During my recent pregnancy I followed my cravings and ate whatever sounded good…baked goods, chocolate, and sugared cereal everyday. I ate some good stuff too, but I definitely thought “hey if I’m gonna gain weight, might as well have fun doing it!”
In addition, I was under the impression that fat was bad and sugar (as long as it wasn’t corn syrup) was okay.
After having a baby, it’s great because you lose lots of weight no matter what you eat. Fun stuff!!
But after the initial “I just had a baby, I can eat whatever-the-heck-I-gosh-darn-want-to” period, it was time to get healthy again.
It sounded way over the top crazy hard to me at the time! But you can take these principles and apply them to your life!
What we’re doing:
No processed pre-packaged snacks or beverages (chips, granola bars, convenience foods, sugared cereals, or candy other than dark chocolate).
When buying pre-made things (some bars, bread, meat) the fewer ingredients the better! Try to stick with less than 5, or at least ingredients you can pronounce!
No refined sugar whenever possible (opt for sugars naturally occurring in fruit, honey, and 100% maple syrup). This was huge for me since I have such a sweet tooth! But I started small. I stopped putting sugar in my morning coffee / green tea. Didn’t miss it at all after a week. Now I don’t add sugar to anything!
No dyes, additives, or preservatives whenever possible. (This is hard, I know, but if you’re buying as few ingredients as possible, it will cut down on this!)
Realistic grocery store switches:
Instead of protein powder – Greek yogurt
When Josh started lifting weights, we read the labels on all protein powder and pre-made bars and found they have a lot of mystery ingredients and high sugar/sodium. So instead we make smoothies out of Greek yogurt, peanut butter, and milk that are about 30 grams of protein each.
Instead of processed sugar – 100% maple syrup, honey, dates, or bananas to sweeten.
Can be substituted in most recipes (I’ve been re-writing my whole recipe book with healthier substitutions! Haven’t used refined sugar in months…thinking about just tossing it!) We’re not huge sticklers if we go out or to someone’s house, but at least in our own house we’re not using it. There’s lots of great whole food dessert recipes online! (Mywholefoodlife, choclatecoveredkatie)
Instead of snacks or granola bars with lots of added sugar – unsalted nuts and dried fruit
Instead of ice cream – freeze bananas and make banana ice cream
Instead of frozen pizza – buy ingredients to make your own.
Or make easy meals like quiche from scratch and freeze them for the convenience.
Instead of refined salt – sea salt.
I just threw away two bottles of the nasty stuff. Lots of chemicals in that!
100% whole wheat flour instead of bleached white flour (and bread and pasta).
Can be subbed in pretty much any recipe. This is an easy switch! Just make sure it says 100% whole wheat or whole grain. “Wheat flour” is a vague euphemism food makers use to make white bread sound healthier…it’s just normal flour.
Instead of margarine – real butter.
Don’t worry about the fat as much as the chemicals and colors they use to make it “butter like!”
Instead of cheese-like slices – real cheese!
Again, get the full-fat real thing. Just don’t overdo it if you want to lose weight.
Instead of jelly or preserves – buy fruit and make your own.
You can easily make preserves with just 2-3 ingredients. Or at least buy one that’s sweetened with fruit juice instead of sugar (Trader Joe’s has a juice-sweetened super fruit spread).
Instead of deli meat which often has nitrates, nitrites, and very high sodium – buy raw chicken or pork in bulk, cook it in the crockpot and slice.
So much healthier, and this one is even cheaper!
Instead of vegetable oil- coconut oil (as much as possible).
Can be used for cooking, frying, baking, everything!
Instead of bottled salad dressings – olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
I just made my own ranch dressing with Greek yogurt, and it is way better than the bottled stuff!
It is my goal to make our own ketchup and BBQ sauce in the future also. For now we stick with types that contain no high fructose corn syrup.
Instead if sugared cereals – get good at making oatmeal.
We eat oatmeal or eggs every morning. On weekends we sometimes make pancakes or waffles from scratch. Have fun with this! Did you know you can make your own granola in the oven? With no refined sugar?! Sugared cereals aren’t healthy and aren’t nearly as satisfying as a big bowl of oats or homemade granola. I look forward to my breakfast every morning, and and if I add ground flaxseed, whole milk, and chia seeds, I don’t get hungry for hours!
Don’t stress about buying all organic or all grass-fed! If you can, great! But don’t let the pressure to eat “perfectly” get in the way of your eating “well.” Do the best you can that’s within your budget and available in your area.
Avoid things labeled “diet” as these usually are more processed to remove fat and have chemicals instead of real sugar.
Go crazy with veggies, fruits, berries, seeds and nuts!
Aim to eat fish at least once a week. They are the best natural source of omega-3s and are lean and full of protein.
The cost should even out. Because for every healthy thing you’re buying, there’s a lot of stuff you won’t be buying anymore. It’s all about replacing. And making things from scratch is actually cheaper! (Pasta sauce, salad dressing, tortillas)
Every body is different, but that’s what we’ve been doing. It doesn’t make sense to eat chemicals and things we weren’t designed to digest.
It’s not about dieting… You should never be starved while eating real food! (You should never be overfilled either.)
Increasing our protein intake, cutting out refined sugar and reducing sodium helped josh and me reach our goals. We both gained muscle and I lost more than all the baby weight.
Stop worrying about fat.
Don’t count calories.
Focus on eating real things and let your appetite guide you, not your salt / sugar cravings.
To learn more about the science, check out some real-food books at the library. I enjoyed this one a lot.
If you’re serious about making some food changes, let me know so we can support each other! Even if you chose a different variation, (grain-free, paleo, vegan, etc) I love talking about food in general!
When everything you make is natural / handcrafted, you enjoy it more!
Real food actually tastes better!
You can buy some nice plates or jars if it helps. Take pictures of your beautiful creations! Host dinner parties as an excuse to make better food. Savor those morsels, every flavor in its fullness! Enjoy!