eat healthier now

The past few months I’ve been researching different ways and styles of eating. I looked at doing Whole 30, but knew that as a nursing mom with very little will-power, if we embarked on it as a family I’d probably end up hiding in the basement eating ice cream and digging the frozen buns out of the freezer to satiate the ravenous hunger that takes over the first year post-baby.

So then we landed instead on the Paleo diet, and during the month of May, did our best to follow a modified version of it – we allowed dairy (cheese, yogurt, milk) and some grains (oats and sprouted flour) with the occasional splurge. I definitely struggled though and caved more often to that slice of bread that was calling my name (again, I have incredibly LOW self control when I’m nursing, haha).

loads of baking

Through the time we were doing this, we learned a lot about food and just exactly what we’ve been eating. We also learned that it really isn’t that hard to eat healthy, nor does it have to be that expensive. Though I wouldn’t want to do a Paleo-style diet long term unless we had health reasons for doing so (allergies, sensitivities, etc.), it was a good reset to help us break some bad habits. Habits that are VERY easy to fall back into again unless you’re willing to make some on-going, long term changes.

Lately I’ve been focusing our meals more around “real foods” or “whole foods”. When I signed up for Emeals I started getting their Paleo plans, then switched to Clean Eating. What on earth does real/whole/clean eating mean? Basically just what it sounds like! Getting foods as natural as possible from as clean and uncontaminated a source as possible. It’s not as hard as you think! Here’s 10 easy ways to start eating a cleaner, real foods diet.


1. Start off slow and work your way into it.

Don’t try to start changing everything all at once. You’re likely to become overwhelmed and frustrated and just give up in the end. Take a look at what you eat on a regular basis and see where you can start making changes. Make a list of the snack foods, quick foods, meals out, etc. that are the least likely to be “real” foods see what you can cut out.

2. Eat out differently.

The Man eats out 2-3 times a week for work, so during our Paleo experiment he had to get creative as to what he could eat. He found that simply ordering a really nice salad with chicken or another meat on it (not breaded mind you!), a vinaigrette ON THE SIDE, and water instead of fries made a HUGE difference. So skip the sugary drinks, creamy dressings and fried foods. Most restaurants will make ALMOST anything you ask for, and a lot of them are coming up with many healthy options available on their menus. Just beware of most sauces and ask for them either on the side or without as they’re usually loaded with not-so-great ingredients.

3. Read labels.

food labels

Start looking at the labels of the foods you’re buying. Just reading through the ingredients is often enough to make you want to change what you’re putting into your body. Pentosonase? Autolyzed yeast?  Colouring? Sulphites? Polysorbate? Yuck. Get to know your ingredients and which ones you want to steer clear of (avoid soya, corn syrup/starch/flour, yeast extracts IE MSG, and sulphites). Just by reading the labels you will learn a lot about just what is in the food you’re feeding your family. This is a great post that contains a lot of ingredients to watch out for.

Here’s a list of substitutions to make for foods and ingredients you may be currently using to a more real food alternative:


4. Change your snacks.

Cinnamon Pecan Shreddie Crunch

Yup, it’s true. This is where most of us get bitten. Snack foods. They’re just so yummy and delicious and appealing! But the fact of the matter is, most packaged snack foods are JUNK. Stop treating them like TREATS and rewards, and start seeing them for what they are – garbage :D (*ducks to avoid the flying rotten tomatoes :D*). In all seriousness, this is one of the biggest changes you need to make to eat healthier. It’s convenient, and it’s bad for you. Plain and simple.

So what do you do instead of the snacks? There are TONS of ideas out there for good snacking. I have a pinterest board loaded with snack possibilities, and there’s many more out there! If you absolutely MUST have some packaged snacks in the house, do the research to find the ones that are going to be a healthier option. Triscuit crackers (the plain ones) have only 4 or 5 ingredients. Read the labels and choose the organic or gluten free options.

Start making your snack food from scratch. Pretzels, muffins, cookies, brownies, granola bars – they’re all really easy to make and freeze to pull out for lunches of snacks on the go. Plus you know EXACTLY what’s going into them.


*Side note* You don’t HAVE to cut out the junk food entirely. If you eat the occasional bag of chips or cookies as a family, it’s not going to kill you. But you want to make some changes to your daily habits that are going to be doable long-term and encourage healthier eating in general.

5. Switch your sugar source.


If you can’t quit sugar all together, stop using straight sugar and change to a different source. Your body actually responds differently to different sugars, metabolizing and breaking them down in a totally different way. Instead of white or brown sugar, use honey, coconut sugar or maple syrup. Again, read the labels! Sugar is in EVERYTHING and you’re probably being exposed to it a lot more than you would initially think. Salad dressing, condiments, deli meats, yogurt – pretty much everything has sugar in it, so know where you’re getting it and be aware of how much you’re eating.

6. Reduce boxed cereals.


At the beginning of the year, our cereal cupboard contained Cheerios, Shreddies, Raisin Bran, sometimes Life and occasionally Mini Wheats. But we’ve gradually been cutting back on the cereals we’re eating, to the point now where the only cereal in the cupboard is Shreddies and organic, GMO-free flakes. I’ve been learning that it’s better to make a fresh breakfast rather than opt for the sugary, engineered cereals. Yes, even Cheerios are bad for you (gasp! favourite baby snack food ever :O/).

Don’t freak out on me now and say you don’t have time to make breakfast every morning. I don’t either! But there are some quick and easy ways to cut out the cereals you’re eating. Make-ahead breakfasts, overnight soaked oatmeal, homemade granola, make and freeze muffins, waffles, pancakes, eggs and bacon “cupcakes”. The possibilities are endless!  And when you’re really tight on time, then have those GOOD cereal options available for a quick bowl and out the door.


7. Stop drinking juice.


Especially juices from concentrate! If you really must have that cool glass of juice, try making iced teas instead and adding a little bit of honey. Or just put a pitcher of water in the fridge with ice and cut up lemons, oranges and limes and enjoy a cool, refreshing glass whenever you’re thirsty.

8. Soak your grains and make your own bread.

Say what? Yes, soak them. Why? Because when you soak them you reduce phytic acid, which then allows you to absorb better minerals from the grains. (More on that here) It’s not hard, it just takes a bit of advance planning. Oats and rice (which contains arsenic) can be soaked in warm water overnight, then rinsed until clear. You can buy soaked flour or find recipes that soak overnight.

homemade bread

Start making your own bread. If you can’t afford to buy your own grain mill, buy flour from a local grain mill or farmer’s market for higher nutrition (who knows how long the flour has been sitting on the shelf at the grocery story, and it goes rancid within a month or less of grinding!). I JUST finally found a place near me that mills and sells in a little storefront MANY kinds of flours and baking ingredients, including a lot of organic, gluten free products. *doing a happy dance*

Many recipes are easy to make in bulk and freeze. Tortillas and pitas are SUPER quick and easy, bagels are delicious, and english muffins to die for. Make a bunch at once and freeze them for during the week.

9. Meal plan.

meal planning

If you’re a bit overwhelmed with the above information, let me put your mind at ease. The best way to incorporate these changes into your daily life is to sit down and work out a meal plan that will be best for your family. This is a huge factor to keeping us eating healthy and staying organized and on track.

There are PLENTY of fantastic plans out there with recipes and ideas already laid out for you. Emeals has a clean eating plan, 100 Days of Real Food, Modern Alternative Mama, The Nourishing Home, Trina Holden‘s real fast food ideas. They also have massive amounts of recipes to choose from

10. Get more educated.


This list is just the beginning of making changes for healthy eating. There is so much more to learn! Check out this great post on serving real food wherever you are and whatever situation you may be in, as well as this series from Keeper of the Home on Real Food Made Simple. Take the challenge from 100 Days of Real Food to get started on your journey to healthier eating. It IS possible!

Trina Holden has a great resource for those who want to change to a healthier style of eating. She wrote Real {Fast} Food with the family in mind, knowing herself how busy life can be with kids, work, homeschooling, etc. It’s a fantastic e-cookbook I think you will really enjoy, AND she’s letting me give a copy away!

Real Fast Food


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How have you made changes in the way you eat as a family?

How do you ensure you’re getting the best nutrition possible?

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