Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Feeding Your Family
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared recipes, stories, and advice about food and eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Over the past year, my life has undergone a huge change: I lost a lot of weight. I embarked on this journey as a way to improve how I feel, and the amazing way I feel is what keeps me on track. I started swimming three days a week over the summer, following the Zero to 1650 program, and I’ve been able to continue swimming about once a week now that I’m back at work. I believe that my success is due in a large part to swimming, but it’s also due to completely changing my eating habits.
Let me just say before I go any further: I don’t care what anybody else weighs. I didn’t feel healthy or happy where I was physically, so I made a decision and I changed my life. I have never felt healthier or happier about my body than I do right now at age 32 as the mother of two children. I feel strong, energetic and athletic. A year ago I had no idea that this is where I’d be today! And it’s not really about the number on my scale. But 75 lbs lost is the best way I can quantify the change.
So, what do I eat? How did I change my eating habits? I have always been a proponent of cooking at home, sourcing local and sustainable foods and sharing family meals. I tend to cook healthy, but I just love food! I realized that I needed a better way to control my portions, so I went back to following the Weight Watchers guidelines and counting my Points Plus. I’ve followed Weight Watchers a few times over the years with varying success, so I didn’t sign up for the official program because I didn’t want to spend the money. Instead, I found How to get Weight Watchers for Free and started the program. One of the criticisms of the Weight Watchers program that I have heard is that it relies on processed food, but the truth is that you can follow the program and cook the majority of your meals at home. I can eat anything, and I choose to eat real food. Over the past year, I’ve found some tricks to keep myself on track and I’m sharing them here!
1. Find great recipes on Pinterest! I discovered that Pinterest made Weight Watchers easier than ever before because there are tons of healthy homemade recipes there. Check out my Weight Watchers Points Plus board for a bunch of healthy recipes. Through Pinterest I’ve also found some great Weight Watchers Friendly sites including LaaLoosh, Emily Bites and Skinny Taste. These are my go-to sites when I want to try something new, and the best part is that my husband and children will usually eat these recipes with minimal complaints!
2. Make Substitutions! There are some foods that I love but I know that I’ll eat too much of them. Instead of cutting these foods out completely, I make substitutions so I can enjoy something similar. Instead of eating slice after slice of homemade pizza, when I’m making pizzas for my family I use portabello mushroom caps as mini pizzas. I just flip them over, scoop out the gills, fill them with sauce, cheese and toppings and bake them. I can eat a whole bunch of them with no guilt! I also use mushroom caps in place of hamburgers, and with all the toppings I actually prefer them to beef burgers. I use spaghetti squash instead of pasta and enjoy a big portion. Instead of cream cheese or dip, I use plain cottage cheese. Instead of sour cream, I use Greek yogurt. I don’t even miss the old versions.
3. Plan Ahead for Supper! Each Saturday I plan a menu for the coming week and shop accordingly. (Sometimes I even am organized enough to post my menu plan online.) I don’t just plan a main course for dinner, but I also plan what vegetable side will go along with it. When I have a stocked fridge it’s easier to make sure I serve fresh veggies and salad. I also shop mid week to replenish our fruits and veggies. I like to plan a few quick meals and a few that are more involved and then choose whatever I have time to make in the evenings.
Who’s the “Smart One” now?
4. Plan Ahead for Lunches! I was afraid that I would get off track when I went back to school in the fall, so I spent a few days over the summer cooking and freezing meals for lunches when I didn’t have time to pack them. I froze individual portions and labeled them with the Points Plus values so I would be able to grab my own frozen convenience food instead of buying the processed version. Right now, my freezer contains portions of Quinoa & Sweet Potato Chili, Turkey Pumpkin White Bean Chili, White Turkey Chili, Butternut Squash Posole, and Mexican Style Zero Point Soup. I plan to make some Pumpkin Lentil Stew, Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili, Winter Minestrone and Chicken Pot Pie Soup in the coming weeks to add to the freezer. I love that I have individually portioned comfort food now that the weather is getting colder!
5. Treat Myself on Occasion! The one thing that I really love about Weight Watchers is that it is realistic to my life. If I want to have birthday cake or a piece of pie or some ice cream, I can. I just need to make adjustments to what I eat during the rest of the week. Sometimes I indulge, and sometimes I don’t. Either way, I know it’s fine. I also have rewarded myself for reaching weight loss goals with things like buying a new bathing suit or goggles, a new waterproof watch to time my mile, or a new cookbook.
I mentioned earlier in the post that I feel wonderful. That’s what keeps me on track with swimming and Weight Watchers. My life has literally changed for the better. Now I feel like I have so much energy! I enjoy chasing and playing with my kids. I love to take my boys outside and go for walks with them. I even plan to get back on skis this winter after about 5 years off of the slopes! I couldn’t be happier with my new lifestyle, and I love that I’m modeling active, healthy habits for my children.