Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw Vegan, HFLC, GAPS - the list goes on and on! There are so many new healthy eating regimes out there, it all gets a bit confusing as to what is the best choice.
All of these regimes (I call them eating regimes, not diets. I don't like to use the word diet as it brings with it the preconception of yet another quick-fix, weight-loss fad which I definitely don't support) have so many benefits associated with them, so how is an individual to know which one to adhere to in order to gain and retain optimal health? Ask 5 different people this question and you're likely to get 5 different answers, but here's my humble opinion: It doesn't really matter which one! Well, not at first anyway. If you are keen to make some positive changes to the way you eat, begin with making every effort to JERF and the rest will naturally follow.
Not sure what I mean? Let me elaborate... when I began taking an interest in clean-eating, I felt overwhelmed and unsure. There was just so much information out there that I didn't know what to believe, or more importantly, what option was best for me and my family. So instead of giving in to my thoughts of This is all too hard and confusing - I'll look into it later
, I decided to just keep it simple. I figured if I started off with a basic philosophy and built it up from there, I'd be more likely to make sustainable, realistic changes. So I started with the strategy of asking myself questions like these when looking at certain foods and products:
- Can I recognise and pronounce all of the ingredients?
- Is the ingredients list free of chemical-representing numbers?
- Is this something I could make in my own kitchen?
- Is this food close to it's natural source with little or no alteration or manipulation?
If I didn't come up with a Yes!
for all of my questions, I wouldn't buy or eat it. Basically, if it's not real food that humans were eating 100+ years ago, it's probably not worth putting in your mouth!
I found this to be a great starting point which enabled me to make some positive changes to our diet without having to have a heap of knowledge or have done a heap of research. From there, as I became more educated about food and more aware of what effects certain foods were having on us, I was able to make more specific choices about what to cut out and what to leave in.
Simply begin by swapping to real food; throw away your margarine and buy some good quality butter. Ditch the soft drink for a bottle of cold fresh water, a herbal tea or home-made fruit water. Leave the chocolate biscuits on the supermarket shelf and make up some easy date and cacao balls instead. Rather than that packet of quick noodles for dinner, whisk up a couple of eggs (organic free-range if possible) for a fresh omelette and top it with chopped tomato and basil; it will take no longer than the noodles but will be chemical-free, taste better, give you more energy and keep you fuller for longer!
These days, as a family, we take on board different principles from all of the regimes I mentioned above. We do what works for us without letting it rule our lives or make things too hard. For example, we may have a day at home where we eat a paleo diet without really intending to, just due to the fact that we've reduced our grain intake, use dairy alternatives sometimes and eat mostly unprocessed foods. On the other hand, we could be described as followers of the LCHF (low carb, high fat) diet because lowering our carbohydrate intake (grains, sugars, starchy foods etc.) and increasing our intake of healthy fats (nuts, seeds, cold-pressed oils, quality dairy etc.) has aided in increased feelings of wellness and satiation, and has also allowed my post-baby body to naturally find it's happy and healthy weight without the need for deprivation, calorie-counting or expensive weight-loss programs and products. We now mostly make what we eat and have come across some fantastic and delicious recipes using real and whole foods!
Below is a recipe for a green smoothy which we consume regularly at our place. The kids just scoff it down! Whilst we've tried many different ingredients in our smoothies and my husband and I have liked them all, this is the one that the kids really love too. It is probably a bit high on the fruit content, and therefore on the sweet side, but it's real food and a much better way to start the day than the plethora of highly processed, additive and sugar-loaded breakfast cereals on the market. We also have it occasionally as a quick lunch or dinner option as it's filling, full of nutrients, yummy, and fun to consume out of a funky Mason jar and straw! It's the first Life's Pantry recipe I'm sharing so I really hope you like it! I'd love to hear what you think...
KID'S GREEN SMOOTHY
1-2 chopped frozen bananas
1/2 cup chopped frozen mango
1/3 cup chopped frozen strawberries (or mixed berries)
1 cup spinach leaves
1/3 cup coconut water
1- 1.5 cups water
1/3 cup pure coconut milk or cream
1/2 an avocado
1/2 an apple
Optional extras (I always put these extra goodies in for added nutrients but the smoothy is still great without it):
1 tsp Changing Habits Camu Camu
1 tsp Changing Habits Supreme Green Powder
1 tsp Changing Habits Probiotics
1 tbs Changing Habits Colloidal Minerals
Put everything in a good blender (we have the George Foreman Mix & Go Pro which is under $100 and does an excellent job!) with the spinach leaves at the bottom. Blend till smooth. Pour into glasses and drink. Yum!
~I usually don't measure the quantities exactly. Smoothies are fun like that - you don't have to be too precise so the kids can help out with no problems!
~I sometimes add in cucumber or other extra greens without the kids noticing.
~If you don't have frozen bananas, mangoes and strawberries, just use fresh. It will still be yummy but maybe not quite as creamy or as cold.
~I love the Changing Habits supplements and products as they are made from real organic food - not synthetic vitamins produced in a lab somewhere. I am very familiar with Changing Habits founder Cyndi O'Meara's philosophies and ideals so I know that I can trust completely all of her products.
Miss 2.5 loves helping make her green 'smoovy'!
Enjoy the smoothy if you give it a whirl and if you're just starting out with cleaner and healthier eating, remember- begin small! Once you have made a few little improvements and are feeling proud and happy that you've been able to implement and maintain them (not to mention you'll be feeling better!), you will have more courage and inclination to start tackling the bigger changes. Also remember to be kind to yourself - if you fall off the wagon (as I still do at times), just get back on. You have your whole life to get it right and there will always be things we can do better. It's just a matter of taking the first step.
Thanks for reading!
Here it is! My first blog post. Wow.
As surreal as it feels, in a way, I think that I have always been heading toward something like this. For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read and write. My mum has an intense love of the written word and it’s definitely something I have inherited. 7 years ago, just before I had my first baby, I completed a writing course which covered all aspects of the craft – short stories, poems, plays, articles, novels etc. – and I loved it, but motherhood took over soon after that and I’ve written only very sporadically since then. But now, I’ve arrived at a point in my life where this feels right, natural. I can’t wait to impart my thoughts, ideas and experiences on the things that have become important to me, I have knowledge of, and I’m passionate about. Whether there’ll ever be another pair of human eyes set sight on these words I’m not sure, but nonetheless, this feels good! Hi, I’m Leah. I’m 32 years old, mother to 3 beautiful girls and wife to a good man. While I’m listing titles and roles, I’m also a daughter, sister, aunty, friend and now, blogger! So I guess you’re wondering how Life’s Pantry came to be? I kind of am too! That’s what I love about life – you never know what is around the corner or what doors may open. Since giving up full time work in the financial planning industry to have my babies, I had been unknowingly searching for something I could sink my teeth into. Of course I have my family and the small electrical business I run with my husband which keep me busy, but I yearned to find my passion and start really using my brain again.
Then I began to look more closely at food and clean eating. Quite quickly my curiosity became a keen interest and then I suppose, an obsession! (I heard a quote the other day that made me feel a little better about my developing infatuation; "Obsessed is the way the lazy describe the focused!" I think I'll run with that definition!)
I think my interest gained momentum after a friend (who has since become very dear to me and is now my sidekick in our health and wellness journey) recommended to me, Cyndi O'Meara's book Changing Habits, Changing Lives. O.M.G. Change my life it did! Cyndi is one very smart, passionate and inspiring woman! I have since had the privilege to meet her in person, and I must say, I was completely star struck!Upon reading her book, I was astounded to learn just how bad the mainstream Western diet is for us and what the food manufacturers do and add to their products in the name of making money, with no regard for the health of the consumer. From there I read Jess Ainscough's book, Make Peace With Your Plate where I discovered more about what is happening in the food industry and the power food has in our lives. After that I was hooked and have devoured any resource I can get my hands on regarding food, health and wellness! There is so much information out there and I have only just scratched the surface of what I can, and hopefully will learn, but I am loving every second of it!
As a result of what I have learned, in the past 18 months I have made major changes to how we eat and live. First the worst of the over-processed packaged food containing numbers and chemicals were booted out of our pantry, never to be invited back! Next I stopped buying breakfast cereals and began to feed myself and my family a much more nourishing and additive-free meal each morning. From there I upped our fruit and vegetable intake and lowered our grain, gluten and sugar consumption. I began making most of the food we eat from scratch and taking more notice of the quality of the products I was purchasing and the way in which they were produced.If you are anything like I am, you're probably thinking, Ummm, that all sounds a bit confusing and time consuming for my liking... Yep - I know where you're coming from! At times I have definitely felt overwhelmed with all the changes I wish to implement and have struggled with finding the extra time I need to spend in the kitchen on a daily basis. But I just keep reminding myself of why I do it - I want to create the healthiest and happiest life possible for myself and my loved ones. I don't want any of us to become a statistic of the modern-day disease epidemic and I certainly don't want my beautiful girls to be limited in what they achieve in life because of the start they were given. Food is a very powerful tool when managing our health and my family is absolutely worth every second spent reading, researching, preparing, cooking and running around like a crazy person trying to fit it all in! And in addition to that as a motivator - I have grown to simply love it!There have been a number of other changes and new ways of doing things that we have implemented into our daily lives since beginning our journey which I will write about in the near future. There is also the plethora of hot nutrition topics out there at the moment that I want to touch on too. I have so much I want to impart, share and get your feedback and ideas on, that I don't know where to start!Stay tuned though - I'm hoping my second blog post will be published really soon, where I'll include my first recipe and some thoughts on the basics of eating well and looking after ourselves.Thanks for reading!