I’m a big advocate of food. It keeps our bodies going and there are some downright tasty things that happen to be made of food (like pizza, cheese, Nutella, and more pizza). I’ve always teetered somewhere in the middle between super healthy and junk-food American when it comes to food choices. My parents were still pretty into the 70′s granola culture when my siblings and I were young in the eighties, so when my Aunt joked with my 6 year-old sister Rachel that we were having lentils for dinner, she was surprised to hear Rachel respond with, “Ohh, yum!” By the time we were teens, however, we still had salads and veggie trays around, but there was a fair amount of Cheez-it boxes and Snickers wrappers to be found as well. I wasn’t too concerned with nutrition in college; I was too busy finding food in the cafeteria that was actually edible to worry about it’s nutritional value. Once I got out of college and was in charge of buying my own food I started to think a bit more critically about what I was buying and why.
About five years ago, a friend told me about a plant-based nutrition book they had just read called “Skinny Bitch” and I found the information inside the book to be (for me anyways) life changing. I started to realize what’s actually in products most of us consume everyday, the politics behind the food industry, and what eating the typical American diet can really do to your health. Suddenly, all those “healthy hippie” books I had read at my parents house (like Fit For Life) took on a new hold and I wanted to make a change. I didn’t know if I could commit fully to eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, so I asked Todd (we were two years into dating at the time) if he wanted to try doing a pescatarian diet for a while to see how we felt (pescatarians abstain from eating all meat except fish). Interestingly enough, we both really enjoyed the new way of eating and didn’t really miss the meat all that much. Todd said that he usually felt so full and heavy after a normal meal, but now he felt like he was able to still get up and move around after eating our meat-free dinner.
So, for the last five years we have been eating a (mostly) meat-free diet and really enjoying it. I thought we were doing pretty good, but I had some small health issues this past year that caused me to consult a nutritionist and I was reminded that we could do a lot better. I was still eating more dairy, refined sugar, and processed food than I wanted to, so I’ve been trying even harder to make conscious choices at the grocery store. Lately, I rewatched the amazing food documentary Forks Over Knives (really you guys, it’s so good) and have started having some days of the week that I try and eat as plant-based as possible. For me though, to be completely honest, in order to make those healthy days a reality, I have to have “cheat” days or treats that give me something to look forward too. I’ll never be able to totally give up pepperoni pizza, but I can be happy about making a plant-based dinner on Thursday when I know I’m allowed to treat myself to a cheesy slice on Friday night. So if you see me with a Philly Cheesesteak- relax! It’s a reward system that works really well for me…
So, has eating this way taken more planning on my part? Yes. Has it been more expensive? Honestly, so far, yes. It seems like organic item pricing is all over the place in Springfield (one store has organic Granny Smith apples for almost five dollars a pound and another has them for ninety-nine cents a pound), so I’m still learning what to buy and where, and I think it will make a big financial difference when I figure it out. I’m not really trying to start a big argument or turn this blog into a rant on nutrition, I just wanted to let you in on our food journey and give you some resources if you are interested in the same things. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite healthy recipes that I’ve found so far, so stick around for that!