I’ve said it again and again and again. Diets are a drag. Boring. Torture disguised as some sort of food penance. I like to read about them and then take great satisfaction in never doing them. That is, if we’re talking about diets that center around one principle, such as a certain food, institute an intake cap, which usually means virtually nonexistent, or require a pantry full of hard-to-find ingredients for recipes that take two hours to prep and cook. Count me out.
I like food, but not in the way you might think. I like real food. Over the past ten years, I have gradually weeded out non-food from my family’s diet. Ach! There’s that word!! So, before you think I’m contradicting myself, let’s see what Mr. Dictionary has to say about diet.
1. food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health.
2. a particular selection of food, especially as designed or prescribed to improve a person’s physical condition or to prevent or treat a disease.
3. such a selection or a limitation on the amount a person eats for reducing weight.
4. the foods eaten, as by a particular person or group.
That’s what diet means, my friends. Food and what and how you eat it. Not some discipline guaranteed to make you persona non-grata at every dinner party on the planet.
Let me give you an example. A favorite at football parties is cheese dip. What is the main ingredient in cheese dip? Well, in the South, at least, it’s Velveeta. Yes, it makes the best dips because it melts smoothly. It also makes a pretty yummy grilled cheese sandwich. But any way you slice it, Velveeta is a long way from real food. It has the basic ingredients of cheese, milk and salt, but what they add to it and how they process it leaves the final product seriously adulterated and unhealthy.
So, about two years ago, I purposed to drop it from my grocery list. We had a short period of adjustment, but now we don’t consume any Velveeta-ish products more than two or three times a year, usually at someone’s else’s party.
I replaced this nutrition-less cheese with good brand real cheese. Wal-Mart sells Tillamook cheddar in 2-lb blocks for $4.50/lb. It melts well and has a good taste. It’s not greasy, like cheaper cheeses. As best as I can tell, it’s real cheese. Until I can make my own, which I have done before, this is our next best choice.
I’m not perfect in my grocery shopping and feeding habits. I cut corners sometimes. I cave to pressure from my children for junk food night every once in a while. When I peruse cookbooks or magazines or, God help me, Pinterest, I drool over the food porn photos just like everybody else. But gradually, I am changing our preferences. The less Frankenstein food we eat, the less we want. Even my kids! Really!!
I wouldn’t say they choose carrots and humus over a chocolate chip cookie, but they will eat the veggies and humus when it’s offered.
They likely will never stop loving pizza or hamburgers, but they actually prefer the healthier offerings, such as veggie lovers and turkey burgers. It’s what I serve, so it’s how their palettes have developed, especially for my younger ones who haven’t had as much contradictory evidence.
In terms of meals, we eat less meat and more veggies. Less bread. Fewer deserts. Honestly meal plans without a little indulgence from time to time is kind of tasteless. However, I’ve found several desserts and breads that incite less guilt and offer some pleasure, such as chocolate coconut bites, similar to this recipe, and wheat-less rolls, like Brazilian bread.
As I continue with my NOT normal year, I plan to continue refining (for the good) my family’s diet with fresh, healthy food. What good food changes will you make this year?