Two years ago, I lived off of quick, easy and convenient "foods". I had no interest in eating what I now consider real food. I loved the, (what I now know are processed), foods I ate, and I believed they were "working" for me. I didn't like cooking because I wasn’t creative with preparing meals and always relied on a recipe to do anything interesting. Most of the time, I didn't want to follow a complicated recipe, nor did I have the time. By using packaged/processed foods, I avoided recipes and the pressure to get creative. Moms - is this story starting to sound familiar??
Little did I know, eating this way, my family and I were not getting the nutrients we needed. I never really thought about that part of eating - that by consuming real food my body would get the vitamins and minerals it needed to be healthy and function properly. I was keeping myself and my children fed, with limited sweets and no fast food, so I considered us an exceptionally healthy family. Unfortunately, that wasn't entirely true.
The day I realized I needed to eat better was not an exciting one. I had no idea where to begin and I was so overwhelmed. Going to the grocery store was a horrible experience. I had to change everything I knew and shop in an area that I wasn’t familiar with – the produce section!!! The only thing I ever bought there before was fruit - I had always just heated up canned veggies in the microwave. I had no idea how to prepare fresh produce with meals, or even how to cook it properly.
After overcoming the initial confusion, stress and frustration, I decided I needed to keep it simple. The first step I took was buying organic frozen vegetables. Did you know that oftentimes frozen veggies have a higher nutrient content than the "fresh" veggies in the produce section? That's because they are flash frozen shortly after they are picked, locking in most of the nutrient content they have at that exact moment. Alternatively, the veggies that aren't frozen lose more and more nutrients by the hour as they age. By the time they ship across the country or around the world, end up on grocery store shelves, and then finally in your home, they've lost a ton of the nutrients they contained when they were fresh picked. Learning this was my saving grace. I began packing frozen vegetables to eat for lunch. Nothing fancy... How much easier could it be?! I did make sure that it was just vegetables and didn’t buy anything with any sauces or creams. This worked so well with my desire for convenience and my body was delighted to have something it could work with.
I started to notice a positive change in my mood and energy levels within the first week. Then, after several months of eating frozen vegetables, I felt ready to take on another challenge. I started making green smoothies every day! I was so proud of myself! I had never even eaten kale before I started adding it to my smoothies. I didn’t do anything fancy here either. I just used a green leafy vegetable, threw in some fruit, added water, then blended it in my Nutribullet. I knew if I didn’t keep things simple I would fall back to my old habits and just eat more processed foods.
After making these 2 simple changes that added 2-4 more servings of veggies a day to my diet, I realized how simple it was and I started taking my journey to a sustainable healthy lifestyle a lot more seriously. Now, every time I eat I ask myself: “How does this nourish me?” Once I realized that what you eat builds your cells, runs through your blood, serves as your fuel and influences your thoughts, I wanted to be more aware of what I was putting into my body. I didn't want powdery protein bars to make up my blood or ritz crackers and cheese sticks building my skin cells! The last year and a half has been fun experimenting with new foods while feeling my body and mind grow healthier. Was it easy? No, it wasn’t easy. Was it worth it? Yes, it was worth it. It was a process, and though it was slow and tested my patience, it worked for me better than any pill, book or diet ever had.