7 Small Steps to Change Your (Family’s) Food Health
Posted Sep 22 2011 4:36pm
It wasn’t always this way.
I used to eat microwaved meals for lunch and dinner. When I shared a fridge/freezer with four other busy roommates in college, I remember stockpiling individual servings of Green Giant veggie meals. Per package directions, I’d stick the entire plastic “bag” in the microwave, then voila, dinner. It meant no time spent cooking or washing dishes, and instead getting back to student teaching lesson planning. And being 20. Also, it was frugal enough while I worked for free and paid tuition. I ate breakfast on occasion, and it would be a can of high fructose corn syrup [Mountain Dew], with maybe a frozen wheat something: a nuked Eggo waffle or something I’d pop in and out of the toaster. Usually, though, I’d just skip breakfast.
A few things have changed over the years. The changes didn’t happen in a day, and they’re never ending. First, I was not old, but started feeling o-l-d. I was told I had mild asthma, suffered from every seasonal/pet/mold allergy in existence, and was having mysterious allergic reactions to falafels and certain black bean burgers. I had less stamina for running and my knee kept going out. Doctors told me I had the early stages of arthritis in my knee. Then I was getting sick a lot. I always had a cold and was getting strep throat multiple times a year. A serious case of Mono on my 21st birthday caused me to reevaluate what I could be doing to impact my health. I took four weeks off of work to lie on my parents’ couch and drink some store bough protein shakes. My family would take turns monitoring my breathing, amidst five trips to the ER.
Then at the age of 22, days after the 9/11 attacks, my best friend for 18 years suddenly died when her heart gave out. The most vibrant and healthy person I knew was gone, without a “symptom”. Her 8 week old baby without a mother. Her husband of one year without his wife. To say the least, my world was flipped on its head and shaken to its core, and rather gray. What was explained as a genetic heart issue since birth was inexplicable. With all of the “medical advancements” that so many societies and organizations raved about and poured money into, how could someone die at the age of 22 from a heart issue in 2001?
Nothing added up. After months of eating to sustain life [Easy Mac], I began devoting my time to read about natural approaches to health, wellness and eating. Things haven’t changed since. Well, except that getting sick is very rare now, and I haven’t had strep throat in four years. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a cold, fever or stomach flu. Thankfully. I’ve worked for this. Insert hearty knock on wood.
My journey started with questions. I was motivated to question medical intervention, treatment of symptoms and practices I’d grown up believing in. I started believing in the power within our own bodies to maintain health, rather than a pill from the pharmaceutical company. I also now believed that cures were actually a last stitch effort to fix something very broken. And that many things, like mono or a genetic heart issue, and probably cancer, do not have a cure. All I’d been reading led me to focus on prevention and lifestyle choices. Our bodies can only heal what we equip our bodies to heal. Well, it made sense in my mind anyway. My take away from all of the lessons, the impossible and the less harsh, was that I was going to control what I was able to, when it came to my health.
And, I have been taking small steps to do so. I have no training in health, nutrition or medical science. I have only my story and my experiences.
7 Small Steps to Change Your (Family’s) Food Health
1. Scan your ingredients. Be the aisle shopper who stops to read everything. Avoid buying, or ordering these ingredients:
This one is a constant challenge for me. I started by keeping track of how often I ate wheat in a day, and what products had sugar in them. I’ve stopped buying anything with corn syrup in it. Check your condiments (ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressing), yogur t, tomato sauce, snacks, juice, dried fruit or fruit snacks, baked goods, dessert and… again, the meals where you incorporate wheat. Wheat based products like to spike your blood sugar and break down as starch, essentially sugar. Disease feeds on sugar. If you’re eating a wheat product for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between, it might be a good time to cut back. I know the food pyramid used to tell you differently, but remember that the creators were wrong, and in it for their corporate profit.
4. Cook at home more often.
:: You know what’s in your food. Period.
:: You know what you’re eating. Exactly what you’re eating. No worries about the restaurant’s or fast food MSG, trans fat, etc.
:: You’ll save money and learn too. Maybe you’ll discover your inner chef. Everyone has one. We all need to eat.
:: It will become a [great] habit and your preference.
:: Cyberspace makes it so easy! Have you seen any of these recipe sites ? I subscribe to them all, and click on recipes that interest me when they arrive in my inbox.
5. Eat organic when you can.
Like it or not, organic is almost always more expensive. When you make your health a priority, other things just have to go. When you can avoid pesticides and GMO’s, do. At the least, avoid the Dirty Dozen on the EPA’s list for this year. Give yourself a break on the Clean Fifteen .
6. Focus on veggies and good proteins.
Plan your meals around the vegetable or the good protein , rather than what kind of pasta, pizza or sandwich the family likes. Make a crazy salad that incorporates your favorite protein, or try some salmon burgers , or make the protein your wrap like in Heidi’s Skinny Omelette . Consider the source of your protein: is it grass-fed, wild, or pumped with vaccines and antibiotics? Can you get your proteins from plants and nuts more often? Remember deep leafy greens and almond flour in your meals.