Friday, May 25, 2012

Food For Thought Friday - "Convenience" foods

produce getting ready to be juiced
I've been feeling pretty good lately, been getting in my runs, starting to get in some strength training (thanks, Dana) and eating pretty well.

I have been obsessed lately with learning more and more about the food industry, going organic, maintaining health thru food, etc.

I swear. When you start delving into all this shit it really could make your head explode.

The food industry is nuts - it's almost not our fault that many of us walk around obese and sick. We are kind of set up for failure. Between franken-foods that are purposely processed to be non-satisfying and addicting, to marketing, to misinformation, to our own biology that still acts as if we could face a famine at any moment - we have a lot to fight and face.

We get swept up in hype. I was guilty too. I mean - I'm finally eating very clean for the most part and have lost 95% of the processed foods that were once in my life but I bought into all that marketing in a big, big, big way. A year ago, processed foods found their way into every meal. Easily. And I thought I was doing "good."

In the old days I would have a day like this and count it a HUGE healthy success.

Breakfast: a popular low fat breakfast cereal, skim milk,  fat free key lime pie yogurt, coffee with more skim milk and a packet of sweetener.

snack: a cereal bar / fruit

Lunch: Frozen low-fat entree, salad with some kind of fat free salad dressing

snack: microwave "light" butter pop-corn (94% fat free)

Dinner: small piece of chicken, instant mashed potatoes, some kind of veggie topped with spray fat-free "butter".

snack: Fat free ice cream, maybe some more fruit.

Now this would be considered a successful day for me and maybe it's still considered a successful day for some of you - I know my sister would think this was a good day… I would come in well with-in Weight Watcher points and it's the kind of day that supported weight loss even - I would have kept the calories and fat at a pretty good number.

BUT, knowing what I know now, I will never have a day like that again and consider it a "healthy day." All that processed food - has more unpronounceable words that I can count. Eating "food-like" products filled with chemicals is NOT healthy or good for us. They keep us hungry and hooked and some even say lead to disease.  Why would I give up cigarettes, lose weight, run for my health only to tempt fate with fake sweeteners and fat free frankenfoods?  I did it for YEARS.

I'm not judging if you like a little convenience food. I am no food angel - I am sure I will rely on some processed food or granola bar at some point in my life again. I just marvel at how healthy I thought it all was. I fell hook, line and sinker for all that marketing out there but when you flip that "healthy-looking" box to the back and read the ingredients - it's there in black and white - all those gross industrially-chemically sounding words just can't be good for us.

Ironically, I feel way more satisfied now. I am no longer fat-phobic. I eat avocado a few times a week, I drizzle healthy oils on my salads and use an organic coconut spread in my oatmeal. I snack on almonds, cashews and almonds, I'm enjoying healthy good foods that I had banned because I was so afraid of fat grams… I fill my plate with veggies and good grains like brown rice and quinoa. I top greek yogurt with fruit... I'm almost never hungry because I'm not trying to make some fake ice cream fill me up or satisfy me.

The weekends I will treat myself to one meal that could be questionable - like I might order a little chinese food or pick up some Greek food (but the greek food seems mostly OK tho high in fat.)

If I want a little ice-cream, I will have it. There's a homemade ice cream parlor up the street from me. So every so often we go and enjoy a little real ice cream.

I like to have a glass of red wine here and there or a dirty martini…

I'm not perfect. I don't want to preach.

Earlier I mentioned some of it is almost not our fault. I still agree with that to an extent but we need to take control over our food and choices by continually educating ourselves and arming ourselves with knowledge. We don't have to change everything all at once but we can take baby steps to better food and health.

I just would encourage you to reconsider some of the processed stuff and try to slowly replace what you can with more whole foods.

Thoughts? Do you ever feel like your head is going to explode as you learn more and more about this stuff?


Recommended viewing/reading:
The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat by Michael Pollan
Food Inc.
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
Hungry For Change


Dana White said...

Just picked up Omnivore's Dillema based on your recommendation. Thanks! Forks Over Knives is another GREAT documentary to add to the list :)

Unknown said...

Thanks! Forks Over knives is one I've been meaning to see - will try to get it ASAP!

Kim @ Living, Laughing & Losing said...

I feel the same way. I used to think I had a healthy day when almost every meal revolved around something processed. When I eat "cleaner" I feel more satisfied and I actually feel better physically.

Aimee @ Raising the Cameron Clan said...

So true! I love your honesty. Over the last month and a half I have been working hard to eliminate almost all processed food from my diet and my boys diet. Since this change I have lost 15 pounds and feel better than I have felt in years! Also, my boys behavior has changed dramatically for the better.

Erica Gorman said...

Awesome post and it seems our journeys in life are aligned. I am striving to eat more locally grown food and am replacing canned veggies with fresh veggies. My change was inspired by aiming to be greener in how I live and buying organic, locally grown food is better than buying shipped, canned food.

misszippy said...

You have come such a long, long way! You have a great, healthy approach to food now.

I agree that the food industry has done a number on our society. It's hard for people to see beyond that. All we can do is try to educate people in a non-pushy way to the benefits of whole foods. And hope to raise our kids with a good understanding of it all too.

Jason said...

and there in lies the beauty of it all. You can have that wine, candy, ice cream because you are no longer obsessed with it. You can eat foods and feel full for hour and understand your hunger queues and work with them. Its a beautiful thing and I commend you on your journey and promote you as the face of a person who knows where they came from and knows where they want to go. Bravo to you!

Daphne G said...

Very interesting. I have only seen a couple of your recommendations but will definitely be adding the rest to my wish list of things to sit back and watch. I am finding that after having lost more than 60 lbs on Weight Watchers I am having a hard time losing any more for over a year now. I am pretty sure my daily arsenal of processed foods have much to do with that. We are all different and like you said sometimes eating this way can result in weight loss and sometimes not. I am working on removing many of the processed foods from my diet as well as that of my family. I once asked a very fit and fabulous lady how she managed to stay so fit and healthy. She stated to me that she doesn't eat anything that comes from a can or a box. Nothing. I like that idea and am working on it. Admittedly, though... processed foods are addictive and very difficult to give up. After a couple of days the cravings are maddening! Wow, it's almost as bad as when I quit smoking and that really sucked!

Corrina said...

I've been on a similar journey the last few years. Next kids diets!! They eat more processed than I do, which isn't ok. I am not working this summer for the first time in ever and really hope to work on their preferences and intro some new stuff and have the time to prepare things for them!

Bailey @ Onederland or Bust! said...

I tried eating clean last year and I felt really great. Unfortunately, I fell back into the convenience trap. I don't eat a tone of processed food, but I know that I could do better (as I sip my coffee with 2 sweetner). We just bought a bbq and the past two nights I've eaten a ton of grilled veggies and today I have Quinoa soup for lunch. Baby steps :)

Paige said...

Love this post! I've been taking part in a weight loss/fitness competition and the main nutrional advice that my trainer gave me was to eat whole foods. I've lost 27lbs in 6 weeks simply be eating nothing but whole foods and stepping up my exercise. I feel sooo much better!

Christie @ Pathtothehalf said...

I feel the same way! I was first opened up to this information by Food Renegade. It literally makes me cringe when someone says "I ate healthy today!" and then we talk about what they ate and it is 2 frozen dinners and some 100 calorie snack packs. Thanks for posting this!