Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Food Philosophy

Happy Tuesday, Everyone! I didn't have time to post much other than my weekly menu yesterday, but today, I am back in the swing of things. I would also just like to mention that my baby is 12 weeks old today! Can you believe it?

Anyway, back to the task at hand. Today, I thought I would share with you my philosophy on food. Weight and weight loss are such big issues in our nation, and it seems there is a new diet, a new drug, or a new surgery everywhere you turn. People are constantly trying the latest gimmick in an attempt to be healthy and lose weight. Yes, the gimmick usually works for awhile, but then you slip back into your old way of life, and the pounds start coming back.

I have been very active my whole life. I have always been involved in some sort of sport or physical activity for as long as I can remember. Because of this, health has always been important to me. I always wanted to be healthy, so I could do my best in whatever sport I was doing at the time. I was fortunate to be in a family that was (for the most part) pretty healthy. With a mom who is a nurse and a dad who is a physical education teacher, there was always somewhat of an emphasis on our health and well-being.

Through different events and experiences in my life, I have developed my own philosophy on eating well and being healthy. I too, have struggled with weight issues. No, I have never been overweight, but I have dealt with issues of my own. While I may eventually share more details of these issues, I am not ready to share them today (plus, it would be a really long post). Needless to say, whether your struggle is indulging too often, or depriving yourself of the food you need, many people constantly battle with food.

So, while I am NOT an expert (I do not have any fancy licenses, certifications, or degrees), I am going to share with you a few things I believe are important when it comes to your relationship with food. I think these are good guidelines for all people in all situations, regardless of shape or size.

  1. MODERATION is the key. I firmly believe this to be true in many areas of life, but especially when it comes to food. I try to maintain a healthy diet and to eat things I know are good for me most of the time. However, I do not deprive myself of the not-so-healthy things. I love sweets! I know different people have different weaknesses, and while yours might be potato chips or something else, mine is anything sweet. My meal just doesn't seem complete without something sweet at the end. Since I know this is an area where I struggle, I pay attention to it more closely. I allow myself to indulge my sweet moderation. Most of the time, a small piece of dark chocolate, one cookie, or even a piece of gum is all I need to satisfy my craving. Of course, there are times when I want a giant piece of cake or a slice of pie piled with whipped cream, and I allow myself these treats as well. However, I don't allow myself the "big" treats all the time, when I know a little treat will do. I pay attention to what I'm eating (cookie, pie, etc.), how much I'm eating (small piece or giant slice), and why I'm eating it (I'm really craving something sweet or I just had a bad day). When I take these things into consideration, I tend to be more responsible in the choices I make. Do I really want that dessert, or does it just look good? Am I still hungry, or am I eating in response to my emotions, or simply just because it's there? Would I be satisfied with just a small taste, or do I really want a whole piece? Thinking it through helps me make better decisions. If I choose to indulge, I enjoy every bit of what I'm eating...big or small. I take my time and really taste what I'm eating, so as to get the most satisfaction possible. So, I would say, don't ever completely deny yourself of anything. Focus on eating healthy the majority of the time and allow yourself the occassional treat, always keeping portion control in mind (no matter what you're eating).
  2. Along with moderation, you need VARIETY. Do you find yourself eating the same foods over and over again? It is essential to eat a wide variety of foods to get the nutrients our bodies need. While it is very easy to get stuck in a rut (I do it all the time), it is important to try to vary the foods we eat. I try to plan our meals each week so that we get a variety of proteins, vegetables, and yes, even carbs! We typically eat fruits with breakfast or lunch or as snacks. I also try to look at each meal to see if it has a variety of colors. Different colored foods meet different nutritional needs, so making sure you have a colorful plate can be very beneficial. Eating a variety of foods provides a nice nutritional balance, and in my opionion, makes eating more fun.
  3. Another important part of my food philosophy is eating foods in their MOST NATURAL, UNPROCESSED STATE. Yes, I eat processed foods. Not everything I eat is organic, all-natural, or even unprocessed. However, I prefer to cook my own food and to snack on whole foods rather than processed ones. Our bodies more easily absorb and digest unprocessed foods. We do not need all the additives and preservatives that have been added to most foods you buy at the store. Nor do we need the extra salt, sugar, and fats that a lot of processed foods typically contain. I know I cannot make everything my family eats; however, I try to make as much as I can. Boxed mixes and pre-made meals are all very convenient, but they are also very unneccessary. I can usually make the same thing myself, and it is typically healthier and cheaper. As I mentioned earlier, I also try to eat whole foods. Instead of eating a packaged snack, I eat fresh fruits or veggies. I try to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresh produce, meats, and dairy (when I can eat it) can be found. I also love going to the farmer's market! This is a great way to get locally grown, fresh, whole foods. It helps you eat healthier and helps to support our local economy. Theron and I even grew a few things in our garden last year and plan to grow even more this year. Nothing crazy...just tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, carrots, and herbs. This year we are thinking of adding sweet potatoes. It is such a great feeling to know exactly where your food came from and how it was grown. Like I said, I cannot (and would never try) to grow or make ALL the food we eat, and of course, I eat processed food just like the next guy. is all about moderation, balancing the processed foods you do eat with plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins.
  4. I think the most important part of my philosophy is simple...ENJOY FOOD. Don't obsess over food, but enjoy it. I mentioned this a little bit in my first point, but I really can't say it enough. Think about what you eat. Think about why you eat. Educate yourself on what is healthy and what is not. Read labels and know what is in your food. When you can, know where your food comes from. Know when you are hungry and know when you are not. So much of our eating is mindless. We are not enjoying our food...we are eating because it's "time" to eat, or because we're at a social event, or because we had a bad day. I think if people took time to really enjoy their food, they would actually eat less and feel more satisfied.
Again, I am NOT an expert. This is my opinion and what I have found works for me. I think these are good, guiding principles, but I don't think this is a comprehensive guide to eating. I would really just encourage you to educate yourself, think about what you eat, and find what works for you. I would also encourage you to include some sort of physical activity in your day (or at least in more days than not). No more diets or gimmicks, just a healthy way of living every day of your life!

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