My $25-a-week clean eating experiment a year later

Over a year ago when I was a blogging neophyte, not quite 40, and determined to do something about my weight and health, I set out on a mission – an experiment really. It was my $25-a-week-good-food experiment, and I was determined to reshape the way I looked at food, health and weight loss. Here’s some of what I had to say about it back then…

For weeks now I’ve been seriously rethinking this obsession I have with food and my weight. Specifically it’s occurred to me that for almost all of the past decade, my obsession with controlling (unsuccessfully I might add) what I eat and don’t eat has centered primarily on weight loss. This focus on weight and not on health has caused me to become unhealthier. Yo-yo dieting, pre-packaged diet meals, low carb, low fat, sugarless…you get the idea. My quest to lose weight devolved into me eating man made substitutes for food and came at the expense of eating food the way it was intended to be eaten.

It’s time for a change, a real change – an “I’m about to turn forty so I’ve got to start taking this seriously” change. I’ve been heading in this direction for years now, but eating for health was far down on the list, somewhere behind carb and calorie counting and fat monitoring. And while I’ve never been a lover of junk food and have always preferred fresh fruits and vegetables over sugary desserts – when it comes to food, the choices I make every day are made unconsciously, out of habit, and with very little regard to health and where my food is coming from.

In a nutshell (pun intended), clean eating is consuming food in its most natural state or as close to it as possible. It means eliminating as much processed foods from your diet as possible, and it means being conscious of the source of your food and the impact its production has on the environment. Militaristic clean eaters might have an issue with my definition, but that’s the definition that sums it up for me.  The Gracious Pantry has a great resource page about clean eating that you can access here. The turning point for me came when I watched the documentary Food, Inc. I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone curious about the source of their food – you will not be the same after watching it.

A year after test-driving my clean eating experiment I can say that I’ve adopted clean eating as a way of life.  A way of life differs from a diet in that it’s not something you ever “get off of.” So, on the (now increasingly rare) occasions that I don’t eat clean I, 1) enjoy it a lot less and 2) don’t belittle myself or consider it a diet catastrophe.  It’s not just a healthier way to eat, it’s a healthier way to think. Really, it’s a return to to the way my parents and grandparents used to cook and eat, before advertising and big business began convincing people that they had it all wrong.

Although I haven’t stuck to the $25 budget, I have been more conscientious about how much I purchase and what I’m paying for things, and in the long run that’s helped my overall budget.

So, what’s left is the weight loss. The good news is, the number on the scale is lower. The bad news is, not by much. As a child and teen I struggled with compulsive and emotional eating, and as a 41 year old woman I still do.  Like any habit/compulsion/addiction, it’s been a hard one to shake. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor apparently 41 years. Thankfully, I am a work in progress, not regress, and as long as I’m able, I’ll approach each day with the determination to become a healthier version of the person I was the day before. Anyone care to join me?

Grace

Metabolism Madness and Turning 40

00410155 If you tuned in to The Dr. Oz Show on Monday, it probably confirmed some things you’d already suspected. To use myself as an example, why after months of walking, cutting back on my food consumption, and eating (most of the time) a pretty healthy diet, was I not losing weight? According to Dr. Oz, the answer is simple; After 40 your metabolism decreases 5% every 10 years. And, if like me, you’ve been yo-yo dieting your entire adult life, the news gets even worse. Crash diets, disuse of muscles and a drop in testosterone level all add to the metabolism dive. The drop in testosterone was news to me and the rogue hairs that keep popping up on my face (why couldn’t the testosterone drop do something useful like vanquish those hairs?)  So, what’s a women at 40 to do?

While there are a lot of great things about turning 40, rogue joint poppage, mutinous facial hair and decreased metabolism aren’t any of them. So here are a couple of suggestions for managing the post- 40 metabolism slow down:

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Esther Kane on: Mindful Eating Roadblocks – Eating without Enjoyment

j0402555 Editor’s Note: Last week we shared part I of Esther Kane’s Mindful Eating Roadblocks series, Distracted Eating. Today we present part II, where Esther asks the question, are you eating without enjoyment?

This is a topic that is dear to my heart. You see, my mother, Marion Kane, is a food writer. In fact, she was the Food Editor of two major Canadian newspapers for a total of 17 years. So while most kids spent their evenings playing outside, I was busy dining in the finest restaurants of Toronto ordering lots of dishes to help my mum in her “tasting” ceremony which would either make said restaurant into the latest “hot spot” or else put it out of business within two weeks.

My mother, unlike me, doesn’t appear to struggle with what to eat, how much to eat, or knowing when she’s full. But still, I have managed to learn some important things from her when it comes to eating joyfully. In my mother’s house, eating is a celebration: a time set aside to painstakingly prepare and enjoy a good meal.

Continue reading Esther Kane on: Mindful Eating Roadblocks – Eating without Enjoyment

Shopping with purpose: $25 good food challenge – Day 1

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Today begins day one of my $25 good food challenge. For those not in the know, last week, after being inspired by Oprah’s Food, Inc. episode, I challenged myself, during the month of February, to eat only healthy, whole foods all on a weekly budget of only $25. I’m fortunate to live nearby to a great farmers market, a Trader Joe’s and even a vegan food co-op, so finding whole foods wasn’t going to be difficult, but getting everything for $25 might prove to be.

Well, I’m glad to say that after sketching out a menu for the first week of February and going shopping this weekend, I came in at a grand total of $23.22 for my first week of shopping. The list of items I purchased includes fresh fruit (even some organic) like apples, bananas, cantaloupe and honeydew – organic chick peas (hummus anyone?), brown rice, six grain bread, tofu and soy milk. That’s pretty much it. Including the rolled oats I already have in my pantry, that’s 14 items. Let’s see what I can do with that.

Continue reading Shopping with purpose: $25 good food challenge – Day 1