Thoughts on health--Part II: healthy eating

Continuing my long thoughts from yesterday:

The real things I point to when people ask how I'm losing weight, getting in shape are:
1. nursing--you burn a ton of calories constantly feeding a baby every 3 hours around the clock. I'm always hungry and thirsty. (Okay, so nursing/burning calories/exercising)
2. healthy eating.
3. Lots of water.
4. Getting rid of dairy.

Well, actually, healthy eating and drinking lots of water go hand-in-hand. I make sure to fill up my 20 0z water bottle at least twice, in addition to all my other drinks with meals. Although if you look in our fridge for a drink you will be sadly disappointed. We have cow milk for Kevin (ew) almond and/or rice milk for me and the boys, one carton of OJ. A stray beer bottle and one wine bottle-unopened. Yes, that's it. We buy one carton of juice per week, and we only have a small cup/half cup at breakfast. Water the rest of the day, and some milk product in our cereal or with dinner. Juice and other drinks just add too many calories and sugar that is terrible for your body and teeth. Lemon wedges or a small spoonful of tea mix for taste will help drink more.

As for healthy eating, I was brought up with it. Tons of veggies and fruits, lean meats, etc. I had no problem loving eating all kinds of vegetables and fruits. During college I fell into eating fried foods later at night, or taking one of everything that the cafeteria offered that night.

Decreasing my portion sizes has helped. Simple trick? I use a smaller plate than Kevin does. (He needs more calories and wants to gain weight.) I use a salad plate most of the time so my plate looks full but it's still less than what I'd put on a bigger plate. I am still learning to stop eating even though I don't feel full yet. I like that just full feeling, not that "I'm going to burst" full feeling, but that "ahh, now I'm done" feeling. So, I'm retraining my body and my brain to stop when the portions are done and my plate is cleaned. I just love food so I would taste and graze all day. Grazing is fine, if done right. Small meals and snacks actually are better than 3 huge meals with long waiting in between.

When I began giving Kian solids I started using more vegetables than ever before because I wanted him to like them from the get-go. I've also experimented with a lot of different vegetables--baked sweet potato fries, avocados -now a staple in our house. They're great alone, as a dip, on sandwiches in place of cheese and mayo, and on tacos, etc. Snacks always include a fruit or veggie, and sometimes our lunch is just veggies.
Examples: Often we make a batch of hummus and eat that with cut up carrots, celery, peppers and cucumbers, and pita chips for lunch.
Another time we'll mix a chopped tomato (or can of diced) with a can of black beans, chopped avocado, cilantro, dash of salt and eat that with natural tortilla chips, and fruit.
Or else it's just a turkey sandwich with carrots, grapes, handful of pretzels, tortilla or pita chips. (You'll notice there are no potato chips in our house.)
Even dinners in our house can be just a big salad with chicken breast chunks in it, and some watermelon slices.

The other thing why Kian eats such a variety? I have never given him "kid meals". I don't believe in getting him something different than what I've made for dinner. Even Karter is eating what we eat. No reason for the adults to have one meal and the kids to have another that's deemed "kid-friendly". Doing that for so long will only make the child a pickier eater. Since he was about 2 years old the rule was he had to have a couple bites of it. He would say he didn't like something because he didn't know what it was. I won't throw away his plate and give him a PB&J sandwich. Nope. He's got to try 3 bites of it. And there is always at least 1-2 other things he likes on his plate and he can choose to fill up on those after he has his three bites. If he tries it and eats the rest of his meal then he can have a snack of his choosing. If he won't try it or doesn't eat enough of the fruit/veggies/meat, etc. then I will provide him a snack before bed that will fill in those gaps (ie. yogurt, apples with peanut butter, not the popsicle or ice cream or whatever he wants). Also, making a little game of it helps--he and Kevin will see who can put the most beans on their fork or eat this or that the quickest, etc.

Kevin has become very accepting of most vegetables and fruits I put in front of him, or in his food. He only ate like 3 vegetables when I met him (corn, carrots, broccoli) and a lot of processed foods, dinners from boxes, or out, etc. One thing I won't do is get prepackaged foods or dinners. Not frozen lasagna, I make it, etc. Boring granola bars are about the most packaged/processed type foods in our house. No boxes of mac and cheese, no pop-tarts, etc. All of those "easy" foods are full of crap, HFCS, unnecessary fillers, and none of them have real fruit. It does cost more to buy fresh or frozen fruits and veggies but relying on them in a bar or toaster pastry or juice that has only about 10% real fruit? Not going to cut it.

And I know there's lots of opinions about this, but since Karter's milk allergy last year, I haven't had dairy. (Well the occasional piece of pizza where I pull off most of the cheese, etc.) I love cheese, and that was my downfall. I could sit and eat half a block of cheese with crackers or apples and not think twice. Delicious yes, but full of fat. So for me, not having dairy has cut down on tons of calories and fat grams going into my body. I either replace it or don't and save a lot of calories. My face and skin have also broken out a lot less since not eating dairy, and I don't get that phlegm-y cough, or have as much asthma trouble since then either. Not one incident over the winter, when I usually have flare ups.

Another thing that jump-started my healthful eating was while at work we would do the Health Challenges sponsored by insurance companies, as teams. We had to eat a minimum of 5 cups/servings of fruits and veggies each day. The more the better, the more we ate the more points our team got. So that pushed me to really add more fruits and veggies in each meal and each day. I'd have those first and then go onto something else. I stick with that for snacks too, we have a banana or carrots with a spoonful of dip/dressing first and then maybe if you're still hungry a few pretzel sticks or dry cereal, etc.

Instead of just spaghetti, throw in some chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, peppers, cannelini beans, etc. in the sauce.
Berries and fruit in your pancake mix.
Salad isn't just lettuce, add as many veggies, fruit and nuts, seeds etc. as you can!
And beans, in the last year, I've fallen in love with beans, all types. Black beans are my favorite, but just adding beans to everything and anything will give it such a health boost by adding fiber and protein along with vitamins.
Beans to your meat in tacos.
Instead of one type of bean in my chili I add 3-4 cans of different beans.
Dried cranberries with some nuts is a more filling snack.
Eggs or oatmeal in the morning instead of sugary cereal. And that oatmeal should have berries/fruit in it, and your eggs should have peppers, mushrooms, etc. in it!
Wheat germ and probiotics get added to a lot of what I make as well.

Eating less processed foods, fresh foods, more fruits and vegetables, more water, all these things have helped me lose weight and feel great. That's what I like most, that I feel better, lighter, my stomach doesn't feel like I ate a rock. Exercising and healthy eating energize me now. And I'm imparting something now that will last my kids a lifetime, the benefits to me and my body, and them and their bodies will continue years from now. Eating right now at this meal, this minute is an investment into your future. You're making a deposit on your life, think of it that way, each donut, fried mozzarella stick, etc. is a withdrawal from your life/health account...

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