Thursday, August 6, 2015

Three on Thursday: Nutrition

I could ramble on about this for days, but it is SO important to us that we pay attention to what we're putting in our bodies. We have educated ourselves to the point of tears over what's in our food, and once you know, there's just NO turning back. A few years ago I was struggling with some inflammation in my joints, and it took months to figure out the root of the problem. When my doctor got test results back, he told me that rather than putting me on medication in my 20's, I should try to eat as clean of a diet as I could manage, and see if that helps. Um...has it EVER! That started us on a track of no return, and we are almost thankful for the "problem" I have as it has encouraged us along a healthier path. Here are three things I have learned along the way:

1. Diet vs. Lifestyle - I am not going to sit here and tell you EXACTLY what or how to eat. That is a personal preference. Everyone has an idea of what works and doesn't work for their family. Allergies, tastes, and region affect all of that. Subsequently, we don't diet, we eat "clean" in our home. We followed the "100 Days of Real Food" plan starting in 2011 about two and a half times over until we felt prepared to lead the lifestyle on our own. Do we eat fat, sugar, and carbs? You bet. But we use whole and unprocessed ingredients (Except for boxed mix brownies. I am a sucker for those babies.) and make 99% (yes, honestly) of our food in our home as "whole" as we can. Need flour? Mill wheat. Need cool whip? Grab the whipping cream. It has taken us years and years and years to get comfortable making these changes and it doesn't all happen at once, but it is all about the end goal: make this about a lifestyle and not a quick diet stint. Do I have a dieters body? No, but that is irrelevant to how my body functions. See, I may not be model material, but I know when I run and feel good, or when I make it through that 3 o'clock slump without feeling tired, or when I can keep up with my kids' energy levels, that my body is functioning at it's best, not because I restricted food and replaced real ingredients with artificial ones, but because I am living a lifestyle that promotes fueling my body with the most natural form of energy that God has made available to us, and that is something that we can keep up with for the rest of our lives. No supplements required. 

2. Plan, Budget, and Prioritize - When you're smart about nutrition, it's not hard to fit your needs into a good solid budget. I was spending about $250 a week on groceries before I had a sit down with my husband and said "this isn't good". We figured out our priorities, planned our meals out ahead, and worked on a realistic goal, and now I spend on average $175/week, or at least that's the goal. We work with "goals" rather than strict budgets because in general, we just wont know what's in season or available until we get somewhere. Our local grocery store does a great job at stocking organic produce, but as of late, SAMs Club has been doing a great job, too. So if I were to say I only have $50 to spend on fresh produce just to find out I could spend $80 at SAMs in bulk AND have more to freeze for next week, then the short term budget would have ruined a long term benefit. I hope that is making sense. In any budgeting situation, it is always best to set priorities. We will not compromise on meat or dairy products. From there, it is our second priority to only eat clean produce, but if budget doesn't allow, then we focus on avoiding the dirty dozen, and choosing the clean fifteen. Our last area of concern is processed foods from the aisles. We don't stress about buying organic in those areas, because in general, it's all terrible for you (because organic or not, your body doesn't recognize processed dead food) so we avoid making purchases in that area in the first place. Each family is different, and priorities are different. Maybe your family is all about wheat alternatives (which can be expensive) and therefore it is a top priority, and dairy alternatives aren't. Maybe you have access to farm fresh meat, so buying it at the grocery store isn't as risky or difficult as finding real honey in your area. It's all about what works for YOUR family and YOUR future. Paleo, gluten free, high protein, low carb, non-GMO, whole foods, dairy free, clean, unprocessed, low glycemic, there are as many different lifestyles (notice I didn't include any "diets") as there are people on this planet, so do what works for YOU and make that your starting point.

3. Treat Yourself - This should be my #1 this week. Do not restrict yourself to the point of giving up. You need to be able to eat out here and there and miss cooking a meal, or be willing to accept a treat from a friend. As long as you are making the right choices at home, there's really no reason to say "no" to a warm slice of pie at a friend's house, because you don't have access to it every single day. However if your workplace cafeteria offers you pie every day...then maybe you should say "no" haha! What I'm saying is this: lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle. Don't live your life feeling like you are missing out on a good time because you "shouldn't" eat something. So long as the majority of your home life is about good nutritional choices, a once a month plate of nachos on a date (I'm speaking to myself here, haha) won't kill you. My weaknesses come in liquid form... coffee creamer, sweet tea, and soda! I KNOW it's not real. None of it. But I just don't like these treats in "real" form. So I''ll avoid a bowl of ice cream with my kids at night knowing that I will have a nice creamy coffee when I wake up in the morning. Or if we're out, I'll drink water at dinner and get a sweet tea or soda in my to-go cup (if I've paid, of course) as we leave as a little sweet treat. I could stare at a three layer cake on my counter for DAYS without being tempted, but put a soda or coffee mate in my fridge, and I never win! But it's balance and self control that makes everything doable, including a life-long good relationship with food. It took me awhile to recognize that coffee creamer was truly a treat and not a given, so now that I view it as my "treat for the day" it is much easier to skip a muffin later, knowing that I've already had my daily fill of "junk". In the same light, if I know that I am going out to dinner that night, I'll have some good 'ol fashioned almond milk in my coffee so that I can grab myself a soda pop that evening. And you know what? There ain't no guilt in sight :)


  1. What a great post, Abby! We too try to eat "clean". However, since I am working full time outside the home, I have learned to accept that "eating clean" looks different now that I am not home full time. And that's ok! It makes such a huge difference in how you feel, and I love that my girls are getting to the age of understanding (and feeling) why we eat the way we do. :)

    1. Exactly! It looks different for everybody. And that's great that your girls can tell by how they feel! I am proud that my daughter turns down certain foods and juice boxes because she says it "tastes like plastic" (aftertaste of corn syrup, etc.)