resolutions

Eat Healthy! Choose Color!

5 Ways to Eat Healthier in 2018

I’ve talked before in my blog posts about the health journey that I have been on for at least the past 10 years – although I can remember being obsessed with eliminating fat or counting calories back in college and that was a few more than 10 years ago!  But, as I talk about here, I really started reading up on the specific health benefits of different foods about 10 or 11 years ago when I worked as a personal chef and was also trying to get pregnant and start a family.  It’s funny how the thought of growing a whole other human being inside your body will make you wake up and pay attention to what we put in (and on) our bodies and how that might affect the functioning of our bodies and what we pass on to our children. 

 

Now that we have three beautiful, healthy boys that are growing every day – and eating more food than I thought possible for such a tiny person – I am still hyper aware of what sort of food I am putting on our family table.  I will admit that it’s difficult to try and keep up with what is considered “healthy” these days and also frustrating to try and sift through all of the studies and articles to tease out what’s real and what is just a manufactured outcome based on the company or consortium that is funding the research.

 

My personal approach is to constantly read and learn as much as I can from various sources and then look for common themes – as long as those themes don’t feel sensationalized or more like a fad than a health recommendation.  Still, that’s easier said than done.  Take agave nectar for example.  When the boys were little and I was searching for a healthy birthday cake option, I remember learning about this new thing called agave that was a sugar substitute made from a plant that was proven to keep your blood sugar from spiking after you ate it.  It was even recommended to diabetics!  I thought this sounded great for my little wee ones because I felt safe giving them a birthday cake baked with agave in place of sugar and knowing that they wouldn’t get a big sugar spike and go crazy afterwards!  So, for years, I baked them birthday cakes made with raw agave nectar and felt good about it.   I, of course, used the “raw” form of the product thinking that raw is always better.  Well, it turns out that even the “raw” agave nectar is highly processed and not much better than eating high fructose corn syrup.  What?!

 

Unfortunately, I can’t go back and bake a different birthday cake for all of those past birthdays but I can choose to keep learning and growing and getting a little bit healthier with each little change that I make.  I’m not going to give up!

 

For 2018, I am working on looking at any meal or snack that I am eating or serving and trying to think of a way to make it even healthier.  (Whatever “healthy” means at that moment in time!) 

 

Here are 5 examples of how you can eat healthier this year:

 

1.  Whenever possible, serve it over a bed of salad greens. When you think about it, there’s not much that can’t be turned into a salad.  Breakfast foods are a bit difficult, I will admit.  But most snacks, lunches, or dinners could stand to have some greens added either under the other food or, at the very least, as a side salad with a homemade vinaigrette.  Most of my lunches consist of taking leftovers from dinner the night before and putting it on top of some sort of greens.  On pizza night, I love to toss some arugula with homemade balsamic vinaigrette and put the greens on top of the cooked pizza.  It may sound strange but it’s really yummy!

 

2. Flavor with herbs and spices. Any time you can add some fresh or dried herbs or spices to your meal, you will be greatly increasing the antioxidant power of the food.  Each individual herb and spice also comes with its own unique health benefits – from the antibacterial and antiviral properties of cinnamon to the anti-nausea effects of peppermint and ginger.  So, you can add extra flavor to your meal at the same time that you are making it healthier!

 

3. Replace refined sugars and reduce the amount of sweetener used in any recipe. As I’ve mentioned before, you can replace 100% of sugar in a recipe with natural sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup.  (Just steer clear of the agave!)  Because these natural sweeteners are so concentrated, you can also reduce the amount of sweetener in a recipe by ¼ to ½ of the amount called for and still get the same sweet taste!

 

4. Choose color! The nutritional content of a food is tied directly to the intensity of its color.  Any time you have the choice between something with color and something without, always choose the more colorful option!  For example:

  • Choose brown rice over white rice
  • Choose wheat flour over white flour
  • Choose red onions over white onions
  • Choose sweet potatoes (or purple potatoes!) over white potatoes

 

5. My personal favorite – pick one thing that you currently buy in processed form and learn how to make it yourself – from scratch. 🙂  You could try making homemade granola or vanilla extract.  Or maybe something more exotic like kimchi or kombucha.  Whatever it is, try to start with all whole food ingredients and make your version as healthy as possible!

 

 

 

chasing satisfaction

Chasing Satisfaction

A piece of my personality is always striving for more, for better.  This can be a good thing when it comes to learning and growing and being the best version of our self. 

However, if I am not careful, this mantra of MORE, BETTER can lead me to a place where the thought process changes ever so slightly and becomes “NOT ENOUGH”.  Before I know it, I am looking around me and thinking…

“I am not enough.”  “I could do better.”  “I should do more.”

“I do not have enough stuff in my life.”  “I wish that I had more.”

 

And then maybe there is another subtle shift in thinking that leads to a bad case of the IF ONLYs…

If only we replaced the roof and siding and painted the inside of our house….then I would be satisfied with our home.”

If only I could find a little more time to exercise each week….then I would be satisfied with my body.”

If only we had a little less chaos in our family life, a little more space in our schedule….then I would be relaxed and happy.”

 

The problem with this mindset is that you never ever get to the end of those statements.  Because once those first conditions have been met, you simply substitute the next one.  Now we need to pave the driveway and refinish the basement before we are satisfied with the house.  Now I need to be able to fit into those pants in the back of my closet from before I had three beautiful babies if I am to be satisfied with my body.  Now I need to find quiet time to meditate every day if I am to be happy and relaxed. 

 

Maybe this is starting to sound depressing and pessimistic.  But I like to think of myself as a glass is half full type of person so that’s not my point at all.  My point is just that we need to be mindful of where our thoughts can lead us if we are not careful. 

 

And, you know what, I don’t want to go through life always feeling like I’m two steps behind Happiness.  Or like I’m always chasing Satisfaction around the corner but never catch up and get to sit down and have a cup of tea with her.  It’s exhausting.  And, in the meantime, I have run right past all of the other people and places on the road and missed out on all that they could have showed me.  I want to stroll purposely through life with a big ol’ smile on my face and learn as much as I can from the people and places along the way. 

 

This doesn’t mean that we should let the house fall to pieces or never work on a home improvement project again.  This doesn’t mean that I should stop exercising or eating healthy.  This doesn’t mean that I should stop looking for downtime in our schedule or making time for meditation and family bonding activities. 

But it does mean that we should look for that sweet spot where we are feeling productive in whatever way is most meaningful to us at the time but not feeling bad about the things that are not getting done.  And it means that we experience each day as it is happening and look for small joys that light up our life.  Easier said than done.  But, if we are not careful, we will forget what it is we are chasing in the first place and might become lost along the way.  I am constantly reminding myself to stop running to the next thing and to slow down and experience the moment that I am in right now.  So, for 2017, I have a new mantra…well, maybe two new mantras….

 

“I’ve got everything I need, and nothing that I don’t.” – Zac Brown Band (Homegrown)

 

 “We’ve got everything we need right here and everything we need is enough.” – Jack Johnson (Banana Pancakes)