For 15 days, we’re exploring the topic of making our health and well-being a priority as part of the 15 Days to a Healthier You series. You can read Day 1 here, Day 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 here, Day 5 here, Day 6 here, Day 7 here, Day 8 here, Day 9 here, Day 10 here, Day 11 here, and Day 12 here.
I’ve always eaten fairly healthfully, having grown up with a mom who valued healthy living and taught us to love whole grains, real butter, and big salads.
(Truth: we basically never bought white bread unless we were making croutons or feeding the ducks and I don’t recall a time we ever bought margarine. Yes, she was pretty hard core when it came to health!)
My husband wasn’t so keen on health food when we got married. In fact, he was more keen on McDonald’s and Vanilla Coke. 😉
During our lean law school years, I just did the best I could do with the small budget we had while also making sure the food I cooked was stuff Jesse would actually eat. We didn’t eat terribly unhealthy, but I knew it could be improved upon.
First, we eliminated artificial dyes. Next, it was corn syrup. Then, we stopped cooking with anything but olive oil, coconut oil, and butter. And then we stopped buying bleached flour and refined sugar.
This journey has been years in the making, but as we’ve made slow and steady changes, we’ve seen such positive improvement in so many areas in our lives.
And that’s not really surprising because food is your body’s fuel. If you’re mostly fueling yourself with donuts, candy bars, and carbonated beverages, there’s a good chance that’s contributing to you feeling tired, worn out, and lethargic.
We only get one body. There are no replacements. So it’s in our best interest — and in the best interest of everyone we love — for us to fuel that body well.
However, let me be quick to say that the last thing I am trying to do with this post is to make anyone feel stressed about how they are feeding their family or heap on mom-guilt. Trust me, we don’t eat anywhere near “perfectly” and that I find that it can be overwhelming to even figure out what is best for your family with all of the noise and chatter out there from so many different sources telling you that you should eat this and shouldn’t eat that.
With this in mind, if you’re I just want to encourage you to focus on three priorities when it comes to healthy eating:
1. Keep it simple.
Don’t stress over making your own kombucha, soaking your grains, growing all your vegetables, or driving miles away to get the “best” dairy for your family. If trying to eat healthfully feels overwhelming and stressful, it’s likely because you’re making it more complicated than it needs to be.
Keep it simple. Make one small change every month or two. Eliminate one item from your diet or switch out a healthier alternative (maybe eliminate food dyes or switch out white rice for brown rice or start using whole wheat pasta instead of pasta made with refined white flour, etc.)
Once you feel like that one small change has become part of your lifestyle, add another small change. And then another. And then another.
Over time, these babysteps will add up to a lot of progress and traction made!
2. Focus on YOUR family’s priorities.
What matters most to your family? Is it eating more whole grains or having more fruits and veggies in your diet or eating consistent meals or cooking from scratch?
Don’t worry about other families and what they are making a priority. Tune out a lot of the conflicting reports out there telling you that you MUST eat this or you MUST eliminate this from your diet.
Really think about what is best for you and your family. And then make a plan of action based upon that.
3. Prep ahead.
My biggest secret for actually eating healthfully 95% of the time is because I choose to make it a priority by planning and prepping ahead.
Here’s the thing: Life is likely always going to be full of responsibilities and to-do’s. Every day, we can come up with excuses for what we just can’t eat heathy today.
If you’re not willing to make something a priority, it will always fall to the bottom of the list and then probably not happen at all. Healthy eating happens when we choose to make it a priority and then we choose to plan ahead to have nourishing food options available.
I’ve found it helpful to make raw fruits and veggies really accessible. If I have a big bag of carrot sticks pre-washed and chopped in the fridge, fresh fruit already cut up, and eggs already hard-boiled, I have a lot fewer excuses for not grabbing a healthful snack or for not filling up on good foods at lunchtime instead of reaching for empty carbs and desserts.
My Personal Guidelines for Healthy Eating
A lot of people have been asking me what I’m eating now that I’m working out in earnest multiple times per week. Here are some of my own personal guidelines right now (please remember that these are my guidelines, not guidelines I think everyone should follow or adopt!):
1. Eat breakfast every day, early in the day. (I have a tendency to get busy and then it’s 10 a.m. and I’m starving… not good if you’ve been up since 5 a.m. and put in a strenuous 1+ hour workout.)
2. Eat smaller meals/snacks at least 5-6 times per day.
3. Eat when you are hungry. (i.e. If your body is telling you you need to eat, listen to it.)
4. Eat healthful foods at least 95% of the time. (I give myself a little wiggle room for splurges and cheat foods a few times per week.)
6. Eat a big salad every day.
7. Drink water. And more water.
Most importantly: I’m learning to re-define what “healthy weight” is for me. I used to let the number on the scale define me and how I felt about myself.
Weight-lifting has helped me realize that I feel happier and stronger and healthier when the number on the scale is higher than it once was. And it’s helped me feel liberated to realize that the number on the scale does not dictate or determine my worth.
You are more than a number.
Day 13 Project
1. Decide what your family’s priorities are for healthy eating and what areas you want to change or improve.
2. Pick one area that you’re going to focus on for the next 3-6 weeks. Remember to keep it simple and doable.
3. Leave a comment letting us know what area you’re committed to focus on for the next 3-6 weeks. You can do it! I’m cheering for you!
Looking for some more practical help?
- Want some hand-holding and inspiration? For the next few days only, you can get a HUGE Healthy Living Bundle (83 different incredible resources) for just $29.97!! Check out this incredible resource here! (And read about the ebook & courses I’m most interested in here.)
- Download this free printable veggie-eating tracker to help you be inspired to eat more veggies!
- Looking for a specific eating plan to follow? Check out Trim Healthy Mama or The Adrenal Reset Diet.
- If you’re wondering if it’s possible to eat healthfully on a budget, check out these two posts: Feeding Your Family Whole Foods on a Budget and How to Afford Real Food on a Budget.
- Two of my favorite healthy eating cookbooks are: 100 Days of Real Food & Chocolate Covered Katie.
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