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.

16 thoughts on “Eating Better

  1. I was go­ing to go the seed/​nut route on my sal­ads. Sesame seeds, maybe some shaved al­monds. It’s funny how good a salad can taste with­out cov­er­ing it in all the salad bar crap that’s avail­able.

  2. I agree about por­tion con­trol, es­pe­cially when you love carbs like I do. But, I think I need to eat more than a 6-yr old Melinda and have fell in love with beer. 😉 I also love Quinoa and use that of­ten, in­stead of brown rice. 

    Great job on re­duc­ing — it will pay off in the long run — and thanks for shar­ing [un-Evangelistically].

  3. Melinda, I should say that I’m mostly done with por­tion con­trol as a weight loss mech­a­nism now that I’m at the right weight for me. I’m still keep­ing the same por­tion sizes for meals, but now I can have a few drinks or an ir­re­spon­si­bly large bowl of ice cream to keep me where I’m hap­pi­est. Moderation in all things in­clud­ing mod­er­a­tion!

  4. Adam, its your 2nd cousin, Melissa! I have been so im­pressed by your po­etry youtube & now this… I have also changed my Hoosier eat­ing ways for yrs.. It took about 10yrs of Mea’s 1st 10 to let go of the daily potato por­tion, but I did man­age to never make her jello!
    As a sin­gle par­ent, I learned the magic of one pot cook­ing ie… pasta & broc­coli, or peas or eggs & ham …its only ben this past yr that I have cut my pork eat­ing habits down 95%. ( Although when I was last in Logansport for a fu­neral I did honor my cousin who passed by eat­ing a pork ten­der­loin).

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