Simple Philosophy for Better Health

Simple Philosophy for Better Health

Everyone is at a different point in the journey toward better health.  Some have barely begun or have no intention of beginning, while others have pursued healthy living so vigorously, that all that is left for them is to de-stress about the whole thing.

Similarly, people have different ideas about what healthy living is.  You have your vegans, your vegetarians, your low-carbers, your calorie counters…you name it, there’s a group for it.  There’s even the “I’m not listening!” group.  See?

Simple Philosophy to Better Health - I'm Not Listening

Personally, we are most closely associated with what has become known as real foodies, although we are by no means extreme…by no means!  We eat food that is, simply put, real.  It has not been morphed into an unhealthy version of its previous self.  (Real foodies can be vegans, vegetarians, low-carbers, and calorie counters, too, by the way, although we are none of those.)  So, we eat homemade bread, but not store-bought.  We’ll have eggs for breakfast, but not Cheerios.  Butter, yes, margarine, no way on God’s green earth can you force that stuff down the throat of this born-and-raised-on-a-Wisconsin-cattle-farm girl…I mean, no thank you!  Essentially, I’m an apple girl, not a fruit snacks girl.  (Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t eat it and love it at YOUR house…we just don’t eat it here.)

For years we had fortified cereal and whole grain crackers in the house, along with other seemingly innocuous food choices that we were led to believe were healthy for our children—granola bars, whole grain breads, soy milk, flavored yogurt.  I would keep a few frozen pizzas in the freezer for “those nights,” and we loved to feast on Manwich from a can…mmmmmmm.  (Uh, we took it out of the can and prepared it as directed, just so you know.)

Today we don’t eat any of that, unless we have made it ourselves.  That means we make our own bread, snacks, yogurt, sometimes ketchup and pasta…you name it, we probably make it.  (Although I’ve yet to find a mayonnaise recipe they will eat.)  The ingredients are simple and real.

That doesn’t sound like a simple philosophy for better health!

You’re right; it doesn’t.  (You don’t have to yell.  Just keep reading.)

If we had made the transition from our fairly decent diets to eating mostly real foods overnight, or even over-month or over-year, it would definitely not have been simple…at all!  In fact, ironically, the stress would probably have killed me, or at least launched me head first into a bag of Doritos!  (Mmmmm…chips.)

But we did not work on improving our health overnight or even over-year.  We did it over years.

Here’s the simple part of the simple philosophy for better health:

Wherever you are in your journey toward improving your health, take one step forward.  Only one!

If you drink soda every day five times a day, cut back to four.  If you smoke eight cigarettes a day, cut back to seven.  If you eat only packaged, processed foods, even those that claim to be healthy, try to make one meal a week from scratch.  If you live for sugar, gradually (gradually) cut back and replace it with something better.

If you are further along on your health journey, your steps will look different.  Perhaps you could take one item from your pantry and read the ingredients.  It should read like a children’s book, not like a science journal.  If you can’t read it in a Dr. Seuss sing-song voice, you don’t want to eat it and you certainly don’t want to feed it to your children!  Replace that one item…just that one! (Don’t even bother reading any other labels right now.)  Eventually, you won’t even remember that you used to make pancakes from a box or that you used store-bought salad dressing and soup or that you had cold cereal 15 times a week—that’s a lot of cereal.  You and corn syrup and hydrolyzed soybean oil won’t even be on speaking terms, and you won’t remember when the relationship first started to disintegrate.

Some ideas: replace your bad oil with a healthier oil (we use coconut and olive), find one salad dressing recipe to try (we can help you there), learn to do one new thing in the kitchen, such as making your own pancakes, stock, or bread.  (If you’re really new, pancakes are a snap.)  Just pick one!

Perhaps your journey toward improving your health requires something beyond food, such as exercise or de-stressing.  Focus your one step in that direction, getting a pedometer and slowly increasing your walking goal, or taking time on the occasional evening to unwind with a warm bath and an uplifting devotional.  But don’t stress about it!  If the babies are having an I-don’t-know-why-I’m-sad-so-can-you-peeeaaasse-hold-me night or your hubby is feeling chatty or amorous, enjoy the blessings of the moment rather than stressing over your lack of de-stress time.  (We humans are ironic that way.)

If you’re really far on your journey toward improving your health, then I’m probably learning from you!  Nevertheless, there is one thing I’ve noticed that many health-focused people really need to do…and that’s enjoy life! Don’t stress because your child ate the Dumdum they gave him at the bank when he and your hubby were running errands together.  Don’t become judgmental because your mother-in-law served GASP instant mashed potatoes with gravy from a package for Thanksgiving.  Don’t fill everyone’s ear with all the things within arm’s reach that will kill them—that kinda makes you a downer.  (I know, cuz sometimes that’s me.)  Unless there is a critical health issue involved, relax, live, love, laugh, and let it go.

Pick just one thing…and do it! Got it?

Part two of the simple philosophy for better health:

Aaaaaahhhhh!  There’s more?!

You bet your bippy.  (I thought you were going to stop yelling.)

When you mess up–and you will–don’t worry!  Don’t stress!  Don’t give up on the whole simple philosophy for better health.  In fact, plan some mess-ups. 

Simple Philosophy to Better HealthWe like making chips and they are delicious with a capital -licious!  But…sometimes I buy chips.  Yup…buy them.  Not the less-bad-for-you organic variety either.  And then we eat them…all at once.  And we smile.  Not just a polite little smile, but a great big giddy smile, like this:

That great big giddy smile is good for you.  Try it.

What small step is in your simple philosophy for better health?

Linked up to Healthy 2Day Wednesday.

19 Replies to “Simple Philosophy for Better Health”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. Like you we try to eat as many whole foods as possible. Although, recently I had to take a step back and reevaluate, because I was letting that control my life. I have loosened up some, but still try to feed my family healthily overall. Love your blog!

    1. Thank you for sharing, Tiffany. It’s comforting to know we’re not alone in having to step back now and then. I had a similar experience. Health and healthy eating became almost an idol to me. I’ve let the idol status go, especially since I realized that there are many, many unknowns and aspects outside of my control, and since my daughter got sick ANYWAY! :/ Now I just do what I can within our circumstances without stressing, but, like you, try for overall health. Thanks for dropping by!

  2. Great Article! Our first step was simple. We switched from the nasty tub of margarine (though super cheap) to butter. Can you believe we grew up eating margarine in Wisconsin? I love your 1 step at a time approach. Sometimes I feel like we will never get “there”, but yes, we need to smile and enjoy ourselves too! Thanks!

    1. Margarine? In WISCONSIN!? Isn’t that illegal? 😉

      I think we really do never get “there,” which I think is why we need to not stress over it. It takes over a person’s life…in a bad way. (Been there!) My children have told me that it’s far better to eat something bad for them and enjoy it than to hear my report on all the ways that food will kill them. Smart children…mama’s still learning.

  3. I love this ost and how you give real and simple solutions to make healthful changes but yet share your families less than perfect rack record with staying healthy ALL the time. We like to eat chips all in one sitting and smile too :)I have become a SAHM this past year and love that my eyes have been opened to REAL food and it doesn’t have to be an inconvenience to eat REAL food if I plan for it. My son now loves homemade pop tarts versus the chemical infused ones and guess what??? They are so super easy it’s not funny, well it is actually! So I guess to answer your question, for me starting with breakfast and making REAL food for it has been my starter. I use buttermilk in pancakes that I, gasp…make from scratch and freeze a big batch. They’re super simple to toss on a plate int eh microwave for 45 sec or so and enjoy with REAl maple syrup…yummo! And then there’s eggs in a hole…my new addiction and a novelty my childhood never included. My poor mom was a victim to the women’s movement and was working taht 9-5 stuff so I was a cheerios child 🙁

    1. Congrats on being able to stay home! What a blessing!

      There really are a lot of misconceptions about making things from scratch and cooking. Many people think it is very difficult or that they have to do it perfectly or not at all. I say every little step helps!

      I never heard of homemade poptarts. Interesting!

      1. Christy I can’t remember which website I found them but homemade pop tarts are so simple that you’ll say, “Why didn’t I ever think of that?” You take 2 slices of bread and make a sandwich with whatever fillings you have on hand. My son loves natural peanut butter with a few dark choc chips in the middle but we also have softened cream cheese and strawbeery jam. You spread the fillings as to keep towards the center, pinch the sides and then trim off crust, pinch again to seal and throw in the toaster! Viola…homemade pop tarts! I never buy the high-priced fake stuff and don’t think I ever will!

  4. Great post! We’ve been eating “real food” since we got married (20 yrs. ago) and before. But because of finances sometimes we do better than others. We are on a really tight budget so I broke down and was buying not good for you, GMO canola oil. My simple step has been to work with the food budget to make sure I can use only healthy oils and fats. Mostly extra virgin olive oil and butter. I would like to use more coconut oil but we’re not there yet.

    1. It is a source of frustration to many that the good-for-you foods are more expensive than the “other stuff.” I get our coconut oil through Azure Standard, so its cheaper than what’s available locally…but nowhere near as cheap as the grocery store aisle oils. As soon as the budget allows, I’m going to get a big bucket of it. It’ll be like Christmas morning to me! 🙂

        1. Some of the coconut oils have a strong coconut flavor, which is fine in some dishes, but not in others. I don’t really care for coconut, so I’m biased. When I want the health benefits without the flavor, I get…hold on…running to check…Wilderness Family Naturals (my current source) expeller pressed ultra clean supreme. I don’t know what comparable brands call theirs. The virgin CO is the strongest in my opinion, followed by the centrifuge extracted. My daughters eat it off a spoon, but I can’t.

          Coconut oil is an anti-fungal and provides immune support. It is a superfood. It also resembles some of the fats in human breast milk–the perfect baby food. This is, of course, only for non-hydrogenated coconut oil. It also is very stable, so it does not go rancid like most oils, and it can be heated higher than many oils, including olive oil. That said, extra virgin olive oil is also very good for you. 🙂 I switch between the two and butter, depending on how high I’m heating it.

  5. Christy one other thign I have found a huge help to transition myself, my schedule, and my family to eat more whole foods is to pick one thing a week or every other week to make from scratch. This I challenge myself to try something new and replace a regular food normally store bought with homemade…that’s how the homemade pop tarts came to be a staple for us! Oh and any bread product is easy to make from scratch. Right now I have homemade cinaamon rolls, homemade dinner rolls, and soon to have breadsticks in the freexer. I’m also trying your simple white bread recipe today! My husband has been reluctant to give up his good old white snadwich bread from the store but we’re giving it a try.

    1. Your plan sounds great!

      We buy no baked goods whatsoever from the store, and, while I miss the convenience sometimes, I love the flavor of the homemade much better. If you serve it up fresh, I can’t imagine he wouldn’t love it!

    1. Thank you, Anne. I found the stress of being “perfect” was too hard on me and the budget. A little joy goes a long way. 🙂

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