Choose You Blog
By: Shannon Overton, Manager, Organizational Communications
Until recently I was a self-proclaimed, processed-food, refined-sugar, refined-flour, diet-soda junkie! I always thought I ate relatively healthy – rarely getting fast food and always opting for low fat snacks – but my pantry was full of processed cereals, crackers, and nutrition bars, and my fridge was full of diet soda. I always had to have my daily sugar “fix”, whether a piece of candy or a cookie. I began reading about the health benefits of eating unprocessed foods at a point in my life when I often felt tired, and I seemed to catch every virus that crossed my path. I made the decision to choose myself by eliminating processed foods from my diet. When I say processed foods, I mean pretty much anything that comes out of a box, package, or can – including my beloved diet soda.
What did I feed myself and my family? As challenging as it sounds, I started making all of our meals from scratch. My motto became, “If I want it, I have to make it.” I was already cooking dinner most nights of the week and having leftovers the next day for lunch, but breakfast and snacks were the biggest challenges.
- Instead of tortillas out of a package, I started making my own tortillas with whole wheat flour – they’re not as pretty and round as the store-bought kind, but they sure taste good!
- I stopped buying quick-cooking rice. I never thought about it before, but rice does not come out of the field ready to cook in 5 minutes; it is processed so that consumers can cook it in 5 minutes.
- Instead of processed cereals, nutrition bars, crackers, and pretzels for breakfast and snacks, I quickly learned how to make granola for our morning cereal, and granola bars, a homemade version of Lara bars, and muffins for our snacks.
- Fruits and vegetables also became a “convenient” snack because I no longer had the option of pulling crackers out of a box.
Believe me when I say this process was not easy for me or my family. My husband almost cracked a tooth on my first batch of homemade granola cereal, I had some serious diet soda withdrawals, and my four-year old threatened to go live with a family who had pretzels.
Fortunately, we made it past those initial hurdles, and the health benefits are paying off in a big way! I have not been sick, I have so much more energy and I no longer crave the sugary snacks I used to love. In fact, when I recently decided to give myself a break and indulge in some candy it backfired, and I felt dreadful for hours afterwards. I never thought I would ever be able to say that candy made me feel sick!
By choosing to put myself first and eat healthfully, I ultimately chose to put my family’s health first — and that’s the biggest pay-off of all!