Thursday, December 31, 2009

How to Make Healthy Eating Resolutions

Week 14 Maple Creek Farm CSA 2009 - September 16, 2009

Try something new.  Instead of resolving what you won't eat anymore.  Resolve what you WILL eat.

Resolve To eat Whole.
Resolve To eat Organic.
Resolve to Make it Yourself.

You can do it!  When your body is healthy, other areas of your life become healthy too.  No more feeling bad after eating this or that.  No more feeling tired from all the processed food.  No more chemicals in your body.  Make just three modifications to the way you choose and prepare your food to change the way you feel.  For the better.  For good.

First, lets be realistic.  Make these changes slowly.  Fast is not realistic.  You have things to learn.  You have things to implement.  And if other people will be affected by these changes too, it won't be so startling for them.  For the record, I am not a nutritionist or a doctor, these are just my thoughts on the subject.

Second, Create a benchmark.  Go to your doctor for a physical.  Get your blood work done to get a baseline of things that can help measure health like cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, vitamin levels or anything else your doctor thinks you need.  Talk to them about the changes you plan to make.  Most insurance plans cover at least one yearly physical.  Call your company and see if it is included.

Third, track things.  Track things like your energy level, how much money you are spending on food, medical costs, and drugs.  For example, you may spend more on food, but spend less on doctor's visits.

Fourth, lets get going.  Throughout this post I have included references to various books and products that I recommend.  The majority of which I have read or used personally.  If you don't want to buy these, there are ways to get them cheaper than retail.  Check the books out of the library.  Purchase the items from Craigslist or search FreeCycle for them.  Don't let money stop you.

Resolve To eat Whole.
1. Educate Yourself about food and how it gets to your table.
Read: The Omnivore's DilemmaIn Defense of FoodFast Food NationNew Good Food
Watch: Food Inc.
You can purchase them all on my aStore by

2. Don't buy food that has more than three ingredients in the list.  Ideally it doesn't come wrapped in a package at all.

3. Start small.  Try to go one day with a whole foods only menu.  Here is what I would do for a simple day's menu.
Breakfast: Old Fashioned or Steel Cut Oats (I cook mine in a rice cooker for work-free, perfect oatmeal every morning).
Morning Snack: Hard boiled egg (I use the same rice cooker to steam my eggs).
Lunch: Sandwich on Sprouted bread (usually in the freezer section) with 1/2 a sliced avacado, slice of real cheese, and a tomato (put a touch of salt on the tomato for increased taste).
Afternoon snack: Plain yogurt (I love Cultural Revolution yogurt) with a sliced up banana and a small handful of raw nuts.
Dinner: Make yourself some chili with grass-fed beef (here is my recipe for 4 minute pressure cooker chili), and top with some shredded cheese and chopped green onions.  You can make the same recipe in your slow cooker if you want to have it ready when you get home.

Resolve To eat Organic.
1. Educate Yourself about why Organic Food is Better for you and why it tastes better.

2. Find Local Suppliers of Organic Foods.
Try searching Google for [your state] [product name].  For example, Michigan Grass Fed Beef or Michigan Organic Apples or Michigan Farm Eggs.  You get the idea.  I really like to find local sources of the product, meat and dairy that your family eats.

3. Start Slowly.  Replace items one-by-one from conventional to organic.  I don't recommend purchasing food just because it has the USDA organic label on it.  Organic chips, sodas, crackers, cereals and pasta sauces are not a good choice whether they are organic or not.  They are still highly processed and often contain a lot of sugar and salt.  We are going for whole items, packaged as they come in nature.  Ideally they don't have more than one or two ingredients in the ingredient list.

Resolve to Make it Yourself.
Of the three, this is the part that probably will scare most people away, but it is much easier than you think, especially if you purchase a few appliances to do the job for you.  Michael Pollan had an excellent article in the New York Times on cooking that is interesting to read.  I don't remember which of his books I read it in, but he brought up an excellent point that foods that used to be a sometimes treat because of how much cooking time they take to prepare, become an everyday part of our menu since we don't have to take the time to prepare them.

You don't have to know how to cook like Martha to eat healthy (and fast).  I highly suggest purchasing some tools to make your cooking fast and healthy along with some reference books on cooking so you know where to turn when you encounter a problem.  You can cook without these, but it will take you longer to cook & learn.  My suggested menu for one day of whole foods cooking is above, but there are so many variations you could make based on your preferences & tastes.

Suggested Books:
You can find my full list of suggested cookbooks on my A MichiganMom's Recommended products under Cookbooks, which you can purchase through Amazon.  I am not a huge Martha Stewart fan, but her Cooking School Basics does a great job of explaining basic cooking terms and techniques.

Suggested Tools & Appliances:
1. Pressure Cooker
2. Rice Cooker / Slow Cooker / Steamer
3. Bread Machine
4. Food Processor (I have the KitchenAid, but there are some things I am not to happy about with it, and would consider the Cuisinart Food Processor more seriously if I had to make the decision again)

In conclusion, if you did manage to read through this rather long post, you can see that there is some work involved in changing the way you eat, however, the rewards are very worth it.   This isn't something you can do the first week in January when your resolution kicks in.  It is something to do gradually over the entire year, taking baby steps each week.  Use Google Calendar to create a personalized calendar of goals of what you plan to do each week or month.  Make a plan that fits you and implement it over the year.  You'll be happy you did!


Anonymous said...

Great advice Julie! I have watched your journey and your children are blessed to be along for the ride!
Love Mom

motherskitchen said...

I've had both a KitchenAid and a Cuisinart food processor and the KitchenAid is way better. Save your money! Also, rice can easily be made in the microwave....

aMichiganMom said...

motherskitchen, thanks for letting me know about the food processor. My main complaint is that the kitchenaid doesn't handle liquid or fine things like flour for dough because it comes out of the top. Williams and Sonoma seems to have a Cuisinsart that has a sealed top.

We don't have a microwave, so that isn't an option for me.

motherskitchen said...

Aha! If you don't overfill your kitchenaid, it will be fine and won't come out the top... there's a fill line. You don't have a microwave? Wow! Definitely something I'd recommend - even before a food processor. Keep up the good work with your blog!

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