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The B4FD Project features blog posts from guest writers that explore the far-reaching benefits of family dinner.

Family Dinner Month 2012: Sept 17 -- Oct 29, 2012

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How I Learned to Love Vegetables

by Ana Brady

photo courtesy of happykanppy/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have the feeling that our grandparents didn’t have to think so hard in order to eat healthy. Nowadays it’s almost rocket science to think up and stick to a natural healthy food eating habit.

My two cousins manage to do it. They turned vegetarian last year and their meals are always a real feast of vitamins, minerals and healthy nutrients. They are trying to convert me, too, but I keep saying: “There’s no protein like meat,” or “If I don’t eat it, someone else will.” They only raise an eyebrow when they hear me make these excuses.

I really don’t think meat is my problem. It’s the carbs and sugars that I can’t resist. I found my body type on the net and there’s a description of me that comes with my body type: “For these people, sleeping, working and exercising are only temporary disruptions in the constant craving for carbs and sugars.” Not a very flattering image.

After reading numerous texts, talking to professional and amateur nutritionists, and watching shows on how to eat healthy, I realized there’s no escaping one simple truth – the proper way is to eat much less carbs and sugars, and much more vegetables and fruits. For some unexplainable reason, that is one of the most difficult things to accomplish.

A huge leap forward in learning how to eat properly was the birth of my first child. Since then I’ve changed many things in my cooking and meal planning. Here are 5 important steps I made to make my eating habits “more green”, and I’m very proud of them. I hope they can help you turn around as well.

5 Baby Steps to a Greener and Healthier Diet

1.    Eating meat three times a week is just the right amount, I’ve found. There is no need to eat it every day, but there’s also no need to avoid it (I still believe so). Meat is expensive and reducing meat intake to three times a week positively affects our family food budget, and our blood.

2.    Eating several small portions of veggies a day helped me lose weight, and now I maintain it simply by eating salads a lot and drinking water. Veggies like carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, kale, are full of vitamins, minerals and water. Aside from helping me maintain proper weight, they are also credited with a lot of amazing things: they help reduce cholesterol, they help prevent many diseases, they are good for the eyesight, etc.

3.    Seasoning my meals and salads with herbs I get from my kitchen plants (basil, parsley, rosemary) is a great way to save some money and to have a satisfying feeling of making something useful. My kids also like to help out with my dinner preparations by snipping some herbs from the plants and adding them to the meal. Fresh herbs are always better than dried out ones you buy in supermarkets.

4.    I’m not above using frozen out-of-season veggies. In fact, I think that’s a really good way of always eating all kinds of veggies in their top shape. I always have frozen bags of broccoli, kale, corn, baby carrots, cauliflower, etc. They help me prepare healthy meals very quickly. Also, when I make meals with onions, I like to chop up larger quantities of onions and then keep them in secure food packaging in the freezer. My grandma would say frozen onions are no good, but that’s one thing I’d strongly beg to disagree with her.

5.    I’m always carrying at least one piece of fruit with me. Whenever I have a sweet tooth, I pull out a bag of blueberries, an apple, or a banana. I still eat chocolate, but I don’t feel guilty about it as much as I did before, when I ate fruits twice a month.

Reading through this list, you might ask: “So, what’s the big deal about eating healthy?” It was difficult for me, but hopefully other people will have an easier time fighting bad eating habits.

Tonight my family is going to enjoy a nicely served lobster in lemon/rosemary/onion/garlic sauce with some honey-sweetened baby carrots, brown rice and lettuce salad. Some of you might frown at the honey in carrots, but I’ve never been a fan of rules that are way too strict. Moderation is the key to success, including the success to a healthy, “greener” eating.

Ana Brady blogs about family, nutrition, household tips, food tags, fitness, etc. She is a mother of two and a writer working with a group of designers who recently completed a project on beverage labels.  

1 comment to How I Learned to Love Vegetables

  • Great post and a wonderful journey. You are absolutely right, eating well in our environment is like swimming upstream! I would just point out that being a vegetarian does not necessarily convert one into a healthier eater, french fries and pizza are vegetarian meals, too! Eating some meat as a part of healthy diet works beautifully for many people. Adding more plant foods seems to be the key to good nutrition.

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