Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Baby steps: Healthy Eating

I've got my exercise regimen down but healthy eating has never come naturally to me. I said to myself I'd start eating healthier soon but never did and with a 3 year old learning my bad habits it made me feel super guilty. I did not want fruit snacks, chips and fast food to be our staples but the convenience of grabbing whatever is quick and available overcomes you when you're on a hectic schedule and constantly on the go. Isn't it so true that when you're hungry you'll eat whatever is in front of you? No? Well, for me it definitely is which is why snacking on a box of cheezits was a typical occurrence for me. Even when I didn't really want cheezits. They were there and I was hungry. That brought me to the realization that if I bought healthy food to store in the house, I would eat healthy food when I'm hungry. I could no longer preach healthy eating in good conscience to my son while doing the opposite. (Do as I say, not as I do is ineffective parenting). The moment I decided to make this change wasnt the type of revelation that occurred to me one day and then I suddenly reformed our eating habits overnight. (Does that actually work for anyone?) The first step I took was to speak with my husband and share my plan. I figured I would need to get him on board. He was not as enthusiastic as I was about this change. He's slim and healthy like me but his habits include a pastry and a coffee for breakfast, fried chicken, burgers and Chinese food takeout. I started to feel deflated like I was fighting an uphill battle to get my boys to start eating better. Another factor that complicated my ability to shift our diet: I can't cook to save my life! And another: we don't have a working oven! And finally: my husband is a really picky eater! Yikes! I wanted throw in the towel just thinking about this. Despite these factors I was determined. I realized when they are hungry, they, like me, will eat whatever is close, easy and available. If I stock the house with healthy options, they will have no choice (and they certainly will not allow themselves to go hungry, that's for sure)! I started by making small changes. Whole milk to 2% and then 1%. Fruit snacks to REAL fruit- strawberries, grapes, pineapple, etc! I began by buying the pricey pre-chopped fruit (justifying the cost because so long as it's eaten, it's worth the price!) and then I began buying whole watermelons among other types of fruit. I found out my little one is a major watermelon lover! When he's hungry and dinner isn't ready, he goes into the fridge and grabs whatever is there. Instead of grabbing high sugar yogurts, like go-gurt, or grabbing candy, he grabs his watermelon, strawberry and lower sugar yogurt while waiting for dinner. As for my husband,  instead of picking up big breakfasts from McDonald's, it's homemade eggs (what's better than that?) or cornflakes. Occasionally he buys his pastry but that's on him :) As a small change, I began by buying pre-chopped stir fry vegetables like onion and peppers and progressed to buying whole onions, peppers, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, avocados, scallions, ginger, etc. As a self-proclaimed bad cook, you cannot go wrong with a slowcooker, no matter how bad of of a cook you are. I have two. My hubby hates them, though :(

But knowing I have the power in my hands because I buy the groceries and I do the cooking, I began following easy dinner recipes. This week, I'm making recipes 1,2, 3 and 5 from this list:
Easy. And healthy. Trust me, if I can follow them, anyone can. The chicken with artichoke hearts came out pretty good- not perfect, but that's due to my poor cooking abilities. The boys did not go hungry, though! And I liked it so much, I enjoyed it as a leftover sandwich the next day. The stir fry was a BIG hit and I was overjoyed to get Angelo eating brussel sprouts and loving them! Dessert was a pear, strawberries, orange juice and a single piece of chocolate. I even got Angelo to enjoy the skin of the pear! Even my picky hubby was satisfied. I'd say it was a success all around! And, as a tip, the chicken and the stir fry require one pan only so clean up is quick and easy. The natural flavors of the foods are so satisfying and totally beat the comfort of digging into a greasy fast food burger any day! I'm sold and I think my family is too! It takes some planning and prepping i.e. making a grocery list with all of your ingredients for the week and stocking your fridge accordingly but the bit of time spent in advance saves you the anxiety when 6pm rolls around on Tuesday evening and you have no idea what you're going to do for dinner and you call for takeout or drag everyone to the diner (ok, maybe that is just me). I'm going to keep up the momentum and choose some tasty and simple recipes to make next week. All of that said, I am not the type of person to deny myself an indulgence if I'm really craving something! I allow myself to have a couple of pieces of chocolate or some handfuls of chips but the fact that I feel gross and lethargic after eating too much of those types of goodies and that I feel fabulous,  energetic and ready to take on the world when I make better choices, is sufficient reinforcement to keep up these habits. I encourage myself by telling myself to make small changes and to do it little by little. It also helps knowing that I am properly fueling my workouts to get better results. Afterall, what's worse than working really hard for something and getting mediocre results? Another motivator for me is reading about how food affect us. I had no idea that food can affect your mood in the way it does until I read this article:,,20621800,00.html
I knew that exersice improves your mood but I had no idea diet had such an effect! Proper eating and exersice really are intertwined and I realize I really cannot separate the two if I want to perform at my best. Over the past couple of nights at dinner, I have been sharing with my boys a single fact about the food they are eating in hopes it makes us all feel good about our dinner and I hope it sinks in. At the very least, knowing that my guys really have no other choice, we'll be eating well until I say otherwise!

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