We all have a different definition of what ‘healthy eating’ means. In this three-part blog post I am sharing my food story and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. If you missed part 1 (“Picky Eaters Unite”) you can catch up here.
We moved to the city when I was in my early teens and shared a home with my mom’s sister and brother in law. My two cousins were picky eaters (like my brother and I) but the major difference was that they had things in the house like frozen chicken fingers, fries, and tater tots. Foods that had never been available in my home previously. Around the same time, my childhood love of pasta and cheese turned into bagel and cheese sandwiches for school lunches almost every day.
When I moved out on my own for the first time, my roommates and I bought fruits and vegetables, but we also ate a lot of cheese quesadillas, sandwich meats, kraft dinner and sushi. Around this time, I also got my first job in the food industry at a bakery (muffins and sandwiches galore) and shortly after at Boston Pizza. As you can imagine, pasta, pizza, sandwiches and french fries were readily accessible.
I should probably pause here and explain that I was blessed with the kind of metabolism that meant I never put on weight as a child or teen. I’m sure my small town upbringing, active lifestyle and the healthy foods my parents did manage to get me to eat played a role in my weight as well…
So if you’re waiting for me to share my dramatic story of weight gain and loss, it’s not coming…
In the third post of this series I will share what I’ve learned about ‘naturally thin people.’
LESSON #3: We eat way more carbs than we actually need; even if you feel invincible when you’re young, eventually your body will store those excess carbs
Six years ago, I was living in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. In case you aren’t up to date on your Canadian geography, Yellowknife is a 16 hour drive north of Edmonton in the middle of the tundra. There are no farmers’ markets & no local produce (I think that’s changing now, butback then, nadda). My boyfriend at the time was really into cooking and baking, which meant lots of made-from-scratch meals: healthy, right? Well, when you have British heritage there’s a tendency towards meat and potatoes, meat pies, roasts, potato scones, fresh bread.. I think you get the idea. We ate veggies too, and fruit, but lots of cheese (dairy in general), bread and meat. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious and very lovely to have fresh baked bread at home; however I was starting to wonder if this was the way I wanted to be eating for the long term.
A significant event happened while I was living in Yellowknife that would change my food choices in a big way: I was introduced to the community of Univera, and more specifically to Stephen Cherniske, who has become one of my biggest health resources to this day.
Around the time I started introducing high quality Univera superfoods into my diet I also started to rediscover and remember all the healthy foods I had been exposed to as a child. Brown rice, quinoa, kale, and tofu gradually started to reappear in my kitchen. I remember distinctly suggesting to my boyfriend that we should eat more kale. He wasn’t a huge fan.
A few months later, he told me we should eat more kale. Why? He had seen it on Dr. Oz.
Eyeroll…Okay, so we started eating more kale.
I read a book called the Metabolic Plan, by Stephen Cherniske and learned many valuable lessons about humans and food.
LESSON #4: a highly varied natural foods diet is best for health (Metabolic Plan)
The biggest takeaway for me was VARIETY; broccoli is great, but we don’t necessarily need to eat it with every meal. We need to eat a wide variety of foods to get a wide variety of nutrients. Duh.
LESSON #5: humans evolved as hunter-gatherers and for thousands of years ate primarily plants (leaves, shoots, roots, fruit) and meat
Hmm.. so two of my major food groups (bread and cheese) were not recommended by Stephen. I love cheese so I definitely did not immediately stop eating it. But I did increase my intake of a wider variety of veggies, fruits, and whole grains (ie quinoa, brown rice) nuts and seeds. We were already believers in avoiding buying processed foods, so that was helpful. At this point, it was easier to introduce new foods than to stop eating things I loved.