Okay so I was thinking...some of you might be wondering why I randomly started blogging about nutrition a few months ago. Also about why I'm so passionate about it all.
And NO, what I do is NOT called a "health kick" or "health crusade." Healthy eating is a way of life!
If you want to read my story followed by my every day junk food temptations, things I've learned, and advice, continue below:
All right, here I go. So during my junior year of high school (I am a senior now), I was obsessed with food. And I don't mean like "Oh, yeah, I love food so much," I mean like "I LOVE FOOD SO MUCH." I guess you could say that I was like head-over-heels for food. For instance, if any of you know what the Chuy Gooey is at Chuy's (if not, Google it), I could down that thing all by myself with two baskets of chips, plus eat a plate of salty quesadillas. And if any of y'all have ever had the deep dish pizza at BJ's Brewhouse, I could eat a medium dish (which is HUGE) on my own easily. Every time I ate something bad for me, like those two meals, I would use the common phrase: "Oh Caroline, it's just this one time. You're skinny anyway and you went up some stairs today, so you're all good." The problem, though, is that I said that every, single, time. I didn't care that I was consuming too much sodium and fat. I didn't care that I was feeling more tired and miserable every day because of what I ate; all I cared about was how good the food was. But it was that one day during class when my favorite teacher went on what she calls a "rabbit trail" - a divergence from the discussion - and she talked about the meat industry and really just the way the American food system works today. What my teacher said really intrigued me. Heck, it FREAKED me out. As soon as I got home that day, I started researching because I was a little skeptical. Come to find out, she was completely right on everything. From the way most meat is processed in this country to the additives, artificial colors, and preservatives put in processed foods to make it last longer, all of what she said was exactly true! I was scared out of my mind. It was at that moment when I decided to take action and change my eating habits for good.
I went extreme and became a vegetarian. However, I approached it all the wrong way. For instance, instead of eating like a yummy sandwich on Ezekiel bread with spinach, tomatoes, organic cheese, and hummus for lunch (what I eat now), I would eat the generic bread everyone buys with a slice of processed cheese on it. I considered that healthy because there was no meat on it (As the months have gone by, I have obviously learned what I should and shouldn't eat). As I've continued to research, I've realized that nutrition is my passion. To be honest, every time I see or hear the word nutrition, my head pops up in excitement. Also, I have a folder on my Mac called "Heath and Nutrition," and right now I have around 110 saved pages in it about healthy eating. And yes, I am aware that most people think I am crazy. :)
BUT, what people don't realize about what I do is this: Eating healthy foods is EXTREMELY difficult for me sometimes. Again, to be honest, every single day of my life I struggle with wanting to eat junk food. This is especially hard being in America but I try not to consider that an excuse. I mean, come on - who doesn't love some Nutella or some Oreos? And who doesn't crave ice cream every single night of their life? I certainly crave all that stuff. Whenever I am at a get-together at someone's house, it takes all of me, and I mean ALL OF ME, not to eat the whole plate of chocolate chip cookies on the counter. I'm totally serious if y'all don't believe me! The thing is, people think that I hate junk food and that I think it is gross. This is true in some cases - Cheez Its make me want to throw up...and those heart-attack Hot Pockets? Heck no. "Caramel?" I'd rather have a needle in my eye. But, do I believe that junk food is okay every once in a while? Sure I guess, but not excessively. What I'm most definitely not saying is that we should say over and over again, "Oh, just this one time." The truth is, like I said earlier, we'll just keep saying that.
To those of you who have read some of my previous entries, especially "Rethink Yolo," one of the points I tried to make is that food is supposed to heal us, fill us with the proper nutrients, and so on. Junk food does the opposite.
What I Have Learned
- Eating healthier has completely changed my life. I am more fit (my stamina and strength have increased exponentially). I am a happier person. When I get sick (which is not often at all, knock on wood), I am usually completely fine by the next day or two.
- The earlier you or your child starts eating healthy, the earlier you'll start developing better eating habits.
- I have fallen in love with going to the grocery store (especially FRESH by Brookshires or Central Market in Dallas) and buying cool, healthy foods. It's so cool to experiment! You never know, you may discover a recipe you love.
- You just gotta be open to change. In other words, don't be afraid to buy healthier options, even if your friends or and family don't want to try it.
- EatingWell.com = one amazing website! There are so many unique and tasty ideas to try!
- Zucchini and squash together is so good.
- You may be spending more for healthier foods but in my opinion, it's worth every dime.
- Everything in moderation.
- I gag at the thought of processed foods.
- If you eat processed meat (such as the cheap and generic pre sliced kind or like the cheapest brand at the store of steak, chicken, etc. that isn't organic), I HIGHLY recommend going organic (Message me for details if you're curious as to why).
- If you want to start changing your eating habits (unhealthy --> healthy), take baby steps. Start with buying more fruits and vegetables. Also try buying whole grain bread (I suggest Ezekiel bread - it's the BEST!). Don't do an extreme switch. Research and learn!
- Cut the amount of red meat you eat.
- If you are trying to eat more healthy (especially for those of you who are trying to lose weight), treat yourself to a meal once or twice a week that is unhealthy so you won't go completely crazy! :)
- For those of you who live in a town with a Whole Foods, Central Market, or for those of us Tyler people with FRESH by Brookshires, there are certain brands of cereal that are a lot healthier, such as the Ezekiel, Nature's Path, and Heartland brands.
- Drink lots of water (this especially applies to me...I don't drink nearly enough!)
- Instead of Ranch dressing or all of those other dressings with really high amounts of sodium or fat, try Balsalmic Vinaigrette!
- Looking for a great chip brand that is corn-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, delicious, and that you can use with all dips? Try Beanitos! They're incredible. I can testify. :)
- Reduce the amount of junk around the house. Aka, detoxify your pantry. If you want help, hit me up
- Google some fast, easy-to-make meals for you and your children to take to school and work!
- When around a plethora of junk food at a party, limit yourself. You'll gain mental toughness! Trust me on that one.
- Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup/Corn Syrup.
I hope y'all learned from my story, temptations, the things I've learned throughout my journey, and advice! Let me know if you have any questions.