This post is about all the small things we did to create a wholesome healthier diet for our family.
They say all good things come in small parcels, well it is exactly the same with food. Small things make all the difference. Small changes are easier and quicker. But most importantly they are sustainable! Big one off changes to diet and lifestyle, in my experience, rarely hang around. The ‘big idea’ turns up in the form of a faddy diet, or a glossy new book or a subscription pill/shake/meal replacement* and you get quickly drawn into the (completely unachievable) idea that it is going to be the miracle you have been searching for. I guess most of us realise by now that there are simply no miracles, they are mere puff. But the ‘miracle cures’ insidiously creep into our thoughts, thanks to the actions of some well paid, clever marketeers. Yet this type of thing does nothing for our bodies and is even more damaging to our mental wellbeing. Well I for one have had enough. I call time on it all. Your biggest weapon against this sort of thing is pure ambivalence. Ambivalence involves thinking ‘I can take this or leave it. I really couldn’t care less about this type of thing…’ There is no greater threat to marketing departments than ambivalence, it is literally the death of a campaign. The sooner we all don our suit of ambivalence to this sort of stuff the better. We can all get back to actually eating REAL FOOD for pleasure. Anyway I digress…I wanted to talk about small things.
Small changes are flipping amazing! Honestly, I cannot convey the feeling of success and general well being that making and sticking with a small change will give you. You get a boost to your self-esteem and it actually does make a difference to the way you are feeling. Small changes over six, 12, 24 months really do add up to massive changes. These things need to start off really small. So easy, that you actually trip over yourself achieving them you get there so quick.
You need to design your own though, because your goals are not my goals and your idea of convenience and easy going might not be mine. Think about your supplier, where will you get your new item from, is it easy and quick. Think whether you could stock-pile something after trying it for a week. Set yourself a reminder on your phone. So put a diary reminder in for 28 days time saying what you hope to have changed. Remember, make it a ridiculously small change. It takes at least 28 days to break habits and change behaviours. But in 12 months you could potentially change 12 things that are currently perpetuating an unhealthy lifestyle.
So here are my small changes. As a family we have been working on these for at least a year and in some cases 3-4 years.
- Bread. Wean yourself off white bread. It does nothing for you. Its nutritional content and actions in your gut are the sum total of ZERO. It has no place in a healthy whole food, real food household. Never buy the stuff again. Make the change however you want, but you need to end up with an organic, high fibre, seeded wholemeal loaf. However you get to that is up to you. You could change to wholemeal then to seeded, or start with an organic wholemeal sourdough. You could try moving to wraps and then go to a wholemeal wrap. I start my list with bread, because I am realistic! We need bread in our lives. We cannot replace it. I am not going to tell you to try giving it up. That is not to say we couldn’t do better with our bread choices or in fact cut down on it, we can do those things. But we cannot cut it out altogether. Not when there are kids lunch boxes to make and toast and coffee needed! I am not going to promise your kids will accept this without considerable pain. But you know, kids are busy, they have loads of other things to berate us about, they will eventually forget that you ever bought them white bread. So stick with it, last them out.
- Milk. The dairy industry and all its paid for political endorsements since old Queen Vic was on the throne has much to answer for. It needs to go, there is no two ways about it. Some of the worse offenders in the milk industry are milk powders and highly sugared yoghurts. So what to do? Never buy yogurt again, you will not miss it, honestly. Replace it with homemade fruit sorbets or homemade banana ice-cream. (I recognise this is effort, but find 20 minutes one evening and mix up a few batches and squirrel it away in the freezer. It will be a perfect healthy treat when you wanted that sugar ridden, chemical storm of a yoghurt). Milk and whey powders are also problematic, for a different reason, they are mostly imported. Guess where from….USA (think bovine growth hormones and vats of antibiotics) and China (think low paid workers in battery hen style factories). Again the nutritional content is negligible, they are being used as dirt cheap fillers. Get rid of it all. So how to do it? With your dairy milk, start by changing to local, organic, ‘high welfare farming’ whole milk. Don’t compromise on this. At all. Your body deserves that milk and those poor cows deserve a better life. You should be able to get it from your local farm shop. Some people advocate then moving to raw milk, but I just skipped that step and went straight to almond milk. Mix it in with your regular milk, in cereals, in drinks, a small bit every week. Try a 70/30 blend if you really don’t like the taste of non-dairy milk. Before long you will be accustomed to it. You will feel loads better. Don’t worry about your calcium intake. Take a supplement or look into calcium enriched tofu or other foods with added calcium and work them into your evening meals. It would also be worth reading this, on absorption rates of calcium in food. I have an important note on non-dairy milk though, do not buy one which is full of chemicals. Believe me, many of them are rammed with crap. Carrageenan is a big one to watch out for. It is getting some really bad press at the moment and I wouldn’t chose to drink it on a regular basis. Try a Rude Health milk, these are the cleanest pre-packed milks I can find.
- Sugar. Oh come on, unless you have been living under a rock you knew this was coming, you’re just surprised it wasn’t no.1 on the list (I thought I would ease you in gently :)). We all know, FOR SURE, that excess sugar is really bad for us. Most of us now understand that anymore than a few tablespoons a day is sliding in to the dodgy zone. Everyone from governments, to the WHO are telling us in the strongest of terms to cut it out or cut it down. The only ones still pedalling the complete lunacy that we are ok to drink fizzy drinks and eat sugary candy are the companies selling that stuff. No one else is saying that stuff is ok, literally no one. Sugar is a cheap filler. It makes the most unpalatable cardboard food taste like you want to eat it everyday. It is also a really cheap preservative. Try putting 100g of strawberries in a Kilner jar for a few months, now put them in with 200g of sugar, what? They last 5 years!…at room temperature you say…! Wow! Sugar is also as addictive as COCAINE. Yes, it behaves just like a hard-core class A drug once it is in your system. It ignites the same brain response as getting high on drugs. So lets be clear, this is always going to be your hardest, toughest change. Do it really, really slowly. Just take a look at where you are getting your biggest hit of sugar in a day. Is it the can of coke with the meal deal at lunch? Is it the three teaspoons you put in coffee? Is it on your breakfast cereal? Start there. Cut down then cut out. Aim to get rid of the biggest contributor to your sugar load over the next 28 days. A really good sentence to have on repeat in your head is this: “I could have that today, but I will have this instead”, “I could have a can of coke, but water is just as good for me today, because I couldn’t care less about that coke.” It is not restrictive, nor punishing. It actually trusts you to chose something else today. In other words, to bring you right back to where we started, you are ambivalent towards the highly sugared product! The power of your ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude is literally unstoppable.
So that is just three things you could aim to change over the next 3 months. I’ll do a part two to this in the near future. Best of luck with yours.
*generally you will initially change your body shape on this sort of thing, because it is NOT REAL FOOD! You are eating/drinking a collection of highly questionable chemicals and basic sugars and your body goes into panic mode and starts to metabolise any stores it’s got. When you cannot carry on with it for whatever reason, and you admit to yourself it actually tastes like cardboard blended with builders dust, your body will immediately start to replenish all the stores it lost during this period. This means unless you have a contingency plan in place or some flipping strong will power you will return to ALL your original eating patterns and your body will return to its original equilibrium pre ‘miracle cure’.