Saturday, March 18, 2017

5 Habits of Healthy Eaters

I loved it when I turned 30, I said "Good-Bye" to the insecurities and frantic feelings of my 20 and embraced the fact that I had made it through trying to survive my entry into adulthood. 

When I turned 40 last year, I felt the exact same way. I loved leaving the pressure to be "The Perfect ____" anything and really gave myself to enjoying the process and the journey that life is. I figured half my life was over and it was time to really start enjoying every single day. 

But I'll be honest with you, I really do wish that I learned the power of good habits sooner.  I wish that I had set into place the habits that would make things that I struggle with now a little bit easier (like going to be early, or taking walk when I feel moody, or writing thank you notes)

I especially wish that I had started my healthy food habits earlier.  I don't want to say that I "regret" because I don't.  I wouldn't be who I am, or have the strong convictions that I do without the life experiences that got me here. And although that doesn't make sense really, I do want to share with you some habits that I am working on now, that will hopefully make me happier and healthier in the future and give my family and my kids a great foundation to build a healthy happy future on. 

1. Eat Real Food : In our modern US society, the rate of obesity and the rise of chronic disease have increased at the same rate that our consumption of processed food.  I am going to let you make you own assumptions after that. 

So probably not a one of us could honestly say that we think Cheetos are "good for you", but what exactly IS "real food". 

Michael Pollan (an advocate for healthy eating) recommends that you don't eat anything that your great-grandparents wouldn't recognize as food.  But that means that my great-grandparents who lived their whole lives in the high Rocky Mountains, probably wouldn't recognize sushi or my beloved curry, perhaps even everyday fruits like bananas. That seems extremely restricting considering lots of our great-grandparents only ate what was grown locally and in season. My husband would miss seafood so badly. 

So what can we say is "Real Food".  Some people say anything that you can buy in its natural state, and some say anything without an ingredients list, and others say, foods with less than 5 ingredients. 

I prefer to just say, buy as good of food as you can afford.  If you can't afford peaches in the middle of winter, but you love them desperately, then buy frozen.  If you want to use butternut squash in a recipe instead of buying the pre-cut (and preserved) kind, buy a whole one and prepare it yourself. 

If you are just making the transition to rice, and you kids find it super strange, then buy the white rice, then mix it 1/2 and 1/2 and then use brown rice. Healthy food is only good for you if you actually Eat it. 

So go as "Real" as you can. Try to limit how food has been processed and preserved and just don't worry about the rest. It is better to do the best than you can, than to do nothing at all because you can't be perfect. 

2. Develop Good Shopping Habits:  Retail therapy has got to be the absolute worst anti-therapy out there. Yes, stores are designed to make you walk although through them to get to the milk and the eggs. Flashy displays, enticing placement, and the seasonal candy front and center as you walk in, make it very hard not to just throw things into your cart and they cry at home later. 

I have spent more shopping trips that I would care to admit to, filling my cart with junk food and impulse buys only to realize when I got home that I had spent twice as much money as I should have and now we are going to have to make cuts in the budget to be able to pay for the other bills. That is absolutely no way to have "therapy". 

But if you are going to be preparing and eating healthy food at home, you need to actually go to the store and buy food.  Our family has a system that works for us.  I browse the store ads and make a menu plan and grocery list. Then early on Saturday morning Joseph does all the grocery shopping. He always buys everything on the list, he never buys things like the cupcakes they put right in front of the milk case, and he actually is really speedy, but I think that is just because he is a speedy walker. 

Find a system that works for you. Maybe shopping late at night after you kids are in bed and the store is nice and quiet.  Maybe doing a grocery store pick-up keeps you on budget. Make a plan when you aren't hungry, aren't in the store, and aren't under any pressure and stick to it. Then assess how adjust your plan to what isn't working and what might better. Pretty soon you'll end up with an amazing shopping habit, that will provide you with the fresh healthy ingredients that you need and will be friendly to your budget. 

and YES!! a husband that does all the grocery shopping IS the best thing in the world! 

3. Eat Good Carbs: You body needs fuel to run and that is exactly what carbs are. They don't make you fat, they aren't the devil and they aren't going to make you die. But they are probably the easiest thing to eat that is bad for you. Chips! Processed Cookies! Soda Pop! Cake! Candy! - Yeah, you probably shouldn't be eating those things. 

But putting them in the same group as whole grain bread, brown rice, oats, nuts, beans is just bonkers. 

The word carbohydrate is really the measurement of your body burning fuel for energy. And just saying that any food that provides carbs is bad, is confusing, mislead and frankly just wrong. 

Eat more good carbs and eat less bad carbs.  Not sure which is which... read your nutrition label.  Look at fiber, sugars and nutrients, it will also list carbs, but keep in mind that the carbohydrates in a apple and a twinky are Not the same. 

4. Eat Good Fats: Good fats help your body absorb and process all those nutrient rich foods. They also have good nutrients in them as well.  I remember growing up that I loved avocados. We didn't buy them very often because they were so expensive and food money was tight. But I remember my mom saying, "that's okay, they are full of fat and you shouldn't eat them very often anyway." 

We have been so brain-washed by the low-fat, no fat media that we can't imagine any fat, not making us.. well, "Fat". 

Fats contribute to the feeling of being satisfied after you have eaten. Let's be honest, they make lots of things take so darn good.  Take for example - Popcorn. I fed my kids bags and bag of microwave popcorn for years. It was a snack they could make themselves and it was pretty cheap. As I learned more from Food $ense, I became really uncomfortable with all the chemicals in something as simple as popcorn. So I bought a microwave air popper, It is really just a bowl with a loose fitting lid, and when my kids make popcorn, I let them melt a little butter and put salt on it.  What?! How dare I add butter AND salt to my air popped most natural popcorn. Because it tastes good, that's why. And allowing my kids (and myself) to make a bowl of popcorn and adding a bit of butter and salt (we've had to talk about how much) is way better than a bag of chips, better than movie theater butter microwave popcorn and it really is just as delicious. In this case, eating a fat makes things a lot better. 

5. Mindful Eating: This one came about because of our 14 year old.  He is a bigger kid and he loves food. He loves to try everything and things taste so good to him.  He is totally my kid and we love to eat.  But as we were sitting down to dinner, both Joseph and I noticed that he would eat a plate of food, dish himself up again and be done with a second before most of us were done with our first.  He was eating so fast, bent over his plate just moving his fork as fast as he could. 

I got a lot of help from Joseph on this one, since he had this problem himself. We are working on helping our son, put his fork down between bites, taking time to engage in the dinner table conversation, and chew his bite completely before he takes another one. 

This is not exactly all there is to Mindful Eating, so I am going to share a post with that my friend Candi wrote for her Eat Well Utah blog.  It is all about mindful eating, why it is SO important and how you can get started doing it. 

Some of these may be habits you already have, so might be ones you can never imagine being able to do. Perhaps take one and begin to incorporate it for a month, then add another. Maybe take one that you feel will have the biggest impact in your life and begin with that one. Remember there are not bad steps forward, and we are all going to slip, but it is all about keeping trying because even one good choice is better than doing nothing at all.