Friday, May 18, 2012
Simply Healthy Eating Part 3
This is part 3 and the conclusion of my series.
First, a few miscellaneous thoughts... which may just be my personal opinon :-)
-First of all, I want to address the cost of healthy food. Yes, it can more. I know people are justifiably overwhelmed by the cost of healthy food. Our society has been built on cheap, non- nutritional food (or "food products"), and you need to accept that if you are going to eat healthy, it will cost you. Think of it as making an investment in your HEALTH (I'd rather pay for healthy foods than medications). In order to get clean sources of food you will need to pay more - but it can be done.
I encourage you to take a look at your budget and consider making buying healthy food a priority. If that means less of something else you like (perhaps those $4-a-pop trips to Starbucks, donut shop runs on Saturdays, eating out, entertainment, or cutting back on gas use) so be it. Also, take a look at what you ARE spending money on, food wise. I've heard people say "Oh, I can't afford to buy that kind of food, it's so expensive,"... but look in their grocery cart and often you will find that they have multiple boxes of cereal, bagels, bags of chips or other packaged snack foods, bottled juice, soda, etc. They may also buy LOTS of meat products. Consider having a couple (or more) meatless nights a week to save money. If you can't always buy organic, do research to find out what produce is a priority to get organic. For example, I never bother buying organic bananas, pineapples, mangoes, cantaloupes, or anything with a thick peel. But I always buy organic for certain other produce, such as spinach and strawberries. For more information on this check out the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15.
-Portion size - I have had to learn what an appropriate portion size is for my body size. If you think a serving size is what a restaurant serves you, you need to adjust your thinking. I know I did. I've even had the habit of eating too much HEALTHY food (I could eat huge bowlfuls of guacamole, and multiple tablespoons of almond butter a day, but I don't). There are websites out there that help you determine a healthy weight range for your height/age, and also will tell you approximately how many calories you should consume each day to maintain that weight. For me, I can maintain around 1400 calories a day. If I exercise and burn calories, then I can add some calories to my day. To lose weight, as elementary as this may sound, you need to BURN more calories than you're taking in. I know many diets look for ways around this, and there is a whole market of supplements out there telling you that you can "burn more" but when it comes down to it, you don't need all that. You can lose weight if you're taking in less than you put out. I've done it... I know. It's not rocket science but people always want the easy way out.
-Soy - I do not use ANY soy products except soy sauce (because it's fermented) and that's on rare occasion and definitely organic (soy is highly GMO). There is still much debate on the benefits vs. detriments of soy - obviously we are in the middle of a soy craze from the products I see marketed. Some say it's healthy; some say not. I've abstained for many years as I'm concerned about the phytoestrogens soy products contain, not to mention the GMO's in unorganic soy sources. And most soy products (like tofu and soy milk) are just processed foods anyways. You can google "dangers of soy" if you need to know more on my stance. I read labels carefully to avoid soy lecithin, soybean oil, soy protein, etc. and do not eat fresh edamame.
-Caffeine and alcohol- I don't drink any caffeinated beverages (mainly because I'm highly sensitive). When I'm not drinking water, I stick mostly to decaf coffee or espresso, or decaf black or herbal teas. I will say that I have more energy now that when I drank caffeine all day, and I sleep very well at night. Rich drinks a ton of iced tea (home brewed, unsweetened), fully loaded, and has no problem whatsoever with it though! If you have problems sleeping or with energy highs/lows during the day, try ditching it for awhile and see what happens. We do not drink alcohol, but well, that's for many reasons and a whole another blog post. :-)
- Supplements, vitamins - I am not big into supplements/vitamins. I am more into eating well for the real vitamins and minerals good food provides. I do take one thing and that is a high quality fish oil, and have for years. But that is it. We do not take probiotic supplements, but we do drink kombucha, raw milk and eat cultured dairy.
-Eating out - We hardly eat out and we DO NOT eat at fast food restaurants. I guess the thrill in eating out diminishes when you know you're not able to eat as well as you can at home! I suppose I also just dislike paying a lot of money for unhealthy, fattening food as well, and would rather spend my money on good food. Plus, on the positive side, we truly do enjoy being in our home kitchen together cooking. It's great fun. Not that we don't ever go out, but if we do I usually consider myself a vegetarian and order accordingly. :-) But if you've been a reader of my blog for any amount of time you know I love a good Diners, Drive ins & Dives find and food adventure!! Believe me, I can enjoy a juicy burger or a great pizza. And not to mention gourmet ice cream - my weakness!! I just don't do it that often. But honestly, with not eating out as much these days, I find that monetary savings helps with buying the good, healthy food for my family that does infinitely cost more.
-There are compromises to be made. I allow certain foods that I know are not the most highly nutritional, but not damaging to health. An example might be tortilla chips. Not highly nutritional, but I choose organic and it's okay to eat them from time to time. Damaging would be Cheetos. You can see the difference. Store bought cookies are horrible, homemade are much better.
-Sicknesses - It is interesting to note that Rich and I have escaped all flus and colds for at least 20 years. We literally haven't had one... I'm serious! We seem to have very strong immune systems now. Correlation?
-Headaches - I used to get frequent headaches, but now I never have any. I know diet has something to do with this. I'm thinking the culprit was probably refined sugar. When I hear people are experiencing headaches (or migraines) I want to know what they are eating. Not that there couldn't be a medical reason for a headache; I just wonder how many are diet related (for example, MSG is a known culprit in causing headaches).
-Healthy weight - A bonus with this way of eating is that we are now easily able to keep our weight in a healthy range. And if you can believe this, Rich and I both now weigh about the same we did when we got married 25 years ago (though we don't look the same - gravity has taken a toll!). The way we ate for years was slowly putting weight on us, and at one point each of us has weighed upwards to 20-30 pounds more than we do now. Eating right has removed that excess weight and improved our overall health. We feel great now.
Lastly, I just want to address the question, "Why eat healthy?"
First of all, it is not so that I can extend my life, as I know the Lord has my days numbered!
And believe it or not, I don't eat healthy because I think I can avoid getting cancer or some other disease - although I know a healthy diet does ward off all kinds of diseases and conditions. I've probably done enough damage to my body in the first 35+ years of my life on this terrible Western diet to be deserving of many diseases anyways... so I know I may still get them! While some cancers are obviously self imposed (lung cancer from smoking), I've seen 3 month old babies at City of Hope with cancer, without even leading an unhealthful life. So, some types may not be preventable, anyways.
However, there is an undisputed connection between what you eat and your general health. And it makes sense. You cannot expect to be healthy if you eat chemicals and processed foods or things your body was not designed to have. I heard a doctor state recently that it was his belief that 70% of people's medical issues would not exist with healthy diet. 70%! He was referring specifically to the issues that come from having a poor diet that leads to being overweight.
More importantly, striving to be healthy for the Christian is saying "I want to live my life to the fullest for the Lord!" I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want any self-imposed hindrances to serving Him! We are to love the Lord will all our soul, but also with all our MIGHT! (Deut. 6:5) I want to be strong and mighty for Him. Yes, as a by-product we can feel good when we eat good, therefore enjoying His blessings more... but it really is about being the best servant I can be for my wonderful Savior.
So in conclusion, I eat healthy because I think it is right to take care of the body God gave me. And, frankly, I do not want to bring about any illness or disease that it is in my power to avoid. I want to be as healthy as I can be, as much as I can control. But I am not ultimately the one who decides my state of health. If the Lord sees fit to give me a physical ailment or disease in spite of all that I do, that is obviously His sovereign plan for me and I'm open to that. But, I will continue to eat well, trying my best to be healthy so that I can serve Him and the ones I love to the best of my ability.
For me, it's making wise choices based on what I know. I now know more than I ever have and I am obligated to put that into practice. I encourage you to think through what YOU eat and make the best choices you can.
There you go... food for thought (pun intended). I welcome your comments and suggestions....
Happy (healthy) eating!
P.S. Look for my upcoming feature, "Meatless Mondays" and follow my journey to find creative and delicious ways to serve dinner without meat in ways your family will LOVE!