Have you noticed?
Everyone seems to be hustling to find that perfect diet for the New Year.
My social media feeds are FULL of inspiring- and downright overwhelming– ideas for eating healthier, feeling better, and looking amazing.
I’m right there with the rest of them:
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my health, the food our family eats, and the kind of habits I want to cultivate in the next twelve months.
The younger version of me would have likely been overwhelmed by all the “perfect diets” out there, and probably spent months spinning from one idea to the next before I found what worked for me (or gave up trying).
These days, I’m not so easily moved by health trends.
As much as I love to learn new information and implement fresh concepts, I know what works for me and what doesn’t.
The core of my food value systems can be summed up in five words:
I’m not a food purist.
To say I’ve come a long way since those first baby steps toward healthier eating, well, that’s an understatement.
My parents spent a week in our home over the holidays, and my mom commented to me one afternoon,
“Kristy, I’m really proud of you! You’ve balanced out a lot. Remember a few years ago when you got mad at me for buying ice cream?”
I had to smile sheepishly.
Yeah, I remember.
I remember getting irritated a lot of times over the peppermints my mom gave my kids, the sugary cereals she fed my kids at her house, and yeah… the store-bought ice cream she insisted on buying, despite my lecture about how much healthier it is to make your own ice cream.
(Because we all know that homemade ice cream is completely HEALTHY, right?)
I made a lot of good changes in my eating habits when I was a younger woman.
But it’s also true that I have made some more good changes in choosing to let some things go.
One of the things I’ve let go when it comes to food is perfectionism.
Yes, I do my best to eat clean.
But there are a few really good reasons why I’m not a food purist.
These are some hard-earned lessons!
Here’s a look at three of those reasons, and what I do to eat well instead.
I will not be a food purist because:
1. Food Purists are Intimidating
I remember the first time one of my friends told me,
“Yeah, I read your blog… and there’s NO way I’d invite you to my house to eat!”
I kind of chalked that comment up as someone feeling a bit too sensitive about my personal life.
But after I heard that statement from a few more friends over the years, I did some soul searching.
Are my silly food rules more important to me than relationships?
When I’m arguing with my own mother in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store, and my friends are scared to invite me over to their house to eat…
Well, maybe I’ve taken this healthy food thing a bit too far.
I want my healthy lifestyle to bless and encourage others, not intimidate or overwhelm them.
And, if I’m honest, I have to confess-
2. Eating Like a Food Purist is Exhausting
Have you ever tried to keep up with the health food gurus out there?
I have, and let me tell you it’s one confusing ride.
- Carbs are bad and fats are good.
- Eat both carbs and fats, just don’t eat them both at the same time.
- Eggs and animal products are OUT.
- Or-depending on whose diet train you’re riding- eggs are so IN that you can eat them raw.
What’s a girl to do?
This girl learned- the hard way- to turn a partially deaf ear to the food “experts” and focus on enjoying food the way God made it (more on that in a minute).
I can’t possibly keep up with everything.
Honestly, I can’t afford everything all the time.
Feeding a household of seven people, seven days a week, is not for the cheap-of-heart.
Something has to go.
What I choose to let go is food perfection.
Plain and simple.
Another reason I won’t be a food purist-
3. I Have to Ask Myself, How Balanced Are These Diets?
Over the years, I’ve tried a number of diets- each with their own, very different “food rules:”
- Maker’s Diet
- Trim Healthy Mama
- Blood Type Diet
Maybe these diets/lifestyles sound familiar?
There are countless others, and all of them have some very valid points.
I readily confess that all of them work well for many people.
But must we all jump on the band wagon?
After spending lots of time, energy and money on lots of different “diets,” I realized that most of them have at least two things in common:
- they eliminate complete groups of foods
- they really aren’t sustainable in the long haul
What about simply eating “smart” and enjoying the good, whole foods that God gave us?
After a dozen or more years of searching, reading, and tweaking this healthy lifestyle thing, I’ve given myself permission to pick and choose what works for me and mine.
I love healthy living and nutrition, but I whole-heartedly believe that food was made for man, not the other way around.
Here’s a quick look at three things I do instead of letting food perfection rule me.
Instead of being a food purist, I try to-
1. Eat Smart for My Body
What do I mean by eating “smart?”
Two specific things come to mind when I think about eating “smart” versus being a food purist:
- I eat “smart” by using moderation.
I don’t count calories, carbs, or grams of fat.
But I do believe in portion control.
Too much good food is still too much.
Moderation is key to fueling our metabolism and maintaining healthy weight.
- I eat “smart” by choosing foods that nourish MY body.
Since I’m gluten-intolerant, my body can’t properly digest wheat, or other grains that contain the gluten protein.
So even if I eat a really healthy wheat product- like sprouted, organic wheat bread, for example- I’m still not making a smart food choice for my body.
Over the years, I’ve found that I feel great, sleep great, and can more easily maintain a healthy weight when I eat “smart” instead of following trends.
Instead of being ruled by food perfection, I-
2. Opt for Organic Whenever I Can
We’ve already established that organic foods are typically over-priced compared to their non-organic counter parts.
So why choose organic?
Here’s why I’m usually willing to pay a little more at the super market for organic foods:
- To avoid GMO (genetically modified) foods and produce grown from genetically modified seeds. Corn and soy are two biggies when it comes to GMO foods.
- To avoid pesticides and other harmful chemicals that affect the nutritional quality of produce.
- To avoid meats and animal products sourced from animals raised on antibiotics, steroids, and hormones.
I read once that a good rule of thumb for healthy eating is to strive for about 80% of your diet to be whole foods and/or organic.
That hasn’t always been possible for our family, but it’s a standard I’ve kept in mind over the years.
To facilitate our family’s food allergies and whole foods/organic preferences, I shop at grocery stores like Aldi.
(I wrote more about this here: 10 Ways to Save Money on Whole Foods.)
I’m not a slave to organic food; but, yes, I do prefer to choose organic whenever possible, especially for meats, dairy, and produce.
Another way I try to approach health food is to-
3. Focus on Whole Foods vs. a Particular Diet
By “whole foods,” I simply mean food the way God made it.
So a “whole foods” meal might consist of oven roasted chicken and fresh veggies instead of a TV dinner popped in the microwave.
When I can’t pull off an organic fryer in the oven, I will opt for a routissouri chicken and frozen vegetables.
A routissouri chicken may not be organic, but it’s still a healthier option and can be considered a “whole food.”
Balance and grace are key.
In their “whole,” unprocessed forms, foods are typically nutritious, healing and delicious.
Even non-organic whole foods are healthier than highly processed foods, so I try not to stress too much if everything we put in our mouths isn’t labeled “organic.”
And, yes, we sometimes eat pizza, potato chips, and boxed cereal.
But the lifestyle habits we’ve formed approach food from a “smart eating” mentality.
That means we give ourselves permission to not be perfect while at the same time trying to be good stewards of our appetites and bodies.
It’s true: I break a lot of the “food purist” rules when I mix carbs and fats, eat red meat two days in a row, or don’t always soak my legumes and grains.
But I’ve learned that it’s okay.
We have permission to enjoy what God has given us.
To live wisely, abundantly, and gratefully.
I’ve found this approach to be both freeing and sustainable for myself and our family.
It’s a far cry from food perfection, and that’s okay.
Not being a food purist is a healthy habit I intend to keep practicing this year.
So what are your food goals right now?
Along with all your goals and growth, I hope you’ll also give yourself the grace to be real and, yes, imperfect.
Are you with me?
I want to spend a few weeks encouraging you in your self-care habits this year, so why don’t we kick off 2019 with a “Healthy, Beautiful You” theme?
What topics pertaining to women’s self-care would you like to explore with me this month?
Drop me a comment and let me know!
Here’s to living and loving well-