Whether I talk to people, read articles, watch TV, or see magazine covers I see someone's version of healthy eating. But they can often be so different. Some say low fat is the way to go, or carb free, high fat, count calories, take lots of supplements, low protein, high protein. So what exactly is the healthy thing to do?
I've come up with a view on healthy eating that works for me. I've also seen that the drive to eat healthy can lead to obsession and be out of balance at times, at least that is my opinion. After reading a lot over the years, trying many different things I came to the conclusion that while food and what we eat does need our attention and thought, it should not be what rules our lives. We need balance. I strive to eat a well rounded healthy diet. But last week hubs and I went away for a few days and we enjoyed a lot of different foods that would not normally be on my list. The week before my daughter and I took the kids to the science museum and then I treated everyone to Wendy's burgers and fries afterwards. It was fun and made memories. I don't eat like that on a normal day to day basis and this, to me, is called balance.
As the years have gone by I've changed the way I cook a bit. But it's just called adjustment as my family has grown and moved on I no longer need to cook like I did and have found what works for me.
Here are my current healthy eating guidelines that I try to follow for me and hubby....
Lots of fresh fruit and fresh veggies: we both eat a lot fruit and salads (full of fresh veggies) are an almost daily part of our diet
Good quality healthy fats: I only use 3 types of fat. Butter, coconut oil and olive oil. I do not believe, from my research, that a low fat diet is healthy. Our bodies need fat to function properly. I'm not talking the complete reverse and eating a high fat diet.. all things in moderation and balance.
Protein (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese): I think a moderate amount of protein in the diet is best. By that I mean I personally aim for about 60 grams a day. If protein is lacking I have found I will get hungry sooner after a meal, I crave sugar, and I just have that empty “I'm craving something but don't know what” type of feeling. When I get adequate protein in my day I don't have those issues.
Carbs: carbs are bread, grains, cereals, potatoes, sugars, etc. While I'm not low carb, I will more often than not bypass a lot of them at meals. I eat small amounts of carbs because, well, they're good!! Ha, ha.. but if I make the above foods my focus when I eat I rarely have a lot of desire for 'carby' foods. Because of that I don't really stress if they are whole grains or not.
Water: Water, water, water!! Drinking water is so important! I drink 6 to 8 cups of water a day. I've found the easiest way for me to make sure I get my water in each day is to carry it around with me. I always have it by my side reminding me that I need to take another sip. I have several 16oz bottles that I keep filled up and in the fridge. So they are always handy to grab and drink.
And finally I like to think of the following foods as power packed nutrition that more and more I like to make a point of adding to my daily diet.
Bone broth: Bone broth is so healthy! The minerals added to my diet by drinking a cup of broth each day are amazing. I have felt the difference in many areas.
Cultured dairy: I'm not much of a milk drinker. It's not that I have an issue with milk, I just don't have a big desire for it. But give me some homemade feta cheese and I'm all over it! :) And the whey I get from making cheese has become like gold to me. I use it in smoothies, add it to my drinking water, make lemonade with it. Yogurt and kefir are also good cultured dairy products. I think homemade gives the best quality of cultures. All those good cultures really go a long way to promote good gut health. So many issues nowadays could be vastly helped with improving gut health.
Fermented Foods: I've recently started making them again. I use to make them regularly but I got side tracked on many things (and this was one of them) as I was launching all my kids into the world. A small amount of fermented food in the diet each days does wonders for gut health (those healthy probiotics again!) and provides digestive enzymes to help keep our digestive system functioning at its best.
As I've been working to incorporate these foods into our diet I've found a nice little system that seems to be working. Once every 2 weeks I make a batch of chicken stock in my crockpot and make a batch of feta cheese. A big jar of fermented food (such as sauerkraut) will last us 3 to 4 weeks and I'll be putting that into the rotation now. None of these things takes a lot of time to make. If I have it in my plans and on a schedule I find it easier to make it a regular part of our diet.
In the end finding a workable balance for eating a healthy diet is the key. It should be a part of our lifestyle to keep our bodies fit and give us the energy we need to accomplish daily life.