I have not always eaten the way I do now. Minus the last 3 1/2 years, I’ve spent almost my entire life losing and gaining weight over and over again. I went through times of eating almost nothing, times of eating whatever I wanted, and times of eating what I thought was a healthy diet. I just never seemed to be able to keep the weight off and find a healthy balance with food. I was most unhealthy during my college and young adult years. My highest weight during those years was about 35 pounds more than I weigh now.
Fast forward to almost four years ago. This was about a year after I had my second son and decided to quit working to stay home with my two boys. We needed to save money and I decided it was time I learned how to cook at home so we weren’t relying on eating out so much. I started cooking more, though it was mostly out of boxes and I was still using heavily processed foods in my meals. I honestly knew nothing about cooking home cooked meals that didn’t come from a box. I started looking for recipes online and in cookbooks. I started stepping out of my comfort zone by trying new things. But still, at this point, I thought healthy meant low-fat, fat-free, Lean Cuisine type meals.
And then something happened. It was probably late 2012. I was looking for a homemade bread recipe and I stumbled upon the website 100 Days of Real Food. I started reading about this family and their journey. I was totally sucked in and completely interested in this “real food” thing. She mentioned the book In Defense of Food and being curious, I decided to get it from the library. I am so glad that I did because that book changed my entire outlook on food. I began to realize that the foods we were eating (think packaged and heavily processed) were made and designed to make you eat more, completely devoid of nutrients, and quite frankly pretty much made in a science laboratory. Even the so-called “health” foods were just junk food packaged in such a way to make you think they could help you lose weight or be healthier.
After this I began to care less about the fat and calorie content and more about the ingredients. This was a HUGE learning curve for me because I knew nothing about eating this way. I slowly started getting rid of many of our packaged foods and replacing them with fresh fruits and vegetables and started cooking from scratch. I began to enjoy cooking and felt great about making healthier choices. I starting reading a lot of books and blogs about eating real food and cooking. My Christmas and birthday lists changed from clothes and pedicures to kitchen utensils and appliances. I made a real commitment to changing our habits for good. As these changes were occurring, I began to lose weight and I realized for the fist time in my life I was more concerned about being healthy than being thin. That change in focus is what helped me lose the weight and I have now kept it off for several years.
Before we began making changes I wouldn’t have thought of eating avocados, bell peppers, onions, garlic, homemade salad dressings, brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, quinoa and on and on. I hadn’t spent enough time trying and cooking these things to even know if I would like them. Cooking and eating at home has opened up a whole new world for me. I’m so happy to be offering my kids healthy foods at a young age so they will learn to love some of them too.
Where do my husband and kids stand? My husband is very supportive and eats whatever I make. He definitely sees the benefits and believes in the importance of eating right. But if given the choice, he is still going to pick the chicken fried steak and burgers and fries over a healthier choice. Thankfully he is happy eating most of his meals at home so he doesn’t have to make that choice often. My kids have been a work in progress. It has been painful at times. They were used to eating what people think of as “kid food” for most of their meals before we started eating better. Since my younger son was 1 when we started switching our diet over to real food he is much more open to trying new things. My older son has come a LONG way and I’m so proud of all the things he will eat now that he wouldn’t eat before.
Now that I’ve said all that you should know that I still love junk food on occasion and I have a major sweet tooth that I battle daily. The reason I chose the name Real Food – Real Family is because we are a real family living in the real world. Is it possible or desirable to eat right 100% of the time? Of course not. We just try to maintain a balance where the majority of the food we eat and choices we make are healthy.
Let me make a note about exercise. I have always been active. In high school I swam and was on the drill team and I’ve almost always belonged to some sort of gym. I can honestly say that I do love to exercise. But here’s the thing, I was exercising a lot even when I was 30-35 pounds heavier than I am now. The type of exercise I do now has changed a bit but I wouldn’t say I exercise a lot more now than I did then. The lesson here is this…you can’t out exercise a bad diet. Being active is an important part of living a healthy life. But you have to do it alongside making healthy food choices.
My hope is that through this blog I can help or inspire others to make small changes to better their health. Those small changes add up over time and you never know, you might just come to love cooking and eating healthy foods!