Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Our Decision To Eat Clean and Organic

If you've been reading my blog, you probably already know that I'm a vegetarian.  I don't eat meat.  I do eat dairy.  I do eat seafood/fish, which, technically classifies me as a pescetarian.  I don't call myself that because when I do, people look at me like I'm from Mars.  So "vegetarian" will do for now.

My husband does eat meat and lots of it and no matter how much I beg and plead for him to cut back, he enjoys a nice juicy bacon cheeseburger way too much for me to push hard.  He will always be the carnivore and I, the herbivore.

I decided to go meat-free at the age of twelve, when I found out where meat really came from.  I actually knew where it came from before that, but I wasn't quite old enough to make my own decisions at the dinner table - I had to eat what was in front of me.  I can remember being very little and having some steak or chicken bites in front of me, I'd eat all my veggies first and then force down a few bites of the meat with tons of A1 steak sauce.  At twelve years, I'd just dish myself some veggies and whatever else was being served and skip over the meat.

Over the past few years, I've done a lot of research on the types of foods I should be preparing for my family.  There are a lot of diets out there and pros and cons for each, but I was mainly concerned about eating things that were healthy and not processed.

I sat down and made a list of things I was going to change in my family shopping plan:

I wanted to buy organic for produce that fell in the Dirty Dozen list.  These items are:
    via Mothers Organic Health

    I wanted to eat clean.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with this term, it means eating food that is in it's most whole , unprocessed form.  For example, picking up some whole peaches at the farmer's market rather than a jar of peaches in a sugary syrup.  Or preparing a homemade soup out of fresh ingredients rather than buying a can of salty and preservative-filled condensed soup.

    The main rules of eating clean are:
    • Eating lots of plant-based foods:  fruits, vegetables and herbs that are all in the natural form.
    • If you eat meat, buy from a butcher.  Pre-packaged meat sometimes contain chemicals, dyes or preservatives.
    • If you eat grains, eat them in their whole form.  Whole wheat, quinoa, barley, buckwheat, brown rice and steel cut oats are some good ones.  Stay away from the processed white rices.
    • Stick with packaged foods that contain 3-6 ingredients or fewer.  And if there are ingredients you can't pronounce, put it down!
    • Read labels.  You'd be surprised to find that "whole wheat" bread actually only contains a little whole wheat and mostly white flour.
    • Eat 5-6 small meals a day.  This may seem like a lot, but remember, you won't be filling up on junk, rather healthy fiber, minerals and nutrients and it will keep your body functioning normally.  Some good examples of a small meal are a serving of greek yogurt, some berries and some homemade granola or sliced, unsalted almonds or some sliced chicken in a whole wheat pita with hummus and lots of veggies.
    I wanted to cut back on sugar and salt in food.  I decided we could skip over the products that have added sugar or salt.  It is always easier to add my own, that way I know exactly what is going in the things I eat.

    When it comes to meats and seafood, things get a little tricky.  There are a lot of labels out there: "organic", "free-range", "grass fed", "antibiotic free".  Things can get confusing because they all sound healthy.  The truth is, there is so much information out there that it's best you read it and make the best decision for your family.  The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has a good list of the terms and what they really mean. 

    From this information, I have decided that my family should eat beef that has been grass-fed and free of antibiotics, poultry/eggs that was free-range and free of antibiotics, dairy products that are organic and seafood/fish that was wild caught as opposed to farmed.  These things matched up with our family values and are important to us when shopping for food.

    Now, I realize that from time-to-time, we might not feel like cooking a fresh meal, so we also decided that if we need to go out and buy a couple cans of soup for dinner, it won't be the end of the world and we would look for organic soup that had a decent ingredient list.  Our rule of thumb is to eat clean and organic as much as possible and not stress about the rest.  Something is better than nothing.

    Luckily, we live in an area where we are surrounded by farms and farmer's markets.  We have access to fresh meat, eggs, and seasonal produce all the time.

    Now that you are a little more familiar with what we are planning to eat and why, the next step into this food journey with us is showing you how I plan meals that contain some meat for my husband, but also have all the components of a vegetarian diet for myself.  That will be featured in a future post, along with a grocery haul and a special treat - a free printable grocery list for you to use to plan meals with and do your grocery shopping.

    Thanks for stopping in today and be sure to subscribe so you receive updates as the posts go up!

    Until next time.

    Disclaimer:  I do not claim to be an expert on nutrition and the above recommendations are just helpful tips that I have found in my own research.  Always check with a doctor or dietitian before making a change in your diet and do you own research when it comes to choosing whether eating organic or clean is the best thing for you and your family.

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