Eating Better

There are lots of meth­ods that folks evan­ge­lize about in terms of eat­ing bet­ter. I don’t like to lis­ten to evan­ge­lists, I learn from mod­el­ing and men­tors. I learned some good things this sum­mer that have helped me eat bet­ter and they’re pret­ty basic, so I want­ed to share. Not evan­ge­lize. I don’t expect these things to work for every­one, but some of the ways of think­ing about food may help change habits.

My fam­i­ly is all in Indi­ana. They eat like basic Hoosiers. Lots of meat and carbs. Basi­cal­ly every­thing from this cook­book would be right at home at one of my family’s din­ners. The only veg­eta­bles like­ly to appear are a sal­ad and green beans. But the sal­ad is a sev­en lay­er sal­ad drenched in ranch and cheese, and the green beans are in a casse­role. I start­ed mak­ing fruit sal­ads to bring to meals a few years ago. I can tell whether my friends or my fam­i­ly post­ed some­thing on Pin­ter­est based on a glance at the pho­to. If it’s super unhealthy it was post­ed by my fam­i­ly.

When I moved to Cleve­land, I took a fan­cy to cook­ing. I enjoy it. But for years all I knew how to make was Hoosier home cook­ing. I slow­ly grew fat­ter. This year, after top­ping out at 205, I decid­ed to lose some weight. I’m down to 185 now, and here’s how I did it.

  • Por­tion con­trol. I put my meals on sal­ad plates and only fed myself as much as I fed my son.
  • Tac­ti­cal willpow­er. Instead of hav­ing to exer­cise willpow­er at home all the time by avoid­ing junk food, I just used that willpow­er at the gro­cery. Don’t buy it there, you won’t have to resist it at home.
  • Eas­ing into bet­ter choic­es. I didn’t just go all veg­gies all the time. I start­ed buy­ing avo­ca­dos, and eat­ing half of one with a meal. I’d roast car­rots and broc­coli. I’d make the eas­i­est sal­ad imag­in­able: a hand­ful of spinach, a small splash of bal­sam­ic vine­gar, a dash of Parme­san. All easy, tasty, and un-intim­i­dat­ing.
  • Learn­ing by exam­ple. I learned a great many easy things to do with rice and veg­eta­bles in a very short time by being in the kitchen with some­one who knew how to do things I didn’t. Find­ing a friend or mak­ing a new friend with some­one who is handy in the kitchen in ways that you aren’t is great!

That’s basi­cal­ly it. After awhile I start­ed crav­ing my now dai­ly sal­ad. I look for­ward to mak­ing an avo­ca­do, beet and goat cheese sand­wich. Hell, you just have to steam, peel, and slice the beet. It’s not hard. The fla­vors take care of them­selves. And because my por­tion sizes are small­er, and veg­eta­bles slow­ly increased in per­cent­age, I’m eat­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly less carbs and meat. I’m not becom­ing veg­e­tar­i­an, but my diet is much clos­er to a veg­e­tar­i­an diet than it was. I don’t dis­dain junk food, the Pop Tarts I just had are proof against that. But the four lit­tle changes I made have added up to a big dif­fer­ence.

Food evan­ge­lists demand­ing a sea change in eat­ing habits did not affect me. Being around peo­ple who were good dietary mod­els but not preachy about it and mak­ing my own small choic­es has made much more of an impact.