The last 3 1/2 years have been quite a journey for our family when it comes to food. I began learning about our food supply – how it is processed, where it comes from, and how it affects our health. The more I learned the more I realized we needed to change our eating habits. A lot. It was overwhelming, but little but little I can say we have come a long ways and are healthier for it.
At the beginning of our journey I was 25 pounds heavier, and struggled with mild depression. I rarely felt energized to get done all that was required. With small children running around it was often hard to get through the day. But as I began to change our eating and incorporate exercise, I lost weight, felt better, and was energized. My perspective changed, and I was able to do things I never would have thought about doing before … like adopting a child from foster care.
I truly believe that food can be our greatest healer and fuel (as God designed it) or our greatest poison (as humans designed it).
I have found that when I am eating clean and exercising, I have more to give everyone in my life, first and foremost my family.
I know I am not the first to bring attention to the health CRISIS we have here in the U.S. This is the first generation where children are expected to have a shorter life span then their parents. Obesity is still on the rise, especially in children. Type 2 diabetes, autism, cancer, ADHD, asthma, sleep disorders, liver disease, mental disorders – I didn’t hear much about these when I was a kid, let alone know anyone who dealt with them. Now it is common lingo. And our food supply has changed DRAMATICALLY in the last 50-60 years. The link is clear – but food companies are reluctant to change what is making them A LOT of money. We can see the tide is starting to turn though, as consumers our dollars speak loud.
It can be overwhelming to change eating habits, but here are some ideas to start:
1. Read and learn ingredients. We have been trained to read calories, fat, sugar, and carbs. And while those should be considered, what is of greater importance is what is actually IN the food. Avoid things that you don’t recognize, and even some things you do recognize (high fructose corn syrup is never good for you, and it is in EVERYTHING). If your bread ingredient list is over 5 items, there is stuff in there you don’t want in your body. Isn’t bread just flour, salt, yeast, and water??? Not anymore.
2. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, the middle aisles generally do not contain “food.” Spend most of your time in produce. If you eat meat, choose organic and grass fed (beef). Cage free eggs are a good source of protein. The hormones injected into animals to produce products quickly and make them bigger and also getting into your body. Not good.
3. If possible, increase your food budget. We prioritize lots of things – cable TV, cell phone service, coffee … just to name a few. The average U.S. household spends about 9.7% of their budget on food, less than any other nation and down from our grandparents generation. Yet we spend 16% (more than other nations) on healthcare. Our cheap, processed food is making us sick, and we need to re-prioritize. Either way you will spend the money, why not put it towards your health and not medical care costs? If you are as tight as possible on your food budget and can’t spend any more, look up ways to save money on whole, real foods. There is a ton of ideas out there – Pinterest is a good place to start. I have found that we really have not increased our budget significantly … it just takes some planning. Check out Farmer’s Markets in your area.
4. Do a 30 Day Detox (start with just you, not the kids), eliminating dairy, gluten, caffeinne (gulp), sugar, and any processed food. The first few days you can feel sluggish (your body is eliminating toxins) but then you feel great and have a head start to a healthier future. By doing this you may discover foods that have been making you feel bad … and you didn’t know it. This is especially true of gluten and dairy.
5. Don’t drink your calories! Water is the best option. Eliminate soda all together, diet soda is even worse than regular (avoid all artificial sweeteners!). You should be drinking 1/2 your body weight of water each day (example: if you weigh 150 pounds, drink at least 75 ounces of water – more with exercise).
6. Eat whole foods. Think about food this way – does it have a mother or did it come from the ground? If not, it is likely not a whole food (Doritos don’t have a mother).
7. Cook at home! The only way to know 100% what is going into your food is to cook it yourself. It tastes better, saves money, and is better for you. Win-win-win!
8. Get support! Find an exercise buddy, an accountability partner. Surround yourself with people who will encourage positive change.
9. Most importantly – give yourself time and grace! It can feel overwhelming and like we are fighting an uphill battle (we are). It gets even harder when you add children to the mix. But continue to makes changes – your health and the health of your family is SO worth it!
God has designed us for service in love to others. I have found that my service and love for others is tied to how I feel physically.
When I am eating healthy and exercising I have SO MUCH more to give.
I still struggle in this area, but am determined to give my best to those in my life. If you need help, please ask! I would love to be on this journey with you.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”