You Are What You Eat
We've all heard this phrase, "You are what you eat." We smile and nod, maybe give an affirming "mm-hmm" and then move on without really thinking about it. About seven years ago, however, we actually stopped to think about it - and boy oh boy was that a can of worms! But worms are good. Really good! They are amazing composters and they help our soil and plants. In our world, worms rock! Opening a can of worms was scary, but in the end, the best thing we could have done. This is how it all began...
To start, we both expressed an interest in eating healthier. Sounds simple - but where do you begin? What do you do? What should and shouldn't you eat? To adopt a diet or not to adopt a diet...that is the question. So, just like everything else that Darren and I do, we started researching healthy eating. Our research started online, on Netflix and in the book store. We watched countless documentaries, read a copious amount of research articles and books until our eyes were bulging out of our heads. As we feebly attempted to comprehend the information, slumped down at our dining room table, we felt a little stuck. "Well, what CAN we eat?" I asked. After digesting all of the research, my stomach felt like it wasn't getting anything...ever...and I was going to have to live on bread and water the rest of my life...wait, no bread...dang it, what are we going to eat?
Then we realized that this journey was going to be exactly that - a journey. There was no easy way to go cold turkey and stick with it, and we wanted to do this the right way. We didn't want to loose weight and neither of us have food allergies. We just wanted to feel that glorious feeling we had heard about when you eat what your body wants - lots of energy, less aches and illness, clearer mind...we were in, if for no other reason than to better ourselves. So we came up with a plan: we would start by finding three things that we could either eliminate from our routine, add to our diet or substitute a healthier alternative for one month.
First, Darren used to go through two gallons of whole milk a week. Yes, you read that correctly. Darren alone consumed that much - I added another half gallon or so - so that's approximately a metric shit ton of milk! The milk was connected to our cereal, which at the time, was our breakfast routine. So we decided to find a substitute for our milk, determined to try almond, coconut and hemp milks. Second, we liked to make sandwiches on the weekends, and lunch meat seemed like something that we should eliminate...but then what do we put on our sandwiches? We decided to substitute that as well with tofu-ish alternatives. Finally, we were going to add juicing. We committed to the journey by purchasing a heavy-duty, bad ass juicer that cold pressed the juice so that it would last about a week if kept refrigerated. Ok, month one...here we go!
Have you ever tried to switch to another kind of milk when you are used to whole milk? Not necessarily the jump we were trying to make, but even to 1%? It isn't easy - is it? Well, we found the same thing with our attempts; nothing tasted quite right. The same went for the alternative lunch meat. If you haven't tried to tofu-ish lunch meat options, I can save you some time and money. Don't. At first, this perceived failure was a little frustrating, we were really making an effort here! But frustrations typically get us down for a moment and then cause us to keep thinking of solutions. The juicing was working - at least we had that going for us! We were spending a few hours juicing every Sunday and dividing our creations into canning jars to be consumed throughout the week. This injection of multiple fruits and vegetables into our system was making a bigger difference than we initially realized. By the end of the first month, we had forgotten about cereal and sandwiches in general, finding other options that worked just as well, but with better ingredients. We started craving random foods like tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and celery. We were getting creative in the kitchen and started to find more and more ways of infusing our meals with food that made us feel, well...better. We started to feel that cleaner, clearer feeling that we had longed for - and then it just snowballed from there! As I look back, all it took was a change in mindset, determination and taking action - even if it was small at first - to get us headed in the direction we wanted to go.
We are still definitely on a journey, continuing to learn more every day about what our bodies need and want, what foods we can bring into our meals to help keep us feel amazing, and what foods we still may need to consider weeding out of our pantry or fridge. We have learned so much along this journey so far, but the most significant lesson has been to listen to our bodies. As we started to eat cleaner, we started hearing voices. No - we weren't going crazy :) Well, maybe a little, but I think we were already a bit crazy to begin with. It's hard to describe, but my hope is that some of you reading this have experienced this feeling and totally get it. For others, I hope one day you have this feeling, as it is the most fascinating feeling to experience. We started to hear our body communicating to us. If we consumed something that our bodies didn't like, we were super thirsty, had a headache or ready to fall asleep (but not in a peaceful way) within 30 minutes. ("What the hell did you put in me? I don't want that, it does absolutely nothing for me!") On the other hand, if we were eating what our bodies needed, we felt fantastic! (Imagine your body doing its impression of the that iconic diner scene from the movie "When Harry Met Sally"- Haha! Ok, that's a little over dramatic, but you get the point!) Slowly but surely we have started to hone in on these feelings/voices and adjusted our habits to make sure we felt as little of the shitty feelings as possible. Our main strategy for accomplishing this has been to make sure all food in our house will make our bodies happy. We all get snacky sometimes and grab something to munch on. We just have to make sure that whatever we can find in our home will be wholesome and healthy. This has also meant knocking some restaurants or ingredients off our list for good, but it has been worth it in the long run!
If I am what I eat, then I'm healthy, organic, packed full of vitamins and minerals with food that is grown in nutrient-rich soil (probably with lots of worms). I am honey and not refined sugar, I am lots of water and tea and not soda, I am as much out of the produce isle as I can possibly get and I am happy and excited to cook amazing meals that my body thanks me for. I'm not vegan, pescatarian, vegetarian or gluten free. I am not a category, as I find those can be tricky sometimes. Have you ever searched for vegan recipes on Pinterest, only to find a vegan donut recipe? I have. Great - it's vegan...but it's still a freakin' donut! I have found that by not restricting ourselves to a label that we have made better choices on our own and really listened to our bodies. There is some method to our madness, but Darren and I don't really fit in a box, and our healthy living routine certainly doesn't either :)
If you want more info on anything that I mentioned, feel free to comment below or email us questions. We love sharing our journey with others and are happy to help in any way that we can!
For now, my little voices are telling me that some veggie tacos are in order. Comin' right up!