October 11, 2013

Food For Thought

I’m a big advocate of food. It keeps our bodies going and there are some downright tasty things that happen to be made of food (like pizza, cheese, Nutella, and more pizza). I’ve always teetered somewhere in the middle between super healthy and junk-food American when it comes to food choices. My parents were still pretty into the 70’s granola culture when my siblings and I were young in the eighties, so when my Aunt joked with my 6 year-old sister Rachel that we were having lentils for dinner, she was surprised to hear Rachel respond with, “Ohh, yum!” By the time we were teens, however, we still had salads and veggie trays around, but there was a fair amount of Cheez-it boxes and Snickers wrappers to be found as well. I wasn’t too concerned with nutrition in college; I was too busy finding food in the cafeteria that was actually edible to worry about it’s nutritional value. Once I got out of college and was in charge of buying my own food I started to think a bit more critically about what I was buying and why.

About five years ago, a friend told me about a plant-based nutrition book they had just read called “Skinny Bitch” and I found the information inside the book to be (for me anyways) life changing. I started to realize what’s actually in products most of us consume everyday, the politics behind the food industry, and what eating the typical American diet can really do to your health. Suddenly, all those “healthy hippie” books I had read at my parents house (like Fit For Life) took on a new hold and I wanted to make a change. I didn’t know if I could commit fully to eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, so I asked Todd (we were two years into dating at the time) if he wanted to try doing a pescatarian diet for a while to see how we felt (pescatarians abstain from eating all meat except fish). Interestingly enough, we both really enjoyed the new way of eating and didn’t really miss the meat all that much. Todd said that he usually felt so full and heavy after a normal meal, but now he felt like he was able to still get up and move around after eating our meat-free dinner.

So, for the last five years we have been eating a (mostly) meat-free diet and really enjoying it. I thought we were doing pretty good, but I had some small health issues this past year that caused me to consult a nutritionist and I was reminded that we could do a lot better. I was still eating more dairy, refined sugar, and processed food than I wanted to, so I’ve been trying even harder to make conscious choices at the grocery store. Lately, I rewatched the amazing food documentary Forks Over Knives (really you guys, it’s so good) and have started having some days of the week that I try and eat as plant-based as possible. For me though, to be completely honest, in order to make those healthy days a reality, I have to have “cheat” days or treats that give me something to look forward too. I’ll never be able to totally give up pepperoni pizza, but I can be happy about making a plant-based dinner on Thursday when I know I’m allowed to treat myself to a cheesy slice on Friday night. So if you see me with a Philly Cheesesteak- relax! It’s a reward system that works really well for me…

So, has eating this way taken more planning on my part? Yes. Has it been more expensive? Honestly, so far, yes. It seems like organic item pricing is all over the place in Springfield (one store has organic Granny Smith apples for almost five dollars a pound and another has them for ninety-nine cents a pound), so I’m still learning what to buy and where, and I think it will make a big financial difference when I figure it out. I’m not really trying to start a big argument or turn this blog into a rant on nutrition, I just wanted to let you in on our food journey and give you some resources if you are interested in the same things. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite healthy recipes that I’ve found so far, so stick around for that!


17 thoughts on “Food For Thought

  1. Logan

    I recently cut out red meat and I feel so much better! I’d love to start moving to a more plant based diet but it’s certainly not the easiest!
    Also, where did you get your knife in the photo? It’s fabulous!

  2. Kimberly

    In March my parents saw Forks Over Knives and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead on Netflix. They had me and my sister watch them and now our whole family has adopted a (mostly) vegan diet. Todd is totally right about how “full” feels so much better on a plant-based diet versus the Standard American Diet. Glad to hear about others who have made a positive change!

  3. kelley

    this is great! i didn’t start thinking about what i ate until i had kids and im so glad that we made the changes we did. i found michael pollan’s in defense of food to be quite life changing 🙂

  4. Tabea

    Thank you for this post! I try very hard to eat as plant based as possible, but unfortunately my favourite food in the world is meat. Others crave for sweets or pizza and I crave for meat. But I did the same as you: meat is my reward for eating plant based most of the time and I try to eat in only once a week (:

  5. Kamile

    Two years ago I also gave up on meat (except fo fish) and ate mostly vegetables and dairy. At first I felt so good! I forgot how it had felt to too full and it was awesome. But one year later my health really got bad. The diet I ate was not that healthy and I could not get enought vitamins that I needed even more because of non eating meat. I had to give up on the ‘vegeterian’ path and start eating meat again. Now the only meat I eat is mostly chiken. I am healthy and happy with it. So I surely understand you. I only wish you good luck with the diet you have now!

  6. Jenn P

    I feel ya on the not eating meat so much thing. I’ve just been just eating fish once or twice a week and sometimes an occasional organic egg (I love french toast). I’ve been doing a lot of research on the impacts of Hiroshima and Fukushima and how our waters are being polluted with radiation. I just read an article how all our tuna is radioactive and should not be eaten. This is so sad ( and yes, I love sushi too) . I feel like people should really know about this because it effects much more than our water and fish. But as for “Forks over Knives”, I love that movie and think everyone should watch it. Also “Food Matters” is really awesome too. I think we should all try and buy as local and organic as possible. If we were more hands on with our food then we could take it out of the hands of big agro companies like Monsanto. We’d all be much happier and healthier too 🙂 So this makes me happy to hear others are really trying to make a difference for themselves and their loved ones and for our Momma Earth.

  7. Cassie

    Thanks for this post. Lately I’ve been trying to alter my diet and looking for something to tell me how to do it properly since I’m just winging it over here. I’ve cut out red meat, breads, most dairy (except feta and milk) and sugars but I feel like that’s just a stepping stone. So thanks for the books and documentaries to try out. 🙂

  8. Sarah

    Changing my diet has been top of mind for me lately and I am SO glad you decided to post this. I enjoyed reading your post and recommendations of other commenters. I think I will start by reading skinny bitch and watching a few of the documentaries. Thanks for the insightful post Laura!



  9. JC Carter

    I am totally with you. My old roommates were vegetarians so I’m used to it, and I would be perfectly happy on a mostly pescatarian diet, except I like the occasional steak (with herb butter, my reward), but my fiancé is a total meat and potatoes kind of guy, who is not a fan of fish. I have instituted a seafood night and a meat free night every week, and we still eat a vegetable heavy diet the rest of the time. I have found that in recent years it’s been so much easier to keep a healthy diet, even Chinese takeout places offer a healthy menu, without sauces! Gardening is a huge factor as well, because I know what I am putting into my veggies, and what I am getting out, besides a pack of seeds is still usually a dollar around here.

  10. Crystin

    I’m all for eating fish over meat. It’s always good to consider which fish are high and low in mercury levels and PCB’s, just to be on the safe side! For example: say yes to wild salmon, but no to swordfish and tuna!


    I read that book. That was pretty shocking and I cried and I think was a bit traumatized after reading it. I stopped eating meat after that for 6 months. Sticking to it was hard though specially that I had kids but it really affected my food choices since then. I haven’t had as many burgers ever since reading the book and though we still eat meat, we eat organic veggies as much as we can. We also stopped drinking soda. That book is truly life changing.

  12. Rachel Ward

    I love you posts on ABM and thought I would come over to your personal blog and poke around, really enjoying…not surprised, tho!

    I found that what has helped my family stick to a vegetarian diet that is mostly “vegan” or plant-based is moving even deeper into the benefits of, beyond the obviously wonderful health benefits and remembering the impact my choices outside of vegan have on the planet, animals etc. It has really made all the difference for us. That and learning really great subs for some of my fave cravings.

    Another treat that I have been able to significantly cut down on by changing how I think about it is chocolate. Once my daughter and I learned about the slavery that surrounds chocolate production our desire for the offending brands like hershey/Mars/Nestle etc. has deminished and subsequently we avoid chocolate unless we pick up some much more expensive fair trade bar from Whole Foods, so that has cut our consumption considerably.

    Just something to consider!


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