Sunday, March 10, 2013

Getting Back to Primal

I've been meaning to do this post for a week now, but last week's bronchitis led to lots of early bedtimes so the blog laid dormant for a few days. I'm finally feeling normal again this weekend, so here we go! It's time to get a little real around here.

Healthy living has always been a passion of mine and I'm usually trying to find ways to make healthy food fun, be active and live as naturally and sustainably as possible. Lately though, I feel like my mission on life has gotten away from me a bit. I've been eating a lot of dinners out, consuming more sugar, fattening foods and alcohol than I should, and resorting to pasta bowls as an easy dinner fix on many a busy weekday. I'm finding myself feeling sluggish, tired and irritable - not a fun combination. Not to mention my clothes are starting to feel a little tight and I feel full all the time, which is definitely not fun. I can blame it on any number of things - the frequent day trips, weekends away, birthday parties and showers I've had over the last few months, or the simple fact that I'm now a busy working mom with less time for workouts and more inclined to rely on quick fix meals. All those things would be true, but those things aren't changing, so last week Matt and I talked and decided we need to start making better decisions about things we can change.

Matt recently bought a book called Primal Blueprint that talks about the importance of eating the way our ancestors did. The author refers to it as "Primal living in the modern world," and a lot of it rings true to me. He talks about eating lots of sustainable protein (organic meats, fresh caught fish and limited amounts of processed protein like Gardenburgers); very few processed carbs like cereals, crackers and pastas; a high abundance of in-season, organic fruits and vegetables; and a good dose of healthy natural fats. Sounds pretty logical, right? It's the way I like to think we eat - especially after I watch films like Food, Inc. - but really it's not. At least not lately.

For the last 8 years or so, I've been a calorie counter during the week and then I go with the flow on weekends. But calorie counting is very tedious and I found myself giving up healthy foods like nuts and avocados because they didn't fit into my daily calories. I also found myself eating more processed carbs than I should - cereal, crackers, breads, pasta, rice - which, even though I buy good brands like Kashi and Ezekiel, and even if I calorie count them, are really only good in moderation. It's worked for me for the most part, but lately I've hit a plateau. I can't work out as much as I used to having such a busy schedule, and lately when I go out on weekends I've been eating whatever I want rather than opting for the healthier menu items. We all go through phases like that, but this one's been goin' a while, and with a post-motherhood body over the age of 30, I feel like I need to start paying more attention.

So it's time for a new approach. Instead of counting calories, I'm going to work on eating lots of protein, limiting my processed carbs, eating seasonal fruits and veggies and incorporating more healthy fats into my daily diet. Here's a look at what's been on the menu this past week:

- Lots of yogurt & fruit smoothies and protein shakes

- A whole lotta salads for lunch and dinner, in every form:

Chopped salad with avocado and shrimp, and avocado dressing (last night's dinner)

Roasted beet & carrot salad with tempeh "croutons" and soy nuts, found on Pinterest

Chili lime shrimp (coated with nutritional yeast) over salad with roasted veggies and homemade cilantro lime dressing

We've also been eating a lot of omelets, which I'm loving. Matt's a master omelet maker.

Garlic spinach & cheddar omelet with a pear on the side served as breakfast yesterday. And a "Mexican Omelet" cooked with cumin, yellow peppers and onions, habanero cheddar and avocado served as dinner the other night. Yum.

Friday night pizza got a makeover with mini eggplant parmesans, sans breading. These were delicious. I had three slices of eggplant, with a big side of garlicky broccoli rabe.

Spaghetti squash boats also made an appearance, which are always a hit.

And of course grilled fish with steamed veggies was eaten several times.

I thought it would be really hard for this committed Kashi-for-breakfast-every-workday girl to give up processed carbs, but the last week has gone really smoothly. And even though I was sick, I already felt like I had more energy, I felt less "full" and I didn't experience any cravings. I'm still planning to be a normal human and indulge my sweet tooth, enjoy a beer on the weekend and go out to dinner with friends - hello pizza and Guinness yesterday - but I'm going to try to make better decisions in general and really focus on buying foods for my family that are sustainable both for us and the environment. That means less quickie pasta dinners, and more fresh seafood and veggie dinners. It's nothing I haven't tried to do in the past, but I'm hoping we can be more consistent about it this time around.

Here's to a healthier spring!

P.S., If you've read Primal Blueprint, what did you think? If you're interested in checking out some tips and recipes from the author, he posts at Mark's Daily Apple.

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