I noticed something strange the other day; I don’t remember how the conversation started, but before I knew it I had a small crowd of acquaintances hanging on my words as I conversed about my eating habits. I know it started out as talking to one person in particular about changes I’ve made to my diet, and was a little shocked when I looked around and saw I had developed an audience during this conversation. I didn’t think my story was even that interesting. I’m sure I’ve told it a dozen times.

Wait, a dozen? Really?

I guess my eating habits really are that interesting. But why?

I spent some time thinking about it, and started to piece together some of reasons this conversation comes up. As best I can figure, it’s because many people have at one point or another have thought about their own eating habits, and have wondered if they are eating well enough, or thought about making changes and weren’t sure where to start.

Neither my wife nor I thought we were eating too horribly before. We didn’t eat fast food often, we didn’t eat a lot of frozen or processed foods, we snacked occasionally but not excessively, and we cooked a fair bit at home, often using fresh ingredients from our garden. But we decided we could be doing better, so we made a few choices. Some were easy, some take a bit of work and some took some getting used to. Overall, though, we’re happy with those choices, and things only got easier as we developed healthier routines.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the changes we made.

Fewer Carbs, More Veggies

It used to be our routine to make a sandwich for lunch every day.  All that bread adds up to a lot of carbohydrates that two office workers just don’t burn off sitting at a desk all day.  We’ve replaced these with more veggie dishes and rice dishes; though rice contains about the same amount of carbs as bread, you need less of it to feel satiated and rice contains less sugar and far less sodium.

Roasting butternut squash, red onion and fennel

Meal Planning

Every weekend, we plan what we will make and eat for dinners and lunches for the week.  The beauty of this is that we only have to make a couple of things, just in sufficient quantities to carry us through the week as leftovers.  This sets our grocery shopping list, and reduces impulse buys and spontaneous “let’s just go out for dinner” solutions to the frustrating problem of what to make when you’re already hungry.

Side-tip: never go grocery shopping while hungry.

The fun part of meal planning like this is that we usually like to find a new recipe from the Internet – often after picking one or two main ingredients to include and start searching from there.  This lets us try something new on a regular basis, and lets us rotate through and try different ingredients.

When selecting proteins, we usually pick leaner meats like fish, chicken breast, ground turkey, or -more recently – ground bison.

Fish tacos with a salsa made from jicama, corn, black beans, red onions, red pepper, and cilantro

Healthier Snacking

It’s difficult to resist the urge to snack.  It’s not all bad, though, to spread your eating out over the length of the day with snacks and a smaller lunch.  So if you have to snack, keep good snacks on hand at all times.  Apples, carrots, almonds, and pistachios are some of the things we keep on hand.

Give Up Fruit Juice

Wait, what?  Isn’t fruit juice good for you?  100% of your daily intake of Vitamin C and all that?  It’s better than pop, mirite?

It’s also full of sugar.  Pretty much the same amount of sugar as an equivalent amount of pop.  If you are concerned about the vitamins or want something sweet, just eat a piece of fruit and get the other benefits that come with that like fibre and higher amounts of antioxidants.  If you just want something to drink – have a glass of water.

Read The Labels

It’s not something we used to worry about, but if you can find options with less cholesterol, less sugar, and less sodium, or with more vitamins, more protein or more fibre, why not go for it?  There is rarely a price difference at all, and when there is it is usually insignificant.

 

That’s mainly it.  It’s not a lot, which is maybe why people find it so interesting when I talk about it: because it really is pretty simple if you just start with a few things like this.

Posted by Dave Sutherland Mar - 21 - 2013 3 Comments Categories: Blogography
  • Reminds me of some of the eating changes I have been trying to make: mostly porportions of foods: eating more veggies (and sometimes fruits) than before, snacking on more healthy-ish foods, and cooking at home more. I’m not always a success here, partially as I’ve been busier than I like (a constant battle) and I often end up making food experiments that I don’t actually like/want to eat… but I have been improving my eating habits, I think. Not that I don’t mind going out to eat on occasion (and I probably always will), but I’m doing better at eating better at home now too! 🙂 Glad to read about your changes!

    • Thanks! Normally I would feel like I’m being preachy when writing about something like this (I feel preachy when I post about composting and gardening even), but for some reason this is a topic that seems to genuinely interest people when it comes up.

    • Jenn Fehr

      We have had some misses too… We tried a recipe for this lentil stew that neither of us liked, for instance. We tend yo use allrecipes, and we have a folder full of lunch go-tos and one of dinner go-tos. We’ll try new ingredients or variations, like black beans and quinoa instead of rice.