Making changes to the way we eat…

Most of my blog postings to date have had a pretty single focus on food and recipes. Nutrition, meals, food quality and choices are pretty important to me. More so since Indie came along. (Funny how that happens). I’ve always been interested in what we eat and why we make certain food choices.  I’m constantly reading books and articles in an attempt to understand what are considered good choices. And what are considered good food choices changes over time as more is learnt about the complex subject of nutrition. 

It’s easy to read a book that tells us we need to eat more of this, less of that, etc. The hard part is to implement those changes so they become integrated into our daily life.   

Over the last 10 years I’ve worked with many athletes, and it seems to me that making changes to their workout routine is almost easier than making changes to their diet. And when I talk about diet changes, I don’t necessarily mean to loose weight, but to make changes for your health and the planet’s. Here are some ideas that have worked for me, especially when we had to cut out wheat from our diets. (It is nothing new or earth shattering; just simple planning and being honest with yourself). 

1. Take the time to sit down and identify the changes you want to make. Make a list. Do this with your family. 

List making

List making

2. Commit to making an effort to help make these changes. 

3. Prioritize the changes. 

4.  Focus on one change at a time.  Instead of having a big long list of changes and getting overwhelmed, focus on one thing at a time. You’re probably trying to alter some lifelong habits. This isn’t going to be easy. 

5. You might need to clean out your pantry; get rid of temptations,  processed foods, etc. 

6. Make up some rules:  For example; dessert on weekends only, One cup of coffee a day, etc.  Whatever rules you come up with, write them down and look over them often. 

7. Meal planning: Once a week sit down and make up a menu for the week. Get the family involved.

Menu Planning

Menu Planning

Use this menu to write  up your shopping list. This helps in numerous ways. There is no thinking each night “what shall we have for dinner?”,  you only buy food for the menu so you aren’t left with vegetables or other perishables going bad before they get eaten. Also, if you know you get home late from work/activities one evening, you can plan for that. The night before make a meal that works well for left overs the following day. There are websites that offer a meal planning service:

–  The 6 O’Clock Scramble
RelishRelish
Dinner Planner
Meal Mixer
Dine without whine
Saving Dinner

As you can see there are lots of resources out there. Most of these websites charge a fee for their service. You get weekly menus and shopping lists.  Unfortunately you still have to go to the store to shop and still cook the meals! I have a feeling I will be writing more about meal planning in a later blog posting. 

Here is a list of changes we’ll be working on in 2011. Some of these are driven by my vegetarianism; others are from recent books I’ve read:
1. Eat more greens
WHY: They are packed with nutrients.
HOW: If I’m not going to eat a salad, I’ll make a super green smoothies, or add spinach/chard to recipes like lasagna, enchiladas, soups, etc. 

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

2. Eat more quinoa
WHY: This grain contains all of the essential amino acids.
HOW: I collected a bunch of recipes and my goal is to try one every two weeks. 

Quinoa

Quinoa

3. Make all salad dressings and sauces
WHY: Cheaper and healthier to make your own after everything I’ve read about vegetable/canola oil and how easy it is for some oils to turn rancid. (Rancid oils are a major source of free radicals in our diet. Exposure to air, heat, and light cause oils to oxidize, become rancid, and form free radicals. Free radicals cause damage and disease that include cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s).
HOW: Make sure I have in good olive oil, sesame oil, and vinegars along with lemon juice and dijon mustard. And of course, recipes ready to go.

 4. Eat less sugar/sweetened things
WHY: It’s not good for you: lots of  links to diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
HOW: Cut down on buying foods with sugar in them. I used to eat a PB &  J sandwich every day. I’m trying to cut this out or at least mix it up a little. Eat left overs for some lunches, eat almond butter with honey, or if  I’m at home, eat an omlette or soup instead.

5. Eat more lentils
WHY: Hign in iron
HOW: This is a hard one, because I’m the only one in my family who likes lentils. I plan on cooking a pot of lentils at the beginning of the week. I can then have them on hand to add to my meals.  

6. Learn more about cooking with Miso
WHY: High in Iron
How:  I’ve just ordered a miso cook book: “The Miso book: The art of cooking with Miso”

The Miso Book

The Miso Book

7. Pearl barley
WHY: High in Zinc
HOW: Keep some on hand to easily add to soup and stews. 

8. Eat more blackstrap molasses
WHY: High in Calcium
HOW: I need to research some recipes

9. Eat nutritional yeast.
WHY: High  in B12
HOW: I need to research some recipes

10. Add more fermented and cultured foods
WHY: Introduces good bacteria into the digestive tract
HOW: Eat more yogurt, kefir, miso, buttermilk and sour cream, and drink kombucha.

11. Eat a bigger diversity of grains.
WHY: Diversity is good!
HOW: Visit Bob’s Red Mill more often and use Bob’s Red Mill Cookbook.

Bob's Red Mill Cookbook

Bob's Red Mill Cookbook

 So there you have it. Now that all my “changes” are in print, it makes it more official!
What changes are on your list for 2011?

Comments
  • Kim R.

    Ambitious list you have there!! You may want to try red (aztec) quinoa and red lentils and/or yellow split peas. We like them better than the other options!! I have a great red lentil soup recipe I can pass on. (the family may not even recognize them as lentils!!)

    My goal for next year is to expand the diversity of our recipes.

    Thanks for sharing your list and links.

  • The single biggest success we’ve had making dietary changes is…Planning! If we don’t have the week’s menu laid out, and the groceries purchased, we fall into the old habits (which usually entails less than optimal meals at times).

  • Absolutetly. The short amount of time it takes to plan is so worth it.

  • Ambitious list? You know me 🙂
    This list is something we have been working towards for a few months. Yes, I too like red quinoa (from Trader Joes) and red lentils. I’ll take a soup recipe from you. Love new recipes.

  • Leann

    This was great – just what I needed after a less than stellar day of eating.

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