Our Family’s 4 Goals for Healthy Eating

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So many diets (meaning ways of eating) have ready-made-names that others may understand.  You may or may not know the intricacies of each of these, but you have probably heard of eating vegan, kosher, or vegetarian.  Maybe you are also familiar with less well-known diets, like paleo or gluten-free.

But what diet does my family subscribe to now? We certainly have a way of eating that we feel strongly about, but I have had a hard time describing it to members of our family. So often diets are described in terms of what they don’t prefer, like low-fat, no meat, no gluten, grain-free, but I would like to describe our eating style in a positive way.  Here, I attempt to define our eating in terms of the goals that guide my menu-planning. After the goals, I’ll share what we had for dinner tonight so you can see what it looks like to eat this way.  In future posts, I’ll break down each of these goals and talk about how we practically meet it as best we can on a budget.

Goal 1. Eat more vegetables and fruit (and avoid as much pesticides as possible)

Goal 2. Include some high quality animal products, usually grass-finished beef, eggs, meat, and bone broth from pastured chickens, and raw, full-fat milk products from grass-fed cows.

Goal 3.  In addition to the fat found in high quality animal products, consume other healthy fats like coconut oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, and 100% olive oil.  

Goal 4. Use grains and beans to round out a diet dominated by vegetables, fruit, animal products, and other healthy fats (in that order).  Soak oats, rice, other grains, and beans before preparing to aid in digestion.

The reason I wrote goals instead of rules is because our eating has evolved over time and these goals express the direction we are moving.  When I first started exploring new ideas about nutrition about 2 years ago, I was in a near panic because everything I thought was healthy was called into question.  Our vegetables were on the dirty dozen of most pesticide-covered; the small amount of meat in our diet was conventionally produced; our dairy was fat-free and conventionally produced; we ate a lot of grains, beans, bread, and natural and artificial sweeteners.

I wanted to make a change, but I was pregnant and hungry, and everything I knew how to prepare seemed wrong or off-limits.  After a few weeks of feeling stressed out and hungry, I decided to focus on one aspect of our food at a time. On our food journey, I’ve noticed that changes are easier if I emphasize what I want to put into our diet (vegetables/healthy fats) instead of the things I wanted to reduce (sugars, grains, less healthy fats, pesticides). Even today, I want to add another goal about eating cultured and fermented foods, but I still haven’t added the fermented piece to the puzzle. All in due time, I remind myself.

So what does dinner look like at our place? Tonight it was a modified version of this recipe which I doubled because like Joshua, we love leftovers. I’ll give the single recipe here:

8 cups chicken bone broth (or sub any chicken stock or water)
1/4 pound (or up to 1 pound) linguica or kielbasa diced (or something similar, like smoked ham or bacon)
1 lb organic potatoes, diced
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes (or fresh or frozen tomatoes, diced)
1/2 large head cabbage, sliced and chopped
1 pound turnips, peeled, diced
2 medium onions, chopped
3 large carrots, diced
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf

Combine all ingredients in soup pot, bring to boil.  Lower heat and simmer for about 2 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I modified this recipe by removing the beans, reducing the meat, and upping the vegetables.  We served it with a very small slice of homemade oatmeal bread with raw butter, mainly to prevent mutiny by the 2-year-old.  Delicious!

Are there any goals that guide your healthy eating choices?

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3 thoughts on “Our Family’s 4 Goals for Healthy Eating

  1. This is a great philosophy for eating, ours is much of the same. It’s so much easier to focus on what you DO want to eat rather than what you DON’T. It’s a lifestyle, not a “DIET”. We are having a large pot of veggie soup ourselves in the next 2 weeks! I love making large pots of soup, the leftovers are even more delicious.

  2. Jennifer,

    I made this soup before I saw this. All organic except I added Turkey Kiebalsa and organic white beans and did not include the turnips or potatoes which I never thought to add. Hope you do not mind the repeat recipe! Due to Lenten restrictions of giving up sugar and wine I have made it my quest for 40 days (and beyond) not to eat process foods. I did get a loaf of organic whole wheat bread to go with the soup to prevent mutiny by your 2-year-old( if Wegmans’ lables can be believed! ) Linda

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