On Eating Well

On Eating Well

I never gave much thought to meal planning before I met Micah. My favorite food up to that point was ramen, which I prepared several different ways and ate several times a week. I added fruits and vegetable to my “meals” as well, usually in the form of a stick of celery or an apple. When Micah and I started dating we started to cook together. Ramen dropped from my diet pretty quickly once I realized how much I enjoyed preparing real food and since then we have tried to make as much of our food as we can.

Since we’ve been doing that I have become much more aware of the ingredients lists on packaged food. I wonder what companies add to make their bread so moist or their dressing so tasty and I’m often dismayed to find things like “high fructose corn syrup” or “modified food starch” on the list. It makes me feel like I am eating food that has been manufactured or processed rather than baked or cooked.

This has become an even greater concern to me as we have added Simon to our family and I am even more aware of what we are giving him to eat. I feel the burden of trying to keep my family healthy and to appreciate the food that Heavenly Father has given us. While we lived in Hawaii, it was sometimes difficult to buy very much fresh produce because it is so expensive.(Although I did have a friend who didn’t mind paying $6 for 4 tomatoes because, as she said, “I’m worth it.”) Produce is much more affordable on the mainland and I have been trying to get a variety of fresh produce every week and to continue to make as much of our food myself as I can.

As you probably have realized, I like to read the news. I am often drawn to the health section, and especially to stories about food. Yesterday I read this story about how groups are trying to come up with systems of how to tell consumers how healthy foods are. I don’t know what to make of it. I want to believe that by doing my research and making as much of our food as possible, I can feel like I am in charge of what our family is eating. But it bothers me that eating well is becoming so confused. There are organic options and heart healthy options and Atkins and South Beach and whatever else. I still feel good about choosing “real” foods rather than “food products” and eating fresh and making our food.

But I’m wondering how others of you go about eating well. Do you have a salad with every meal? Do you ration desserts? Do you only eat organic? Do you raise chickens in your backyard? And why? Please tell me your philosophies.

13 thoughts on “On Eating Well

  1. YAY! I’m the first to comment!
    I know we don’t know eachother Lizzie but, I am thinking about the same things recently. I guess it comes with adding kiddos to the family. I try to get organic. I want to have as few chemicals as possible. I try to limit the sugar that comes into the house and when we get a real house, I would like to garden. Self-reliance and general health lead me to “real” foods. (Like veggies and fruits.) Also, we try to cut back on the amount of meat we consume. I think that’s a big part of the Word of Wisdom that people forget. We don’t need a ton of meat all the time…

  2. I’m still trying to figure this one out myself, especially since the baby eats what we eat now… and you’re right, it does seem like eating well is becoming confused. I’m looking forward to hearing what other people comment on this.

  3. Growing up, my mom always had salads with every dinner. I haven’t really kept that since I got married, because Carlos doesn’t really like salads, but I try to make salads for me. The problem I have with buying fresh produce is that it goes bad before I use it all, because usually I’m the only one eating it. But next year we plan to start a garden, and so if I’m growing my own food, I won’t feel so bad if I don’t use it all. I’ve also been trying to take smaller portions at meals and drink more water throughout the day, because a lot of the time when I reach for a snack, I’m really just thirsty, not hungry.

  4. I eat a lot of cold cereal for three reasons:

    1. It’s easy to prepare.

    2. They usually add a lot of sugar, so it tastes pretty good.

    3. They fortify it with so many nutrients that you can get a full day’s supply of 12 essential vitamins and minerals with only four or five bowls. (Or one bowl if your cereal happens to be Total.)

    Actually, truth be told, I eat cold cereal for only the first two reasons. I just added the third because it sounded good and because the post I’m commenting on was about nutrition.

    So, in answer to your question, my food selection philosophy is based on two criteria: ease of preparation and sugar content. I hope this is helpful even though I know it is not.

  5. Dan and I have been trying to be good about this too. It’s amazing that even in fiber bars and things that are supposed to be good for you there’s high fructose corn syrup. You’re right, it’s really hard to know what’s good for you. We’re doing just about the same things you are. We try to make all our meals from scratch and eat lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. I think the first step is to identify what’s bad in the ingredients and then try to stay away from those. Sorry, that wasn’t much help.

  6. I have to admit, the food selection in the Cannon and the vending machines is not too healthy (which is where I have been getting most of my food), but lately I have been thinking about what I eat and what is healthy for me. The problem is, as you said, it’s so confusing, so pretty much I don’t know what I’m doing. 😉 Good luck though!

  7. Sorry for my long comment, but this is a topic I get excited about. =) I’m not always very good at this, but I like to keep fruits and vegetables on hand that don’t need any preparation–snack fruits, I call them. I’ve also learned to cook mainly since I got married, and I’ve discovered a lot of wonderful, fresh foods I hadn’t tried before. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see Jane sneak over when I open the fridge and pull out a bag of carrots or an apple. I’m also working on making dessert out of fruit–from real dessert dishes to treating the fruit in itself as a treat after dinner. Another goal is to raise her with whole grains as the norm–if that’s what she’s used to, it won’t seem strange. Pasta is especially easy to change over. Finally, I share my love of fresh food whenever I can–we like going to fresh produce and farmer’s markets together. With the next baby, I will try to give him more vegetables when he’s tiny–that’s what Brad’s uncle did with most of their kids and they have always been good vegetable eaters. As with anything, I think they key is balance–we shouldn’t deprive ourselves or our kids of foods we enjoy, but there are plenty of nutritious foods that we can enjoy in addition to the sweeter things–like chocolate.

  8. From my point of view the three most important things that I try to work on are eating more fibrous foods, which means less simple carbs and sugar too, and eating more veggies, and definitely taking a good supplement because it’s practically impossible to get everything you need in everyday.
    I try to do simple things like cut up raw veggies to eat as snacks and throw in when I’m cooking stuff. Substitute for whole wheat when I can. I try to eat whole grain cereals and taking the supplement and exercising. This is just what I do.

  9. Call me crazy, but I’m the old-fashioned type that works from the food pyramid. Fads come and go, but that thing has been taught since I was a kid, and I’ve learned from dietitians when we were on WIC that it’s still the model for healthy eating, so that’s what we do. We do eat primarily whole-grain breads, but other than that, nothing special.

    We obviously have to make some modifications with Conan’s diet, but I’ve learned that a whole grain and a legume make one complete protein (hmmm… any wonder why providentliving.org is now recommending that as the staple for long-term storage?). And we pretty much substitute soy products for the dairy group, but other than that, that’s the model we try to follow.

  10. I love the diet in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I’ve never felt better than when I follow it, even when I’m not pregnant. We make Wes’ babyfood from farmers market, homegrown and store bought produce and I think when he starts eating meat and drinking milk that we might go organic.

  11. We don’t buy prepared foods and avoid anything in a can – or in the frozen aisle (besides occasional ben and jerrys!)- as much as possible. Fresh fruits and veggies. Frozen red grapes or bananas make a nice treat and snack as the freeze brings out the natural sugars. Steaming of the veggies is easy and keeps a lot of the nutrients, and you can add a splash of flavor by tossing in a little spice here an there. Moderate on the red meat. If you don’t mind vegetarian, there is a lot of good in adding nuts (ie. cashews) to a dish rather than meat. Tofu is an excellent addition to the diet as is soy. Organic as much as possible but especially milk and tomatoes. Local farmers markets or local outdoor produce places (we have several here) make fresh and healthy eating cheaper and fresher and add to the health of the local economy. We don’t keep a lot of “snacky” food around the house and no sweets – less temptation. But we don’t feel bad if we make a yummy dessert on occasion because we rarely eat sweets! I am also into using real butter and the most whole versions of things (not fat free, less fat, etc.) We also use olive oil more than others. Sometimes substitute oil in baking with applesauce. I think it’s all about making it a habit, and then it’s not hard at all. My mom was really into healthy eating and growing up in Oregon it’s kinda what most people do. Also, my twin sister has Celiac Disease which makes healthy eating not just something to try to do, but something mandatory to her health and survival! Sorry this is so long! And even though we eat healthy, we definitely indulge in treats from time to time!

  12. ps- to relate this to the little people of the house: most kids love bits of fruit and you can easily mash up steamed veggies to make your own baby food!

  13. Jon, I think you need to get a woman.

    I really enjoy hearing what other people do, so thanks for indulging me.

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