Two More Healthier Habits

posted by Andrea | 01/9/2017

I’ve had this post “brewing” for several months now, but I decided to wait until the beginning of the new year since not many people want to read about healthier habits right before the holiday season 🙂

I suspect many of you will be focusing on your own healthier habits over the next few months, so I figured it was perfect timing to share TWO more healthier habits I hope to follow through on this year.

As you might know already, I’m not a huge health nut.

I don’t do fad diets (or really any diets), I don’t count calories, I don’t stress about eating organic, I willingly eat some processed foods (and feed it to my family), and I rarely exercise outside of normal daily movement.

HOWEVER, over the past 5+ years, I’ve made a conscious effort to SLOWLY incorporate several healthier habits into my (and my family’s) daily routine. I’m sharing my healthier habits from past years later in this post, but first…

My 2017 Healthier Habits:

Being ever-faithful to my “all things in moderation” approach to healthier living, I have 2 pretty simple healthier habits I hope to incorporate into my daily routine this year.

1. Start flossing.

I never floss… EVER!

Dave, on the other hand, has always faithfully flossed twice a day (you think it would rub off on me after 10+ years).

Although I currently have no dental issues, I know flossing is important — and I think (hope) 2017 will be the year I finally start flossing on a daily basis.

My goal is once per day — I think I can do that!

2. Use maple syrup instead of Mrs. Butterworth

I’ve been thinking about making the switch to real maple syrup for a long time already (probably close to 2 years) but I’ve never done anything about it since I personally prefer the taste of the “corn syrup syrups” over real maple syrup.

Plus, it’s SO EXPENSIVE!

However, considering the fact that I make pancakes or waffles almost every single morning, I figure my kids have already consumed gallons of corn syrup in their short lives… not exactly ideal.

I know there will lots of push back from everyone when I make the switch (I’m waiting until we use up the last of our gigantic jug of Mrs. Butterworth) but I’ve already been coming up with ways to win them over when they whine for their old favorite syrup!

NOTE: After reading through this post, Dave requested that I consult him before making any future healthier habits as he is NOT in favor of maple syrup 🙂


Are you feeling motivated yet?

If so, here’s a look at my past healthier habits:

2016 = Eat less processed meats.

I started out really strong with this new habit. I was making beef roasts, turkeys, chickens, hams, and steaks on a regular basis — and then using that meat for lunches, soups, casseroles, and leftovers. Delicious!

Then summer hit and we broke out the salami and summer sausage with cheese and crackers (my kids FAVORITE!) I tried to get back on track when school started, but then it was just so easy to buy deli meat for Dave’s lunch — and the kids were still begging for summer sausage.

So, I’m still making beef roasts, turkeys, chickens, hams, and steaks for dinner (and eating these for my own lunches) but I’m also buying Dave his beloved deli meat and letting my kids eat summer sausage. At least for now!

Here’s the link to the amazing steak dry rub pictured below.

2015 = Eat better quality breads and healthier fats

We are still rocking this habit 2 years later. We eat much higher quality, more nutritious bread, and I’ve even started making some bread and rolls from scratch again (although I have no intentions of doing this exclusively).

We’re using high quality olive oil on a regular basis, I keep telling myself that hummus tastes just as good on raw vegetables as ranch, and the kids will eat avocados… as long as they are “disguised” as guacamole!

No one in our family can get on board with “natural peanut butter” though, so we’re sticking with Jif on that one 🙂

2014 = Eat less processed cheeses and full fat dairy. (Sorry, no link for this one)

I come from a long line of skim milk, low-fat yogurt, margarine, Kraft Singles, and Velveeta cheese lovers… and while my kids and I will still eat any of those items, I decided that it was time for some healthier, more nutritious substitutes in our fridge.

My grocery cart is literally 50% dairy products almost every single week, so switching to higher quality cheese and full-fat dairy was a HUGE blow to my grocery budget. But considering how much cheese, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, butter, and milk our family consumes on a weekly basis, I have a feeling the extra cost is worth it.

As an example: I buy SIX 32 0z. tubs of yogurt every week (plus several individual cups of yogurt for Dave’s lunches). I stock up on block cheese when it goes on sale, but I estimate our family eats at least 3-4 pounds of cheese every week. We go through 3+ gallons of milk every week, 2 pounds of sour cream, 2 pounds of cottage cheese, and at least a pound of butter — more if I’m doing a lot of baking.

I still let my kids have gogurts as a snack, I still use already shredded cheese for my casseroles, and I don’t stress about buying “full fat” if I can’t find it on my once-weekly grocery trip; but for the most part, we’ve stuck to eating much better cheeses and full-fat dairy for the past 3 years.

I honestly can’t say I’ve noticed any health difference in my own life, so I guess it’s just psychological that I KNOW we’re eating higher quality!

2013 = Swap butter for margarine.

I’ve known that margarine is not a healthy or nutritious food for years — but the cost of butter over margarine swayed me every time.

Since 2013, I have swapped butter for margarine about 97% of the time. There are still one or 2 baking recipes that turn out so much better with margarine versus butter, so I reserve the right to keep some margarine in my freezer 🙂

I also still keep Crisco in my pantry because I make this amazing M&M cookie recipe that uses straight Crisco… and butter just doesn’t cut it!

Here’s a really quick tip to soften cold butter without melting it… and here’s how the kids and I made our own butter!

This was also the year I started walking a lot more — at the time, I just walked with Nora, but now I regularly take all 3 kids on daily walks to run errands around our small town.

2012 = Drink more water

I’ve been a big water drinker ever since college, but I kicked it up a notch in 2012, and have been drinking tons of water ever since.

When Nora was born in November of 2o11, I almost instantly began to feel thirsty ALLLLLL the time. My lips were chapped, my skin was dry, and I knew it was more than the cold winter chapped skin.

I quickly learned that nursing a baby ’round the clock requires lots more water consumption — and since then, I’ve been pretty conscious about how much water I drink each day.

My goal is to drink two 24-oz. water bottles (this is the water bottle I’ve used for years) and I can usually tell pretty quickly if I’m falling behind. I’ll start feeling very thirsty, sometimes I’ll get a headache, and I even start feeling lethargic — all just because I’m not getting enough water. If I go more than a couple days without as much water, I can even start to see a difference in my skin!


I hope you see that even though I’ve been quite intentional about adding several healthier habits into my life, I have done it VERY SLOWLY (over the course of many years.)

I’ve made one or two SMALL changes at a time, and I didn’t add more changes or more goals until the previous changes had become true habits for me (to the point where I didn’t need to think about them anymore).

This slow-but-sure method basically eliminated any sort of overwhelming feeling I so often hear from others who try to completely overhaul their diet or their health journey in one huge New Year’s Resolution.

Also, with each of these new healthier habits, I leave some wiggle room. There are always exceptions to every “rule” — we eat summer sausage, Mrs. Butterworth, Jiffy peanut butter, processed cheese, and gogurts on occasion, and we are still alive.

FOOD is not a battle I’m willing to fight, or a hill I’m willing to die on.

I will do my best to give my family healthier, more nutritious options and model a healthier lifestyle for them, but I won’t drive myself crazy if I can’t find full-fat yogurt at the grocery store or my kids eat Mrs. Butterworth syrup with a spoon (hypothetically, of course!)

If you’re on a quest for a healthier, more nutritious diet, I’d highly encourage you to start small. Make one or two small changes this year… and do your best to stick with them until they become a habit. Then, and only then, consider adding one or two more small changes.

Over time, it WILL make a difference… and in a couple years, you might just be amazed how far you’ve come!


Filed under: FamilyHealth

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  1. Meg


    How funny, our family has just switched over to real maple syrup, too! For the exact same reasons as you. So far the switch has gone reasonably well for us, hope your kiddos get on board soon, too! Fun post!


  2. Marisa


    Hilarious about Dave’s comment! I remember deciding to use real maple syrup about 10 years ago, getting all excited about it, and then discovering that I really didn’t care for it very much. So funny!

    Hummus is good on almost anything, but I think I prefer it with starches than with just plain veggies. My favorite: thickly spread hummus in a toasted pita pocket, add freshly sliced tomatoes & sprinkle with salt & basil.

    Do you use coconut oil much? I’ve discovered that it’s amazingly good on some things (the unrefined kind with the coconut flavor left in). My 3 year old prefers it to butter on toast. It adds a delicious flavor to oatmeal. And I’ve found that salmon pan-fried in coconut oil is FANTASTIC.