinach, kale, all kinds of raw veggies, green smoothies, juicing, ALMOND BUTTER, turkey and spaghetti squash, oh boy there are so many, but I had to change my palette to be able to enjoy some of these foods. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever dreamed out substituting angel hair pasta for spaghetti squash. Do I LOVE angel hair pasta, yes, but does it love me, not so much (just my thighs). I had to take the burden out of having to get rid of some of my beloved foods and swapping them for much more nutritious choices. This part was hard! It is second nature now to make healthful choices, but it wasn’t always this way. Before I ever realized I needed to make A LOT more healthful choices I was making some pretty bad ones. Many nights I came home from work exhausted and the last thing I felt like doing was cooking, so it was usually something quick and easy (sound familiar, you are not alone). It ranged from chicken fingers, potato wedges (these two were a majority of meals), heaping plates of spaghetti and meat sauce, steak, loads of baked potatoes, garlic toast, lasagna, the list goes on and on. I usually ate a very small breakfast since I wasn’t hungry upon waking (trust me, this can be changed), I usually never had a mid-morning snack or afternoon snack, and if I did it wasn’t something healthy, usually crackers, cheese, sausage, occasionally a piece of fruit, chips or whatever goodies happened to be in the staff room. When I made meal choices I made them based on what pleased my taste buds and what I wanted and NEVER what my body wanted.
Was is hard to give up these foods, YES it sure was. I was the kind of girl who would get home from work and drink two huge glasses of chocolate milk, eat a bag of sour cream and onion chips daily, cut a chunk (it wasn’t small either) of cheese of the block at least twice a day, indulge on the weekends (as if I didn’t already on the weekdays), I could eat half a loaf of garlic toast to myself no problemo, load my baked potato with heaping spoonfuls of sourcream and butter (yes butter), my sources of proteins and carbs consisted of frozen chicken fingers and potato wedges (with sourcream of course), would take a heaping plateful of spaghetti and go back for seconds and treated ourselves to Chinese food most Sundays. Now would I still enjoy these foods, yes, but I know they would make me physically ill if I were to consume them. I didn’t want to give them up, but I knew I had to. I wanted change more than I wanted these foods. I was mentally ready to kick them to the curb and start making healthier choices. How could I expect my body to be the best it could, not just on the outside, but inside as well, if I wasn’t giving it what it needed to do so. You have to want to change. If you think, “yeah but I looove cheese” or “I couldn’t give up my baked potatoes”, then you are choosing pleasure over nutrition. You don’t actually need these foods, you just want them. Your body doesn’t need them to function at 110%, your body needs healthy foods to function. We have to get to the point where we are ready to make the change from eating for pleasure to eating for nutrition.
Now everybody’s definition of healthful is different, but there are things we definitely know aren’t good for us. I didn’t make all my changes on one day, I didn’t have all the information I needed nor was I willing. I gave things up slowly (in the course of a few months), and slowly replaced them with healthy foods or just simply eliminated them. I found I gave up the things I craved and wanted the most first, cut them out cold turkey. I knew if I were to have even one, I would want the whole bag, box or whatever they came in! The more I began to see changes, the easier it was to cut the crap out of my diet. Not everyone is the same, if cutting everything out cold turkey works for you, then go for it! Make sure you don’t have the items that tempt you in your house, out of sight, out of mind.
Now what do you do that you have decided to throw out the junk and start making healthier choices. Inform yourself! Seek out any sources you can, to make sure are making the best decisions for your body. You need to start fueling it with proper foods and meal times. This means no more skipping breakfasts and snacks, eating huge suppers and tiny little lunches. Breakfast is my biggest and most calorie dense meal of the day. If you are a breakfast skipper (like I was) this can be changed. It needs to become habit to eat first thing in the morning and “break the fast”. If you can’t eat a lot at the start, just begin with what you can eat, whether it be a bowl of oatmeal, berries, chia, hemp and flaxseed, an omelet with veggies, piece of fruit with some almond butter, it breaks the fast and slowly you will be able to increase your breakfast size. I like to get my metabolism working first thing in the morning, and this is great way to do it! I also like to drink two glasses of water first thing. I ike to include two snacks in my day, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, this keeps my metabolism going and also prevents me from being ravaging come lunch and supper. I like to keep things simple, apple & almonds, Greek yogurt, berries, chia, hemp and flax, oatmeal with berries, seeds and nuts, a homemade protein bar, or veggies and hummus. I usually like to consume my snacks with carbohydrates in the morning (oats, rice, etc), except during pregnancy, I just eat my snacks when hungry. For lunches and suppers, I also like to keep these simple, bean burgers, spaghetti squash and turkey, salmon, salad and brown rice, beans, brown rice and salad, fresh green juice followed by a meal, crock pot chili etc. I include a vegetable at every meal, this could be a huge salad (kale, spinach, romaine) with other raw veggies chopped, lightly steamed asparagus or sauteed spinach. I like to make breakfast my biggest meal, then lunch and then supper.
For foods choices, I like to eat 99% unprocessed foods, this means no store-bought meals but does mean food prep! I like to stick to fruits (I try to stick to fruit low in the GI Index), veggies, lean meats, beans, lentils, nut butters (no other ingredients, except nuts), seeds, nuts, almond milk, Greek yogurt, oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes (occasionally), squash, homemade salad dressings, homemade protein bars, and fish. And don’t let me forget WATER!!! Drinking water is essential to fueling my body! I drink between 2 & 3 L daily. If you aren’t a water drinker, don’t think you can substitute with Vitamin water or any other artificially flavored water, there is only one true source and that comes from your tap! If the thought of it repulses you, try adding fruit to your pitcher, and allowing it to sit for a an hour or so. I love adding lemons to my water, it is truly refreshing.
If you are busy (who isn’t) food prep should make a weekly or even bi-weekly appearance in your kitchen. Preparation will ensure you are ready for anything, and will allow for no excuses when it comes to making healthy choices. There are many foods you can prepare in bulk and in advance, oatmeal in the crock pot, crock pot chili, wash and cut your raw veggies as soon as you get home from the grocery store, this way you can easily toss them into a salad or stir fry, wash your fruit ahead of time, make smoothie pouches (frozen fruit made up into small ziploc bags that you can just throw into the blender), soups, meat, beans, and use your rice cooker to the fullest! There are so many ideas out there and will continue to post any ideas I can find!
I try my best everyday to feed my body what it needs to function at its best. Do I enjoy the above healthy foods, absolutely, but I also know that making choices to choose these foods help heal and fuel my body. Everyday I am thankful for the choices I have made, and the path I have embarked on. My skin has never been better, I have so much energy (pregnancy has sort of stolen some of it :)), I feel amazing internally, and also externally. The external part isn’t so much about vanity as it is about looking healthy. I never regret choosing the path I have, and am thankful everyday for my health. I hope I haven’t lost you in all this writing 🙂 and this can be sort of guideline into beginning your own journey. If you are ever in need of advice or help, you know where to find me!
I also just want to thank everyone sooo much for continuing to follow my blog (some since day one!), and my Facebook page. I thank you for your support for encouraging me to continue posting on my blog and Facebook page. I am incredibly happy that you take the time to come on over to read and leave comments. Today will mark my131st post! So again, thank you all sooo much for your support, and I can’t wait to continue sharing my journey with everyone!
What will you give up in order to eat for nutrition and not pleasure?