January 2011 — better eating

Our goal for January (oh, wait, is this one of your goals too?) is to work on our eating.

I would say we are moderately nutritious eaters. 100% Whole wheat bread, moderate amounts of things like red meat and sugar, plenty of beans in our diet, and I try to cook from scratch and avoid processed foods. I honestly don’t want to be an extremely nutritious eater — one book I’ve read suggests that you should NEVER eat chocolate, and I just can’t get behind that kind of thinking. So I try to make rules we can follow. Cereal can have a little sugar if it also has a good amount of fiber (Lucky Charms only on your birthday or at Nana’s house). White bread occasionally, if it’s deliciously home or bakery-made. Soda at a restaurant once or twice a month, but hardly ever at home. You get the idea, right?

One area where we get about a C-minus is eating fruits and vegetables. Do you ever get a big meal made and realize you didn’t get a really good-for-you vegetable prepared for a side dish? Happens around here all the time. Also, I frequently offer a vegetable which some of my kids don’t like, and while our kids are required to try what’s on the table, they aren’t required to clean their plates (call me a pushover, but I was a picky eater and I can remember a little pile of green beans which very nearly made me vomit). I think a reasonable goal is to eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day, and we have not historically met that mark.

So, while I’m sure we should be eating more fish, less sugar, and about one hundred other things, we’ve set as a reasonable, achievable goal to eat five fruits and vegetables every day in January. We started about a week ago, our kids are on board, and I can’t believe the quantity of fresh produce we’ve consumed (perfect timing since it’s summer here). I may be required to grocery shop more often than I prefer.

To help me keep my eye on the ball, I’m going to read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, both of which I’ve been meaning to read for ages. And, I just heard about this new blog, word of wisdom living, which gives a helpful suggestion each week to get your eating on track, plus loads of information every day. It seems very well-researched and thought-out.

I’m a big believer in small changes, and I know that when I eat more of what’s good for me, I usually eat less of what isn’t. So wish us luck, and feel free to share any strategies you have for getting more veggies into your diet. (Unless it’s spinach brownies, because you know what? If I’m going to make brownies, I just want brownies.)


8 thoughts on “January 2011 — better eating

  1. Kira

    We’ve been talking about this too…as you can imagine with Aaron’s dieting. Adding more of the good stuff seems like such a good step in the right direction. Good luck!

  2. Christina

    I’ll be interested to hear what you think of Kingsolver’s book. I thought it was full of good info – but very long-winded!

    We always have great success with smoothies. Mainly just fruit-based for the kids.

    Good luck!

  3. liz Post author

    Kira, I think this will help Matt too, if I could only keep him in town!
    Christina, smoothies are definitely part of the program — I just broke my crummy blender with frozen fruit! I can actually get away with a little handful of spinach, if there’s plenty of strawberry and banana.
    Katy, don’t you remember those books a few years back that had you hide the veggies in everything you make? Spinach brownies were definitely in the Jessica Seinfeld one!
    P.S. Do you think peach cobbler counts as a fruit serving?

  4. Kate

    I for one hate all the weight loss resolutions. But trying to switch up your eating habits to be more healthy I’m all for. I’m reading a book that talks a lot about insulin. It’s called the Primal Blueprint. It says that we eat too many carbohydrates… and isn’t that the truth! Carbs, in any form (any grains, cereal, bread, crackers tortillas, pretzels, rice, pasta…) make your body produce insulin and then it goes on to describe why increased insulin levels aren’t good (bad actually) for your body. Now that said, I’m liking it and it’s in no way an “atkins” type lifestyle, but it does make you think about how often the foods you choose spike your insulin levels. And I’m starting to understand why that isn’t ideal. He says a lot of fruits (although some fruits have more carbs then others) and veggies, and meat (organic if possible), and nuts should be more the staple of your diet. I’m not a crazy person and I still enjoy some grains here and there, but I do feel better when I control my carb intake. (I almost hate the word, carb, because of how trendy it is/was). I’ve tried low wheat eating before and I just feel better and now I understand the physiology behind it. (it’s easier not to eat that bread at the italian restaurant because you know what happens once it’s inside your body). My sister-in-law has always tried to limit her wheat intake so it’s been on my radar for a while now. Reading this book, he says we all have an allergy to grains in some degree or another. They cause inflammation in our body. He says to instigate an 80% rule. Meaning 80% of the time you do your best to cut out carbohydrates (it would be hard to cut out all carb, nor should you. Carbs are in more then you would think), you’re succeeding to change the standard american diet full of carbs. Like the food pyramid suggests we eat a ridiculous amount of grains. I’ve definitely learned something from his book and am excited to cut a lot of the carbs from our diet (not all certainly) because it naturally makes you eat more fruits and veggies. He talks about a lot more then carbohydrates and insulin, but it’s made a lot of sense to me. (He also says you don’t need to be a crazy triathlete to be healthy. Quite the opposite. That it’s harmful to your body to do hard workouts. Moving a lot, being active, walking, hiking with occasional sprints are more healthy.) ok!

    So that was a very long winded response to how we are getting way more fruits and veggies in our life! Green smoothies are always a good way too.

    And about sugar, well I’ve been doing something with my mom, Mark, and my sister since Thanksgiving. It works amazing well. Basically you agree to the group that you won’t eat any “treats” during the week. And then one day a week you have a 24 hour period to eat whatever you want. If you cheat during the week you owe the group $75! You won’t eat a brownie for 75 dollars. It just helps you cut down on the mindless chocolate chip eating, you know. And if you need a couple days off for vacation or whatever you just talk to you “group”. You’ll binge the first few 24 hour periods but then you learn to keep it under control because you feel so crappy afterward! So much better when you limit sugar for sure. Sort of a sugar support group. :)

    Sounds like your doing good! There are so many book and theories out there it’s hard to know what’s best. l’m trying to take the parts from all of them that ring true to me.

  5. Andrew

    Good post. Healthy eating is one thing we’re really trying to work on around here too. Controlling carbs, eating more whole foods and fewer processed ones. As Robin calls it, shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store (produce, meats, dairy, etc.)

    I’ve lost eight pounds since New Year’s Day and two inches around my waist. Right now I’m basically cutting out all the sugar (no desserts, candy, sugary drinks) and other simple carbs, and once I’ve reached my goal weight I’m going to do as was suggested, give myself a free day once a week or so. I just have to make sure that it doesn’t happen more than that; otherwise, the fat will return as has happened to me in the past many times.

  6. Toria

    sounds like you’re rules/ eating habits are similar to ours. I’ve always been interested in nutrition (minored in it) and therefor have never tried any diets or challenges, I just make what I do eat healthier and enjoy in moderation what isn’t so healthy. I just found a new blog called wordofwisdomliving.com that I added to my reader. It seems great (a little wordy, but maybe that’s cuz I tried to read all the posts at once). you might like it.

    tips for adding veggies. I add them to things kids already like. I make a huge pot of pasta sauce with a basic recipe and add spinach, carrots, peppers whatever is about to go bad or in the freezer and cook it all down (til soft) and use a hand wand/ blender thingy. Do you have one of those? It’s also great for veggie soups (probably not on your menu til your summer ends huh?)

    sweet potatoe oven french fries- yummy.
    hummus or cream cheese mixed with a salty herb blend and carrots cucumbers and peppers washed and sliced ready to be snacked on- this helps mostly with John and I, but the kids dig in. (use your house help for all the veggie chopping :)

    thanks for your comment. It’s good to know I’m not being too dramatic. Also good to be back at blogging (reading and writing). Sounds like you’re having a grand adventure! Keep sharing. I love reading.

  7. Jill

    As I read your blog eating my sour patch watermelons I think you have a point. I am going to get on that as soon as I finish them:-)


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