“You are what you eat.” Eat this…but don’t eat that. Wait, that’s horrible for you. Forget what I said last week. Eat this instead. But this kid has this sensitivity, that one is highly allergic, and this one just hates vegetables. What are you to do??
Have you had conversations like this as well? This week the Mama Says Namaste Podcast is all about physical health and well-being, so we’re going to carry it deeper in the blog with a specific hot topic: food.
What the Health, man!
My parents recently watched “What the Health” – a documentary I highly recommend to anyone questioning whether all of these food precautions are legit.
However, it left my Mom feeling even more overwhelmed and confused by food choices. She came back from visiting with a friend, gung-ho on the Paleo diet. After reading “Wheat Belly” and watching “Sustainable”, my father went gluten-free. Now it’s not the grains, it’s the meat and dairy. With no meat, dairy, grains, legumes, fruit…what the heck will they eat?
I understand. It gets super complicated.
How much actual “food” is on your plate?
Employ the 80/20 rule
Being healthy is just for rich people
In Our Home…
What about gluten-free?
Then let’s look at this, which is another meal plan option that gives you a variation of the Paleo but vegan:
This plan isn’t about dieting, but instead for those with digestive struggles or severe grain intolerance issues. People with compromised digestion, blood sugar problems, or even celiac disease may find it helpful to eliminate grains from the diet at first, due to how they can affect digestion and raise the glycemic index.
Don’t get us wrong; whole grains are incredibly healthy for most of us, but they contain starches that can be harder for the body to break down. They also contain a natural nutrient known as phytic acid, which can hinder digestion and absorption.Whatever you believe, experimenting with a whole foods, plant-based grain-free diet can help you decide if it’s the right choice for you. Foods to emphasize are nuts, beans, legumes, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and
leafy greens. Foods like avocados, almond butter, tahini, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, hemp seeds, and any fresh piece of produce are commonly enjoyed.
We went gluten free for a while – it upsets Nathan’s and Ellie’s stomachs. Nathan had such issues he was constantly dealing with, and I remember when we cut it out at first…he would walk in from work and snap and I immediately could tell he had a sandwich that day – it affected his behavior that significantly. So we omitted it all. BUT, this is the deal, we simply cleaned it out as our staple food. We still eat gluten now. But it’s not our staple that is at every meal. Our staple is vegetables. Anything outside of that is a bonus. I think a lot of our “allergies” and food sensitivities have to do with how much we eat of them; not that they are horrible for you.
It can be pricey paying for substitutes. Look for real foods to begin with, and invest in quality. Sometimes the expense here is worth it in comparison to the medical bills you may save.You can't expect to feel like a million bucks if you eat from the dollar menu. Click To Tweet
Maybe a meal plan is what you need to kickstart this
When I was the main chef in the family, I would get overwhelmed quickly. I make decisions all day long, and heading to a grocery store is just complete overwhelm for me – too many options!
Here are meals directly created through “What the Health” – it may really help to get on a meal plan like this. When we were starting out, the vegetarian plan from Fresh 20 was so great for me. 20 fresh ingredients, awesome meals, and minimal food waste because the meals all worked together.
Doing a meal plan really helps to take the guesswork out and keep the costs down, because you are purchasing a set amount of items to cover for a week. The What The Health meal plan above is fully customizable, so you can say you don’t like onions and it keeps them out. AND, if shopping is overwhelming for you as well, check out Instacart – on top of Publix, you can even get Costco and Whole Foods delivered!!
Let’s scale back a bit now. We are individuals.
Now, before you go full tilt boogie, remember this. You can find an argument for or against every food lifestyle that is out there. What my body responds to is going to be different than yours. For our family, embracing veganism in our home has been awesome. 80% of the time…or, in our home, we stick with this. Yet when we go out to eat, have a meal with friends, etc., we may have some dairy or fish, or Nathan may even grab a burger. It’s okay. We don’t beat ourselves up for that. Our children (gasp) do have a treat now and then. Yet the treats in our home are just as often dried fruit and nuts as they are Halloween candy. That’s a lot more rare.
- Replace processed snacks in your home with dried fruit and nuts. Don’t keep them out all the time, and don’t eat in excess. But when you are hungry, eat a snack of roasted almonds and some dried blueberries. We keep roasted almonds, peanuts and raisins in the car at all times for a quick protein blast when we’re out and about. We have cashews, almonds, pecans, dried cherries, blueberries, mangos, figs, apricots, and raisins all handy for snacks to cure the sweet tooth or the salty craving. One handful is enough to tide you over. Wait ten minutes before you go for another handful.
- Pause with your food. If your stomach is about the size of your fist, start with that to eat. Then wait before going back for seconds. Your eyes and mind see a restaurant sized display of food as a “healthy portion” – so just like “deschooling” is the process you go through when a kid comes from public school to unschooling, you will need a reset of what is actually “healthy eating”. It’s not a large portion or just three large meals a day. It’s a shift in food as being sustenance for life and not the center of it.
- Come up with 3-4 go-to meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner that you can rotate. Either use a meal plan option, or just find some tried and true meals and stick with them.
- Shop on the outside of the grocery store. Even the health food stores an have just as much processed junk as they recreate the “fake” meat and junk foods. The outskirts are where the fresh things lie. It’s rare we hit much of the middle of a grocery store. We get some bulk items at Costco for our staples (oatmeal, rice, dried black beans), but at the grocery, it’s mainly produce. Not for the month; but for the week.
- Buy less, shop more. Plan for once a week vs longer. Get smaller amounts so food doesn’t go bad. Fresh food and less preservatives means you simply buy more often.
- 80% of the time, eat at home. 20% you can eat out, but eat smart. And make that 20% powerful! We don’t eat out often. We even tailgate from our cars while we’re out and about to avoid hitting fast food. But when we do, we search for the most delicious foodie option and we relish it. Enjoy the 20 percent option and choose the nicer places with healthier options. Apps like “happy cow” tell you vegetarian restaurants around, and I search Yelp all the time. Places like Burger Up are a much healthier option than a McDonalds. Chipotle is a better option than Taco Bell (although TB is honestly pretty high up there for your fast food at least).
- Taking out the meat means you will be processing your food faster, and you may be hungry more often. That’s okay. Have your snacks. You aren’t going to be able to eat one meal a day like this. But it’s better to eat smaller meals more frequently than stretch your stomach and fill it up on one big meal.
- If you do choose to eat meat, be wise about it. These documentaries like “Cowspiracy” and “What the Health” are very vegan-biased. I get that. And, I could make an argument for meat being okay when it’s treated like a gourmet delicacy and not the cornerstone of your diet. If meat were treated like chocolate cake – in moderation no more than three times a week – I believe we would see a huge shift with mass production (the environmental impact) and obesity/illness (the health impact).
- Drink lots of water. Not chemicals. Water. It helps to fill you up and flush you out. Add in an essential oil like lemon or peppermint if you aren’t keen on just water. We love our compromise from all the coffee we used to drink – we fill up our s’well bottles with green tea and a few drops of peppermint oil, with maple syrup as a sweetener. It’s delicious and keeps us sipping all day long.
- Don’t overcomplicate. You can go down the black hole of Pinterest recipes and end up spending a ton on alternative ingredients to try out one recipe. Again, that’s where I think a meal plan is an excellent option to get you started. Not forever, but to get you rolling with some staple meals you know how to cook, can handle portions and quantity, and don’t have a ton of leftover ingredients.