Our Journey to Eating Healthier
Confession: We've become food documentary junkies. It's probably a result of canceling cable, having Netflix streaming capabilities at our fingertips and a baby with an early bedtime. That and the fact that we can rarely decide on a movie to watch, so we default to food documentaries. Have you seen any of them? They are facinating -- no, mind blowing! Of course, they are one side of the story, but after watching Food, Inc.; Food Matters; Hungry for Change; Food Fight; Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead; and a handful of other food documentaries, I'm convinced there is something seriously wrong with America's food system and that everything I thought I knew about food was wrong.
But there was a defining moment in our lives when the curtain was pulled back and truth started to reveal itself to us. Ironically, it came from a few blog comments on this post. A reader had inquired about how we spend our $100/week food money, and we thought it would be fun to shoot a video after a trip to the grocery store. Now, just looking at the food we bought at that time makes me sick to my stomach. And at the very same moment, we can rejoice in the fact that the only thing in that video that we still buy is bananas. We even did a follow-up post the next week on how nutritionally challenged we were and a few ways we were trying to be better. Although it was a step in the right direction, we still had a long way to go.
The journey has been a long one, and it's far from over. The last thing I want you to think is that we are perfect eaters. We're not. Far from it. We're not paleo, vegan, vegetarian or any other lifestyle diet that is all the rage on the interwebs. But, we are striving toward adding more nutrition into our diet. Here's a few things we've done in the past 1.5 years to get to where we are.
What We've Changed
- Substituting real for processed: Over time we've slowly replaced nearly all processed food that we used to buy at the store with "healthier" options. I say "healthier" because some of the substitutes are not perfect, but they are a step in the right direction. Substitutions like: sunflower seed butter and celery for breakfast instead of toast and peanut butter, carrots for lunch instead of potato chips, turkey and baby spinach salad instead of cold meat sandwiches, ordering meat from Wallace Farms (natural, grass-fed, antibiotic free) instead of picking up the cheapest meat at the grocery store.
- Limiting what we keep in our house: Again, we're not perfect, but we've gotten a lot better at limiting our intake of processed foods by simply not buying them. Eating out has proven to be the most tempting and difficult place to change our habits. But, the more we educate ourselves, the easier it is becoming to find "healthier" options wherever we go. Our chiropractor also gave us some marvelous advice: Try like heck to eat extremely healthy during the week and don't worry so much on the weekend. By giving ourselves permission to let loose every once in awhile creates an incentive to eat right most of the time.
- Shopping the perimeter: You may have heard that if you want to find healthy food at the supermarket, shop only the perimeter of the store. As of late, I can say that we have made this a habit. It's pretty rare that we go in the middle aisles of the store. We buy a lots of produce, hardly any dairy and stick to the organic section whenever possible.
- Juicing: Last week we bought a juicer. It's been awesome. A great refreshing way to get lots of nutrients in our bodies without having to eat pounds and pounds of fruits and vegetables. We're not using it as a meal replacement as Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead suggests, but rather as a way to boost our bodies with nutrients in liquid form. It's both delicious and nutritious!
Room for Growth
There are certain foods that have proven more difficult for us to give up than others: pizza, ice cream, soda pop and sweet treats (chocolate for Eric and sugar candy for Kelsey). Back to the limiting point above, we try to avoid these things, but will eat them sparingly. There is another thought out there that the more good food you eat, the less you will want to eat the bad stuff. I'm finding that to be true.
What's the Price?
I know some of you are wondering what eating healthy does to your budget. Believe me, this was a big concern for me at first as well. The more I learn about organic food and grass-fed/antibiotic-free meat the benefits seem to be worth the extra cost. Basically, I've come to the point where I see it as an investment in health and longevity. Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you want to take some steps toward healthy eating on a budget.
- How much could you save if you gave up pop?
- How much could you save if you gave up potato chips?
- How much could you save if you gave up processed snacks in cardboard boxes?
- How much could you save if you didn't have to go to the doctor or buy over-the-counter medications as a result of eating healthier?
How to Get Started
First of all, I want to thank the challenging comments that came from caring readers on our first grocery trip post. No joke, at that time we seriously had no idea what healthy eating meant. Like. No. Idea. At. All. We were actually offended at the comments, but it did spark us to start this journey. So, thank you! You can't help what you don't know. And now that we know, we're making an effort to change.
Maybe you are in the same place we were a few years ago. Be encouraged. You can change. It might be hard, it might take a long time, but you can do it. Just start seeking out the truth. Here are a few resources to help...
Our Favorite Food Resources
Note: you can stream all of these documentaries and more through Netflix. And if you don't want to pay the $7.99 per month, you can sign up for a free month, watch them all, then cancel. It would be well worth it!
- Food, Inc.: This documentary might blow your mind. It sheds light on the issues with America's food system and why your options are limited when it comes to eating healthy on a budget.
- Mark's Daily Apple: A great blog and resource for a more primal way of living. Subscribe to his site and get a daily crash course in healthy eating. I just discovered this last week. He's a great writer and a very smart dude.
- Hungry for Change: Learn why diets don't work and neither will counting calories and limiting food intake.
- Food Matters: What you put in your body matters. This will challenge the thinking of conventional medicine and how the health care industry is thriving. Do you believe that the body can heal itself when fed the right nutrients?
- Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead: An inspiring story about a couple guys losing an extreme amount of weight by only juicing fruits and vegetables. This inspired us to buy a juicer. Find juicing recipes at rebootwithjoe.com.
- Whole 9: Fantastic information on the paleo lifestyle and a lot of great resources that are easy to understand.
This post got a bit long. But, hopefully you've found it motivational, inspiring, educational or at the very least entertaining.
We would love to hear where you are in your journey to healthy eating!