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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