Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Revisiting Real Food

I realized the other day that I've been dragging. I've been so tired the last week, and while we've had a few nights that were short on sleep, I don't think that explains it. When I started thinking about how I'd been eating, that seemed a little more likely. I'd originally planned to give up processed foods 90 percent of the time in January, but when I realized how hard I was being on myself, I decided that was one of the unrealistic expectations that had to go. But now I'm thinking of giving it another try.

Processed food is easy. After all, most of the cooking is done for you. All you have to do is add liquid or heat or some combination of the two. There's a downside, though - there's not very much control over the ingredients, and they are often high in sugar and salt. Sugar's not bad in small amounts, and salt is an essential nutrient. But we get lots of naturally occurring sugar in fruits and other foods, so we don't really need to add it to everything we eat. Same with salt - it definitely makes food taste better and we need to eat some of it, but we don't need to add it to everything we eat. The recent obesity epidemic coincides with a steep increase in the consumption of processed foods with lots of sugar, salt, and corn, and there's no denying that people are gaining away despite an abundance of so-called health foods.

The most complicated aspect of this is scheduling. I love the idea of having the time to cook meals for the family, everyone making time for three meals a day, and always having the ingredients on hand to make a good meal. The reality has always been that I can make the meal, as long as I can rely on a handful of packaged ingredients. For example, I made fajitas last night, but I had to use taco seasoning since I don't have all the spices in my spice rack to make my own. I have more luck when I use older recipes, because they tend to call for fewer packaged ingredients, but there are some new recipes that have great real food ingredients.

I think I may have found a compromise. On the blog "100 Days of Real Food", the author, Lisa, has a 10 day challenge. Ten days sounds doable. I've made an effort to eat better at certain times in my life, so I know I will feel better when I'm trying to eat healthier food. Swearing off processed food 100 percent might not be possible, so I'll give myself a little wiggle room, but I'll try to make it as small as possible. When exactly this will happen is a little bit harder. I don't want to start something like this without a good plan, so it might be a few weeks - it might even be after Easter. I am going to try and start eating better right away, but we will probably eat through the food we do have for the most part before we make any drastic changes. If any of you have ever taken the real food challenge, though, I'd love to hear how it went! What did you eat? What did you miss most (so I can eat lots of it now - only sort of kidding) and what did you not end up missing? Do you have a favorite real food cookbook?

1 comment:

  1. I've tried to cut out processed foods forever for most of my adult life. Growing up, we were not allowed to have anything non-organic or junkie, so when I moved on my own at 18 for college, I was all WOOO! SODA! CHIPS! FAST FOOD! PARTY! Then it become a struggle. Shortly after our wedding, my husband was diagnosed with Celiac disease so our world was a little rocked, and we had to begin a gluten free lifestyle at home. That was really my ingredient eye-opener, and when I started preparing most everything from scratch at home (sauces, marinades, etc.). Of course, a couple of years later, I became a parent -- and who has the TIME to make things ahead of time anymore? 99% of the food we bring into our home IS organic (as someone with Celiac, the antibiotics in even premium non-organic meats and milks were making my husband sick -- and I just want my son to eat organic) and I try to devote as much time as possible on weekends to making things ahead of time -- like shredding my own cheese to store, or making my own breadcrumbs from actual bread and freezing them. There are times I slip up here and there, but it kind of falls into a routine at some point.

    I'm interested in reading more about the real food challenge you wrote about!