Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Discovering Food

As I work on getting back to a regular focus on healthy choices, I am discovering how much I love food.

You might think that the reason I got fat in the first place is because I love food.  But that isn't true.  I got fat because I was consuming food-like products.  I was eating fast food, I was eating convenience meals, I was snacking on junk.  Even in restaurants, the foods I was choosing were full of junk.

Not everything sold in the grocery store is real food.  The majority of things found in bags and boxes are coming out of factories.  These are items that are manufactured, not grown.  Food should be natural products.  If it grows, it's good.

I am currently reading Michael Pollan's "Food Rules."  I previously read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and it gave me a lot to think about.  When I first committed to living a healthier lifestyle in 2010, my natural path took me towards "clean eating."  I didn't intentionally choose it, it's just what made sense.  Eating clean means eating real food, not manufactured and processed food. 

The best part of getting back to eating real food is rediscovering all of the flavors and tastes I love.  It's also exciting to find new and creative ways to enjoy these foods.

This past Friday night, I was very excited to have been invited to a friend's house for a cooking class/demonstration from Sunny's Chinese Kitchen.  Sunny is originally from Taiwan.  She came to the US to finish her education in the early 90's.  She then spent almost 20 years working for a pharmaceutical company as a scientist- including a lot of experience with GMO (genetically modified organisms).  When her son was diagnoses with Muscular Dystrophy and needed her more than ever, she knew she needed to make a major life change.  And she did.  She gave up the corporate job and dedicated herself to finding ways to keep her child healthy.  She also began teaching Chinese but her passion was in cooking healthy food.  Thanks to her science background, she has a deep understanding of how food works and how our bodies work. 

Sunny taught us how to make 2 entrees- kung pao chicken and shiitake rice noodles.  Because these were whole and natural ingredients and because the cooking method was healthy, each portion only came out to 3-4 points on Weight Watchers.

There is so much that I took away from this experience.  The first thing is that Sunny is the one who recommended reading "Food Rules" and I am so very thankful for that.  Some of the other things are things I am still learning about and processing so you will just have to wait.

For me, a healthy diet means eating real food.  It means whole milk over skim because it's less processed.  It means 4% cottage cheese over 2% because it's less processed.  It means avoiding words like "low fat" or "low cal" or "fat free" because that means the food has been messed with in a factory.  It means focusing on fruits and vegetables for meals and snacks.  It means being aware of where my meat comes from and how it has been raised. 

I can't make a huge overhaul all at one time and this isn't something I can do perfectly.  I'm not able to grow all my own plant foods and I'm not about to start raising chickens or beef cattle.  I'm also not ready to commit my meat buying to local farmers due to the expense- but it is a goal of mine by the time the Farmer's Market season rolls around.  I do rely on some conveniences simply because it's the culture I live in. 

But being back on a roll of my weekly produce bin from Green Bean Delivery helps.  Rediscovering some of the great options that Trader Joe's has to offer helps.  Weight Watchers plays a role, of course, because I am learning about portions and give-and-take. 

I also know that I am just on my third week back into this healthy lifestyle after falling very far away from it.  What I'm loving is that with the help of Weight Watchers, I am sticking to the commitment.  Because I'm committed, the depth of my rediscovery of favorite foods is deeper. 

Best of all, I have a community of people surrounding me who are also working on eating better food, moving their bodies more, and enjoying an adventurous array of foods.  Special thanks to my dinner companions from the Friday night demonstration- our host Mary, and our friends Anita, Ashli, Gail, and Victoria.  Special thanks to the women in my "Eat Smart, Move More!" group.  Having a group of people who want to share their struggles, successes, tips, recipes and who want to support others on this journey is a very important part of my success.  Special thanks to my friend Garret who included me in a group he formed on Facebook for people doing Weight Watchers.

Special thanks to my mom and my family who gave me a foundation of fresh fruits and veggies.  Even when money was tight and food wasn't always plentiful, my mom still taught me to love spaghetti squash and taught me how to steam and thoroughly enjoy an artichoke.  I see the passion for real food in her siblings and her parents through gardening and feasts prepared that include brussels sprouts and cauliflower and leeks and butternut squash lasagna and extra servings of mushrooms.

Most of all- special thanks to my husband who supports my efforts by bringing me my gym bag if I left it at home and who doesn't walk in the door with treats from DQ or a bag of McD's at night and who tells the kids "no McDonald's- the food isn't healthy and it's only a sometimes treat" and who appreciates the changes in my body and my energy level and who is trying to make some healthy adjustments to his own eating habits.


If you are in the Indianapolis area and are interested in having Sunny come to your home for a session on healthy Chinese cooking, go to her website and contact her about having your own dinner party.  Our host had purchased the event through Groupon but we all decided that we learned so much and enjoyed the food so much that we would eagerly split the cost to have another evening with Sunny.  For 6 people, the cost would be $25 per person and the information is truly invaluable and inspiring!  She also offers cooking classes and can be found at events throughout the year.


Alison said...

I love everything about this post! Except that Sunny is so far from Charlotte. :)

I didn't know you'd read Omnivore's Dilemma--isn't that a life-changing bunch of information??

Eternal Lizdom said...

Oh yes! I want to re-read it, in fact. I read it several years ago. Have you read Food Rules? Super quick read but a great little go-to guide.

If you come to Indy for a visit someday... we can plan a visit with Sunny!

mimbles said...

One day I am going to have backyard chooks, but we need to replace the back fence first because it's not even close to chicken-proof as it is.

We've been getting a weekly delivery of fruit and veg that's sourced locally whenever possible. I love that they send out a newsletter telling you about the farmers who provided the stuff that's in the bag that week, it's the next best thing to being able to go and buy directly from the farm gate :-)