Real Food

Monday, August 27, 2012

I've been toying with the idea of a real food diet (as in, simple, whole foods -- nothing overly processed, genetically modified, etc.) for a few months now, ever since I first came across 100 Days of Real Food.  I thought it sounded awesome -- I've long felt that we eat like crap, and eating things that are better for the environment is never a bad thing (to me, anyway). There were, however, a few things I was worried about.

A.) I really enjoy food.  I especially enjoy foods that aren't particularly good for me (like cheesecake).  I know this isn't necessarily the best mindset to have (so that's something I'll be working on as well), but it's true.  I think perhaps I need to start thinking of food simply as fuel for my body, and not as something to be enjoyed and savored.  But anyway, I'm getting off topic.  I was worried I would want all these things I love, but not be able to have them, then end up binging on them later (this has been a pattern in my life, if you couldn't tell.)  Fortunately, I now know that there are ways to make yummy, real food versions of things I love (and I even plan on developing some myself!).

B.)  We're kind of broke.  Our bills get paid, but we don't have a lot of extra money.  Lisa from 100 Days did a 100 Days on a Budget after the original 100 Day pledge, but her weekly budget for her family of four was $125 (which is less than she would receive on food stamps).  That's $500 a month (and that's on a budget!).  Tom and I are more used to spending $125 a month.  We certainly don't have $500 a month to spend on groceries, and unfortunately, eating real, organic foods costs a lot more than a box of Hamburger Helper, you know? (But that's a rant for another day -- and trust me, I do have a rant).

C.) Perhaps my biggest concern was Tom.  He's open to trying new things, but he's generally a meat and potatoes kind of guy who likes to stick with what he knows (I have tendencies like that too...I've had the same exact Subway order for pretty much my entire life).  I didn't really broach the subject with him, because I was expecting opposition.

Yeah, I'm kind of a douche.

But it turns out I didn't have to worry, because after today, he's completely on board.

So what happened yesterday?

We watched a movie.

Clean eating was on my mind again after coming across Green Plate Rule the other day, and I decided this time, I wasn't going to push it out of my mind.  Lisa (from 100 Days) had mentioned Food, Inc. on her blog before, and when I saw it on Netflix, I knew I wanted the two of us to sit down and watch it together.  I asked him if he would watch it with me, and he had no objections.

I won't really go into details, because I'm hoping you'll watch it on your own, but this movie will teach you things you never realized you didn't know.  I think if everyone watched this movie, the food industry in the US could be radically changed for the better.  Seriously, if you have Netflix instant streaming, go watch it as soon as you finish reading this post.  If you don't have Netflix instant streaming, you can get a free month-long trial.

When we were finished watching, Tom looked at me and said, "I don't want to eat bacon anymore."  And this came from a man who LOVES his bacon.  He told me he wanted to change the way we eat, and even offered to come grocery shopping with me that night (he hates grocery shopping).

So we went shopping.

I knew going into this that we weren't going to be able to go cold turkey on all processed foods; we can't afford it, and we don't want to waste what we have in the cupboards now.  So we started small.  We picked up a few organic items and whole foods in addition to some less-than-great-for-us foods (like white bread -- though I did get ingredients to make my own bread again).

I'm really excited that we're doing this together, and I can't wait to share more of our journey to a healthier diet for us and the environment with you!

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  1. Awesome! A book related to that movie (Fast Food Nation) is probably one of the things that started nudging me in the direction of vegetarianism.

    If you drink much juice or soda (lots of sugary stuff that doesn't fill you up), one cost-saving thing you could do is instead of buying that, replace it with some healthier foods. Instead of Hamburger Helper, there is a line of dry mixes that are easy to make that I love called Fantastic World Foods My favorites are the tofu scrambler and sloppy joe mix, but they're all good, affordable, and available at most grocery stores. Still somewhat processed, but much healthier. :)

    1. I still have my copy from junior year around here somewhere (I never actually read it though...I just BSed my way through the discussion).

      We don't drink pop. I stopped drinking it months ago, and he stopped a little bit ago too. He's switched to Hawaiian punch, but we're working on switching him to something healthier. Thanks for the tip on the dry mixes! We don't actually eat Hamburger Helper (I don't like it, but I needed an example), but we eat a lot of boxed pasta dishes, so it's definitely something I'll look into :)

  2. Way to go!!!

    I've been toying with the same idea, too. I'd love to become a 100% whole foods eater, but I just don't see it happening. I'm starting out by making small changes, too, like switching to whole grain pastas and breads, and buying more veggies and fruits.

    1. Yay! 100% whole foods seems so daunting, doesn't it? Even little changes can make a big difference though :)

      Keep it up!

  3. Glad you finally saw Food Inc. Be sure to catch Forks Over Knives when you can.

  4. Watch Forks Over Knives because most vegetarian friendly stuff isn't really good for you either (ex. Morning Star Farms). A lot of the vegetarian things that you find in the non-natural foods section are made by companies that use GMO's.

    1. It's true that vegetarian stuff is not always better for you (you could eat all twinkies and it would be a vegetarian diet) BUT processed vegetarian stuff can be more affordable than a completely whole, fresh fruit and vegetable kind of diet and still healthier than a lot of meat products. As far as health I don't think it completely matters if it's vegetarian or not (I just prefer that), what matters is looking on the nutrition label for higher fiber and protein and lower trans and unsaturated fats. I got a lot healthier as a poor college student by basically just looking at labels all the time. But whole fruits and veggies and whole grains (and lean grass-fed meat for omnivores) are the ideal way to go.

    2. Thanks! I was reading about that the other day, actually (I think it may have been on Green Plate Rule). Thankfully, it's not going to be an issue for us, because he won't eat meat substitutes, and I think most of them are gross.

    3. correction to myself: *saturated* fats are bad, that's what I meant. :)

      and I agree with Keely that beans and eggs are your friends. And pasta and rice.

    4. You snuck in there while I was replying to comments :) We're definitely checking labels a lot more than we used to.

  5. I have experience with both the eating-healthy-on-a-budget thing and the meat-and-potatoes boyfriend thing. Difficult, but you are already ahead of where I was given that your boy is totally on board.

    I would recommend learning a few meals that can be made entirely with dry mixes/canned goods while still being healthy. Rice-and-beans type of dishes often fit the bill for this. It's nice to be able to throw together a meal you can feel good about without too much thought.

    You'll also have an easier time budget-wise if you limit meat. Eggs and beans are great sources of cheap protein. When you do eat meat, use the hell out of every bit of it. Whole chickens or bone-in packs of chicken pieces go on sale regularly, and they will yield several meals worth of meat as well as a batch of homemade chicken broth, which will be useful in making large batches of soup (very budget friendly!).

    Anyhow, sounds like a great project. Best of luck, and you know where to find me if you want to chat or exchange recipes.

    1. Thanks for the tips! Stretching the meat is definitely something we'll have to work on. It doesn't bother me much because I don't like meat much, but it's harder for Tom. I've been trying to incorporate meatless meals at least once a week to help a bit.



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