Friday, March 2, 2012

My Food Plan

This is for my niece, Whitney (and myself because I need a swift kick in the booty), and anyone else who might be interested.

I’ve mentioned before that about a year ago I realized how unhealthy I was.  Mind you, I wasn’t overweight (though heavier than I wanted to be) and most people would have probably looked at me and thought I was perfectly healthy.  Anthony was tipping the scale at his heaviest weight and wanted a change.  We relied heavily on processed crap to feed our family.  All of which was chock full of sugars, sodium, preservatives, MSG, and a whole bunch of other crap that I couldn’t pronounce.  

Together we decided to take on an eating plan that was completely foreign to us… CLEAN EATING! 

No processed foods (or as minimally processed as possible), no refined sugar (except maybe for a cheat meal once a week), no white flour… basically, if God gave it to us, we could eat it.  If it was made in a lab, it’s a no go.  Also, if my third or fourth grader can’t read it, I probably shouldn’t be eating it.

It was hard!  But eating that way along with later doing P90X helped us to really get in shape, lose the excess weight, and we both felt AMAZING!!  Anthony had a hard time in the beginning for about two weeks while his body was detoxing.  He had a lot of headaches during that time while he got used to being off of sugar.

We started the eating plan about a week before starting the P90X and during that week we both lost weight!  But neither of us ever felt hungry.  In fact, I felt like I was eating more than ever.  The difference was that I was eating the right things.  Since then, I’ve been majorly naughty and haven’t been eating (or exercising) the way that I should.  The processed foods (which are unfortunately so darn convenient ;)), the sugar, the sodium… they’ve all found their way back into my diet and I need to kick it to the curb.  Again!  The process has started.  We’ve already started P90X again but guess what, I haven’t lost a single ounce!  Why?  DIET!  I’m telling you, it is KEY!  Time to make some major changes…

I am going to list the changes we made to our diets that really helped.  Hopefully someone (myself) will find them helpful.

Whole Wheat Bread

  • Replace your beverages!  The only thing you should be drinking is water!  Make sure to drink half your body weight in ounces each day.  (i.e. if you weigh 150 lbs you should be drinking 75 oz. of water) Drink first thing in the morning and all throughout the day and WITH your meals.  You’ll be in the bathroom a lot.  It’s a good thing, I promise.  Drinking water helps you lose the excess water weight that your body might be holding onto.  Weird!  Water releases water.
  • Eat Breakfast, and make it a good one!  Sounds so simple, right?  You’ve always heard that it’s the most important meal of the day… BELIEVE IT!  What you feed your body first thing in the morning is what your brain has to feed on, too.  Anthony was never a breakfast eater until last year.  Now, he swears that it is one of the major reasons he has been able to lose the weight and keep it off.  Our bodies are in fasting mode all night while we sleep.  When we break that fast, it reminds our bodies that doesn’t need to go into starvation mode.  It knows that it will be fed and so it will let go of whatever it is you feed it that it doesn’t need.  When we skip breakfast, we’re telling our bodies to hold on to everything we give it when we finally do eat because it doesn’t know when it will be fed again. 
  • Replace your snacks!  Don’t reach for that bag of chips or that Twinkie sitting in the cupboard.  In fact, throw those out!  They are too tempting.  Instead, reach for a fruit or a vegetable.  Try and pair it with some kind of protein but remember, a snack is a snack.  Don’t eat a full meal here.  Ideally you would eat more vegetables than fruits but either one is better than those Ding Dongs…
  • Eat the right amount!  I honestly don’t believe in calorie counting but I do believe in portion sizes.  Make sure you are eating only a cup of oatmeal instead of a cup and half.  Measure your food, yes I’m serious!  My kids laugh at me because I literally measure my cereal if I decide to have it for a cheat meal or something.  I was surprised to learn that I was eating more than twice the recommended serving size before.  And cottage cheese… I can’t even eat a whole serving in one sitting.  Paired with something else and half a serving is just fine for me.  After a while, you’ll know what a cup or 3/4 of a cup looks like in your bowl and you won’t have to measure anymore. 
  • Eat five or six meals per day!  Do you think I’m crazy?  You really do need to eat this many meals in a day.  Otherwise, your body goes into that starvation mode I talked about before.  Trust me on this.  Every meal should include a carb (fruits and veggies count!) and a protein… oh, and water.  Eat until you’re satisfied, not full.  If you are full, you’ve eaten too much!  Your body will naturally be hungry again 2 or 3 hours after eating a meal.  That’s your body talking to you… listen to it!  It knows what it needs and when.  Here’s what a day’s meal plan might look like:
  • Breakfast (shortly after waking up)
  • Snack
  • Lunch
  • Snack
  • Dinner
  • Snack (only if hungry and not too soon before bed)
  • Eat LOTS and LOTS of fruits and vegetables!  A great way to make sure you’re getting enough fruits and veggies is to make green smoothies.  They’re very filling and obviously chock full of tons of good stuff!  Plus, they just taste good.  I like to use them as my lunch.  To make one, there is no real ‘recipe’.  Just throw a little bit of milk in the blender along with a little bit of yogurt (optional).  Throw in a handful or two of spinach (or other leafy green, but please don’t use iceberg lettuce… there’s no nutritional value to it at all!), a banana, and some frozen fruit (blueberries, strawberries, mangos, etc) and blend it all up!  I promise you won’t even know the greens are there except for the fact that the smoothie itself is green.  You can even throw in some protein powder (whey), flax seed, or chia seeds to up the fiber content.  Make as much or as little as you need.  I always make BIG batches because my kids LOVE green smoothies!  Also, eat whole grains (pasta, bread, cereal, etc)… none of this white flour crap! 
  • Implement a cheat meal or the 80/20 rule!  Everyone needs to feel like they can treat themselves to something delicious tasting but not so good for you, right?  Well, give yourself permission to eat one cheat meal per week.  It can be whatever you want from wherever you want and you should just enjoy it!  Just remember that once that meal is done, it’s done.  No more cheats for another week!  Either that or use the 80/20 rule.  This is the one that works best for me.  I try and eat ‘clean’ 80% of the time and 20% of the time can be whatever but with this rule I find that you have to still watch the portion sizes.  You don’t get an all-out ‘cheat’ like with the cheat meal.
  • Replace your sugars!  Refined white sugar and brown sugar are terrible, folks!  In a perfect world we would eliminate sugars altogether but who are we kidding?  We’re all a bunch of sweet tooths and that’s just not going to happen.  Instead, you need to replace the sugar you might put in your oats or whatever else with natural sugars.  Honey, real maple syrup (so much better than the fake stuff!), and agave nectar (buy raw) are our favorites.  Please, please, please don’t use manmade sugars.  No matter what they claim, they are NOT better for you than sugar, the end.
  • Know the good oils from the bad ones!  I’m not going to list an extensive list of oils here.  I’ll just tell you briefly what I know.  Vegetable oil is nasty!  Shortening is AWFUL!  Canola oil is questionable so we don’t use it.  Olive oil is AWESOME but not for cooking.  Use it for salad dressings and stuff like that where you don’t have to cook it.  It turns into a trans fat when heated too high… at least that’s the argument.  I tend to err on the side of caution on this one.  For cooking we like grapeseed oil and coconut oil.  And actually, heart healthy oils like the ones I’ve listed should be eaten daily.  One serving per day.  There are many other great oils out there.  These are the ones we use.

I hope this list helps someone.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.  I’m no expert, that’s for sure, but I’ve done a lot of research and I feel that I know quite a bit.  It’s worked for us and we felt better than we ever have before using this plan.  In an upcoming post, I’ll show what a menu might look like for me.  

And, in true Brooke fashion, in the coming days (as in tomorrow) I plan to post a whole bunch of sugary, delicious treat recipes!  Hypocrite?  Nah, just utilizing my 20% to it’s full potential.  That’s all :)

Oh wait!  One more thing, don’t forget to enter to win MyMemories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software


Evelyn said...

Hey Brooke! I love this post...and as a matter of fact, I do have some questions for you. First of all, I am the only one in my family willing to do this. My husband refuses to give up his coke, his pasta roni, etc, and big shock, the kids follow their dad's eating. So I wondered if you had a lot of fighting with family when you started this?

My second question do you budget for this? My family has a budget of $40/week for groceries (family of 4), and this includes non-food items as well (soap, lotion, vitamins, etc). I feel like I can't afford the real maple syrup and the agave nectar, you know? Any frugal hints/tips?
Thanks, you rock!!

Cari said...

You're not going to believe this, but I have a draft post of this exact thing- just been waiting to finish my road trip before delving into it. I am also doing the "clean eating" "real foods" whatever you want to call it lifestyle change. The most amazing thing for me was that my sugar cravings went completely away. I can look at all those yummy recipes on pinterest now and I'm not even tempted (before I would have eaten half an ikea chocolate bar while looking for the ingredients to make my fat filled concoction ;) The bountiful basket sure helps keep the costs down and so far I think I spend the same amount as I did before only now it's on better quality things (although my time in the kitchen increases a bit, I already cooked every night anyway so it's not a huge change). Great tips!

Brooke said...

Evelyn - this can defnitely be done even without the support of the family. I'm not going to lie and say it's easy, though. I was pretty lucky to have my husband completely on board (actually, he's better at it than I am) and the kids were all for it once I explained to them what processed foods are doing to their bodies and how different this way of eating would make them feel. There were definitely times that the two younger girls got upset because they didn't feel like we ever had anything to snack on in the house. We actually did, it just wasn't the junk food that they wanted. My oldest daughter, however, suffered from headaches before we started eating this way and the doctors could never explain why. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for them. Once we started eating real food, the headaches went away completely! She can tell now when she's had too much junk food and very much prefers eating this way. She feels a lot better!

As for doing this on a budget, that is the most frustrating part for me! I can't stand how much it costs to eat real foods as opposed to eating CRAP! It's maddening if you want to know the truth. The sad fact is, it truly is cheaper for a family to eat processed foods than it is to eat well. Sad :( However, I have found that eating this way has cost me less in some areas but more in others. Replacing sugar is definitely expensive. We used to go through the maple syrup pretty quickly because we would make whole wheat pancakes or waffles about twice a week. At $17 - $19 a bottle, we finally had to cut our pancake making drastically... seven people using the syrup makes it deplete quite fast. We do it about once a month now. Once in a while we still use the maple for our oatmeal (along with bananas and pecans) but we don't go through it nearly as fast. Agave can be expensive as well but we don't go through it quite as quickly as honey so I am ok with that purchase. It lasts quite a while at our house. We don't love it as much as we do the honey or maple. I mostly use it in baking. We use honey more than anything else but I know it can be quite costly as well.

I guess I would say that it depends on how quickly you would go through any of those items to know whether the cost would be worth it. With a budget like that, I would say maybe buy one at a time and see how quickly you go through it. If it lasts you a while, then you know it might be worth buying again when you run out because the expense won't hit you very often. I would imagine with a family of four you could make it last quite a while if you ration it properly (and if you make sure that YOU pour it for the kidlets... they have a tendency to pour WAY too much and then you're just mad because you spent all that money on wasted syrup!!) Costco is a great place to buy all these items. Of course they're bigger so they cost more up front but cost per ounce is less.

Also, try Bountiful Baskets for your fruits and veggies. You get a TON of produce for only $15 and you can do it weekly. Or less often if you prefer. I'm sure they have a pick up location near you. (Hopefully that link worked, I don't know for sure :-/ )

I hope this helps. I know I wasn't able to fully answer your question about budgeting and I'm so sorry. The truth is that this way of eating does cost more up front but i promise you'll feel better than ever! Once you get into the swing of things, the cost seems to less of a burden.

WOW, this reply kind of turned into a blog post in itself. Sorry about that!


Brooke said...

How funny! Great minds think alike ;) My sugar cravings went away, too. At least they DID when I started this whole thing but then I slipped back into my old ways and I am LOVING sugar again. That is why I need a booty kickin' right about now and I need to get my butt back in gear. *Sigh* I love Bountiful Baskets! They are awesome. So much food for little $. LOVE IT!
And yes, I agree that I am spending about the same amount as I did before but up front it was more. It was like I had bare cupboards and I had to stock up first before I could really start to eat well.

Evelyn said...

Thanks Brooke...your reply has made my day and helped a TON in motivating me!! I'm totally going to try this, and I'm excited to see how things work out!! You seriously are awesome to have taken time out of your busy day to help me out.:-)