My Journey to Healthy Food


It's amazing how God brings us encouragement when we need it! The past few weeks I've  been struggling a lot with my weight. It keeps going than it should by anyway. I'm supposed to be on the common sense pregnancy diet, meaning I should stay away from the foods I don't need and eat foods I do need. However, we've been busy, and I've been using that as an excuse to be nutritionally lazy! 

Then today I found this post buried in my "drafts" folder. It's the story of my journey with food. In essence, it's the explanation of why we eat the way we do (or at least the way we should be eating). It's longer than my usual posts, but hopefully worth the read. Bon appetite! 

I love to cook.  There is something deeply satisfying in preparing healthy, delicious food for my family. I could easily spend hours in the kitchen (as long as I'm cooking, not cleaning up).  I love scouring the internet looking for new recipes to try.  I also am an avid label reader. It's important to me that I know what's in the food I buy. I try to monitor what gets put in my cart at the grocery store, weeding out artificial chemicals wherever I can. Sure, some of that stuff creeps in to our home. I would be foolish to even suggest that my husband and I are food purest, because I don't have that kind of time.  However, I know that when I buy a product I am sending a message to the food manufactures saying, "make more of this", and I want those votes to be for healthy foods.  

You might think I sound slightly idealist, so please know I've not always been this way.  I grew up in a normal American household where the balance of processed and whole foods was about fifty/fifty. We had vegetables for dinner and Doritos and soda for an after school snack.  I don't remember much about the foods we ate growing up, but I know that by the time I was in Jr. High I was making my own food choices in the cafeteria each day, and they usually weren't the healthiest of options.  Of course, why would they be? The only things I knew about nutrition were that cafeteria vegetables tasted terrible and french fries were more popular.  I knew that diet soda didn't have calories and eating too much candy would make you fat, eventually.

As I grew older I found myself in love with fast food.  It was cheap, delicious, and the only thing to do on a week night in a small town.  My friends were right there with me making late night runs to Taco Bell for our "fourth meal".  In college I broadened my nutritional horizons a bit, but I often loaded salt onto the tasteless vegetables and lathered dressing on my salads. I put my sugary peanut butter on commercially processed white bread (not realizing that the added preservatives and sugar tasted cheap compared to fresh homemade bread and real peanut butter).  

I wasn't a complete nutritional ignoramus, but I knowing something and putting it into practice are two very different things. For years I tried to lose weight and eat healthy; however, the message I got from the modern weight loss craze was less than helpful. Everything was about calorie control. I was introduced to diet foods: frozen low fat dinners, light canned soups, baked chips, and those disastrous hundred calorie packs (which are beneficial only if you eat one package at a time...hmmm...). The dieting world took my favorite foods and healthified them by slicing serving sizes and adding sodium and sugar, effectively cutting calories but still leaving me in a nutritional wasteland. I was left unsatisfied, frustrated, and overweight.

Then I read a book.  It was one of those bargain books on the rack in front of the store.  It was all about how the foods you eat affect your mood, and it seriously changed the way I think about food.  I learned about how food enters the blood stream and why some foods raise your blood sugar more slowly giving you sustained energy. I learned about super foods that contain anti-oxidants which the fight free radicals that cause cancer.  I learned about how exercise boosts serotonin levels in your brain and makes you a happier person.  I learned all this new information and then did something radical: I tried it.  Food and exercise became my allies in getting the life I wanted.  I put what I learned into practice and within weeks I was losing weight and felt happier and healthier.  It wasn't some miracle drug or quick fix.  It took a lot of work and the change didn't happen over night, but it did work.  

I started making better decisions, and most importantly, those decisions were no longer based on weight loss but rather on living a long and healthy life. The foods I chose to eat were not diet, low-calorie alternatives to regular processed food,but rather they were whole, natural foods that came from the ground! (I know crazy, right?) Once I reset my expectations for healthy foods, I began to realize that vegetables weren't so terrible after all.  There was something good about knowing I was fighting off cancer and heart disease.

Most of what I started to realize about food I should have known from Sunday school and Jr. High Biology. God created plants for us to eat. In fact all of the energy we get comes from the plants and animals we eat, and plants and animals get their energy from the sun. It's basic biology. It's the way God created the world. He's provided the very best of food for us to eat, so why would I settle for something less? I began to care how my food was grown and where it came from.  I started trying to trace my food back to it's original source and found that some foods were lacking much of a nutritional background (where exactly do those gummy fruit snacks I love come from?)

That said, we don't live in an ideal world. I can't always control what goes into the foods I eat. I can't always buy local and organic. I don't always make the best food decisions. I've tried. It's just not possible. However there are some things I can do. I can refuse to settle for food that harms my body rather than food that nourishes it.  I can refuse to settle for the lie that for something to be inexpensive and easy it has to be loaded with sugar and chemicals. I can read labels and cook with whole foods. I can cut down on the excess sugar and limit my intake of junk food. I can do my best to be healthy.  I can chose to eat more abundantly. And why wouldn't I want to? 

It tastes better. 

Linking up at WholeHearted Home

1 comment:

  1. Katherine, I enjoyed this post and after just baking chocolate chip cookies (and eating two) you have encouraged me to be a little more careful in my food choices...though, I will still bake chocolate chip cookies rather than buy store bought ones ;-)

    Thank you for linking up over at WholeHearted Home this week. Your blog is a real nice addition to our growing community.



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