My food philosophy these days has three main parts:
1. Eat Real Food
2. Eat Ethically
3. Eat Frugally
My first attempt at this was getting too long, so let me address these one at a time…
Eat Real Food
As mentioned in my previous post one of the starting points for me on this road was finding 100 Days of Real Food. This blog inspired me to look more closely at what we were eating and cut out the junk. Not just the double-stuffed Oreos kind of junk, but the junk that hides in the ready made food packing the supermarket shelves.
It’s easier said than done. When I first decided I was going to clean up our diet I took to the panty with a bag and piled in all the offending products. I was on a mission and declaring our house a junk free zone. Cereal- out. Milo- out. Biscuits- out. Luckily I cooked a lot from scratch already so I didn’t end up emptying the cupboards, but all the snack and convenience foods were banished. Admittedly though, only banished to my parents house to feed my little brother. Technically that’s not really a nice move since I’d decided that it wasn’t food worth eating, but putting it in the bin felt too much like throwing money away. Anyway, we did well on the real food path for a while until a holiday in Europe derailed the train a little.
A year or so later the train completely lost sight of the rails when I fell pregnant. Ideally, one would think that the desire to nourish a growing baby would lead a person to improve their eating habits. I wanted to, I really did. But I have to admit that the constant hangover symptoms and exhaustion of early pregnancy led me to indulge in more trips through the McDonalds drive-thru than I care to think about. Certainly more than I ever would have made before I’d even heard of ‘real food’. Once the baby was out though I felt a renewed commitment to eating well, to lose the baby weight and get myself and my family healthy. I want to set an example for my son and any future siblings he may have.
I also finally got around to reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food (the inspiration for the Leake family of 100 Days of Real Food). This book so clearly sums up what is wrong with the western food culture of today, how eating got to be so complicated in the first place, and offers some sensible advice on what, in fact, you should eat. Pollan boils it all down to this “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He also condenses his thoughts into some catchy guidelines for eating in his book Food Rules, including “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.” That is an approach to food that I can get on board with.
Now we’re back on track. Sort of. It’s an ongoing process.
We focus on a mostly whole food diet. For me this means following (as closely as possible) the ‘rules‘ that are nicely set out by 100 Days of Real Food. I do still have a weakness for refined flour and sugar that is hard to kick. Especially since I enjoy cooking and eating desserts and sweet treats. I still make my own baked treats far more often than I buy additive-laden shop treats, but I’m working to cut down on those too, or at least opt for whole food approved sweet treats more often than not.
I do feel that there needs to be an allowable amount of processed food for social and enjoyment reasons. I’d like to aim for 90/10 balance, although we’re probably sitting at around 80/20. The exact definition of an ‘allowable amount’ is a source of ongoing discussion between myself and my husband.
Managing this balance is going to be a work in progress, especially now the kiddo is eating almost everything and people want to feed him things. Stay tuned.