Tag Archive | Health

What I Learned This Year From my Goals

Today is the last day of 2014!  I figure I’ll close out the year by stating a few things I learned/observed as I focused on my goals this year.

Listening to my family:

1- First off, I learned that people definitely value being listened to!  I could tell this from the reactions from my kids and husband as I did (and sometimes didn’t) listen well to them.  But also from my sister who had to have her thyroid removed earlier this year.  So many people did kind things for her and her family to help out, but she told me more than once that what she appreciated (and still appreciates) the most is when people take the time to listen to her talk about what she is experiencing.

2- I also learned however, that listening can be very difficult thing to do,  It doesn’t seem like it should be, but it requires being in complete control of our thoughts which takes a lot of self discipline!  It also requires some selflessness to channel our thoughts in the direction of another person’s interest rather than our own.  I still feel like I am struggling so much with this, but I plan to keep on practicing…even into 2015!

3- The final thing I observed is that listening is so much easier when people are talking about something I am interested in.  So, while it is necessary to sometimes let people talk about something on their mind, even if I am not personally interested, often what a person wants is to just talk.  In these cases I have found that I can actively look for common ground with the person and have a conversation about that.  For example, at dinner I have learned that rather letting everyone talk randomly about what is on their minds (which often ends up being senseless giggling or joking, or worse – arguing), instead to suggest a specific topic such as, “Let’s go around the table and everyone tell what they were doing at 11:00 am.”  Everyone gets a turn to talk, (there is less giggling and arguing), and I get to listen to things that I genuinely want to know.

Taking Better Care of My Health

1- If I eat junk, I crave more junk.  If I eat good food, I crave more good food…and the desire for junk food decreases significantly.

2- It takes a fair amount of fore-thought combined with self-discipline to go to bed early enough for a good night’s sleep.  It doesn’t seem like it should be so hard.  I’m so tired by the end of the day, going to sleep ought to be the easiest thing in the world…but I have definitely learned that if I want it to happen as early as it should, I have to be very conscientious about it.

3- I also learned that my 5 yr-old is an excellent exercise instructor! 🙂  One day she was adamant that she did not want me to use the TV to play an exercise DVD, and informed me that she would teach me instead.  She really got me moving (and herself too)!  And it was a fun activity for both of us.

Time Management:

1- I learned that I do not like being constantly busy.  I’ve been battling this idea all year, because part of me feels if I am not busy then I am being idle.  But I’m starting to think that maybe there is a difference between being “still” and being “idle.”  I think the key is balance – I do like to be (and need to be) busy most of the time, but allowing myself to be still sometimes too is something that I think is really beneficial.

2- I also don’t like never-ending to do lists.  If I write down everything on my mind to do, the list is very long and impossible to finish!  I’ve written so many lists like this, and recently I just quit doing it.  Instead, I’m making lists of what absolutely has to be done right away.  All of the other stuff I’m just trying to do as the opportunity arises.

3- And, finally I learned that the Rule of 3 works for me!  After reading the book “Getting Results the Agile Way” by J.D. Meier earlier this year, I’ve discovered that his suggestion of grouping goals into 3’s is great.  Not only did I find it less complicated to have 3 goals for the year instead of 5, but I’ve found it helpful in other ways too.  For example on Fast Sunday I always have more than one thing or person I want to fast for, so I have found that choosing three things to focus on each time feels just right.  In fact, whenever I really need to focus, 3 often seems to be the right number of things to focus on.

So that’s it for 2014!  I think I learned some good things from my efforts…however imperfect they may have been.  Tomorrow will be a new year and a fresh start.  And I can’t wait to share my 2015 goals in the coming week or so!

What did you learn from your goals this past year?


Health(ier) Eating Boot Camp

A few days ago I decided to do (another) internet search on the topic of picky eaters.  I still like the book I’ve read about the subject, and haven’t taken it back to the library yet; but I was feeling like I needed a little more perspective.  Since I’ve searched this topic many times before (without finding much that was helpful to me personally), I was surprised to come across an article that I felt was actually very insightful.  It is found on the “Real Simple Magazine” website and was written by a mom who decided to put her family through a “picky eater boot camp.”  She created five simple rules and established a time frame of two weeks.  Then she recorded the experience as she went along.  My absolute favorite part of her article is the end where she describes what her family dinners are like after the experience.  This is what she wrote (click here to read the full article):

“That was just the beginning. These days, the kids are voracious and zealous omnivores…oh, who are we kidding? They still interrogate me every time we order cheese pizza. Bryn remains offended by kids’ menus. Dash hasn’t eaten another black bean. (And I occasionally still serve him chicken nuggets. So sue me.) Still, I consider the boot camp successful.

“Our dinner rules—we’ve kept all of them, except glamorizing vegetables—have helped the kids understand what’s expected, which has meant fewer tantrums. Each one now tries food when it’s offered. Plus, they’ve discovered a couple of dishes they’ll both eat (the quesadillas and the turkey burgers). This may not sound like much, but it increases our repertoire about 300 percent.

“What’s more, I’ve changed: I’m more relaxed, even when the kids refuse to eat. Yes, I care that they have a varied and healthy diet, but I’m learning not to be so invested in every bite. And that means I can spend more time enjoying the people at my dinner table—and less time worrying what’s on it.”

Don’t you just love that?  I do.

So I’m setting up a boot camp for us too.  Mine, however is not just focused on dinner but on all 3 meals plus the afternoon snack because, for us dinner-time is not really the problem.  I have, since before they were born, been pretty good at preparing a balanced meal each night and everyone has to eat a little bit of everything.  But what has happened to us is that I have been letting them have the foods they like at breakfast, lunch, and snack (out of laziness on my part).  So, they just eat a small dinner and get the rest of their calories during the day.  The result has been a diet that is heavy on carbs and processed foods and low on fruits and vegetables.  And I want to turn this around…or at the very least get them used to seeing more fruits and vegetables so that they realize they really are an important part of each meal.

Below is my meal plan for this week.  I planned it as close to the guidelines from the USDA as I could.  But it’s not perfect…and it does have some processed, not-so-healthy additions.  My intent was to create a well-balanced menu, but at the same time to not overwhelm my kids with too many meals they don’t like.  I’m pretty proud of it; it took awhile to do, but I think if I keep practicing that I can get better and quicker at doing this.

Meal Plan 1

click on the image to enlarge

My plan is to do just like the author of the magazine article and keep a journal of how it goes this week right here on the blog.  I may not be able to share everything because I don’t want to embarrass anyone in my family, but I’ll try to share what I’m experiencing and learning the best that I can.  I also am going to adopt her rules (because they are simple and I like them).  My hope is that I can improve things around here, but also that my experience may be helpful to someone else who is struggling too!

(Note:  most of the breakfast and snack ideas in the above menu came from here and here.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this subject, so feel free to share in the comments below!

The What, Why, and How of Improving My Family’s Eating Habits

The excitement over my new book about helping picky eaters has definitely worn off.  Now that I have read it 100% and re-read certain parts, the reality of the work and effort that will be required to improve my family’s eating habits is sinking in.  *Sigh*

My son made a statement the other night that really made me think.  He has read a little of the book, and was asking me a question about it.  As I explained my answer, I asked him if he was agreeing with what I was saying.  His response was, “I guess so…but I still don’t understand why I need to change.”  He wasn’t saying this to complain or be defiant; he was simply speaking the truth.  I explained it the best that I could to him, but I’ve been thinking a lot about his statement, and have been challenging myself to clarify not only the “why”  but also the “what” and the “how” in my own mind.

So of course I wanted to share! 🙂

What I am trying to change:

Basically I want our family to eat closer to the USDA recommended amounts for each food group.  I was able to look up the daily recommendations for each one of my kids here.  (Please note that these numbers are for my own kids based on their height and weight.  It may be slightly different for other children even if they are the same age.)

Serving sizes

To put it a little more simply, I am hoping to increase my kids’ consumption (and variety) of fruits and vegetables, and also healthy foods like salmon.  I would also like to decrease their consumption of refined grains, highly processed grains (i.e. sugary cereal), and junk food.

Why I am trying to change this:

This is where I answer my son’s question.  I guess the most obvious answer is for good health.  But I actually get a little bit of push-back from my family members when I site this as the only reason, because we have all been very blessed to be pretty healthy over the years.

But I have other reasons too.  For one thing, I see it as an investment in my children’s future.  When I left home after High School, I knew how to cook some basic things, and I could follow a recipe pretty well.  But looking back, I didn’t really know how to put together very many simple, healthy meals other than a sandwich and some fruit to go with it.  I was pretty picky too, and so when I shopped, I passed by a lot of the fresh fruits and vegetables and instead bought the canned and packaged stuff.  It has taken me a long time to get to a place where I understand the basics, but now that I do, I can teach this information to my kids.  Of course, it will be their choice as to how they use what they know, but at least they will know it.

I also think that even though we all seem healthy, I personally can tell a difference in how I feel when I eat junk verses the good stuff.  If I can get more of the good stuff into my kids, I think they will notice it too, and then want to eat more of it based on that.  I have a friend that told me once that to her it is like fuel for a car.  The better quality fuel you use, the better the car will run.  Our bodies are like that too.

Another reason is that it will relieve a lot of stress and guilt that I feel.  When I serve meals that I know are not good, I always feel guilty.  But I just tell myself that it’s better than nothing, or that I’ll do better later, or I just push that feeling away.  But I know that on the days I eat well, not only do I feel better physically, but I feel better emotionally because there is no guilt.  Feelings of guilt can really weigh a person down!

And finally, I just simply value taking care of my body and my children.  Our bodies are a gift from a loving Heavenly Father, and taking care of them is a good way to say “thank you” for that gift!  My kids are also a gift from Him, and teaching them take care of themselves shows that I value them too.

How I am planning to change:

I think that simple changes are the way to go.  I’ve already tried to implement several of the things I’ve learned from Dr. Kennedy’s book, but I’m having trouble being consistent.  This has caused me to feel a bit overwhelmed.  So I’m taking a step back and am planning to implement just a little bit at a time.  The current plan is to work on each meal individually, starting with breakfast.  Every meal brings it’s own unique set of dynamics and challenges to making it healthy, so that’s why I’m choosing to approach it this way.

What reasons do you have for healthy choices (or changes) you’ve made in your life?

Help for {the Mom of} the Picky Eater

There has been a certain amount of buzz at my house, surrounding a book that I brought home from the library the other day.  It was laying on the floor next to me as I read my girls stories the other night.  When we finished, my older daughter and I both reached for it at the same time!  I told her selfishly that, “I get to read it first, then you can look at it,” to which she responded, “but I really want to look at it now!”

Later, after the dishes were (mostly) done, and my youngest was (mostly) settled into bed, I grabbed my book, and settled into our most comfortable chair to read.  But what did I find?  Someone was peering over my shoulder, trying to read it too!  It was my son – I was patient with his “over-the-shoulder” reading for about one minute, then I shooed him away.  But just as I did, in popped my daughter again, trying to get a look at this book!

I know you are dying to know what this amazing book is that everyone at my house is so anxious to read!!  You are probably thinking that if it’s generating this much excitement you’ll just have to rush out and get a copy for your own young readers (ahem, and yourself)!  But if you are thinking this, you should know that the excitement for the young ones is short-lived.  They really don’t want to read it; they just want to look at a few pages so that they can know what I’m up to.  Because, you see – this book is about helping parents feed their picky eaters.  And who are the picky eaters in my household??  You guessed it!  The two that were trying so hard to read my book!  (Along the youngest one who was {mostly} settled into bed).

Their intense interest stemmed from the realization of what my reading this book could mean for them.  My daughter said, “What is it, a book about how to get us to eat yucky food?” and later she asked, “What does it say, eat tomatoes 500x’s and then you will like them?” and then to be extra funny, she added, “and give a marshmallow after each one?”  My son, on the other hand was more interested in seeing my answers to the quiz questions that are in the book.  He wanted to know what I was saying about him!

So, no – don’t rush out and buy this book expecting your young ones to sit down and read it.  But I have to say that I’m pretty excited about it for myself.  The “picky-eater” situation has been by far one of the most emotional struggles that I’ve had as a parent.  I feel like I’m a decent cook, and make pretty good food, but to have people sit down to dinner night after night with anxiety and stress about being asked to eat it is so frustrating for me!!  I’ve been trying (and have made some good progress) to help them eat more variety.  But we are far from where I feel we need to be.

Since I just barely brought the book home, all I’ve been able to do so far is read about 3/4 of it…I haven’t actually tried anything that the author is suggesting.  But I have to say that I love what I’m reading.  The stuff this author is saying matches perfectly with my own way of thinking about both food and parenting.  But she has been able to take those beliefs and put them into a concrete system of rules and consequences combined with an understanding of the child’s needs, that I think will work!  With all the research I’ve done on eating healthy and helping the picky eater, this is the first time I’ve read anything that I think will actually help me!  I’m so excited.

And, I plan to keep everyone posted.  Even if I decide it’s not helpful after all, I’ll definitely let everyone know.  I’ll most likely include this in my “simple changes” series that I’ve been writing, because the author recommends making the changes slowly as to not overwhelm everyone.  She even uses the phrase!  On pg. 92 she says, “You and your family can focus on making one simple change a month to turn everyone’s unhealthy eating habits around slowly and without drama.

So, what’s the name of this very awesome book?  It is called, “The Picky Eating Solution” by Deborah Kennedy, Ph.D.  She also has a website which I honestly have not looked at, but thought I would mention.  As a side note, I have not received any compensation for telling about her book or website, and as I said before I cannot at this point vouch for the effectiveness of her methods.  But I am super excited to try out her rules and other suggestions to see if they help my family!

Simple Changes: Exercise First Thing in the Morning

Recently I have been making very simple changes in the way I approach my day.  I haven’t been actively trying to do this, but the time just seems to be right for it.  First I discovered one thing I could do differently, then another and another.  I feel like I’m on a role!  Yea!  The original plan was to write one post briefly describing them all; but I like to explain details so much that I decided a post on each one would be better.  So be on the look-out over the next few weeks for my “Simple Changes” series!  

The first change I’ve made is to exercise first thing in the morning after my family leaves for school and work.  I know that this seems like an obvious time to choose exercise, but for me the choice has not always been so clear.  Those first moments of the day are “prime real estate” for me in the context of time.  My energy is up, my motivation is at it’s best, and anything that I assign to this spot is very likely to get done.  As the day progresses, however, my energy starts to drop, I start getting pulled into various directions making it harder to focus on one task, and it can be difficult to stay internally motivated as well.  The challenge for me has always been that there are so many things that practically beg to be placed in that prime spot of “first thing in the morning.”  You may remember my efforts to do the dishes first a few months ago – that’s only one example, and I could easily think of at least 10 more.

But for now, exercise has won that spot – and it has been great!  Here are the benefits:

1.  It actually happens.  One thing that I’ve noticed with many of my chores that “should” be done early, is that I will still get them done sometime even if I put them off a bit.  For example, the kitchen — If I don’t clean the kitchen early, then eventually I will start running out of clean dishes to use and space to prepare food.  The pressure of this will demand that I get the kitchen cleaned before too much time goes by.  Maybe the kitchen isn’t as neat and clutter-free throughout the day as it could be, but days and weeks will not pass without it happening at all.  Exercise, on the other hand is one thing that does not have such an immediate and stressful consequence if it doesn’t happen.  If I put if off, then I can easily go days and weeks without doing it.  So a big advantage to scheduling it first in the day is that I make sure that it happens.

2.  I get to start my day with something I like to do.  I actually enjoy exercising, which is why it’s so crazy that I haven’t been doing it consistently.  After spending an hour packing lunches (which I don’t enjoy), and putting out fires (i.e. “Mom, I can’t find my library book!”), and otherwise making sure the kids are ready to catch the bus on time — it’s nice to do something that is not only productive, but enjoyable too.

Actually, the “exercise instructors” on my DVD’s say it much better than I can.  For example, Chrissy Carter will say, “It’s hard to think about your ‘To Do’ list when you are balancing on one leg.”  And Leslie Sansone will say, “Don’t worry about the dishes in the sink!  You know what I always say, just ‘walk away’ from those dishes in the sink!”  It makes me smile to hear things like this when I’m exercising, because they are both so right!  It is a good thing to take a break from the demands of every day chores in order to take better care of my own health.

I’m glad to be exercising consistently again.  It feels good to move, stretch, and to get stronger!  Summer is quickly approaching, which means my family will be taking trips that will most likely require a fair amount of walking.  I’ll certainly be glad then for the time I’m spending now!

When is your best time of day to exercise?


My 2014 Goals – Defined in Greater Detail

When I posted my 2014 goals in January I did not define them in any great detail.  This was partly because I was afraid that doing so would lead to failure of the goal (by setting the expectations higher than I would reach), and partly because I didn’t exactly know what the details were.  I had a vague idea, and certainly could have stated something, but I felt it was best to state them as simply as possible.

It has now been 3 months since I first set these my goals for this year – one quarter of the way through – and I am thrilled at the progress I’m making!  It’s not that I have so much to show for it (or even to tell), but I feel much more clarity about what I’m trying to accomplish and much more confident that I can achieve what I had initially hoped.

So, I decided to take the next step, and define in greater detail what I would like to accomplish with each goal.  In saying this, I don’t intend that I will reach perfection – or even do everything that is written below.  But this is my vision of what I would want to accomplish if there were absolutely no obstacles to hinder me.  In reality, I will feel successful (and happy!) if I achieve somewhere between where I was on Jan 1 and what I have listed below.  {See this post for more about my feelings of success vs. failure with goals}.

1.  Take better care of my health.

  • Sleep
    • Go to bed early enough to get 8 hours of sleep.
    • Get up early even when I don’t have to (D&C 88:124).
  • Exercise
    • Ideally every day except Sunday, but more realistically 3 or 4 times per week.
  • Proper diet
    • Eat a more balanced diet.
    • Focus on lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
    • Drink 6 – 8 cups of water each day.
  • Emotional Health
    • This one is harder to pinpoint, but I guess for me it would be to strive to be calm and have faith when I might normally feel anxious, and strive to be cheerful and optimistic (see #4) instead of letting myself get down about things.
  • Other
    • Take medicine and vitamins as have been instructed by my doctor.
    • Schedule appropriate medical checkups.

2.  Manage my time better

  • Procrastinate less.
  • Be a little more organized in my approach to my work.
  • I also like this idea (from Following His Path blog) of striving to be more intentional in what I choose to do each day (this is a great article – definitely worth clicking the link and reading!).

3.  Declutter my home and get organized!!  Here is a list of what’s on my mind:

  • What I’ve done so far
    • I put rack dividers in my daughter’s closet to divide different types of clothes and make it easier to see what she has vs. what she needs of each item.
    • I cleaned up the space by my telephone, taking out plastic drawers and replacing them with nicer looking paper-board drawers.
    • I decluttered the top of refrigerator.
    • I decluttered a few items from my attic and donated them to the Relief Society for a “Swap Shop” they held).
    • I changed the toys in my girls room – threw some away, put others in the attic, and brought different ones down from attic.
    • I changed some things in the kitchen cabinet which I use to store notebooks and note cards.  I’m still working on this to make it a little nicer, but it’s a lot better already.  (I’d really like to make it look a little more like this.)
    • I created a home for Library Books – this has been much needed!
  • What I still would like to do
    • Put away all loose papers lying about.
    • Declutter the top of the entertainment center in my Living Room (which tends to be a dumping ground for stuff we want to put out of the 4 yr-old’s reach!).
    • Create a central home for items we need during “Family Home Evening” in the Living Room.
    • Add “rack dividers” to the other closets.
    • My bedroom (which tends to be a dumping ground for every homeless item!).
    • My bathrooms (both!) – I love these stacking drawers underneath the sink as shown at everydayorganizing.com blog.
    • Under my kitchen sink.
    • The shelf in my laundry closet.
    • Clothing (do a better job of keeping up on removing out-grown or worn-out clothing and replacing with the right size or new items).
    • Photos (a big project!).
    • Food storage (I just recently came across this blog which has lots of good, practical information about building food storage).
    • And, of course there’s always the garage, shed, and attic – but I’m cringing even at the thought!
    • Also, create better habits (myself and my kids) of putting things away right away, so there is less mess in the first place.

4.  “Be of good cheer” more!

  • Smile more – even when I answer the telephone (I had a boss once that used to tell me to smile when I answered the telephone.  It actually did make a difference in the way I sounded!).
  • Strive to be optimistic in difficult circumstances.
  • Strive to “see the good in everything” (click here for “Explore Newness” blog Thursday Thought – I actually printed out her picture to tape to my kitchen cabinet to remind me!).
  • Count my blessings often (a major reason I write “Thankful Thursday” posts!).

5.  Listen to my family better.

  • Look at people when they are talking to me (as much as possible).
  • Try to understand and be respectful of their point of view (even if I don’t agree).
  • Answer them promptly when they ask a question.
  • Say things that let them know I’m listening.

So, this is my vision for my goals.   If you have goals, or things you’re working on, what would complete success look like to you?

My Thoughts on “Real Food”

I knew when I started my blog that I was going to at some point write about “Real Food,” but up until now, I’ve still been trying to decide in my own mind exactly how I feel about it.   The concept was a major part of my life for about 2 years.  During that time I felt very strongly that this was the best way for me to eat, as well as the simplest (because I wouldn’t have to count anything).  I had some personal health stuff going on too, and was absolutely convinced that if I could just eat “real” then I would feel better, and also be able to stop taking a certain medicine every day.

After two years of it, I’m now convinced that this is not right for me.  I’m still trying to eat healthy, but I’m choosing a slightly different way of going about it now.

How it all began

It all began with a simple quote from Ezra Taft Benson.  I was feeling a bit of depression when my oldest two children were small, and decided to look on lds.org to see what has been said about that by my church leaders.  I found a talk given once by President Benson where he listed 12 things which help people avoid and overcome discouragement and depression.  Number 5 on the list is to take care of our health.  This is what he said,

“The condition of the physical body can affect the spirit. That’s why the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom. He also said that we should retire to our beds early and arise early (see D&C 88:124), that we should not run faster than we have strength (see D&C 10:4), and that we should use moderation in all good things. In general, the more food we eat in its natural state and the less it is refined without additives, the healthier it will be for us. Food can affect the mind, and deficiencies in certain elements in the body can promote mental depression. A good physical examination periodically is a safeguard and may spot problems that can be remedied. Rest and physical exercise are essential, and a walk in the fresh air can refresh the spirit. Wholesome recreation is part of our religion, and a change of pace is necessary, and even its anticipation can lift the spirit.”

I read this several years before everyone started talking about “real food,” but for whatever reason, his statement about eating food “in its natural state” really jumped out at me.  I decided that I wanted to do this, but gave up very quickly because I couldn’t see how to go about it.  A few years later, I came across an article in a magazine telling about the website “100daysofrealfood.com.”  Because the name matched up to my vision of what President Benson had said, I immediately wanted to look at the site.

What I found was a family who had taken a similar idea and created several rules to help them accomplish the goal.  They committed to live this way for 100 days, and shared their journey on their blog.  They also were actively encouraging others to take the challenge and eat by their rules for 10 days.  It was all very fascinating to me, and I was thrilled at the idea of having a resource to look to, which would help me do what I had wanted to a few years earlier.

But there was a problem; I didn’t agree with all of the rules.  When I initially pictured eating food “in its natural state,” I didn’t picture never eating white sugar or white flour, or only eating grass-fed beef that is locally raised.  And so I had a two edged sword so to speak – on the one hand, I felt like I needed some help and guidance (and here was someone willing and ready to offer it!), but on the other hand, I wasn’t convinced that everything being promoted was what I needed to do.

What I decided to do, was to push (some) of my hesitancy to the side, and jump onto the “real food” bandwagon.  I figured it couldn’t hurt to try, right?

The obstacles

But there were so many obstacles.

For one thing, my husband never liked the idea to begin with.  He felt like, “why should he do something just because someone suggests it on their blog?”  But I pushed him on it and pretty much just begged for him to support me.  And, so he did – as best as he was able to.

But as time went on I realized that his efforts to support me couldn’t change the fact that he didn’t like a lot of the food.  My kids are pretty picky eaters, so I’m used to them not liking a lot of what I cook.  But my husband, for most of our marriage, has liked almost everything I’ve made.  This changed when I started making everything (i.e. pancakes, biscuits, pizza dough) whole wheat and devoid of any white sugar.  Also, his sandwiches that I pack for his lunch didn’t work well on the bread machine’s whole wheat bread.

Once, I made banana bread using the whole wheat, slightly honey sweetened recipe that I found on the site.  I thought it was good (though not very sweet), but I felt badly when I served it to him.  He could smell it when he arrived home from work and was really excited to eat some (especially since I rarely bake anything).  So, I served him a piece, and I could see the disappointment as soon as he took a bite.  I felt like I had just played a really mean trick on him!

Some other obstacles that I had to face were that I had to make everything from scratch, and I don’t like baking.  None of my friends and extended family around me eat this way, so I started to feel a bit like an outsider.  I stopped wanting to go on day-trips with my family, because I didn’t know what to eat while I was out (and didn’t always want to pack something to take along).  I stopped enjoying going out to eat with friends because I felt guilty about what I was eating, or stress about trying to choose the most “real” option instead of just ordering what I wanted.  Also, I never wanted to make anything for other people because a lot of times they wouldn’t like it.

It was not fun for me!

My Doctor’s perspective

I mentioned earlier that I was trying to not have to take a certain medicine, and so I showed the rules to my doctor.  His response was that it is a very healthy way to eat, but not realistic for a busy mom with three growing children.  He said the funniest thing – that the food from McDonald’s and other Fast Food is pure junk, but that my kids were going to want me to take them there, and that I should take them.  His suggestion was to simply eat less of it, and bring something healthy along to supplement.

I should also mention that he had this same conversation with me at two different appointments 1 year apart from each other.  At the second one he said, “I seem to remember telling you last time that I didn’t think this was realistic.”  Then he explained his point of view all over again.  The year prior, obviously I had not listened to him, but this time I did.  Well, sort of.

My break-away from “Real Food”

Actually what I did was abandon real food, and almost all forms of healthy eating – which was not what he meant either.

After trying so hard, and it not working, I just gave up for awhile.  I was tired of cooking and baking, and of every single thing I wanted to eat being cumbersome in some way.  And I was tired of people not liking my food.  So, I started to just buy what was easy, and what I knew they would like – processed convenient food, with a fruit or vegetable to the side to ease my conscience.

But it doesn’t take a food scientist (or a real foodie!) to figure out that this is not good.  So, that’s how taking better care of my health ended up as one of my 2014 goals – and the goal extends to my family as well.

For me “real food” seems a little like the people in the Book of Mormon who were said to be “looking beyond the mark.”  On the surface, the plan looks a lot like my church’s word of wisdom, and President Benson’s statement of good health.  But there are things added to it that make it more difficult to reach than I think the Lord ever intended for me.  Also, my intense focus on this one thing could keep me from doing other things that I need to do like playing with my kids or serving others.

Also, one thing that stands out to me for sure is the statement that “Food can affect the mind, and deficiencies in certain elements in the body can promote mental depression.”  So many people talk about chemicals in our food.  But here, the focus is not on the harmful nature of the additives, but rather the lack of nutrients.  I think a focus on eating foods with lots of good nutrients will automatically serve to decrease the number of additives (including sugar) as well.

My current food philosophy

I’m learning about myself that in everything I do, I need a loose structure.  If there’s too much, it is difficult for me to follow through; too little and I flounder completely.  I’ve talked a lot on this blog about following the USDA’s guidelines, and I continue to feel that this is the best “measuring stick” for me personally to use in creating a healthy meal or snack.  I try to follow (loosely) the recommended servings for each food group during the day and this seems to help me a lot.  And I’m thrilled to be buying my whole wheat bread products from the store, as opposed to making everything from scratch.

I also like Andrea Dekker’s simplified approach to meal preparation and her “semi-homemade” philosophy, which she talks about throughout her blog.  Here is one good article she wrote about  avoiding meal planning burnout.

My doctor’s “eat less” philosophy has been been very helpful when eating Fast Food.  Ever since he said that to me, I’ve scaled down from eating a Whopper to a Whopper Jr. at Burger King, and from a Big Mac to either a salad with no meat or to a basic hamburger at McDonald’s.  I buy fries for all of us to share instead of individual orders for each person, and have been considering replacing them altogether with a mango smoothies (although I haven’t yet checked what the price difference would be if I did that).  As the weather warms, we’ll start going on family day trips again, and I plan bring healthy snacks along to supplement – just like he suggested.

And finally, I’m finding it super helpful to eat lots of small meals and snacks during the day, which keeps the energy up and that heavy feeling from having a big meal down.

Final thoughts

My main purpose in writing this post was to clarify my own thoughts, and also to share my experience with others who may have similar struggles with eating “real food” as I have.  I get the feeling from stuff that I’ve read that there are a lot of people feeling stress and pressure in trying to make it work.  I know this post is longer than most, but I wanted to be sure I explained myself well.  If this is helpful to anyone, then that makes me really happy.  Just writing it all down has been super helpful to me!