I thought I would start the new year off talking about something more related to doctoring than race walking, although this definitely applies to both. Given that it is the new year, I’ve had so many questions about diet in my office lately. Everyone is wanting to try something new, make a resolution, and know what is going to be the best way for them to get healthy this year. I am not into fad diets, or new year’s resolutions for that matter, but I am always excited to talk about healthy eating and nutrition.
First off, I am a firm believer in the value of nutrition and how much what we eat impacts our health in more ways than we ever realize. What we use to fuel our bodies can make us healthy, keep us healthy, or lead to chronic diseases, all depending on what we choose to put on our plates. There is not one right way to eat, nutrition is about making healthier choices over less healthy ones. I have always considered myself a healthy eater, but my diet has evolved a lot over the last several years and it continues to do so as I realize how much better I feel by putting better fuel in my body.
So now for the question that I get asked most often, “What do you eat?” My husband jokingly likes to answer people “a lot”, which I won’t deny but I still think it is the quality that matters most. My family and I eat what would best be described as a whole-foods plant-based diet. Basically eating real foods that are as minimally processed as possible. Foods that are as close to how nature made them. We eat a wide variety of foods, a “colorful diet” with as many different fruits and veggies as we can find locally. We do eat meat, but the bulk of our diet is plants, and we make sure to incorporate fruits and veggies with every meal.
It is hard to describe exactly what we eat, but the things that we eat and stock in bulk are bananas, berries, beets, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, whole-milk yogurt, eggs, salmon, beef, oats, nuts, beans, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, almond flour, and quinoa. Sweeteners we use are honey, maple syrup, dates, and molasses. We make almost all of our meals at home and spend a ton of time in the kitchen as a family. We usually spend most of a day on the weekend preparing food for the week, we’ll make a batch of granola, a pot of broth, muffins for school lunches, roasted root veggies, and some sort of grain salad that will keep in the fridge for the week. It is very time-intensive but we see it as an investment in our health and also quality time that we get to spend together.
There is always consideration into where we get our foods. Finding produce is not easy living rurally, we have been using community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs for the last several years. Customers buy into a share of produce from a local farm, and they deliver food usually on a weekly basis. Most are seasonal but we have had some that are greenhouse based and are year-round. They are available lots of places and are a great way to get high-quality, fresh produce while supporting local farmers. Currently we get most of our produce and beef from Winter Green Farm. Being a part of these programs has also encouraged us to try lots of new things that we otherwise might not have, it is always a fun challenge to eat everything that comes in our box.
Does what we eat actually taste good? Yes! I suppose that is very subjective, but a lot of the flavor in food comes from fat, which many people try to avoid. Healthy sources of fat not only taste good, but they are necessary for our health. Proteins and carbohydrates are necessary as well. I much prefer to eat healthy foods than to count calories, it makes eating much more enjoyable as well as tasting better.
Cost is something that comes up a lot when I am talking to people about healthy eating. Yes, healthy foods can cost more than processed packaged foods, but think of it as an investment in your longterm health, saving on healthcare costs and medications down the road. One thing I don’t do often is eat out, partly because it is hard to get healthy foods at many restaurants but also because it is expensive and we can afford to eat healthier at home when we are not eating out. Many people equate “healthy” with “organic”, but there are many foods that are nearly the same organic or not. Other people think of healthy as the nutrition section at the grocery store, and while some healthy options can be found there, there are also lots of processed foods that get stuck there as well. You don’t have to shop in the nutrition section to get healthy foods.
There is so much more to say about nutrition, I will try and do some more posts throughout the year. For now, I hope you see healthy eating as a way to feel better and to get and keep yourself healthy so that you can enjoy what matters to you. Invest in your health and eat some quality food this year!