Whenever I mention to someone that I care a lot about healthy eating, I invariably get the question “so what kinds of foods do you eat?” Despite my passion about the subject, I find this to be a really hard question to answer. I usually stumble over something like “when I talk about healthy eating, I’m referring more to the quality of ingredients and lack of additives” – not a terribly helpful or informative response.
Recently I was asked to fill out a form where I needed to list the foods I ate as a kid and what I eat now, and I realized that the reason I have such a hard time answering the healthy foods question is because I eat many of the same foods I did as a kid, just slightly different versions. I wanted to share this because I think a lot of the time “healthy eating” is associated with deprivation or eating a lot of weird foods that don’t taste good. I will confess up front, my diet today does include a lot of healthy foods that I never dreamed of as a kid, like salmon, kale, and chia seeds, but my diet is not limited to such “superfoods” by any stretch.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
I could go on and on with comparisons, but I think you get the point. Unfortunately, the common wisdom during my childhood (and even today!) was that refined grains, trans fats, and weird chemical additives were good for us. But as my mom likes to quote from Maya Angelou, “when you know better, you do better.” We now know better, and I feel it is my obligation to do better for myself and my family.
Ultimately, the most important thing to me is to stick to foods that are REAL, and in their cleanest, most natural form.
Learning about how the foods we are accustomed to eating impact our health can be scary and overwhelming. To manage that, I have tried to gradually educate myself and make one change at a time over the course of several years to inch my family towards a better place. The changes you see in the chart above did not happen all at once – in fact, if you go back into the early days of this blog, you will even find notes in recipes that I no longer agree with (like the recommended use of canola or other refined vegetable oils over more natural fats like butter and coconut oil), and I’m sure my perspective will continue to evolve as I learn more.
If you are just beginning (or have not yet started) your journey, remember that every single change towards a real food diet is a step in the right direction, and the inability to achieve instant perfection should not be a deterrent to taking that very first step! The hardest part of this process is gearing up to try something new. Each small change requires some research, planning, and adjusting, but what I’ve learned is that once a change is made or a new skill learned, it quickly becomes routine and then there’s room for the next change.
Are you interested in coming along the real food journey with me? I’d love to hear your goals, challenges, and accomplishments in the comments!
2 thoughts on “So what kinds of foods do you eat?”
I’m always really hard on myself and even though there are no potato chips, plain pasta, Snapple or chicken nuggets in my kitchen, the second my husband brings home ice cream or I have a coffee (which I’m trying to get away from) I feel sick, I feel guilty and I worry about my health. It’s really hard for me to have that balance of “slipping up” every once in a while and BEING OKAY WITH IT. No one is perfect. But I hold myself to that ridiculous standard by placing my health on the line. How often do you “break the rules”? When you do, do you swear it off ever again because of how physically yucky it makes you feel? How do you not go back to those patterns?
I know how you feel, once you decide to make changes in your diet it’s hard when you can’t always live up to those standards. To answer your question, we “break the rules” ALL THE TIME! I try to ensure that we only buy food to have at home that are the quality I believe is best, but we usually eat out as a family at least twice a week at normal restaurants, my kids go to lots of birthday parties where they eat whatever is served, and they are served snacks at school as well that consist of foods that we would not have at home. I try to eat at home or pack food to bring with us as much as possible, but I don’t make myself crazy about it. I guess for me I’m not worried that my health is going to suffer from an occasional break as long as the majority of my diet is good, and I think it helps me to not revert to old habits by not holding myself to an unreasonable standard. Does that make sense?