Things have been quiet on the blog lately. Energy and self-discipline are areas of my life that I’ve struggled with in the last few years, and it’s time for change.
This winter has been non-stop colds in this house, passing between my two kids and me (and occasionally my husband, but not quite so often). For months, I’ve either been sick, or exhausted from getting up in the night to sick, miserable kids. I’ve put this down to my son starting kindergarten – the first time he’s had exposure to childcare/school. Moving interstate may also be partially to blame, with new bugs here that we’re not used to.
I thought we were a healthy family, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, but we still keep getting sick. It was so frustrating, so it was time to make some changes. I wasn’t ready to jump into an extreme “no wheat, no grains, no dairy etc” diet. I decided to take…
Baby Steps to a Healthier Family
1. I started by stopping buying processed foods. Store-bought muesli bars and biscuits/cookies with no nutritional value disappeared from my pantry (with a bit of grumping from the kids!). I replaced this with baking my own biscuits, muffins and bars. At the very least, this removes the mysterious preservatives and additives from our diet, if not really improving your overall nutrition.
This step also took a time (and energy) commitment. It felt overwhelming at times, especially when you really want to make a change but feel so tired. I tried not to be too hard on myself, especially if I let the occasional packet of cookies in the trolley. I tried to stock the pantry with dried fruits (cranberries, sultanas and apricots are popular here) and nuts for when I didn’t keep up with the baking.
When you bake yourself, you realise how much butter/fat and sugar is in your diet! Which leads to the next baby step…
2. Make healthier substitutions in baking. After a little research, I started with the following:
- white or wholemeal spelt for wheat flour
- rapadura (also called paneela/succanat) for sugar
- nut milk for cow’s milk
- cacao for cocoa powder
These can mostly be substituted one for one. Things may taste a little different and you may need to adjust the liquid to flour ratio for spelt, depending on your source of spelt. It’s not a big change, but gives an increase in nutritional value of my baking.
Just a tip: don’t substitute cashew milk into your husband’s Milo without telling him – not a happy hubby!
3. After success with the first baby steps, I started looking for recipes for healthier snacks – bliss balls (nuts, dried fruit and cacao powder processed together) replace cookies, but still feel like a decadent treat. One great resource for “healthy treats” is the Quirky Cooking blog – lots of great information and delicious recipes.
4. Vegetables, vegetables and more vegies! I’ve mentioned before that I’ve never liked vegies. I (almost) always cook them for dinner, but don’t quite get to my 5 serves a day. Lunch is the time I need to replace some of those carbs with vegetables. I’m experimenting with making vegies “tasty” with vegetable pancakes and frittatas, and use carrot and capsicum sticks to eat healthy dips in the afternoon.
I’ve also joined a fruit and vegetable co-op – getting a big box of very fresh produce makes it a lot easier to fill up with vegies!
It’s all about progress, not perfection!
I’m making progress and feel like my health and energy levels are improving. With more energy, I feel like I have more time – to get back into blogging, to get back into exercise (another key piece of the energy puzzle), to enjoy playing with my kids more, and to get my crafty, creative juices flowing.
Regular exercise is the next baby step to focus on. I’m also considering a detox or more extreme eating program to kick a few bad habits (too much coffee and a chronic sweet tooth). Not sure what the right step is there though.
Are you just starting out?
If you’re just starting out on your real food journey and are looking for some resources to help you, this week’s eBook bundle at Bundle Of The Week is a great place to start – 5 eBooks for $7.40 (save more than 85% on the individual books):
The bundle includes:
- Real Food Basics by Kate Tietje
- Real Food Ingredient Guide by Kelly the Kitchen Kop
- Nourished Cooking by Sarah Smith
- Real Food Party Menus by KerryAnn Foster
- You Can Do This eCourse from Laura Coppinger
I don’t think you can ever have too much information or too many recipes, so I’ll be adding this to my collection. Click here to get the bundle.
Have you used diet to improve your health? What are your favourite healthy recipes or substitutions? Let me know in the comments.