A few years ago I was writing about our experiments with “Real Food“. Basically we were working on cutting out processed food and added sugars from our diets.
Why would we do such a thing? Well, E was having digestive problems, I was trying to improve my fitness and when it came right down to it we realized that we were eating a lot of processed junk.
Fast forward a couple years and add another baby and we’re back at square one.
I would say that we made some significant and lasting changes when we made our initial push to clean up our diets. There have been some things that have really stuck – like always buying the whole food – as in the full fat model. Homo milk, full fat yogurts, cheeses, etc. none of this “light” or “fat free” diet foods.
What we found was that by eating the proper amount of the full fat food we were still able to maintain healthy body weights and we stayed full longer.
I’m no dietitian or scientist, and I’m no expert. I am just speaking from our experience, and we have found eating the whole food has been that it takes less food to fill the void so we ultimately end up consuming less.
Now, let me be honest here. We are far less than perfect. In fact that is the whole point of my post. I’m figuring this all out for us again.
Adding another person to our family threw a huge curve ball to my whole meal planning/whole food/make it from scratch philosophy. I got busy, and I got lazy.
I was still making a lot of things from scratch – I always will. I love baking and if there’s any place I’m going to putter in my house it’s my kitchen. But we had also let a lot of convenience foods creep in. I think the biggest thing that I was finding was that we were eating a lot of “treats”.
All of a sudden we found that E was having digestive problems again and we were repeating our visits to Dr’s, paediatricians, & specialists to treat a problem we had already treated and we had hoped we had solved.
So, here I am again, examining our food, and trying to figure out what works for our family now. Making nutritious homemade meals is important to me, and my go-to sites haven’t changed. I still frequent 100 days of real food when I’m looking for great healthy recipes. I also adapt a lot of family recipes to suit our needs, and being an experimenter in the kitchen I often throw things in a pan and hope it turns out – this has varying degrees of success for me.
I have also recently found the Weelicious website and purchased her cookbook Weelicious Lunches which is an amazing resource because E can look through the book and pick what she wants. I have found that a lot of the recipes include items that you would have around the house without getting into too many odd items. This has really helped to get better foods into both kids, but especially E. At this point L will devour anything I put in front of her.
Ultimately everyone will define “real food” differently, so what I deem to be acceptable at my house may not be what you would choose to feed your family.
Here are the things I have learned about us, and how I define “real food” at my house:
- When buying a pre-made item I want the least amount of ingredients possible on the label. I also want to read and recognize all of those items – if I wouldn’t find it in my pantry I may reconsider my choice.
- I don’t buy any pre-packaged baked goods, and very few snack items, this is largely due to food allergies here but also because I find they have a lot of unnecessary sugars and dyes in them.
- I am not willing to spend the money to always buy organic produce. I would love to, but I’m not willing to break the bank on my grocery bill. Fruits and vegetables are the bulk of what we eat and I serve them with every meal. I always pick local produce first, and will buy organic if possible but for the most part local is good enough for me.
- We will never cut out all sugar, or maybe even most sugar. Ok, I get that refined sugars and added sugars (and many sugar additives) are bad. I work hard to minimize them.
- I don’t necessarily count a homemade baked good as a “treat”. I use sugar alternatives (honey, maple syrup etc.) on occasion, but I am going to continue to use white sugar in most recipe’s (like cookies). I think this is fine in moderation and a heck of a lot better than the store bought alternatives.
- I use margarine. I would prefer to use butter, and I tried using butter exclusively for a while but honestly I was spending like $70/month on butter alone just for all the baking that I do. CRAZY. So sorry but my baked goods most often have margarine in them. I am not willing to spend that much on butter and if I cut back on the baking that I do I find we spend a lot more at the grocery store.
All that said, this is a journey for us. Sometimes we do better than others. I do plan our meals so that I always know what’s for dinner making it easy to avoid eating out. We are still experimenting. I find that I am constantly tweaking and making changes to the way we eat, or I plan, or prep to accommodate the stage that our family is in NOW. What worked six months ago doesn’t necessarily work now and what’s working now isn’t necessarily going to work in 6 months.
Let me also say that this is something that we have decided as a family is a priority for us. It may not be a priority for you – THAT’S OK! It has taken me a lot of time and energy to figure these things out for us and they may not be things that you’re willing to spend your time and energy on. We all do the best that we can to serve our families and we all value different things.
So how bout you? Have you been changing things up in your diet recently? What worked and what didn’t? Was it easy? Hard? I’d love to know where you’re at and what you’re doing because sharing ideas is one of the best ways to learn!