Friday, January 25, 2013

Personally: A Weight Loss Journey, Making REAL FOOD Choices!

I posted a couple of weekends ago about my weight loss journey! I've lost about 40 pounds over the last year by making better food choices and really learning when I'm hungry (and only eating when I'm hungry).

The biggest hurdle for me has been making better food choices. For me, specifically, that means trying to eat less processed food. Now, this is the part where a disclaimer comes in. I have not managed to cut out ALL processed food. However, when I'm shopping, even if it's processed, I try to choose wisely.

Throughout this journey, I've found some great resources about eating "real" food. My favorite has been 100 Days of Real Food. This family has managed to cut out almost all of their processed foods, which I find absolutely inspiring. However, due to some limited shopping choices in my area--no Whole Foods, Central Market or Trader Joe's for well over 30 minutes in each direction--it's been about making continual adjustments that work for my family. I have taken some of her basic tenets to heart: look for fewer ingredients on labels (the less you can't pronounce, the realer the food). Eat MORE VEGETABLES. Think ahead and plan.

Ok, so I know you're ready for examples and strategry (it's a word now, thanks SNL).

1. I figured out the foods I cannot buy. Case in point, Doritos! I love them. I will eat the whole bag. I do not buy Doritos anymore unless it's a special treat or a mini bag. Talk about processed and FULL of salt. OMG.

2. I eat anything I want...in moderation, and preferably homemade. Pancakes, check! Muffins, check! Hamburgers, check! Stuff that is "bad" for us is far less bad when it's homemade with real ingredients. A muffin in a package is chock full of preservatives and preservatives are poison. This is the most basic tenet of my weight loss. I make my muffins homemade with great ingredients. Not nearly as "bad" as what I'd buy in a store. And cost effective!

Another problem of mine is having veggies on hand. We're bad about not eating them fast enough to avoid spoilage. Now I buy in bulk from a local veggie farmer and I immediately break the produce down to freeze when I get home or over the course of a weekend. Some items store well for extended periods of time, like onions or butternut squash in a cool, dry place.

I also opt for frozen veggies as opposed to canned -- less salt and other additives. I've found I can put a pile of frozen broccoli or cauliflower in a lunch container with my meat of choice, and by the time the whole thing is heated, the veggies have steamed and the meat is hot. Easy packing.

I have a veggie Pinterest board. One of the hardest things for me is keeping vegetables interesting. I depend on this.

Ever looked at a honey label??? One ingredient: honey. That's about as real as it gets. Try cutting the sugar required in a recipe by half and fill in with honey. I also use honey as my sweetener of choice in oatmeal and other foods where it's appropriate and will melt nicely.

Now it's time for you to try some real food recipes that you'll love. I've tried these out ahead of time, so trust me. :)


Pumpkin pancakes courtesy of Recipe.com. These have a small amount of sugar in them and there's nothing you can't pronounce in the batter. That's a huge improvement over boxed or bagged mixes. I'm one of those folks who likes a small amount of syrup (processed!), but I did say I haven't cut out all my processed -- just cut DOWN on a lot of it. You could also drizzle these with honey or top with fruit. I'm also a fan of sneaking any kind of veggie puree into my pancakes. The kiddo never knows the difference.


Healthy chicken gyros from The Girl Who Ate Everything! These were a lot of fun to make, the sauce was great on other dishes, and it doesn't get much realer. My kiddo even ate this up.






Broiled grapefruit!!! From someone brilliant!!! OK, so this one popped up on Pinterest, and I don't know where it originated. But this was seriously delicious. I've never been a big grapefruit fan, but with a little sprinkle of brown sugar, and a few minutes under my broiler, it was flavorful and delicious. I stuck it with a side of bacon for that sweet/salty contrast. Again, no processed except for a tiny amount of sugar. Even bacon is "real food."


I've made SO many more recipes than this, so you'll have to take a trip through my Pinterest boards...including my To Do Soon and Completed Pins. Not everything there is real food-centric, but many of them are.

While we've done much better eating real over the last year, I do have a couple of goals for 2013:

1. Cut down on refined sweeteners (Sweet-n-Low!). I default to this for my coffee, but if we're talking real food, regular sugar would probably be better for me (in moderation still).

2. Start buying locally/humanely/organically raised meats. It's more expensive, but given the moderation with which we eat meat, and the way I've taken to freezing stuff, I think we could swing it.

3. Re-institute veggie meals! For a long time I tried to eat vegetarian meals 2-3 days per week. This is an environmental thing, but it's also a real food thing. And it's an adventure!!!

4. Grow veggies!!! There are raised beds and seedlings in my future.

That's about all for today, but I'll be back with more once I organize my thoughts!!! Have you taken any steps toward eating more "real" food?

I have to say, since we started this, I have a keen sensitivity to canned/boxed/highly processed foods. Yuck and NO thank you!



38 comments:

  1. It so sucks that we don't have a Central Market, etc. You'd think they get with the program.. but the knife in the heart is that we WERE GETTING a Central Market on the corner of i-30 and John King, and the day after the election they cancelled their building permit, citing 'the economy'. UGH UGH UGH
    You are awesome for the great strides you are making. Coffee is where my weakness is, I must have creamer. And if I go to Starbucks, egads that is high in calories, so now that I have a Keurig there's less of that.
    For Lent, I plan to give up beef, so I wonder if that will help my diet as well. We shall see. I am just worried that after dinner I'l never feel full, so I need to find some healthy recipes that makes it worthwhile to go through the motions.

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    1. Oh noooo! I didn't know a Central Market was ever even in the works! I'm glad I didn't know or my heart would've really been broken. lol

      I've cut out a lot of my Starbucks consumption. And even when I do go I think I'd rather have one of their "real" drinks than the skinnies. They're so full of processed, refined, fake stuff. They taste like the epitome of a preservative. lol

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  2. Sounds like you've done very well! Go you! (You could use real maple syrup for your pancakes, I think that counts as a real food. Also, it tastes better. :) )

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    1. Great point! I tend to forget it as a sweetener alternative, too. Weird! We didn't grow up with a lot of maple syrup in my area. Thanks for the reminder! :D

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  3. Raised beds are a great idea. I have had a veggie garden for forever -- just regular beds, not raised. Growing food means you have to eat out of the garden, sometimes limiting, sometimes, overwhelming. I take great pleasure in harvesting and eating food the same day. I also used to love to give food away.
    After your last post, I challenged myself to try something new again-- the way I used to. This week: Daikon Radish Slaw which was so-so. But so-so is what you get sometimes with Adventures in eating.

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    1. Barbara, I think I would feel SO much better about the food we're eating if I was growing it myself. It infuriates me the vicious cycle of unhealthy crap (spinach with ecoli?) that we have to deal with -- including the dangers of store-bought veggies.

      Glad you got back to your adventure! And yes, so-so happens. Looks like a bumper sticker. :)

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  4. Now I want Doritos.

    We have very limited shopping options here, and our growing season is very short. It is incredibly hard to be "picky" (I mean that in a good way.)

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    1. Lisa, me too.

      Our growing season is long but brutal. It seems like there's always a break in the middle when it's unbearably hot, and then things pick back up nicely in the fall. Should be interesting!

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  5. Hi there - what amazing choices you are making - inspiring! I've been working on having fewer processed foods in the house (one really bad go to for us was frozen garlic bread and Texas toast)because it is so easy to load up on that kind of stuff instead of fresh meat, veggies and fruit. In the next couple of years I imagine I will tackle this head on even more thoroughly but for now I'm making slow changes. And I love the idea of a completed pins board - I think I am going to create one today!

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    1. Thanks, Courtney! And yes, it is SO very easy to load up on the carby refined processed stuff. It's just so dang convenient!!! It takes a lot of planning on my part to cook healthier food and eat those fruits/veggies before they expire.

      The completed pins board helps keep me motivated to try new things so I can check them off. lol

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  6. MMMM that gyro looks delicious, I will be checking that out! I have a fitness challenge that will be starting February one that will include healthy eating. Its over at my little known blog Team Kickin it, you can also find it on the sidebar of my Book Journey blog. I would love it if you would ever consider guest posting about your journey.

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    1. Sheila, it was REALLY good. I would love to do a guest post!!! I'll check it out and holler at ya. :)

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  7. Uhoh. I just gave into a big craving I have been having for the past two snowy days. Brownies with Walnuts! They are from scratch -- real butter, real eggs, real chocolate etc. I haven't made brownies except for special days in more than a year because my husband has been on a forever diet. Maybe I can tell him you've inspired me??? that if it's made with real food, it's okay?
    Problem is we will gobble these up with poor self-restraint. Bad Barbara.
    I now wish I could just give them away.

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    1. LOL, Barbara! Better than a Little Debbie cosmic brown loaded up with crap!

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  8. You are my new inspiration (along with Amanda, who has been for a while now). 40 pounds is so great! I have started back going to the gym, but of course I am limited there because my disabilities keep me from going every day or working out as intensely. But I am going at least 2x a week and trying to squeeze in a third.

    As far as food, I have a really HUGE problem. I cannot stop drinking Coca-Cola. I won't switch to Diet because aspartame gives me migraines. I have cut back but I can't seem to kick the habit yet. It's a work in progress.

    I can't cook more than a few times a week because of my fatigue levels but when I do I cook turkey burgers or baked chicken and fill the rest of my plate up with veggies and a small portion of rice or bread. With fibro, I need the carbs for energy. My doctor says I can't cut them out.

    I love fruit. I have started trying to substitute a banana or grapes for when I am craving dessert. It satisfies about 1/3 of the time, but hey that is 1/3 of the time I am not looking around for a misplaced candy from a Christmas stocking, right?

    I have been collecting recipes on Pinterest myself and I am trying them out one by one and then I see a visual reward by placing the recipe on my Accomplishments board. Not many yet but it's only been a month since I received the steroid shots in my spine that are allowing me to be able to do anything.

    P.S. Doritos are frustratingly addictive, no?

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    1. Thanks, Becca!!! I have never had too big of an addiction to soft drinks. I do like diet coke/pepsi, etc. However, I do not buy them for the house. I fall prey at work sometimes and if I eat out. But lately I've started drinking a lot more unsweet tea with one of my natural sweetener choices. It helps kick the craving when I just don't want water.

      I do admire you for navigating this challenge with fibro. I'm sure it makes things much more difficult. Wishing you lots of luck and comfort as you're trying out more Pinterest recipes. :)

      And yes, Doritos are my crack!

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  9. This is one of the big things I emphasize in my weight loss journey - trying to eat real food as much as possible, especially in contrast with the diet foods so many people eat to try to lose weight! I'll have to check out that book!

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    1. YES! Diet foods are just as "poisonous" as any other processed food. So frustrating the way we're advertised to. So glad there's a sizeable uprising of people saying NO, and "give me the real food!"

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  10. Amen on the struggle to eat veggies & fruit before they go bad. I LOVE fresh veggies & fruit but it's really hard for one person to eat it all, and then I feel bad. Right now I just buy one of each and then I can manage eating them throughout the week.

    My parents ordered some locally raised/open range beef from a friend of a friend and OMG WHAT A DIFFERENCE. You will be amazed at how much better local/small farm goods taste in comparison to the stuff you get at the supermarket.

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    1. Tasha, it is difficult for one person. My toddler isn't helping much as he's very picky in that regard. He may turn to a banana before it's all said and done, but he's not too keen on many other fresh fruits and veggies. I get past that with purees.

      I've always heard that grass fed and free range animals taste much better. Looking forward to trying!

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  11. This is so great, love this post. I'm going to check out the recipes you've shared. I like a lot of the recipes on Skinnytaste.com. If you haven't heard of that site you should check it out :)

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I love Skinnytaste!!! I can always find something there to fix, and I've pinned a good bit of her stuff, too.

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  12. This was a great post! I'm always trying to work towards getting my family to eat healthier but it isn't easy. I will definitely be checking out your pinterest boards and recipes so thanks for sharing those! I thought that this was a very inspiring post :)

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    1. Thanks, Samantha! It definitely is not easy. If you're looking for tips for transitioning your family or getting them to be more open, check out 100 Days of Real Food blog. Such great tips.

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  13. Seriously, sometimes I think you're in my brain. Yes on both #1 and #2! I've also almost completely cut chips out of my diet (my weakness is tortilla chips) except for in small, occasional doses. I'm all about frozen fruits and veggies right now, too (until the fresh stuff is in season again). (I was really, really worried I was going to have to throw them all out when I lost power last week for 22 hours, but somehow the freezer stayed cold enough that everything stayed frozen.) And I'm totally with you on the moderation thing. I love baking, and I'm pretty good at it, so I've learned to eat baked goodies once in a while. I've found that in doing that I enjoy what I eat more.

    I'm going to go peruse your "completed pins" boards now. Thanks for sharing your tips and your successes with us! (Oh, and YES to broiled grapefruit! YUM.)

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    1. LOL, Emily! I couldn't think of anyone I'd rather share a brain with. :D

      I'm SO glad your freezer stock stayed in tact. That would totally make me cry!

      Amen to moderation! I cannot starve myself or totally cut myself off from the great-tasting cravings-worthy stuff. That's a mistake I made in the past and I always crashed/burned/binged at some point.

      And that broiled grapefruit changed my life! lol

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    2. Awww, thanks! *blushes*

      In eating goodies, etc in moderation I've found that I've gotten pickier - that dessert (or whatever) had better be worth it! So while cutting back on sweets and fatty foods was tough at first, it's gotten a lot easier now. And there's a lot less guilt involved, too, because I'm not beating myself up for falling off the wagon.

      Can I just thank you again for sharing your story with us? It's inspiring to hear about someone else who's on the same track as me and gives me an added boost of confidence :) You're awesome!

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  14. Yay you!!!! One thing I do with veggies is cut them up and put them in baggies or air-tight containers. You lose a slight amount of nutrients that way but if the veggies are cleaned and cut we grab them for snacks. Really. A few carrot and celery sticks and a handful of broccoli offer crunchy satisfaction in the afternoon. But if I had to stop to clean and cut them for a quick snack I wouldn't do it.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! I'm trying to get better at fixing up pre-cleaned portions of veggies. I have some carrots on hand and brought those in my lunch today. Almost ate the whole portion, and I have a few left for a snack later this afternoon. I wouldn't do it either, if I did it as I went along.

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  15. Thanks for sharing your experience and tips. I agree -- eating "bad" food but making it from scratch at home (and not too often) can be a good treat!

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  16. Go, you! Totally feel you on the real food options. I started Weight Watchers two weeks ago and have struggled to introduce more fruits and vegetables to my diet, but I definitely feel better -- and see my weight changing -- through my commitment to better eating. Shifting from processed foods to whole ones is a big step, but it sounds like you're doing really well -- and I hope to make the transition myself sometime soon!

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    1. Thanks, Meg! It's tough, but once you make the transition it's so so so good.

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  17. I'm trying to cut back on the processed foods, too. No Lays potato chips here unless we have friends over for a cookout to help polish off the bag. Otherwise, I would!

    If you want to try some yummy pancakes, take a peek at these. They are my breakfast staple (defrosted with a little bit of peanut butter) during the week. They are awesome!

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    1. Can't wait to take a look at those pancakes, Les!

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  18. This family has managed to cut out almost all of their processed foods, which I find absolutely inspiring. However, due to some limited shopping choices in my area--no Whole Foods, Central Market Sam M.

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