Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Healthy Adventure: Diet Week 3

For anyone who is actually keeping tabs on what I am doing with My Healthy Adventure, I apologize for not writing last week...or the week before. We were on an impromptu vacation.

Before we go any further, I should probably say what is already pretty obvious to most who are reading this....I didn't start out on my adventure at a point that I would ever call "healthy". I have struggled with being as healthy as I know I need to be for years. Partly, because I am lazy. Partly, because I am cash-poor. But mostly because I LOVE FOOD.

The purpose to me sharing my adventure is to show you, that, if you are struggling with becoming more healthy, there is a simple and free way to make it a possibility. I know that there are some awesome programs out there, some to help you to eat healthier and others to help you to lose weight and feel great. I am just a stay-at-home mom who wants to help others who may not have the time to read several books and articles on why you need to be healthy. I want to help those who, like me, struggle financially and cannot afford to purchase other programs or helps. I want to give you something that is simple to use and won't take up a lot of your time. Okay, enough said....on with the adventure!

So far, you should have eliminated soda/soft drinks from your diet and increased your water. You should also have eliminated candy/candy bars and increased your fresh fruit intake. Now, we are on to the third week of my Healthy Adventure...the part where it gets a little bit trickier.

Week 3 Goal: No More Junk Food
You should already be eating more fruit and so it will be that much easier to take out ALL of your obvious unhealthy snacks and replace them with healthier choices. Remember, right now we are just focusing on getting rid of the obvious junk foods. As we continue on our Healthy Adventure, we will get closer and closer to our final destination: eating more whole, organic, local foods. This is all about baby steps. ;)

So, what do I consider junk food? What is healthy and what is not? What I want you to do is to think about what you give yourself and your family for snacks in-between meals. Think about the nutritional value of that snack. How many times do you rationalize that you are only going to be eating a small amount or that they aren't as fattening or as unhealthy as the other brand? Yeah, me, too. A bag of potato chips is not really healthy, even though it came from a potato, which I consider to be healthy. Jell-O, while it may be a great source of protein, is not nearly as healthy as cheese. So on and so forth.

You will begin with choosing mostly fresh fruits and veggies, (with sauces or dips, if needs be for now). Also, closely examine anything that comes in a box or bag (e.g. fruit snacks, chips, nuts, or crackers). These items, usually, have quite a few preservatives in them and are not as whole as your fresh or frozen sources. I like to think about how much of what I am eating was once a whole food and how far away from being whole it is now that it is on the shelf at the store. I have been slowly limiting what we eat out of a bag/box/can to only what I cannot purchase or find otherwise. I, personally, haven't had any chips besides tortilla and pita chips for over a month now, and eventually I would like to get to the step of making my own crackers and chips from scratch. I used to drink a cup (or two....or three) of hot cocoa nearly ever day during the winter. Haven't had any for weeks. I have been slowly weaning myself off of naughty foods for a few weeks now, in preparation for the next few weeks. But, I have also given myself permission to make exceptions, because I have been so good. Like when I was on my vacation last week. I knew that it would be impossible to stick to my meal plan, but I still kept away from sweets and junk food. It really opened my eyes to just how difficult it can be to stick to a plan of cooking and baking healthy meals when you are away from a oven/stove/open fire for an extended period of time.

These are the three excuses I have made for not providing healthy snacks:

1) Not having time to prepare them
2) Not having enough money to buy them
3) Not knowing that it wasn't healthy in the first place

These are the three answers I have come up with to refute these excuses.

1) As I practice and plan ahead, prep time is taking a lot less time.
2) As I plan ahead and stick to my 8 Week Meal Plan, I will be able to plan money for snacks. This summer, I plan on drying, freezing, and bottling as much fresh produce as I can....yum!
3) As I educate myself through research and discussions with those who have done research, I become more and more aware of what harm can come from what I eat. I still have so much to learn, but I know the obvious areas to avoid and I am in the process of doing just that.

Choosing what to eat (and not eat)
I will use fruit to share my own experience with making decisions. I used to rationalize that fruit snacks were healthy because they had real fruit in them. Just today, I was reading through the ingredients of the healthy fruit leathers that I used to (proudly) purchase at my favorite bulk store for regular snacks. The pureed fruit that is in them is from concentrate. And, while I am sure they are healthier than most snacks and wouldn't hesitate to purchase them for a long hike or our 96 hour kits, they aren't something that I would use for one of our regular snacks. It would definitely be better to get real fruit instead. Some will argue, that it is easier to grab a box of fruit snacks...it is. And, if you get them on sale, it will cost you less. That is why you have to really plan ahead. When strawberries, peas, cherries, kiwi,(you can fill in with whatever you like to snack on), are in season, freeze some in baggies for when they are ridiculously priced and from far, far away.

I love nuts, despite the bad rep that they get for being fattening. I have been eating a lot of nuts lately and will continue to eat them for some of our snacks, especially since we are cutting out quite a bit of our meat. But I will be buying more raw nuts and seek out those that are grown in the USA.

I love raw veggies, but I usually use dips and sauces with them, so I am getting in the habit of eating them with less dip and trying more and more varieties.

I love fruit smoothies and so does my family, so I usually make one a day. I am learning more and more about what to add to these to make them healthier. Right now, I just add a little spinach and use as fresh of ingredients as I can....and it will only get better.

Healthy Snacks
Here is a list of some of the combinations of snacks that our family enjoys. Feel free to leave more ideas of healthy snacks in the comments below...I am always looking for more ideas. Thanks!

grapes & air-popped popcorn
apples w/peanut butter & raisins
orange slices & crackers
grapefruit slices & nuts
pineapple slices & cottage cheese
frozen cherries
strawberries, peaches, or bananas w/yogurt
celery w/peanut butter & raisins
cheese slices & crackers
pita chips w/hummus
broccoli, snow peas, celery, bell peppers, or carrots w/ranch dip
fruit smoothie
tortilla chips w/salsa or pico de gallo

I just began my 4th week of The Healthy Adventure and have been using my 8 Week Meal Plan for the past 5 weeks (other than my vacation last week....but I'll discuss more about that in my next post). It hasn't been difficult because I am committed to this adventure. I am excited to have less stress about what our meals and snacks are going to be from one day to the next and happy to have more healthy choices around me and my family all of the time.

Happy Adventuring!
~.~ the purple sprout

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