Friday, October 27, 2006

Simple ways to make healthy changes.

It’s Friday, I have so many things to write about that I can’t decide where to begin and I don’t have a lot of time. I’m going to reply to some of the things mentioned in my comments. (Please comment, it gives me an idea of what those reading would like to see on this site, and then I can be more helpful.)

Smoov tells me she needs more time and more make ahead recipes. Since I’m all about trying to make changing eating habits simple, I’ll try and give this a go.

First of all, have you seen this yet? Really go and look, I’ll wait. You need to see it. Did you see what was on the bottom? Water, that’s right, we are 90% water, and we need a lot of it to stay healthy. I’ve read some fascinating literature that speculates that many of our chronic degenerative diseases in North America may simply be the result of chronic dehydration and could be corrected if we drank enough water. When you consider all of the diuretics that we routinely consume in our culture, in coffee, tea, soft drinks, we are not only failing to hydrate ourselves when we drink mostly these kinds of beverages instead of water, we are actually adding to our level of dehydration. Even mild dehydration, loss of 1-2% body water can cause us to have poorer concentration, headaches, and be more irritable. It may also keep us from shedding unwanted fat cells according to one doctor.

So the first change we can all make, which is really simple and not time consuming at all, is to drink enough water. I have a very large, half-gallon, water bottle that I keep filled. I have a purifier on my tap so that it tastes better. Because I am pregnant my minimum requirement for water is 2 of these a day. I find it easiest to keep track of how much water I am drinking if I take this with me and make sure that I empty it twice daily. Another way to do it is to keep a pitcher in the fridge or on the counter and make sure you have drunk all of the water in it by the end of the day. Most people work, so taking the water bottle with you is the simplest I would think, or keeping a large bottle filled in your office and pouring glasses from it throughout the day. Make it your goal to empty that bottle or pitcher before you go to bed every day. The way to calculate your minimum water requirement is to drink half of your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 100lbs, you need 50 ounces of water each day. Every cup of coffee you drink or other diuretic beverage you need to add that much more water to you daily intake to replace what is lost. My kids each have their own water bottle, sport top to avoid spills, and they drink from them through out the day. When they complain that they are thirsty, I give them water. I try to get fun looking bottles so that they think it’s fun to drink from them.

A lot of what we need to do in order to follow the rest of the pyramid takes place at the grocery store.

The second level of the pyramid is fruits and vegetables. This is the kind of change that doesn’t take all that much time after you leave the grocery store. When you go shopping, make it a point to get enough produce to make at least 3 salads. Most of us go shopping at least twice a week so this is a good number because it keeps things from going bad. If you are in a real hurry you can get salads in a bag. Don’t get the white lettuce and cabbage mix; get something dark green, romaine, spinach (wash it before you use it and you’ll be fine) even Albertson’s has organic spring green salad mixes available. Get a good dressing or two. I really like the Annie’s Naturals, and they have lot’s of interesting flavors to choose from. If you want to save money and not buy convenience, just plan time when you come home from shopping to pre-wash and precut all of your vegetables, for the next three days. When dinnertime comes you can grab all of these things and throw them into a bowl and there you have salad.

A trick that has worked for us is to serve the salad as a first course. When my children are hungry they will eat vegetables, big plates full of spinach, and not complain about it. This works for me too. If I eat a plate full of salad first, when I still have room for food, I eat less of the main course, whatever it is, and I eat much more of what I ought to be eating that way.

One other thing that I have found helpful is to put out snacks when I start to prepare a meal. The time of day when I’m most likely to just grab things and put them in my mouth without thinking about it is if I am frantically preparing dinner. This is also the time of day when my children will attach themselves to my knees and cry and scream and get in the way and make us all frustrated. I keep a bag of organic baby cut carrots in the fridge at all times. I also keep broccoli and red peppers because those are the things my kids love to eat. I will start dinner prep by putting a bowl of vegetables on the table; I don’t need dip anymore because they don’t ask for it. This way they will snack on vegetables, which I don’t mind them filling up with before dinner, and I will do the same because it’s convenient, and we are getting even more of what we should be eating. Also, they disengage from my legs and I can be more efficient. I also keep dry roasted soy nuts on hand for snacking on throughout the day, or raw pumpkin seeds, or nuts. These are all full of healthy oils and nutrients and keep us going in between meals.

The one other level of that food pyramid is also something that you can take care of while shopping. Make a choice to purchase whole grain versions of your usual dinner starches, pasta, rice, bread, even yams instead of white potatoes, etc. and then when you go to make dinner, you have already done the main work of making that part of it healthier.

When you shop for meat, make it a point to purchase lean cuts of meat. Go for fish, chicken breast, lean ground beef, etc. This saves you needing to take the time to trim them when you are at home and preparing them.

Choose low fat dairy options also, milk, yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese. (Okay, I never buy low fat cheese, I just eat it in moderation because it really doesn’t taste all that good otherwise, but if you find yourself eating a lot of it a day go for low fat, or change your snacks to fruit, vegetables, and seeds.)

If you need to snack through out the day or your children do, purchase fruits and vegetables that lend themselves to snacking; apples, oranges, bananas, pears, broccoli, celery, carrots, cucumbers, mini tomatoes, etc.

While I know that I haven’t answered the “What do I make for dinner?” question, making these few changes while you shop and prepare food and snack you can improve your diet a lot. Adding what is good for you is usually a much easier beginning point than taking away what is bad.

Next week I will talk about dinner ideas and share some recipes.

Happy weekend.


mamaof2ms said...

I just wanted to say that I really love what you're doing with your blog. This post really got me thinking about ways I can present more healthful alternatives to my children. I look forward to reading your future posts.

one woman's treasures said...

Carrien, just wanted to say "thanks" for creating this healthy eating blog. I have made many healthy changes over the years, but I'm finding so many more tips here already. Love the pyramid. Oh yeah, this is Jen from NLV :) We miss your family!

Smoov said...

Oh I am totally looking forward to recipes!

The idea about putting out appetizers while cooking is awesome, that will work great for me, my twins love to eat and giving them something to eat while I cook will keep them busy.

I got those TLC crackers you mentioned. We replaced the boys' evening snack of Cheez It crackers with the TLC cheese crackers. They love them just as much, along with the TLC 7 grain crackers and hummus.

And I started making smoothies for breakfast which is quick and has been a bit hit with all three kids (my older daughter is picky).

Love the blog, keep at it!

jeena said...

Hi i love the blog, my family have started to eat healthy too and it's great! :)

visit jeena's kitchen healthy recipe blog

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