A few months ago I looked through all my food storage cupboards and freezers with a fresh perspective. No longer was it about the quickest, easiest, and cheapest ways to feed my family of four. It wasn’t about stocking the house full of the best deals from the grocery stores (on sale, with coupons, and sometimes even for free!). Neither was it about complete deprivation of foods we love, or scaling back to the extreme regarding all things sweet and fatty. I was learning to look at food and drink much differently than I had in the past.
Food is neither my friend nor my enemy. Sometimes it is simply fuel for the machine, and sometimes it serves to bring family together. There can be feasts and there can be fasts. Guilt and food don’t mix together well, and it’s best to keep temptation out of the house. Obsessing over calories gets me nowhere, and that goes for constantly thinking about food as well. It can easily become an idol in my life, and I’d like to put it back in its place.
I’ve made it simple. Through the years I’ve developed menu plans that seem to work (all the while allowing for “life” to happen), and recently I’ve compiled a monthly grocery list of staple items for our household. Matching up the items with typical lowest prices allows me to keep the grocery budget intact. This area of our family’s life can run on “autopilot” pretty well these days.
It’s been a long process, let me tell you. Sifting through emotional eating issues, and the constant onslaught of healthy food media, and the recommendations for counting fat and calories and sugar and salt and carbs… the list goes on and on. So much to sort through, so I simply listened for the tried and true, the basics that have always been there, those quiet voices that speak of an easy, healthy, fun way of looking at food.
Back to basics – in so many ways. That describes our family’s eating journey the last few months. We still enjoy our treats, but not as often, and we are a work in progress. The guilt is easing up, and we see encouraging views of long, healthy life on the horizon. Enjoying time around the table, nourishing our bodies and our souls, laughter shared over a good meal – sometimes just the four of us, sometimes with friends and family. It’s coming, slowly but surely.
What have we changed since the start of the journey to simple health? It started with that fresh perspective as I looked into the food cupboards and freezers.
- The not-so-healthy items were separated out, and we quickly ate through those, knowing they would most likely never make it back into the house again.
- We started separating processed from natural – anything in a container with added preservatives, anything made on a factory line, anything that wasn’t really “food” (no nutrients).
- Which foods were in their natural state? Fruits, vegetables, grains, meats – even if they were frozen, as long as there wasn’t a long list of chemical preservatives involved we were happy.
- What about baking ingredients? Could some of these be healthier than others? We learned about healthier sweeteners like maple syrup and honey, applesauce instead of oil, oatmeal instead of more flour, healthier fat instead of less fat, and putting more focus on fruit-based desserts. We still love our treats in our family!
That’s where we’re at right now – with most likely a long way to go. But what we’ve discovered so far has been encouraging. There is more confidence as we learn more about what our family needs for a healthy life. And knowing it’s affordable has made all the difference in moving forward. What are our next steps?
- Buying only what is needed for the menu and not picking up extras.
- Continuing to search for affordable local-grown food, moving ahead with weekly Food Boxes from the local farmers.
- Trying to grow some of our own vegetables.
- Finding a plan that works, then simply working the plan.
- Focus on other things that bring health and life to our family, and getting food off the pedestal.
I’ll be sharing much more in the coming weeks about our current plan for healthy eating in our family. As I’ve been mapping it out the last few months, I have been encouraged by how much good food we are already putting into our bodies, how much beneficial fuel we’re already adding to our lives.
We try and spend less than $450 per month for food, and eating out is also not included. We may grab burgers (the healthiest we can find – either A&W or Wendy’s) a couple of nights of the month that are busy, but we’ve cut way back on getting fries and pop to go with them. We’re making progress, and it feels real good.
And I’ll share my own journey to simple health over the coming months as I challenge you to embark on your own journey. We’re in this together people!
I encourage you to follow along through the milestones to a simple life – starting with simple health – fuelling the journey.
What sort of simple steps have you taken in your own life when it comes to food?