Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Healthy Eating

Over the past few years I've been trying to make gradual changes away from the Standard American Diet to a more healthy way of eating for my family. For the past 6 months or so I've been loosely following the plan laid out in Trim Healthy Mama. As with any diet or eating plan, though, it needs to be easy to follow, appealing, and practical for sticking to long-term. Consequently, there are some recommendations that I have chosen to not implement at this time. Maybe later. Maybe not.

Here are some of the changes I've implemented along the way... some awhile back, others more recently. I don't do well with hard-and-fast rules, and I'm not legalistic about any of this.

I try to serve lots of salads and vegetables. Salad mixes offer some creative and convenient choices when I don't have time to clean and chop the fresh veggies... and there are an equal number of mixed vegetable options labeled "stir fry" in the frozen vegetable department. These can be used, obviously, for stir fry, but also just steamed with butter or broiled with a little olive oil drizzled on them. They are also great to add to soups and stews.

I don't worry too much about the fats in meat or cheese, but I have switched to olive oil, coconut oil, or butter rather than shortening, vegetable oil, or margarine.

A side benefit to our backyard chickens is that we can enjoy fresh free-range eggs. (You would think that would be the primary benefit, but no, they are actually pets who happen to lay eggs!)

I buy raw milk because it's available to us, and I think it's healthier. Sometimes I even make yogurt (much easier than I ever expected) when we end up with extra milk.
I've been trying to cut back on "junk" carbs, so I buy whole-wheat bread and tortillas, and preferably the sprouted wheat varieties, though they are harder to find and more expensive. I've even been experimenting with sprouting wheat and baking bread. Some days I feel down right "crunchy!"

Instead of white rice, I use brown rice or quinoa. Instead of potatoes, I serve other vegetables. I have learned some very creative and delicious ways to fix cauliflower, so that I don't even miss the potatoes.

Rather than trying to make "diet" desserts with sugar substitutes and low-fat ingredients, I just don't have dessert as often. When I do, I enjoy a small serving of the "real thing." (And by real thing, I mean made-from-scratch or with ingredients you can pronounce, not chemical substitutes.) A big bowl of berries (fresh in-season, or frozen-slightly-thawed otherwise) with a small scoop of Kirkland vanilla ice cream is my current favorite dessert.

Lyle and the kids still enjoy what they call "contraband" sometimes... things like Cheez-Its and M&Ms. As long as it's an occasional treat, and not their everyday diet, I don't have a problem with it.

My "one weakness" (as Dorcas on Lark Rise to Candleford says) is Coke Zero... and sweetened coffee. (That's two weaknesses, you say? That's okay. Dorcas actually has several "one weaknesses!") The way I look at it is that Coca-Cola is not good for you in any of its formulations (though "Mexican Coke" made with real sugar is probably best). But I like the taste and mild buzz of Coke Zero, so I enjoy that in moderation on occasion. Not every day. For coffee, I use real cream and a few drops of flavored liquid stevia. And sometimes I make iced coffee with unsweetened almond milk and flavored stevia.

When it comes to meal planning the Trim Healthy Mama way, the idea is to separate your fats from your carbs (if you're interested in losing weight), and to avoid spiking your blood sugar. S (for satisfying) foods or meals can have protein and fats but only minimal carbs.  E (for energizing) foods or meals can have protein and carbs but only minimal fats. When you have both together, that's called a "crossover" meal, and while it's okay to eat "crossover" style occasionally, I'm told it will stall weight loss. That has taken more effort to learn.

I've been collecting Trim Healthy Mama recipes on Pinterest. Some I've tried and liked, others we haven't cared for. It's definitely an on-going journey...


Cristy said...

Thanks for explaining the Trim Healthy Mama plan. I have seen it out there in Internet land and wondered about it. I am still not sure it's for me.

A Romantic Porch said...

That is interesting about combining protein with carbs or fats, depending on the desired outcome.
xo rachel