What motivates you to eat healthier? Is it your family? Your health? Hopes of losing weight? Whatever the motivation is, eating healthier is a step in the right direction. But “eating healthy” means different things to different people.
What I used to think “eating healthy” was was low fat, low calorie, lean meats, low cholesterol. Obviously vegetables and fruits fit the bill pretty well, but I wasn’t reading labels. I trusted food manufactures and the FDA to properly label foods- if it said it was “part of a healthy breakfast” I figured it was. Organic foods weren’t even on my radar. I knew they were more expensive, but I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into how things were farmed. Once I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I tried to eat more organic because somebody somewhere told me I should. Once she was born and eating solid food, I purchased separate organic products for her. My husband and I were already S.O.L. after years of pesticides anyway, right?
But then I finally did it. Other Moms in my church group had done it and told me how life changing it was, but I put it off. I think I knew it would drastically change everything I thought I knew and I wasn’t ready for it. I’m talking about the documentary, Food Inc. If you haven’t seen the film you really need to. It opened my eyes and made me see that we really are what we eat! And after that I had to learn more. Some of the books and documentaries that really helped me on my journey are:
I started following blogs like “100 Days of Real Food”, “Living Maxwell”, and “Food Babe”. I filled my Pinterest boards with from-scratch recipes. I sought out real, non-processed foods and started reading labels. I watched my good friend’s chronically ill child start to heal through dietary changes. By cutting out gluten and processed foods I was able to get myself off prescription antacids and greatly reduce my migraines. I became a full on believer that food is medicine! It can make you healthy or it can kill you.
So, my new found “rules” for what I believe eating healthy looks like are:
- Real 1-ingredient foods- meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc.
- Organic when available. Especially the “dirty dozen” produce items
- Meats/dairy that have not been given antibiotics or artificial hormones- free range chicken and turkey, grass fed beef, sustainable sea food, pasture raised pork, etc.
- minimally processed- ingredients that I can pronounce and know what they are.
- NO artificial food dyes, sweeteners, preservatives, or additives
- Healthy fats- coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter, tallow/lard from pasture-raised animals, nuts/nut oils, avocados, Chia and flax seeds, etc.
- Natural sugars- organic honey, maple syrup, stevia, xylitol
- No low-fat, low calorie stuff- Full fat, grass-fed dairy and cheeses.
- Whole grains and only in small amounts. Preferably sprouted. (I’m gluten free, but the rest of my family is not).
But these were gradual changes I made over time. Changing everything at once would be very difficult and very overwhelming. I highly recommend doing a little research- read one of those books or watch one of those documentaries. And then go from there. Pick one new thing to buy organic each time you shop, change one kind of meat, buy grass-fed butter instead of margarine- Every small step can lead to big changes. Food is medicine you take 3 times a day- make it count!
*Side note* I recently found out that certain foods cause an immune response in my body, so I now avoid mushrooms, radishes, cane sugar, chicken eggs, amaranth, crab, and cranberries. So you won’t be seeing many recipes with those ingredients for at least a few months. I apologize ahead of time. There is nothing wrong with these foods- my body just reacts abnormally to them.