Monday, April 29, 2013

Getting Healthier

Last year was crazy in so many ways.  The biggest and craziest part of the year was the diagnosis of both of my parents with cancer.  My Dad had prostate cancer, my Mom had liposarcoma.  My Dad had surgery in August and appears to be cancer free!  My Mom's cancer was inoperable and she passed away in September.  I can't say for sure if it was my mom's death or any number of other things that got me started into looking to eat healthier, but I do know it was one of the reasons.

I have struggled to lose weight the last 3-4 years.  I'm not looking to lose a lot, about 10 pounds or so, but have struggled to do so.  I was also tired and definitely had food cravings most days.  I really just wanted to feed myself and my family better. 

So I started looking into things.  I looked at what some of my very healthy friends were feeding to there families.  I looked online at what other people were doing to eat healthy.  I went to Bible study where my friend Katie served delicious banana muffins that had no sugar in them and were completely whole grain!  I did more research online.  I started to think about the obesity epidemic in the USA.  I thought back to the no fat/ low fat craze of the late 80's early 90's. 

I started to think something wasn't adding up.  Here we are, one of the most developed and advanced nations in the world, and huge amounts of our population (including our children) were overweight.  I had long ago switched to butter when the trans fat information came out.  I had long ago switched to whole wheat pasta when the low carb revolution took hold.  But I was still giving my kids 1% milk,  I was still buying what I thought was a better brand of margarine to spread on my rolls and toast, I was still feeding my kids boxed mac and cheese.  Then I started reading labels, looking up what the ingredients on the label really were, finding out how many products have high fructose corn syrup in them (among other things), and questioning why I was feeding this not only to myself, but to my husband and kids as well. 

I started reading, a lot.  Most low or no fat dairy products have additives in them to make them seem thick and creamy like the real, full fat versions.  Pre-shredded cheese has a mold inhibitor and anti-caking agent in it that most block cheeses do not (and you are eating those things).  Most processed foods are that, highly processed.  Eggs are from chickens that are kept inhumanely cooped in cages and fed diets that are not natural to them.  Same with most of our meat supply.  (Cows are ruminants, they are supposed to eat grass - not corn and soybeans.)  I started wanting to know that the meat and dairy products my family consumes comes from humanely treated animals that are also not treated with unneccessary hormones or antibiotics. 

I started to wonder if God had a better plan for us.  He created so many amazing fruits, vegetables, grains and animals for us to be stewards over.  Was I doing my job there?  Was I taking care of not only my body but also the animals and land that we are tasked to care for? 

So I started making some small changes.  I changed the oils and fats we use to now only butter, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil.  I started cooking and baking with more whole grains.  I started making more and more meals form scratch.  I started buying my eggs from a local farmer who raises her chickens humanely.  I found a local farmer of 100% grass fed beef and started purchasing my beef there.  I started buying grass fed butter, whole milk, and whole milk yogurt.  I try to use honey and maple syrup as my primary sweeteners.  I eat more fruit and veggies. I make a hot breakfast for my family once a week - totally form scratch.

And guess what?  I have lost some weight.  I have very few cravings any more, and when I do they are satisfied more quickly with a small amount of a snack instead of lots and lots of it.

 I have come to the conclusion that all this low fat, no saturated fat is nonsense and not good health.  Eating real foods, healthy natural fats, is far more satisfying to the body and soul.  Do I still have a sweet tooth, yes.  But I satisfy it with naturally sweet things like fruit and yogurt smoothies.  And I don't crave the junk anymore, and I feel better.  I hope to get my kids and husband as excited about this transition as I am, though it has not been easy.

I am planning on sharing some of my new, healthier recipes in the coming weeks.  Not all of them are sugar free, and not all of them are 100% whole grain, but they are good alternatives if you are just starting this journey into the land of healthier eating.  To make it easier for my kids, I have adapted a lot of my regular recipes and subbed in whole wheat flour and healthy oils.  They haven't complained about the muffins with less sugar and whole grains, since they were used to eating the white flour versions of these.  Stop by in the next few weeks, you may find a few new favorite recipes that are healthier for you, too!