How I'm Learning to Eat Healthy
I used to pay very little attention to what I ate. My main criteria for the food I bought while grocery shopping was simply that it must taste good, and be low in price. More often than not, I ended up buying substandard food that was loaded with unnatural chemicals and preservatives, and had very little nutritional value. But I didn't necessarily care about nutritional value, I just wanted something to fill my stomach at meal time.
I also ate out quite a bit. I'm not really much of a cook anyway, and I often didn't have the time to cook. Rarely did I even think twice about what I was eating. I just knew that Taco Bell tasted good, and the drive thru was quick.
I was in real trouble when I quit my job to pursue freelance writing full time. Working from home meant that I was sitting on my behind for ten hours a day, with the kitchen just a few steps away. In short, I ate constantly. Candy, pie, frozen meals, sugary snacks, etc. There was almost always some kind of food sitting next to me on my desk. Add all of that crap to three meals a day, and little to no daily exercise. Suddenly, my jeans wouldn't fit over my butt anymore! I had developed a very unhealthy relationship with food.
I can't really say that I just woke up one day and decided to change my eating habits, because it didn't happen like that. It was a rather slow progression that was kick started by a need to save money wherever possible. At first, that meant cutting down on the amount of food I bought. No more snack foods, candy, chips, or anything else that I didn't really need to be eating. This ultimately led to my eating less. There was no longer a bag of chips available for me to snack on when I was bored. I started eating what I needed; just breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was much better off, since I wasn't eating constantly. I was only eating the amount of food that I needed.
A Little Outside Influence
One night while perusing some documentary selections on Netflix, I came across one that was about the food we eat today. I was curious, and very bored, so I watched it. I was absolutely disgusted by what I learned. The documentary taught me how unhealthy processed foods are, and that there is some really nasty gunk that's added to seemingly "healthy" foods for no reason. After that I began watching more documentaries and reading books on the subject of healthy food. I learned a great deal about health and nutrition, and that I had been doing it all wrong.
Homemade beans vs. Ramen
1 bag pinto beans
feeds 2 for 3 days
4 pouches of ramen noodles
feeds 2 for 1 day
A Healthy Diet
I realized that cutting down on all of the unnecessary junk foods, there was room in the budget to start buying healthier food. But after doing a little shopping, I realized that the idea that healthy foods are expensive is a myth. I also found that healthier foods went a lot further than their quick and convenient counterparts. For example, just buying a bag of beans and cooking them in the crock pot can feed two people for three days, on as little as $1.60. Normally, I would have bought a bunch of Ramen, thinking that was the cheapest food I could buy. However, for the same price as that bag of beans, you can get about four pouches of Ramen noodles, which would only feed two people for one day, if even that. Do you see what I'm getting at? Making basic foods from scratch my not be convenient, but it is much easier on your budget and your health.
I recently heard someone say, "if you can't pronounce an ingredient, it shouldn't be in your food." After reading the ingredients of many of the store-bought products I was eating, I was alarmed at how little I knew about them. I came to the conclusion that the only way to truly know that what you're eating is healthy is to make it yourself. No longer did my grocery list call for prepackaged, ready to eat foods. Instead, it called for nothing but whole, fresh foods. Mostly that meant just milk, cheese, flour, herbs and seasonings, and fresh fruits and veggies. I was amazed at how much one can do with so little!
Now I can't imagine going back to the way I ate before. I am surprised to find that I have absolutely no cravings for junk food. In fact, I'm a little bit grossed out by it. I now find myself craving things like spinach, an apple, some fresh broccoli. My favorite snack used to be Cheetos, now it's sugar snap peas. Once in a great while, I will order a pizza, or have a cheeseburger. But I can't handle doing that often, because I end up feeling like crap afterward. My body is used to healthy foods now. I get the nutrients I need from the foods I eat, and I feel great and have a ton of energy because of it.
Not only that, but I'm also learning to make a ton of great foods. Just recently, I've learned to make bread and spaghetti sauce completely from scratch. Homemade foods taste so much better than store bought options, and they're cheaper in the long run. Learning to eat healthy has also driven me to take up growing my own vegetables and herbs!
Learning to eat a healthy diet really isn't as hard as it sounds, I promise! I encourage everyone to at least try it! And I am willing to bet that once you try it, you will love it and won't want to go back!