I often feel as though food seems to go through trends just as quickly as fashion these days. However, to be vegan or even vegetarian, seem to withstand the various trendy diets or hip new workout regimens (Zumba or P90X, anyone?). It’s crazy to me that event the food/science industry can’t make up their mind from year to year. They change the daily recommended values of certain food groups like the fluid ounces one should drink of milk a day, for example. One day meat is okay then the next it’s recommended to cut down due to high cholesterol or other health factors. So, why is it that no one can definitively say what is a basic recommendation of food for a healthy lifestyle? Why do food choices have to be riddled with so many questionable factors such as quality of ingredients, treatment, or production?
After years of yo-yoing with my weight and eventually having a baby, I became determined to find a lifestyle that was both enjoyable (aka easily maintained) and left me feeling good inside and out. I loved Weight Watchers, but found that I became neurotic about the point counting. It would work while I was on the program, then gain some of that weight back when I wasn’t counting the points and logging my food everyday. Although I lost initial weight while on their program, I would plateau and quickly become frustrated. I also felt as though I shouldn’t have to pay a company to help me lose weight. I needed something that removed these blinders of fad diets or promises of weight loss and get back to basics.
Our Netflix documentary feed is filled with nutritional or food related movies and one cannot simply help but begin to understand why. Why do these documentaries keep popping up? Movies such as Forks Over Knives, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead I and II, Food, Inc., Cowspiracy, and most recently Food Choices. Each movie sheds the unfortunate light on how misguided we all are as American consumers of food and even food knowledge. What I have gathered is that we are stuck in a systematic cycle that equates to a dollar amount. From the medical field (because if we’re not sick doctors don’t get paid) to politics with institutions that should be regulating food quality, like the Food & Drug Administration.
Nutritional labels can no longer be trusted completely because of the fact that the FDA is behind it and they don’t exactly reflect the quality, or ingredients, in that particular product. Does bread really need 50 different ingredients that I can’t pronounce? What about those genetically modified or hormone-filled commercial farms? Or the fact that commercial farms are threatening to put local small scale farmers out of business. It’s sickening to know that we, as a society, have taken a very basic need, such as our food, and have turned it into something ugly that doesn’t only affect us in the present day, but will continue to affect future generations and our planet in the big picture.
If you haven’t seen them already, I highly recommend these food documentaries currently streaming on Netflix to, at the very least, expose you to some of the current studies and information available. Simply being aware is just the beginning, but it’ll give you great starting off places to those looking to make healthier food choices in 2017. If you’re not the documentary type, there are thousands of studies available online or books that present the same kind of material.
After wrapping my head around the information that was presented in all of these documentaries, along with my own understanding of nutrition, I set out to find which change in our diet would be the most beneficial. I knew I was still carrying baby weight, that I constantly felt bloated, and overall just slow. I knew that to relieve a lot of what I was experiencing had to do with my diet and level of activity on any given day. So, what were we eating that made me feel this way? It was more to do with what I wasn’t eating.
In retrospect, it’s kind of funny (in a sad way) to look back and realize that Greyson is eating more veggies than my husband and I; that we somehow put his nutrition at the forefront of our minds moreso than our own. After this becoming clear I knew that we needed to make a change and it needed to start with lowering our meat and animal products and up our intake of plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, grains, and everything in between.
We took a peek at what we were eating on a semi-regular basis and it consisted of: chicken, some beef and fish, fried or baked recipes, dairy, and the use of olive oils. Rarely would we have vegetable sides and if we did we either sautéed them or baked them. We were pretty good about going vegetarian every so often, but in the end where we thought we were making healthy food choices we knew it was a touch in the opposite direction. I mean, Eggplant Parmesan is absolutely delicious but the gooey Mozzarella I feel just sucks the nutritional value right off the eggplant, haha!
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t skeptical or even a touch nervous about making such a bold choice to let go of meat and meat products…at least part-time. We both were raised in families that had meat as a part of our daily diet; along with deli sandwiches, spaghetti with meat sauce, or steak and potatoes. As adults, it’s easy to realize how we’ve continued this mentality without much thought. However now that Greyson is in our lives, it’s important for us to begin thinking about how we’re raising him as he relates to food and food choices. In the end, we should be adopting more of the diet we’re feeding him, which includes more fresh veggies and lighter overall recipes.
One documentary in particular that I really enjoyed and learned the most from was Food Choices. In this film Michal Siewierski investigates the true benefits of veganism by asking the most common questions about health and how it relates to only eating a plant-based diet. He enlists the help of various doctors, nutritionists, lifestyle coaches, and real people who have positive health benefits from changing their diets to plant-based. He asks the very questions I’ve had myself and I was astounded to find the answers. This documentary was the catalyst for making a real change for me of which I am already seeing the benefits.
Noticing the benefits.
Over the last month since going plant-based I have noticed a significant difference in how full I feel, how lighter and less bloaty I am, and the amount of energy I have, which helps me keep up with Greyson. I’ve continued to run at least three times a week and with the combination I’ve actually been able to lose about a pound a week, although weight loss isn’t the real goal.
As much as I have really enjoyed this change in diet, I do have the exceptions during the weekend. I enjoy my wine or cocktails and I refuse to give up real cheese. Life is about enjoying every moment we have and my husband and I enjoy it through the love language of food and drink. I don’t feel guilty about these little pleasures of ours, but overall I am extremely happy with making the switch knowing that 90% of our diet is now health conscious and sustainable for both us as a family and the planet.
FAVORITES THUS FAR:
I really enjoy a cookbook that tells it to you straight; as if someone is in your kitchen really kicking your butt and explaining things like a normal person. The recipes look pretty great and already the Fire Roasted Salsa I made yesterday only lasted (barely) 24 hours. We have a couple things on the menu this week from Thug Kitchen like their street tacos, which we’re very excited about. If you haven’t taken a peek at this cookbook I highly recommend you do!
I received this cookbook from Blogging For Books a couple years ago and since I’m serious about going vegan throughout the week I decided to dust it off. We made the Kimchi Dumplings with a Fiery Miso Sauce and it’s one of my husband’s favorites. Who knew you could make a dough wrapper with no milk or eggs! Again, we’re excited to really dive into these cookbooks, as well as the numerous recipes online. If you’re interested, please feel free to follow my Plant-Based Meals board on Pinterest!