Reader Q&A: How Do I Get My Family To Eat Healthy?

How do I get my family to eat healthy?

Reader Melissa A. sent me an email asking a question that I think most mothers and wives face: How do I get my family to eat healthy?  See what she had to say.

I am on a path to start eating clean but I am having trouble getting my husband and children on board. 

My children are 2 and 3 and would not eat/throw a tantrum for hours if they don’t get their standard terrible toddler food (hot dogs, crackers, tons of sugar loaded processed foods).   I’ve actually tried for over a year to correct their menu just to throw it away in the trash every time.  Since I’m the grocery shopper in the house I have tried to reduce their intake where I can, improving the amounts they receive. 

Our biggest challenge is that my husband feeds them 5 out of 7 dinners as I work an hour away.  He’s not much of a cook/leftovers guy so they almost always eat Take and bake pizza or corn dog nuggets on a daily basis. 

Any words of wisdom?

Thanks so much,
Melissa A.

I know exactly how you feel.  While Ava has always had fairly good eating habits, Tony has not.  My husband had what I considered to be the “typical American diet”.  He is a lover of  meat, fried things, and anything containing the ingredient “partially hydrogenated oil”.

When I started this clean eating journey, he thought I was totally nuts.  He didn’t understand why I didn’t want to eat meat, or that I didn’t want our daughter eating Doritos.  I continued to do what I knew was right.

Tony’s eating habits are changing.

If you ask him, he may still tell you that my eating habits are a little strange, but I know he hears what I’m saying.  I realized that I had gotten through to him when I heard through the grapevine that he got on to someone who was trying to give our daughter excessive amounts of candy.  He explained to the person that we (yes, he said WE!) choose not to give junk like that to Ava and even though I wasn’t there, we stand together (together!!!) on our decision.  He was listening all along!  He made me proud!

So what did I do to get through to him?

In the beginning, I led by example.  I knew he would never just jump on board.  Like most men (sorry guys), I needed to let him decide that it was his idea.  Even though he thought it was all crazy, I ate healthy.  I also explained to him why I was eating the way I was.  Once the weight started falling off, I think he started to notice that it wasn’t a bunch of nonsensical hippie talk.   What I was doing made perfect sense, and he noticed!

I wasn’t above trickery.

I admit it, I tricked my family more than a few times.  (And I still do!)  I got crafty with the whole wheat and whole grains.  I learned how to add veggies into meals so that they wouldn’t  notice.

Don’t fight against them.

Although Ava is a fairly good eater, I know a little girl who sounds just like Melissa’s kids.  She only eats chicken nuggets (frozen or from McDonald’s), cookies, and a few other unhealthy items.  Her parents continued to feed her these things for fear of her being hungry.  Start by offering your children healthy options along with their favorites.  Slowly (over a few weeks) remove the unhealthy options from their diet.  They will probably protest, but if they are truly hungry, they will eat the healthy options.  If they won’t eat the healthy foods, set them aside for later when they are hungry again.  When they are hungry, they will eat.

Get your children involved!

Children who help grow or prepare their meals are more likely to try new things.  Start a small garden and let them grow new veggies to try.  Invite them into the kitchen.  Not only will your child be more likely to try new foods, but you will be bonding with them and building their self-esteem.

Prep your meals.

If you are not the one who cooks most of the meals, prep easy and healthy meals ahead of time.  Here I talked about prep being one of the three “P’s”.  If you can’t be home to cook a healthy meal, try doing once-a-month cooking.  Make and freeze healthy, clean meals that your spouse or kids can heat up.  If it’s just as easy as a frozen pizza, they just might cook it.

Getting your family to eat clean (or just somewhat healthy for that matter) is not going to happen over night.  Just remember to stay positive and lead by example.

Do you have any advice for Melissa or anyone else dealing with a picky family?

nopin

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Eating Clean When You Don’t Have Time

While visiting my mom in Florida, her biggest complaint about eating clean was that she doesn’t have time.  I will be the first to admit, eating clean can be a bit time-consuming if you want it to be.

Tips for Eating Clean

But it doesn’t have to be!

  • Plan ahead!  This truly is key if you are busy.  You MUST sit down and plan out your meals for the week.  How will you eat clean if you have no clean meals planned? Your refrigerator will probably be empty too.  This goes hand-in-hand with the next step.
  • Prep!  Take an hour or two on Sunday afternoon to prep your food for the week.  Bake bread, cook beans, wash and cut fruits and veggies.  Make your good food your fast food.
  • Bread.  I have yet to find a commercially baked bread that I deem “clean”.  You’re probably thinking to yourself, “bread from scratch takes forever.”  Wrong!  Baking bread really only takes 30+ minutes of active work.  The key word here is ACTIVE.  Most of the time the bread is rising or baking.  Start with a simple whole wheat recipe.  You may be surprised to find that you actually enjoy baking.
  • Beans.  I’m a huge fan of beans. And while you can buy canned beans, I’m not a fan of all the added salt or the BPA-lined can.  I prefer to soak and cook my own beans.  Soak your beans overnight, then cook the next day.  You may be pleasantly surprised to find that beans don’t take all day to cook.  I can cook a pot of black beans about an hour.  The best part is that you can turn them on and walk away.  I’ve also cooked them in a crock pot.
  • Make a double batch.  If you are making soup or a casserole one night for dinner, prep a double batch and freeze it.  You can also cook a little extra and have enough for lunch the next day.

Buy Produce

  • Buy clean!  This may seem like a no-brainer, but only buy clean food.  If you buy junk, you’re going to eat junk.  Buy loads of fresh, seasonal produce!  If it’s there, you will eat it.
  • Create you own convenience foods.  If your family is stuck eating frozen meals from the grocery store, try creating clean freezer meals.  Spend a day freezing healthy meals that will feed your family for the entire week (or month, if you’re brave).  You don’t have to freeze complete meals either.  Below I have (from left to right) a rice mixture (brown & wild rice, black beans, corn, cilantro, and spices), cooked black beans, and sliced sweet peppers (which I saved here).  The rice and beans are both fully cooked and can easily be warmed or incorporated into a meal.  The peppers are ready to be tossed into stir-fry, or chopped into your morning eggs!

Clean Convenience Foods

  • Watch out for store-bought convenience foods.  There is so much hidden junk in prepared foods.  That being said, there are a few clean packaged foods. Look for organic items, they are a good place to start. (Think condiments to start off.)  But don’t be fooled, everything labeled organic is NOT automatically good for you!

Practice the three P’s: Plan, Purchase, and Prep!  If you decide you want to eat clean and make it a priority, it will happen.

Do you have any shortcuts that help you eat clean?

nopin

Reader Q&A: Why Does Food Make Me Feel Horrible?

Why does food make me feel horrible?

I received the following email from reader Brittany E.

I started eating clean about two weeks ago and I have felt great. I haven’t “cheated” other than a peanut nature valley bar due to not having eaten all day and that was about a week ago.

Well yesterday I let myself have a small bowl of red beans and rice and this morning I had one biscuit. Oh my goodness. My body absolutely hates me. Stomach pain, cramps, and even a slight bit of heart burn.

My question for you is did you ever go through this after you started eating better? And if so how did you handle it? I honestly was not having cravings when I ate these things and my sugar addiction is practically broken.

Hope this doesn’t sound crazy!!
Love the blog by the way 🙂

 

First off, thank you so much for taking the time to ask a question.  It means so much to hear from readers.

To answer your question, Yes!  This still happens to me if I eat something undesirable.  I’m guessing that the rice and beans and the biscuit were not homemade.  What is probably making you feel that way is the shortening in the biscuits.  Shortening does the same thing to me, every time.  Here are the ingredients in Crisco straight from their website:

Ingredients:

SOYBEAN OIL, FULLY HYDROGENATED PALM OIL, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM AND SOYBEAN OILS, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, TBHQ AND CITRIC ACID (ANTIOXIDANTS).

In my opinion, shortening is one of the worst things you could possible put in your body.  Unfortunately, that’s what most people use to make their biscuits.  My mom also uses butter flavored Crisco in her Judy’s Almost Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Sad to say, I won’t touch her cookies anymore.  They make me feel HORRIBLE!  It’s exactly what you described, stomach cramps, pain, and heartburn.  So not worth a cookie.

I’m no doctor, but here’s my theory on why this happens after you start eating clean.  When you start eating clean, you are allowing your body to heal.  Your body starts to expect only whole, nutrient rich foods.  What you feel after eating the biscuit is your body’s way of saying, “What were you thinking?  Never again!”  Your body doesn’t know how to process this chemical slurry.

Don’t beat yourself up over it.  Everyone slips up now and then.  Just be prepared for your body’s protest.

If you love red beans and rice and biscuits, it’s okay.  If you make these things at home, you can control what goes into them.  I’ve made very delicious red beans and rice from scratch that even my husband loves.  And we’re from the South, we love our biscuits.  When I make them at home, I use whole wheat flour and coconut oil instead of shortening.  That’s part of this journey, learning to cook all of your favorite foods in a way that’s better for your body.

You’re on the right track.  Being in tune with your body makes a huge difference.  Keep up the good work!

Does anyone else have any helpful information for Brittany?  If you have a question, email us at scacchihouse@yahoo.com.

nopin

The Feeling of Health: Part 4

Last week I posted about sugar addiction.  If you haven’t read it yet, you should.  You may also want to check out Part 1 and Part 2.

This week is all about meat.  I’m not a big fan of meat, I haven’t been for a long time.  If you would have asked me two years ago if I could ever completely give up meat, the answer would have been “absolutely not!”  I loved bacon way too much.

The Scacchi House: Why I Limit Meat

After I began this clean eating journey, I started to notice how meat played into our daily meals.  My husband and I were both raised to think that we needed a big slab of steak on our plate, paired with a large helping of starch and maybe a small helping of a green vegetable.  THIS is where my meals were failing me.

I’m not saying that this is how everyone views meat or that you must follow this to perfection.  There are many people who eat clean on a daily basis who still eat meat.  And don’t get me wrong, I still eat meat on occasion.  I will explain.

If I center my meals around meat, I find myself falling back into old habits.  I do not want meat to be the center of my meal.  I want my meal to be centered around fresh veggies (and fruits) and whole grains.  I personally find this very difficult to do when meat is involved.

Eliminating (or drastically reducing) meat from my diet forces me to explore a broad range of vegetables.  I have also started experimenting with different whole grains.  (Have you tried bulgur?)

If you can’t completely give up meat, treat it more as a flavoring agent or a side dish.  Make a hearty vegetable soup with a very small amount of beef or chicken.  You will find that you are just as satisfied (if not more so) with the subtle flavor of beef, without having to eat a full on beef stew.

If you feel the need for a steak, have a 4oz steak, not a 16oz.  The key to eating clean is balance.  And while I don’t eat any meat the majority of the time, there are a few exceptions.  I will snag a slice of bacon (just a slice!) now and then.  I actually had a burger for dinner this week.  It was not just any burger. It was a mixture of wagyu beef and bison. Tony cooked it up for me here at the house.  I can’t tell you the last time I had a burger.  It was good, but I’ve had my fix for a while.

With my burger, I had a spinach and quinoa salad filled with veggies and topped with this dressing.  Again, it’s all about balance.

The second reason I’m not big into meat is because commercial meat is not raised in a way that I feel appropriate for my food (or any animal for that matter).  We should have more access to humanly raised, healthy (grass-fed and maybe organic) meats here soon.  (More about this in a bit.)

Another bonus reason to limit your meat consumption?  You will save money at the grocery store.  Who can complain about that?

Whether or not you choose to eat meat, explore your veggies.  Fruits and veggies are the key to health.  Have a diet full of both and you’ll surly succeed.

Next week we bridge into the fitness and exercise portion on this series!

If you missed any of the previous posts, here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

nopin

 

The Feeling of Health: Part 3

The Feeling of Health - Beating the Sugar Addiction

Confession: I was once addicted to crack. Seriously. Go do a search on Pinterest for crack, I’ll wait. That’s right, crack brownies, chocolate crack cake, Christmas crack, you name it. (It actually annoys the heck out of me that they call all of this crack, addicting as they are. I highly doubt any if these housewives even know what crack looks like, myself included.)

I was addicted to sugar.

I never understood why all of my dieting efforts never lasted long-term. I was always lured back to the dark side by my mom’s “Almost Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies”. I. Needed. Sugar! I was a lover of all thing sweet: Oreos, ice cream, cupcakes. I think you get the picture. I would try to swear them off only to have them call my name from the pantry. Just one more cookie. I was in a downward spiral.

It wasn’t until I watched the documentary Hungry for Change
(which I highly recommend) that I realized why I was so addicted to sugar and why I couldn’t beat it. Sugar is in EVERYTHING. No, I’m not exaggerating, it’s really in almost everything.

How I Beat the Sugar Addiction

Coffee creamer: SUGAR. Pasta sauce: SUGAR. Wheat bread: SUGAR! Everything we consume is laced with sugar. No wonder we’re all addicted.

So how did I beat the sugar addiction? It was actually easier than I would have ever imagined.

Once I decided to eat clean, I knew I needed to stay clear of sweets for a while. I wasn’t sure how long it would be until I allowed myself to indulge in a treat, but I knew it needed to be done.

I cleaned out our pantry, fridge, and freezer of ANYTHING containing added sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Obviously, sugar is naturally occurring in things like fruit. I’m talking about unnatural, added sugar. The only “sugar” I allowed in the house in the beginning was honey.

With no sugar in the house, the first few days flew by. If I wanted something sweet, I ate a pear or had a mug of green tea with some honey. When I fist started drinking green tea, I added a tablespoon or so of honey to the mug, I now drink is straight or occasionally with a small drizzle of honey. Huge change!

By the end of the first week, I was enjoying being creative with my food that I was no longer thinking about junk before bed. I began thinking up new and interesting things to make for dinner.

By the end of the second week, I was able to pass up a cookie. It honestly didn’t look that great. I had a pear and some cheese as a snack. I knew something had finally changed. The addiction was broken.

The key to ending the addiction was removing all the hidden sugars from my diet. I can stop buying ice cream, but if I’m sucking down bagels loaded with high fructose corn syrup, my body is continuously going to need that high. This is why you continue to crave the junk.

Don’t be fooled into thinking sugar-free is your ticket either. Artificial sweeteners also make your brain crave sugar (on top of a slew of other horrible things). This is also another reason to skip anything labeled “fat-free”. How do you think they make fat-free foods not taste like cardboard? They replace the fat (which your body needs) with sugar! You think you’re doing yourself right by eating that salad with fat-free dressing? You might as well eat a candy bar.

You have to quit, cold turkey. You will notice changes in that first week or two. You will feel better, have more energy, and probably drop a few pounds.

I now get to choose when I indulge and on what. I am no longer tempted by a box of donuts or a piece of cake. I know that it’s poison and to be completely honest, unless it’s its something really special (or homemade from scratch) it’s going to taste like garbage because it’s made of garbage.

I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I get to eat whatever I want, because I want and crave the good stuff. I eat great 95% of the time and indulge occasionally. And when I do indulge, it’s definitely not on something commercially made (with the exception of a dark chocolate bar). The thought of never dieting again is incredibly freeing.

Food doesn’t have to control you. Once you’re in charge of your food, you might be shocked by the choices you make. From scratch apple cinnamon oatmeal instead of a slimy glazed donut, Yes Please!

Do you feel addicted to sugar? What have you done to change it?

If you missed them, you can check out Part 1 and 2 here and here. Next week in Part 4: Why I Limit Meat

nopin

The Feeling of Health: Part 1

 

The Scacchi House: The Feeling of Health - A journey of weightloss, eating clean, and bodyweight exercise

In the last 6 month, I have completely changed my life forever.  I want to share my journey with you in a 7-part series.  I hope you will feel encouraged and inspired.

It all started in December of last year.  We were in Alaska and I had some free time.  I began watching several documentaries on Netflix.  One by one, I began to notice a theme: Eat Clean.  Along with eating clean, many of them discussed our addiction to sugar.  A lot of what was hearing was nothing new.

I have spent most of my adult life dieting.  I have never been naturally thin, not even in high school.  I remember the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, getting on the scale and seeing 142.  I’m 5’3″ and 142 was a devastating number to me.  I told myself I had to get the weight off and I would never weigh that much again.  I got down to 128 pounds, my lightest ever.  I was wearing a size 6.  I was thin, but not fit.

The Scacch House: 2009

Fast forward to 2007, college helped me add that 14 pounds back on plus an additional 9.  I was 151 pounds and miserable.  I did weight watchers and got back down to 135 pounds.  I felt better carrying around less weight.  I still didn’t feel healthy.

The Scacchi House: 2010

I spent the next few years yo-yoing up and down the scale.  When I met Tony in July of 2010, I was at 135 pounds.  Falling in love wasn’t good for my waistline.  When I found out I was pregnant, I weighed in at 142 pounds.  I had always told myself that I wanted to be in the best shape of my life before I got pregnant.  My desire for a baby wasn’t going to wait for me to get my butt in gear.

The Scacchi House: 2011

I gained a whopping (brace yourself) 40 pounds while pregnant with Ava.  At my last visit with my midwife before she was born I weighed in at 182 pounds.  I knew it was all for a good reason, but I never wanted to see that number again… EVER!

The Scacchi House: 2012

After Ava was born, I lost 30 of those 40 pounds in the first two weeks.  I thought to myself, “I can tackle 10 pounds, no problem.”  Five more pounds fell off in the next few months without doing much.  I tried to diet, but I was nursing and I didn’t want to limit my calories too much.

The Scacchi House: Before Alaska

We left for Alaska in October 2012.  Ava was 10 1/2 months old.  I weighed 147 pounds.  I felt horrible.  Something had to change.

In December I watched the documentaries.  Those documentaries drove me to the library to read more.  I began reading everything I could find on eating clean, vegetarianism, veganism, sugar addiction, GMOs, and processed food.  On December 23rd, I gave up meat.  I talked about this a bit here.

I started eating better, eliminating almost all processed food.  I tried to buy as much organics as I could find and afford.  The weight began falling off.  For the first time in my life, I felt great, and I wasn’t on a diet!  I always felt miserable on a diet because there were so many thing that were off-limits.  My new-found way of eating was so liberating.  It completely changed the way I will forever look at food (and my body).  My thought changed from “what I can’t have” to “look at all that I CAN have.”

I no longer feel deprived.  I eat what I want, when I want.  The foods I crave now are not what I craved before.  Food is now fun and exciting.  I’m always trying new things, combining new flavors.  Life got a little more exciting.

The Scacchi House: June 2013

As of Monday, I now weight 127 pounds and wear a size 4!  I’m the lightest I’ve ever been.  That being said, I no longer care about the number on the scale.  I don’t think I will ever own a scale again, I have no need to.  My body is different now.  I feel healthy and my body reflects that.

Check out Part 2: Eating Clean

nopin

Banana Bread: Nana’s Recipe Makeover

Banana Bread

One thing we always had regularly at our house growing up was banana bread.  My Mom used the same recipe that my Grandma (Nana) always used.  One day I was longing for a taste of home.  I wanted to bake some of that wonderful banana bread that my Mom always made.  I called Mom and had her email me the recipe.  Since we are trying to eat as clean as possible, I made a few adjustments to the recipe.  It tastes EXACTLY the same!  I was so happy.

I put the recipe on one of my new chevron recipe cards for you to enjoy.  If you like the recipe card, it is available as a Word template in my Etsy shop in a few different colors.  This recipe is available here as a PDF download.

Banana Bread Recipe Card

This recipe is so easy.  You now have no excuse to use a boxed mix!  To make this recipe a bit more “clean,” I substituted coconut oil for the shortening and whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour.  I also use organic evaporated cane sugar instead of white sugar.  It does not change the taste or texture at all.  Tony had no idea it was made with whole wheat flour.  You can also add walnuts (or any other nut) to the bread, but I personally feel that nuts in baked goods are an abomination. =) Tony feels differently.

To download the recipe card, click here.  Enjoy!

Are there any foods that remind you of home?  Let me know how you like this banana bread recipe!

Ultimate Whole Wheat Tortillas

I have been on a mission to master my whole wheat tortilla recipe. I love tortillas because of their diversity. They can be wraps, tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, flat breads, chips, you name it! We are trying to eat very little processed food and store-bought tortillas are definitely processed, not to mention filled with preservatives. Plus they cost almost $4.00 for 10! I knew I could do better.

I’ve spent the last month playing with my recipe. I have tried a few different combinations of flours and oils.  I am happy to announce that I have officially perfected it! These tortillas are whole wheat and still very pliable, not to mention delicious! All of the whole wheat tortillas I have bought at the grocery store crumble when you try to fold them, even if you warm them up. That doesn’t make a very good taco. This recipe fixes that problem. The best part is that I can whip up a batch of these in about 30 minutes (maybe 45 until you get a system down). So here it is!

Amanda’s Ultimate Whole Wheat Tortillas20130129-180629.jpg

Servings: 14 Soft Tortillas
Time: 30 minutes

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp coconut oil (room temperature)
1 cup warm water

  1. Combine the both flours and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the coconut oil to the flour mixture. The coconut oil should be room temperature and be the consistency of shortening. Combine the flour mixture and the coconut oil with a fork or pastry blender. You want to fully incorporate the oil into the flour until it is about pea size or smaller.
  3. Stir in the water until the dough forms. You may want to use your hands at this point. If your dough seems too dry, add a little more water, about 1 tbsp at a time until it comes together. If the dough is too wet, you can add a bit more flour.
  4. Form balls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Set aside.
  5. Warm a frying pan or griddle to medium low heat (about a 3-4 on my stove). DO NOT add any oil to the pan. Your tortilla dough has plenty of oil.
  6. To roll out the tortilla balls between two pieces of aluminum foil. If your dough is sticking, slightly flour. I use a rolling pin to roll them out, slightly rotating between each pass. Roll them as thin as you can. If you don’t have a rolling pin, a wine bottle will work.
  7. Remove the top piece of foil. You can either make rustic tortillas (odd-shaped) or make round tortillas like I did. I used a salad plate to cut mine. Place the salad plate upside down on your rolled out dough and use a knife to cut around. Remove the excess and set aside.
  8. Peel the dough off the foil. I do this by placing the dough in my hand and peeling off the foil. It should come off fairly easy.
  9. Lay the dough flat in the warmed pan. Cook on each side for 30 seconds. It doesn’t take long. Once you get a system down, you will be able to roll your next tortilla between flips.
  10. Remove your tortilla and set on a cookie sheet or cooling rack. Repeat until all of the dough is used up! I used my scrap dough to make mini tortilla for Ava.

After my tortillas cool, I stack them and store them in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator. One batch lasts us about a week.

Have you ever made homemade tortillas?