2 Simple Healthier Habits I’m Working On This Year

posted by Andrea | 01/14/2015
Print pageEmail page

fruit bowl

For those of you who have been hanging around my blog for a while, you most certainly know that I am NOT a health nut.

Yes, we eat a balanced diet, lots of fruits and veggies, a mix of from-scratch and semi-homemade meals, and I drink a TON of water. However, I have a huge sweet-tooth, Dave and I love Culver’s, and I’m always a fan of those recipes that save me time by starting with a box or a bag of something.

I’m not totally against all processed foods, I don’t eat all natural or organic, and unless it’s medically necessary at some point in my life, you won’t catch me going gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, or participating in any of the other super restrictive diets on the market today.

Of course, I don’t think it’s bad or crazy or ridiculous if you are a hard-core “foodie” (just don’t look in my pantry or freezer!) I also don’t think it’s bad to eliminate certain foods from your diet, do periodic cleansing diets, or eat certain foods based on food sensitivities or allergies.

That’s just not how I choose to deal with food. 

If someone told me, “you must stop eating sugar” I would literally crave sugar 24/7 and probably end up eating significantly more sugar than I would have before.

Similarly, if someone told me, “you can never ever eat bread again” I would most likely become consumed with the thought of eating bread, different bread-laden recipes, and the smell of freshly-baked bread. (Seriously, let’s hope I never need to be gluten-free for more than 2 hours!)

For my entire life, I have had an “Everything In Moderation” approach to food — which I’m sure started with my parents. We almost always had dinner together as a family — and while it was never “gourmet” it almost always consisted of a meat, a potato or starch, at least 1 or 2 vegetables, and some sort of fruit. We also, always had dessert. ALWAYS!

Food was rarely ever a privilege or a punishment — it was just food. It was there to eat when we were hungry, or pass up when we weren’t — and yes, we were allowed to snack frequently throughout the day.

I don’t remember ever worrying about how much I was eating, what I was eating, or what I wasn’t eating. I also honestly don’t remember thinking of food as “bad” or “good” until later in high school when I obviously knew which foods were healthier options than others.

Even still, I can truthfully say that I’ve never gone on a diet, I’ve never counted calories, and I try not to weigh myself very often because I just don’t like the idea of turning food (something that I love so much) into this game of what I should and shouldn’t eat or obsessing over 1 extra pound.

scale

photo source

However, over the past few months, I’ve been feeling the desire to expand my food horizons a bit and allow myself to “splurge” on a few more healthier grocery options.

1. I’ve been buying much healthier breads (we eat a lot of bread)

2. I’ve been experimenting with eating healthier fats — my food blogging friend Liz explained these as “fats that don’t come from animals”

These are not huge changes — but they are a start.

They are not life-altering — but they are simple and specific, so I can easily stick with them.

.

With just 2 simple food goals in mind, I can easily navigate my way through the grocery store (with 2 kids trying to distract me) without feeling overwhelmed by a massive amount of changes to my diet.

I simply buy all the “regular” groceries on my list, but swap in healthier whole grain bread in place of the $0.99 cheep-o bread I used to buy, and add in a few extra healthier fats like high-quality nut butters, avocados, hummus, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

healthier food options

I want to make it VERY clear that this is NOT a diet or an attempt to lose weight. I honestly don’t even know if I’ll feel any different or notice any obvious changes — and I’m totally OK with that.

I have no intentions of eliminating anything from my current diet, nor do I plan to restrict what I eat in any way. I will not stop eating our monthly Culver’s meal, our Sunday night frozen pizzas, or snacking on M&M’s with Nora while Simon is sleeping. I will not feel guilty indulging in dessert after dinner each night, enjoying an occasional PB&J on deliciously soft white bread, or having a bowl of ice cream before bed.

However, I WILL consciously choose yummy turkey avocado sandwiches on whole grain bread for lunch, dip my raw veggies in hummus instead of ranch, switch to a hard boiled egg and apples with peanut butter instead of another brownie, and add a few almonds to my daily M&M’s snack 🙂

almonds and m&ms

I know I technically haven’t shared a list of my personal goals for 2015, but don’t worry, I’m sure I will eventually. I’ve just been thinking about these food goals a lot over the past month or so, and I’m excited about the simple changes I’ve made in my diet already.

I figured that since SO many people make food and dieting goals in the new year, I’d share my ultra-simplified take on a food goal — in case there are any other non-foodies out there who are just looking for one or two healthy-habit food tweaks to make.

I know that I’ve always been somewhat intimidated by the thought of making a food or healthy-living goal because that’s just not “my thing”. However, by keeping things REALLY simple and focusing on a couple very specific (yet do-able) changes to incorporate into my current diet, I haven’t felt even the slightest twinge of panic or intimidation.

In fact, I’ve felt empowered! 

Please know that I have no intention of turning this blog into a healthy-living blog, nor do I plan to talk much more about these 2 simple diet tweaks. The main reason I wanted to share this post with you today is to get you thinking about 1 or 2 small, simple changes you can make in your own life this year.

Obviously you shouldn’t feel the need to choose these same changes — and they don’t even need to be food or health related. Just some sort of small positive change you can focus on and work towards this year.

I promise, those small positive changes will add-up over time, and (in my experience) expand into more small, simple, positive changes.

Are you making any small, simple, positive changes?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Filed under: LifeFoodMisc.HealthDaily LifeGoals

 
 

Leave a comment

38 comments

  1. Sharon

    09/29/2015

    Have you tried avocado oil? It is amazing! I use it to sauté veggies and make vinaigrette dressing. Also, I suggest you use a good quality olive oil…not one from the grocery store. They cost more, but are definitely worth the money! You have inspired me to make some small changes in my life too. Thanks for that!
    Sharon

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    No, I haven’t tried avocado oil — but I also don’t deviate from our one grocery store stop. I get everything I can from Meijer, and don’t make any other stops 🙂 I suppose I could look for it on Amazon.com though!

    [Reply]

  2. Lauren

    03/04/2015

    What kind of frozen pizza do you buy? We’ve tried several different brands and they all taste kind of blah.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    We mostly just eat the Meijer brand (which is the store brand by us). It’s AMAZING!!! They have a four-meat, a four-cheese, and a chicken parmesean that are our 3 favorites.

    [Reply]

  3. Kristin @ The Gold Project

    01/15/2015

    Thank you for keeping it real. It is so refreshing to see someone that feels little steps are great. When you turn on the tv or look online, people trying to act like eliminating everything out of your diet is the way to go. I am trying to do the same thing in my household with the better food choices. I appreciate this post!

    [Reply]

  4. Dorie

    01/15/2015

    Interesting…….. I been trying to cut out vegetable oil , trans-fats and go back to using animal fats. I do use olive oil and coconut oil. I also don’t believe in dieting but lifestyle changes.

    [Reply]

  5. Michelle Bonk

    01/15/2015

    Those sound like great, doable food related goals.

    My goals for this year are simple when it comes to food … trying to cut back on the “white fluffies” ..bread, sugar, etc. … and just trying to be more mindful of what I eat. If I want a sweet treat, I’ll have it but make sure I’m actually enjoying it and not just grabbing a sweet snack afternoon just because.

    Happy 2015!

    [Reply]

  6. shalomew

    01/14/2015

    Great post!Two great tangible doable small changes.

    I love Gretchen Rubin and her Happiness Project book and blog. Reading your post about your attitude toward never eating bread again etc… made me think about one thing she writes about that really hit home with me and has changed how I deal with myself. You are a moderator and I am abstainer. It is FAR EASIER for me to say I won’t ever eat something again than it is to use the everything in moderation approach that works for you.

    Check out just one of her many posts on the topic and see which you might be and how it can effect your habits regarding food and other things. Self Knowledge is so powerful and fighting your natural tendencies can be a recipe for failure over and over again.

    http://www.gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2012/05/quiz-are-you-an-abstainer-or-a-moderator/

    Great Post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    LOVE that link!! Thanks so much for sharing! I’m most definitely a moderator 🙂

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    Shalomew, I was also reminded of Rubin’s abstainer/moderator dichotomy! I think she hits the nail on the head.

    Andrea, I agree that small changes are the way to go. Over the past nine years, my periodic small changes have TOTALLY transformed my diet for the better. Never say never–you might give up sugar yet! I had a sweet tooth like you and now I never touch the stuff.

    [Reply]

  7. Karen S.

    01/14/2015

    I really enjoyed this post! That is exactly how my family feels about food. My in laws lived to be 89 and 94 and this is exactly how they approached food. Except they ate the cheap bread ~ lol and my father in law ate whatever cereal they had coupons for ~ even kiddie cereal ~ that always cracked me up. They ate out lunch most of the time. They ate anything, small portions, and got in a daily walk. Neither of them had a weight problem and were not on medications ever. I always think of them as the way eating should be approached ~ simple. I did however give up my beloved diet soda almost two years ago.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Dave and I often talk about how our grandparents are all in their upper 80’s and the ones who have died were in their 90’s — good genes 🙂

    [Reply]

  8. Debby

    01/14/2015

    Great post. My 2015 goal (Mantra) is healthy body, mind, and spirit. I started this with cleaner eating. My daughters are 17 and 19 so if they don’t like what I am making for my husband and I they are free to make something of their own choosing. We eat a lot of stir fry. It’s quick and we love it. I said the same thing. Not going to go crazy and not going to say i will never eat such and such again. Just more mindful. I hit the 50th birthday this year and I have a lot of great things ahead of me and I want to be healthy and enjoy them. And I love M & M’s mixed with almonds. 🙂

    [Reply]

  9. Jennifer T.

    01/14/2015

    I love this Blog post, Andrea! Your thoughts on keeping nutrition simple is spot on. I also applaud the two areas you chose to make your changes. Whole grains and heart healthy fats as part of a balanced diet are a sensible approach to simple, healthy eating. Consider yourself endorsed by a practicing Registered Dietitian 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jennifer! Glad to know I have your “professional” approval 🙂

    [Reply]

  10. Kristen

    01/14/2015

    I really really like your thoughts on this. I’ve been doing the same for several months now. We’ve never been a big processed food family but I can’t seem to break these kiddos of boxed mac and cheese and the OCCASIONAL chicken nuggets. lol I normally try to have a smoothie a day with them and add spinach. I have also taken up Jazzercise, which although it’s a struggle to get there sometimes, I feel so much better after. I have a goal weight in mind but I’m not dieting, instead, I’m watching portions, drinking more water and trying to get a workout in each day…I love having several at home DVD options for that. I weigh myself every once in a while but for me, it’s when my clothes feel good and most importantly, I feel good that does the most for me. I also grew up with a mom who always seemed to have a dessert ready, especially on the weekends. It was nothing to sit down with a brownie sundae at 10pm! I still eat those sundaes but not just as late. Life is short, you have to enjoy!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hey, you don’t need to justify mac and cheese or chicken nuggets to me — they are two of Nora’s favorite foods 🙂
    And yes, Dave and I have had brownies sundaes the past 2 nights (Probably later than we should have too!)

    [Reply]

  11. Ildy

    01/14/2015

    Andrea, your “no fuss” attitude towards food is so refreshing! A change I made is to drink more milk. By the way, I got a tip once from a dietitian to search for a bread with whole wheat flour being listed as the first ingredient rather than water.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks 🙂 I know that I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the “all or nothing” blogs out there saying you should NEVER eat this or ONLY eat that. It’s just a recipe for failure unless your whole life is obsessed and consumed with food (which doesn’t sound that great to me!)

    I figured a bit more relaxed approach to healthier eating was more my style 🙂

    [Reply]

    Ildy Reply:

    I sometimes even question the authenticity of those blogs…ups 🙂

    [Reply]

  12. Jane

    01/14/2015

    I have a question which has probably been answered. (Sorry!) I remember reading that you eat a lot of hard boiled eggs. How often do you cook them and how long do you keep them? I keep saying I want to make them and have them on hand for meals/snacks for us but never do….

    BTW, I did miss your 12/24 post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Jane, glad you “finally” saw the 12/24 post and are now up-to-date with live in the Dekker house 🙂

    As for the eggs, yes, I eat A LOT of them! I do 12 at a time and I actually do them in the oven. I put them in a mini muffin tin, preheat the oven to 325*F and bake them for 30 minutes. Then put them in ice water for 10 minutes. Good as gold and SO easy!

    [Reply]

  13. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    01/14/2015

    Love, love, love this, Andrea! I am making two simple healthier choices too. I’m making my own bread this year (with help from my bread machine) and trying to avoid foods with high fructose corn syrup. Baby steps, but something is always better than nothing! And like you said, these are two things I can do without being overwhelmed. Besides, for me, personally, I’d rather buy a variety of fruits and vegetables than just a couple that are organic. It’s nice to hear from others who think similarly!

    [Reply]

  14. Lauren

    01/14/2015

    I love this! I have a similar attitude about food. I’ve tried restrictive diets before and I always feel off balance when I’m on them. My focus this year is to eat a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything. Basically to eat a balanced diet!

    [Reply]

  15. Chris

    01/14/2015

    It’s funny you mention the PBJ on soft white bread. I usually buy wheat, buy I love to have that “soft white bread” for BLT’s. On a side note, where I live, there are bread outlet stores and you can things for 50 cents sometimes – even the very expensive breads. I know you are limited on time though with two children, but I thought I’d pass on the info.

    [Reply]

  16. lydia @ Five4FiveMeals

    01/14/2015

    That Arnold bread is my husband’s favorite. And since he is the opposite of a healthy eater I am happy to buy it. Plus, Publix often has it on sale so it comes out to $1.50 and I buy a bunch and freeze it.

    I am trying to drink more water. That’s the only health “resolution” I made.

    [Reply]

    Tracey Reply:

    Same here…and we freeze a bunch when it’s on sale, too!

    [Reply]

  17. susie

    01/14/2015

    I also did these changes, but years ago- my husband would always remind me, “good food is expensive but worth it”…. now I realize junk food can be really expensive too!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, junk food can be JUST as expensive 🙂

    [Reply]

  18. Jennifer

    01/14/2015

    I think these small changes in habit, a little at a time, are really the best way to make changes without getting overwhelmed.

    My second tip would be that whatever ‘resolution’ you make always be in the form: ‘Under normal circumstances I will….’. That leaves you a way out for the bad days or the times when things are too crazy! As a natural perfectionist (extremist?), I need to work these caveats into the agreements I make with myself!

    I’ve generally found that when I make a change to my diet, I go extreme at the start and then eventually pull back a little and find a happy equilibrium that is ultimately better than where I was before. I have a weakness for potato chips (more than chocolate!), and I used to eat them every day with lunch. Then I stopped, and it was hard to go cold turkey like that. But now, I’ve stopped missing them on a daily basis, but I do still buy them as an occasional treat, usually a bag that we can eat up in a few days. Yes, maybe it would be better to eat none at all, but I feel like now I probably eat them in 1/8 of the quantity I used to overall (and you better bet I enjoy them when I do!), so that’s a great improvement!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jennifer. You probably have a very opposite approach to these types of goals — but it sounds like we both end up in about the same place (better off than we were before). I am VERY hesitant to make any extreme changes because I know extreme doesn’t go over well with me 🙂

    [Reply]

  19. Siobhan

    01/14/2015

    Great post! Ive recently started adding (sneaking) a handful of fresh spinach into my daughters’ morning fruit smoothie 🙂 They ‘re 5 and 3 and will not eat spinach otherwise. It doesn’t change the taste and I’m happy they get some greens in to start the day.

    I like the idea of adding almonds into the m&m’s…going to do that with my kiddos this week.

    Also, over a decade ago (feels like a lifetime ago) I worked as a registered dietitian & group fitness instructor. You are doing it right…small, poisitve changes over time is the way to go. A favorite quote of mine I keep in my recipe book is “our food is our medicine, our medicine is our food.” Obviously, we have to enjoy our food but it’s always good to keep in mind that food is our fuel 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, I put frozen spinach in our fruit smoothies too 🙂

    [Reply]

  20. Evie

    01/14/2015

    Thanks for this post, Andrea.

    For me, the first small healthy change came a few years ago when I started glancing at package ingredient lists and passing up on anything containing trans fat. No agony, because I believed the science. It got easier as more manufacturers got on board with eliminating trans fat from their products, but it’s still out there and I still read labels to avoid it.

    The next thing I did was switch to using only olive oil, and my third big shift was to incorporating a ton more veggies and fruits in our day. These two changes have been easy, because everything tastes so good that there’s no virtue or obligation involved, only yum!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like good changes to me!

    [Reply]

  21. Organize 365

    01/14/2015

    I have anxiously been awaiting your 2015 goals post. 🙂

    [Reply]

  22. Tammy @ SkipperClan

    01/14/2015

    Simple changes like this is what I started just over 10 years ago. One thing at a time so it wasn’t overwhelming AND so I could see if we really felt the benefits. I grew up almost ONLY on processed foods (pop tarts for breakfast, bologna sandwiches on white bread at lunch with a snack cake, and frozen pizza for dinners). Foods like avocado, almonds, olive oil TASTE good and happen to be healthier too. I started by changing our bread then reducing how much I ate of in period. When making baked goods from scratch, I use NON bleached flour now (I mean, does my flour really need to be processed with bleach before I eat it? if so, that would make a great case for not eating it at all). I too plan to enjoy food more than obsess over it, but I’m finding a paleo-style eating plan leaves me enjoying the meal and feeling fuller much longer so I’m happy to do it. That sounds like the key of what you shared: when you can make a healthy change and still just ENJOY the food then there is great balance. {And we still make those banana chocolate chip muffins about 4x per year cause…YUM!!}

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Tammy — I had no idea you were paleo(ish). That’s impressive — although not something I’m striving for at this point. Also, glad to know you’re still making and eating the banana chocolate chip muffins!!

    [Reply]