Friday, February 4, 2011

Why, oh why am I doing this??

Why have we chosen to stop eating grains and legumes and sugar, and reduce our dairy consumption for the month of February? I have to keep reminding myself that there are only 28 days in February, we haven't necessarily chosen to change our eating habits forever.

Right now, just a few days in I cannot believe I would tell myself no to a small handful of chocolate chips. Saying "no" to chocolate has certainly been the most difficult thing for me about this entire thing, so far. One batch of brownies each week, or even every 2 weeks, couldn't be that bad, right?

But the truth is that we'd gotten to the point where we ate a sweet snack (cookies, brownies, etc.) twice a day. I'd often sneak in a few extras here and there, if no one else was in the kitchen. So I was eating sweets as a large portion of my daily diet. Not particularly nutritious!

For quite some time I would have to eat every 2-3 hours all the time or else feel all shaky and trembly. Like, I can't go from breakfast to lunch without eating, from lunch to dinner.

I had become a slave to food, in particular sweets. In truth, it was getting out of hand. I don't want to raise children to have eating habits like that. So things were getting pretty unhealthy, and in my house, I do all the grocery shopping, and all the cooking, and if we eat out, it's only because I wanted to. In short, I came to the realization that I pretty much control what my family puts in their mouths. Do I want to provide empty-calories or nutritive foods? Do I want to raise my children to not give much thought to the food they eat, or impart to them healthy eating habits?

Well, I think every parent wants to feed their children healthy, nutritious meals, and for them to grow up with healthful habits. But the problem is that children learn by watching their parents. My daughter pretty much only wants to drink chocolate milk, because that's the only way her daddy will drink milk. She also has become a candy her mother. It's just very difficult for my husband and I as adults to change our eating habits - because we're used to eating the way we've always eaten. For instance, how do you have soup without crackers?? Well, we adults can realize that crackers have very little nutritional value, and therefore leave them out! And if we leave them out, our children will not automatically associate crackers with soups. So we're changing the cycle, choosing only foods that are obviously beneficial. Not that crackers once in a while are necessarily harmful for a healthy digestive system.....but they certainly don't have much nutritive substance to them.

Anyway....enough rambling. Here is a short summary of the benefits I'm expecting us to reap from this February Food Challenge:

  • Gain a greater awareness of what food choices we are making
  • Learn to only eat when I'm actually hungry - I've read that this type of diet (diet meaning the food we eat, not some faddish weight loss program) can help reduce hunger pangs - without the addictive power of carbohydrates (which to the body are really just sugars)
  • Retrain my tastebuds to recognize natural sweetness. I clearly remember a couple of summers ago my sister being horrified that I was putting sugar on grocery store strawberries. I told her they were tart compared to the ones we grew at home....but the truth is, we put sugar on the homegrown ones as well.
  • Give our bodies a chance for optimum health. If we choose to only put beneficial foods into it, it won't have to work as hard to remove the harmful things: sugars, phytates, enzyme-inhibitors...and it won't have to work as hard in digestion.
  • Taking on a relatively short, 28 day timeframe empowers us to make significant dietary changes without feeling "trapped" into forever. It will give me time to re-evaluate what to put on the grocery shopping list, and what to leave off. And with a 28 day time period we're well on our way to forming a new habit in our food choices!
  • Greater energy levels - not wanting to just lay on the couch, because I just ate a heavy meal that makes me sleepy.
I may add to this list as time goes on. If it's true that "you are what you eat" then there are in truth many more good reasons to keep a watchful eye on what's on your plate, in your pantry, in your grocery shopping cart. And please notice that I didn't place on my list a desire to lose weight. In general, I'm pleased with my body. I'm strong enough to do the things I need to do, and I fit in my clothes, and my husband thinks I'm pretty good-lookin' - that's all I need. I am not doing this to lose weight for looks - but both my husband and I have been creeping up in weight to more unhealthy levels, and I would really like for both of us to be around for a long time - the healthier our body weights are, the more likely we'll experience long term vibrant health.

Already we're noticing that the food we're eating is still delicious, it's filling, and at least for me I'm not ravenous between meals. I still eat snacks out of habit, but not because I have to because I'll start to get the shakes. But since we only have good foods in the house, it's okay!