Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Being Healthy

I mentioned recently that I've been attempting to modify our diet to eliminate harmful substances and be as healthy as we can stand to be. I've been thinking along these lines for awhile, but thanks to some posts by Laura over at HeavenlyHomemakers, I've been inspired to make more dramatic changes.

Some of her recommendations included avoiding the following: high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, artificial colors/dyes, MSG, and basically anything you read in the ingredient list that isn't real food. There are numerous websites out there with information about how these things are made and why they're destructive to your body.....needless to say, I'm convinced that she's right and that making good decisions about the food I put the bodies of myself and my family is imperative to our long term health.

Now, I've been pretty diligent about avoiding MSG for years, thanks to my mom, and in the past couple of years I've tried to avoid trans fats (except for needing Oreos for a cheesecake crust once in a great while), but those other things were completely off my radar.

Being aware makes food choices more complicated, I'm discovering. Nearly everything you buy in a box, bottle or package at the grocery store has one or more of those things in it. Almost all crackers, cookies, pre-packaged doughs, etc. have hydrogenated oils in them. Most cereals, peanut butter, ketchup, salad dressings, spaghetti sauces, and even ice cream have high fructose corn syrup polluting them. Many of those things have more than one bad ingredient.

My food shopping is taking a bit longer these days, as I scour ingredient lists for offending items and then look for reasonably priced alternatives. For all of those things I listed above, the only way you're gonna get them "pure" is to buy organic (or sometimes "all natural") or to make them yourself. No more canned spaghetti sauce for me. I can't make cereal, but I can at least make that!

My kids love cereal for breakfast, so I am continuing that for 1 day a week, but it must be a cereal with no that leaves us with few choices. Corn Chex and Cherrios seem to be okay, and of course the Kashi whole grain stuff, but only Grant will eat that.

Kinda funny how life comes full circle.....I remember vividly as a child being upset that my mom refused to let us buy/eat sugary cereal (ahhh, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, how I adore thee!) and thinking that when I became a mom, I would let my kids eat whatever cereal their little hearts desired. Now look at me. I won't even buy them Raisin Bran anymore.

One thing I'm really not wanting to give up is regular peanut butter. I grew up eating the all- natural stuff, and I do have a jar of it in my fridge, but I just hate the thought of giving up my soft, easily spreadable and incredibly smooth peanut butter. I don't know if I can do it.

And what are you supposed to use for a crust for cheesecake if you can't use graham crackers or vanilla wafers? Don't even suggest leaving the crust out....not an option. I Love crust.

All that to say, we're on a journey here. We're not remotely close to being the most healthy eaters out there, but I'm taking steps to make positive changes and hopefully create lifelong habits of good quality eating for my family.


  1. I'm glad to hear that you are on a quest to eat healthily. As you know, I have struggled with this for years. We do some good things, but I feel we still have way too much "junk" in our diets. I will be in this journey with you. There is a good, healthy cooking show shown here called "Christina Cooks". She shows lots of alternative ways to cook things. Maybe she has a way to get the healthy crust for cheese cake.

    I do believe we need to eat as much of our food raw as we can. Of course, that doesn't mean we have to drench everything in Ranch dressing. :)

    Don't give up on the real peanut butter. It is much better for you.

    There seem to be some lunch meats that don't have sodium nitrites in them now. That pleases me. I always tried to avoid that stuff, but it is hard to get away from it.

    Have you checked out the Hallelujah diet?
    I have books on healthy eating and have known about the Hallelujah diet for years. I could never get the nerve to jump in and do it, though.

    You and Sarah will have to have a cooking show teaching us how to have good, healthy recipes!!

  2. Best rule of thumb: Shop around the edges of grocery stores. Avoid (where possible) items that have "ingredients." In other words, buy vegetables, fruit, meat, milk, cheese, while avoiding stuff that comes in a box. (Another way of thinking of it: Buy food that spoils, not food that is so highly processed that it can sit on a shelf forever). Dip into the middle aisles to get occasional items like nuts and seeds, canned tomatoes, frozen broccoli.

    I'm not against "carbs" per se, especially the ones that come in fruits and vegetables. But I'm pretty convinced that processed grains and sugar are really bad for you. (Not that this stops me from eating ice cream).

  3. Jeremy,
    I have found that even before I started being more conscientious about what I buy, nearly everything in my cart was from the perimeter of the store. But I have to admit, I was surprised about the content of some of my regular the spaghetti sauce, cereal (though I have found a few that seem okay, though certainly not health food), jelly, and that sort of stuff. Even some whole wheat breads have high fructose corn syrup in them. Oh, and crackers. I knew they had objectionable stuff in them, but ya gotta have crackers in the house, right? Maybe I can find some decent ones at Trader Joes.

    I don't plan on cutting sugar out of our diets, although what we eat is primarily homemade stuff (except for ice cream) and does have whole grains in it. We try to not eat too much of it....we really want our kids to have healthy habits from childhood, but not feel so deprived that they go out and binge on junk when they're old enough.


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