Monday, January 31, 2011

My food revolution

Happy Tuesday!!!!

I'm at home today with a sick little lady so I thought I'd work on this post while she is sleeping. I wanted to begin this blog by sharing with you some of the things that I did to get myself healthy again. Getting healthy (for me) involved a few different things like, changing my eating habits, finding a fun/maintainable exercise routine, and implementing a complete lifestyle change. These turned out to be the cornerstones of my new outlook on life. Today I wanted to talk about how I changed my eating habits. I'm not professing to be an expert, I just wanted to share what worked for me.

Step One: Acknowledging a problem
About five(ish) years ago I took the first steps towards taking back some control with my eating habits. I have always been slender and carried my weight well but after my second daughter turned one, I began to notice that my body wasn't "how I remembered it" and my energy was almost non existent. I wasn't overweight, I was out of shape. Obviously the first year after you have a baby is crazy and the first year after your second is beyond crazy, so when I finally had a chance to start focusing on myself again, I began to realize that I had let my health spin out of control. I wasn't too sure how I let that happen but I was pretty damn sure that I wasn't going to let it continue. Then, the next thing I knew 2 years had passed!?!? I had done absolutely nothing to change my life and I was really confused because I had already realized there was a problem and I thought I was taking action to fix it. Upon closer examination I discovered I was making excuses for myself and truthfully I was quite happy to not go to the gym and to make fast convenient processed food for dinner because "I was a mother of two who was going to school and working full time". I was using my life as an excuse rather than using life as an excuse to live. By this point I was really ready to start taking responsibility for my actions and my decisions. I was finally ready to do this for myself as well as my family.

Step two: Determining the problem
I have been cooking for my family for about twenty years. We lost my mother when I young so I started cooking to help my dad and I absolutely fell in love with it. I love creating something for others to enjoy, it really makes me happy. So for about fifteen years I had been following the same simple blueprint for dinners; some form of meat, a side of veggies, and a starch. Sounds pretty good right? I mean you are covering all food groups so what was the problem? After reading a few new books (clean eating, the 100 mile challenge, and eating raw) and consulting my favourite source, cook books(ones that included nutritional information for the recipes), I determined that it wasn't the blueprint that was the issue but it was what I was cooking that was the culprit.

Step Three: Deconstructing our meals
As I said before, I always tried to include three things at each meal, a protein, a starch, and vegetables. I sat down and wrote out a weeks worth of meals and went through each one to figure out what I was actually putting in my body.

There wasn't too much wrong with the veggie portion of our meals other than the fact that they weren't near large enough. We were opting for larger portions of the starch and in turn taking less and less veggies.

Solution: Add more veggies!
Now about 1/2-3/4 of my plate is vegetables for all meals except breakfast when it's actually about 3/4 veggies (more about that later)!!!

When I was young this would almost always be some form of potato, mashed, baked, scalloped, etc. When I started cooking for my own family and had less time this turned into "Minute Rice", pasta salads, "Sidekicks", instant potatoes, etc. Most of these only required me to add a few ingredients so they were quick and my family loved them. Turns out I fell for the marketing of these suckers because there is absolutely NO NATURAL NUTRITIONAL VALUE in any of those products. This was sort of an A-Ha moment because there is clearly nothing good in those packaged foods yet I was still buying them and feeding them to my family, telling myself that we were eating healthy. I think because I was making the majority of my dinner from scratch instead of going to a drive-thru or making KD I was convincing myself that we were healthy. But again, this was just an excuse.

Solution: Cut out as many packaged components of a meal as you can
This might seem a bit extreme but I have a very addictive personalty and I have always approached things with a "go big or go home" attitude. This took a bit of effort and commitment from my family but I had two things going for me on this one #1. I do the shopping and #2. I make the food!! I started using wild rice, couscous, tabouleh, etc as sides for our meals and sometimes I would even sub in a bean salad. I also downsized the portion from 1/3-1/2 of a cup to about 1/4-1/5 of a cup.

I was cooking wonderful main dishes for my family but I was using the wrong ingredients for flavour and using the wrong cuts of meat.

Solution: Bring everything back to basics
I started to use really simple seasonings such as fresh herbs and/or juices from lemons limes and other fresh fruits. I started experimenting with different types of fat such as high quality olive oil and/or coconut oil. I also started trying different cooking methods such as poaching, steaming, grilling, etc. Then I started buying the best cuts of meat I could afford and started eating fish (mostly salmon) for 5-6 meals a week. This wasn't too hard or expensive because I was saving a ton of money by not buying packaged food and as it turned out my family loved fished as much as I did!!!

Step four: Sticking with it
I'm not going to lie, this took some effort. My body had become addicted to processed foods and refined sugar and it was not happy that it wasn't getting what it thought it needed. But we stuck with it and supported each other. We weren't deprived by any means (how could we be while eating fantastic fresh produce and flavourful new dishes!) we were just going through some withdrawal symptoms Those symptoms turned into huge motivation for me because I sort of became resentful of the fact that the food companies had me so hooked on what they wanted me to have. I was actually displaying physical symptoms by not eating their "food".

Another huge motivation for me was rediscovering my love of cooking. During the preverbal "grind" of "Tuesday Spaghetti Night" and "Taco Wednesday" I lost my passion for cooking. It became more of a chore rather than a joy and I lost my connection with the food I was preparing. Getting back the roots/basics of cooking gave me a fresh new perspective on my beloved hobby.

Recap of the steps that helped me to change my eating habits:
1. I acknowledged the problem.
2. I determined what the problem was.
3. I solved the problem.
4. I stuck with the solutions I implemented.

So when people ask me if I'm on a diet I always answer with "Sort of, but it's really just common sense." Food is fuel and we should treat it as such. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't create or enjoy amazing delicious dishes. It just means that we should think about what we are putting into our bodies (all components of our meals and snacks) and recognize that fresh should always be the goal. Food shouldn't be prepped, cooked, and on the table in 5 minutes unless you are cooking leftovers or eating raw ;) By realizing that there is nothing healthy or natural about food that comes out of a box/container and removing them from our diet, I began my own personal food revolution.

Have a beautiful day everyone and thanks for stopping by! :)

Peace and Love,
Lady Stardust

Monday, January 24, 2011

Well here I am. Now what?!?!

I decided to start this "project" after being SO inspired by the many blogs and bloggers that I currently follow. I love blogs and I found myself sort of addicted to them over this past year. I think it's great how I can read about a single mom's journey to make things happen for her kids and then peruse some interesting gluten free recipes on a health blog. I love reading fashion blogs and looking at wonderful creative photography blogs. I love following travel blogs and finding great deals on frugal blogs. I LOVE BLOGS!!

I am definitely not an interesting person but being a young mother I do have a different perspective then most of my friends and recently they have been contacting me about various things I post on Facebook. I've been contacted about recipes and cooking, things I do with my daughters, what I wear and where I get clothes from, what my exercise regime consists of, etc. After almost everything I post someone sends me a message with a question or comment and I love that interaction with people. So, after setting lofty goals for myself this year I thought blogging about my experiences would be a great next step. It's a HUGE next step for me because as you can tell I am definitely not well written and finding time will absolutely be a challenge, but I don’t care! I promise that my ramblings will have good intentions and I’ll try to improve as I go. I’m not sure I have a niche yet but I hope this blog will start as a glorious potpourri and find its way into something all its own............even if it's just for me :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Peace and Love