Thursday, October 19, 2006

Eating Healthier

With my husband's newly-diagnosed health issue comes a mandate: eat better, exercise more. Don't believe they hype; not all families with busy moms eat a diet of pre-processed crap. My family is a case in point. We don't own a microwave, even. Most days we sit down to a home-cooked meal. True enough, that meal is seldom eaten at the dining room table (much to my chagrin), but we do eat together. And we mostly eat healthy foods.

The husband and Susie are vegetarians. She has been her whole life; he became a vegetarian shortly after we got married. (I was a vegetarian until pregnancy, when I started chasing down small animals in a quest for more, more, more protein!) The Boy and I eat meat. He doesn't eat a lot of meat, however, so family meals tend to be vegetarian.

Given that our family's normal diet consists of mostly vegetables, grains, eggs and beans (I try to have a light hand when it comes to cheese), I'm left in a bit of a quandry when directives like "Eat healthier" come our way. Holy crud, how much healthier can I make the stuff? No more butter? No more white flour? Aren't we doing a lot better than most people? How good do we have to be, for goodness' sake?

Here's what I'm going to do. Eliminate butter (sigh....). Use 1/2 whole wheat flour when I would normally just use white (in breads, anyway....not sure that would work in cookies, etc.). (Not that I even really bake cookies all that often.) (Except now I want to do just that, but it's probably just a reaction to all this talk of healthy food.) More soups (they fill you up with less calories - thanks to the water!). More fruit. More nonfat and lowfat dairy products. Less reliance on eggs. And we're going to strive to have at least three superfoods in our meals each day. Oh, and ice cream? Not so much. (I'm so going to have to take the kids out to get some fat calories for their developing brains!) The good news is that consumption of red wine is actually recommended for this condition. Hooray!

But those are the easy changes. The harder changes are deeper-rooted. The celebratory trip to the ice cream store. The Friday night pizza. Those associations of food with happiness and togetherness. We can enjoy family time without wrapping it around some high-fat, high-sugar treat. Which is something we want our kids to learn anyway. We're already on the right track - the kids enjoy the family bike ride to the Farmer's Market more than they enjoy a meal at the local Mexican eatery. And a long walk after dinner can replace dessert, right? I guess it's gonna have to - health issues are usually a combination of genetics and behavior. We can only control the behavior. So let's get it under control and see how healthy we can be!

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