This post is slightly different than some of my others, as it’s a hodgepodge of researched info, opinions, ideas, and insight from friends and loved ones.
Many of us feel confused when it comes to food. From my personal experience, and from what I see around me, I know that the struggle is real and that it can be incredibly varied. In a society where food is so readily available and also incredibly delicious, it can be extremely challenging to decide what foods are healthiest, whether or not those specific foods work for our bodies, and how much of which ones to eat!
I am not going to even begin to try to suggest that there is one way of eating that is best for everyone. No way, not touching that with a 10-foot pole…
However, as of this very moment (food habits change quickly!), I am happy to share my food game-plan. The issues I struggle with most are an addiction to peanut butter, having undesirable cravings, and trying to find a way to make the foods that are healthy and good for me affordable and not incredibly time consuming to prepare. I’ve also stressed over stressing about food! It’s a vicious cycle.
Luckily, summer is near and that means home-grown veggies and farmers markets are readily accessible. So, I plan to optimize the onslaught of fresh veggies and try to make sure a good percentage of my meals are made up of local, high-quality veggies and fruits, plus eggs because our hens are seriously mass producing right now! I also incorporate local, conscientiously-raised meats. My main goals are to eat so I feel satiated (to help with the cravings) and do it in a way that doesn’t mess with my mind.
I’ve talked to some of you personally about considerations around calories, fats, sugars, gluten, carbs… and every body needs something a little bit different. But there are some general templates that make sense as starting points (no, the cupcake diet isn’t one of them, unfortunately) which can be tweaked according to how we feel. I generally follow a gluten- and refined sugar-free diet that includes minimal amounts of dairy. I am currently working on adding in more nutrient-dense starchy vegetables, gluten-free grains, and legumes to evaluate how I do with them. These foods are delicious, reasonably priced, and filling.
I want to avoid addressing particular restrictions in detail, but I can share suggestions and ideas on what has helped me navigate the outside world when trying to eat a certain way. Fortunately, food allergies and intolerances are becoming better understood, and many people are feeling more empowered to take eating into their own hands, try things, and determine how they feel.
Eating out and eating with friends or family can be challenging. At the beginning of my food journey, I struggled a lot with that at work. It took a while for me to become confident enough to just tell people “no” (no, I don’t want your delicious, freshly-baked cookies… every day) and stick to my decisions around food. It always helped me to have my own food and eat that when everyone else was eating, or to eat beforehand so I wasn’t hungry. This all sounds so much easier than it actually is in reality, and I understand that.
For a while, before eating anything I hadn’t planned to eat, I tried to think about how important my food choices were to me and why I had committed to them. And I started to feel more confident in doing what I do for my own personal reasons and understanding that it really is up to me and no one else. It just took time getting comfortable with that. It often-times helps me to have my own snack available, like dark chocolate, a gluten-free snack, nuts, or fruit and veggies.
Here are some quicker foods and snacks that have definitely saved the day when I’ve been feeling hungry or cravey:
- canned veggies (but look for any additives)
- frozen veggies
- canned tuna or sardines
- dried fruit (again, look for preservatives)
- fresh fruits
- raw or soaked nuts
- organic nut butters (no additives, or make it yourself!)
- dark chocolate (allergen-free, yes we buy 12 at a time)
- Larabars (these are higher in sugar and carbs but fairly clean and tasty, so they’re a nice treat, and there are so many flavors!)
- Mission Meats Graze Bars (these are our favorite because they’re like flat, grass-fed Slim Jims!)
- Epic Bars (we’ve even found these at gas stations and, while we prefer some other brands, they do great in a pinch)
- boiled eggs
Things like burgers, fish patties, meatballs, marina sauces, even portioned meats (like big crock-pot meals) can be cooked, frozen, and reheated for later. I do this all the time, it’s great for busy nights, lunches, and snacks.
I’ve been working on figuring out food stuff now for over six years and still play around with it all the time. I definitely understand all this can be more work, but I find that, in the end, it’s usually worth it.
Best of luck! It takes time, don’t get discouraged, and just keep experimenting!
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