Wednesday, April 08, 2015

my journey with healthy eating

I don't share lots of personal stuff here on the blog- typically I like to stick to just posting creative inspiration but back in June, I wrote about some of the changes that I made to my eating habits and I received a pretty big response. I had been struggling with some bad headaches everyday and seriously low energy. I have always eaten a fairly balanced diet but the last couple of years my body literally felt deprived and I was craving better choices and healthier fuel. I know that I never completely eliminate anything from my diet- I love food, I love to eat and I am not trying to loose weight but some simple changes have really made a big difference for me. After about 10 months of living with those small changes in my food choices, I thought I would share an update of how I am feeling and things I have learned:

CUT BACK ON SUGAR. I still have a MAJOR sweet tooth but initially, I was able to eliminate sweets for about 3 months and I felt fabulous but I also felt deprived of things that I really enjoy. I finally decided that a little treat here and there was not going to hurt me. I know the sugar issue is different for everyone but for me, I feel happy and healthy indulging in small ways. I have been able to keep this up for the last ten months and I have really seen a big difference in my energy level. If I stay away from lots of sugar, my energy and mood seems to be pretty even throughout the day.

CUT BACK ON CARBS: I love carbs but like sugar, I knew I was experiencing a lot of dips in my energy when I was eating a carb heavy diet. I know that I will never be able to go 100% paleo but over the last 10 months I have noticed when I eat meals that are protein and plant based, I feel better and have a lot more energy than when I eat lots of carbohydrates. While I have "fallen off the wagon" with carbs here and there over the last 10 months (I love bread and french fries more than anything), overall I have stuck to a diet that is more protein based. I've found if I allow myself a small portion of carbohydrates- like a piece of toast with my eggs in the morning or a small potato with a salad I am less likely to binge on a bag of potato chips!

ELIMINATE PROCESSED FOOD: Around the time I changed my diet, our microwave broke and it ended up being a blessing in disguise! We actually decided to hold off on replacing it which meant we were not able to eat anything cooked in the microwave. This was really hard for me at first- I used to eat a lot of frozen microwave meals because they were a fast way to get food into my body. I immediately noticed a change in the way that I felt once all those frozen, sodium high, processed microwave meals were eliminated. Last month we finally replaced our microwave but I no longer eat anything from the frozen food section of the grocery store. Bottom line- my body feels better when I eat fresh homemade meals.

DRINK WATER: As I have gotten older, I've noticed that drinking water and a lot of it is key to my daily survival. I feel better, my skin looks healthier and I am able to keep my headaches away if I stay hydrated. I always have a bottle of water on me no matter where I am so that I can sip on H2O all day long. I typically drink about 4- 33oz bottles of water a day.

FRESH FRUITS AND VEGIS: I've always loved fruits and vegetables but I know I was not eating enough of what my body needed. When I changed up my diet and added TONS of vegetables to all of my meals, I felt better, like a million times better! Over the last 10 months, this has been the one things that has really stuck. All my meals have something green in them. Typically I prepare what I like to call a "happy bowl" where my meal is piled on top of a bowl of spinach or greens or vegetables. Instead of just having eggs with a slice of bacon, I add it to a bowl of vegetables. These happy bowls keep me nurished and feeling and energetic all day long.


Spinach: I add spinach to everything- my scrambled eggs, my salads, my smoothies, even muffins and cookies can get a handful of spinach thrown into the batter!

Chick peas (or garbonzo beans): I love these little guys! They are a great source of protein. I bake them in the oven until crispy and they satisfy my potato chip craving.

Avodacos: I eat a ridiculous amount of avocado! They are high in protein, fiber and packed with vitamin E, B6, potassium and magnesium. I always put them in salads, throw them in a smoothie and spread them on a sandwich.

Edmame (green soybeans): packed with protein I love adding a handful of edamame to my salads.

Brussel sprouts: Up until about 5 years ago I had never tried brussel sprouts and once I did I was hooked. I literately crave them! I like to roast a big batch in the morning, sprinkle them with a little parmesan cheese and munch on them as a snack throughout the day.


The only way I can stay consistent and on track with healthy eating is by doing a lot of food prep and cooking. Last minute meals and eating out are typically the times when I give in to unhealthy choices so I really try hard to always have fresh food options on hand, prepped and ready to go.

Making my own salad dressing keeps me away from high sodium/sugary dressings from the store.

If I am too busy or don't have time to prep and make healthy salad bowls, I drink a smoothie to at least get my vegetable and fruit intake for the day.

I love using hot sauce, herbs and spices to add a little extra zest to my meals.

We almost always roast vegetables in the oven instead of frying them.

I love using my vegetable julienne peeler to make zucchini noodles- this seems to satisfy my carb/noodle cravings.

This food journey for me was never about loosing weight, it was about getting my body feeling better and I am happy to say that after 10 months of making good choices with food, my body is feeling so much better! My headaches are gone but they will come back if I make bad food choices or go overboard with sugar. I continue to have more energy throughout the entire day and gone is the crashing. I am not always perfect with my choices but I am so happy to be feeling better!


Arianna said...

This is really great, congratulations on keeping up with this very good "habit"!

Jill said...

Great job Alisa! It'a hard to change habits (especially sugar ones, I feel that!) but it's definitely a good thing to eat healthier. I'm in the same boat with you... was chugging Mountain Dew (not a coffee drinker) so I quit that cold turkey in January. Dropped 20 lbs. and feel so much better!

Unknown said...

Wow! I can see a lot of myself in the choices you made. I'm on the same journey and try to change my food habits. Roasting chick peas is something new though so thanks a lot for sharing it! x

Carolyn said...

Brussel sprouts are a favorite! Love them with honey mustard sauce. Just mix honey and mustard with melted butter and pour over top before serving. So good!

gretchen said...

absolutely gorgeous photos! if these don't make a person want to eat healthy foods, nothing will!

Kathleen Kibblehouse said...

Such good clean eating. Once you commit, you never go back! Looking down the barrel of 60 I can honestly say I've never felt healthier. You might take a look at Gwyneth Paltrow's book, "It's All Good". Not only is it right up your dietary alley, but the photographer is amazing and inspiring - as is this post! Happy eating.

magpi said...

Awesome! We've been making some of the same changes, though for slightly different reasons (I'm only turning 40 this year, I'm 'too young' for these health symptoms...though isn't everyone?). It really seems that something is changing in the zeitgeist!

Unknown said...

You've inspired me with your happy bowls. Those meals look so yummy! :) I definitely need to eat more vegetables and like you said, half of it is having healthy options prepped beforehand. Thanks for sharing your journey with us! :)

Kim said...

Diet changes have taken place around here as well and I have a "big bowl of Love" daily. Dr. says what ever I am doing is working so I enjoy reading this and seeing these great photos to inspire me. I am 55 and feel remarkable and I am so full of energy.

Jacqueline said...

18months ago. I had to give up eating dairy because I was having some uncomfortable symptoms. So no more ice cream, cheesecake, yogurt, and cheese (I tried the soy varieties but they didn't taste good to me). It was hard as I've always loved sweets and loved dairy. I've been a vegetarian for over 25 years but I ate too much sugar and not as many veggies and fruit as I should.
Now after working through the cravings, I want a piece of fruit instead of cake. I've always cooked from scratch more than used processed food but over the last couple of months I have revamped my eating habits to further reduce my use of salt and processed food. I eat less bread and pasta than before as well even though I didn't have a problem with them They had to go to make room for more fruit and veggies. I didn't need to lose weight either but I do feel like I have more energy. It does take more time but I feel I am making a commitment to better health for the future as I enter my mid-50's.
The book I would recommend is 'Eat to Live' by Joel Fuhrman MD who was featured in the film 'Forks over Knives'. His eating plan at the end is largely designed for people with over 100 pounds to lose but what is good about the book is how he explains the problems with the average American's diet and the benefits of a plant-based diet in terms of the protein and other nutrients contained therein. Good luck with your resolution to eat well.

Janine said...


Anonymous said...

You are spot on, Alisa. Thanks for the reminder - I've fallen off the wagon with good choices lately and I'm seeing the bad results. Darn chocolate and chips, anyway. = )

Jo Murray said...

Well done! Some great advice here.

tineke said...

This post made me so peckish for a big salad, and I really need to try chickpea roasting ... I bet my kids would go crazy for those

I was curious if you've ever looked for a connection between your headaches and the art materials you use?

Kat said...

I've recently gotten back on the whole food and healthier eating train too. After only a few days I feel better and have been sleeping better than I have in years. Alisa..... have you ever thought about doing a little food blog on the yummy bowls you put together with recipes like the roasted chick peas and brussel sprouts, etc.?

Emie58 said...

I'm curious about your zucchini noodles, would you mind please explain a bit more? Thanks, Emie

ANeibaur said...

I love this post! One common misconception though are that sugar and carbs are two different things when in fact they are one in the same, and the only reason I know this is because of the gestational diabetes I had with my second baby. Anything "carbs" will turn into sugar in your body. I had to count my carbs daily and poke my fingers 6 times a day to check my blood levels. It changed my life and the way I see food. Check those food labels! (sugars are a sub-catagory of carbs meaning that is how much sugar you will derive from the carbs and also Fiber is the other category, the higher the fiber, 5g or more, the better!) I've been able to loose 50lbs by having that slap in the face, but it was the best slap in the face I have ever had.
I would love for you to come read my success story if you have time. Food has become life. We eat so many veggies and protein now where before I was on the verge of obesity with all the snacking and sugar I inhaled. Yuck. I feel ya, I feel so much better then I ever have and I actually have energy to keep up with these two crazies of mine! It's also impacted their lives. Lucy will thank you for this change when she is older. Good on you!
My success story link:

Michelle O'Connor said...

I struggle with carbs, too. It's awful and so hard to get off of them! I love your approach and I do pretty well with breakfast and lunch but tell me, Alisa - what do you do for dinners? My husband and I are pretty adventurous eaters but our daughter is a little more picky. I really find it challenging to come up with dinners that we can all eat and that are satisfying. Any ideas? :-) Love your photos. They're so bright and colorful.

Cynthia Bowers said...

In order to preserve a healthy body, our eating habits must be monitored in a healthy manner. You did a great job in changing your diet, Alisa. I really hate having to suffer from headaches, so thank you for reminding us about the proper ways of preventing such. I love the photos you posted, and the food looks delicious. All the best to you!

Cynthia Bowers @ Bay Area TMJ And Sleep

Unknown said...

Nutrition Tracker Right and have a healthy, balanced diet with body+soul's expert nutrition tips.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! healthy eating We've been making some of the same changes,

Brennen said...

Thanks for sharing Alisa! I happened upon this page and found it really refreshing to hear the perspective of a "real" person who is pursuing healthiness. I loved reading about your healthy choices and easy hacks (I share your affinity for hot sauce), but I really loved reading your honesty with indulging. I've been on a mostly paleo diet since January and have had amazing results, but I'll admit a big weakness for biscuits (which never seem to run out in the South...)!

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