Real Food Makeover: The Woody Family

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This week’s makeover is for the Woody Family. There is mom Stephanie, dad Josh and children Delaney (5), Dawson (3), & Finn (2).

How They Currently Eat:

This family particularly touched me with the email they sent me to be chosen as one of the makeover families. Here is an excerpt from it:

Our journey to being a whole food family is much harder than I anticipated.  My wife and I are great planners and dreamers, but the process of doing and finishing, or sometimes even starting, leaves us wanting.  We love to read about and understand the benefits of a whole foods life.  They are numerous and, we believe, life-changing.   And yet we struggle week in and week out making these changes.

I imagine that there are heads nodding all over the blogosphere. We can all relate to that, can’t we?

This family is willing to try new things, and yet they struggle with falling into old habits, not planning adequately, and when time runs short, they turn to processed or fast food. It is such a common struggle.

Though they definitely do eat some real, whole foods, there are a lot of convenience foods mixed in there (chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, toaster strudels, boxed cereals). Too heavy on the grains, not enough veggies. They use real butter (yay!), but want to improve the quality of their meat. They try to use whole grains, but a lot of times they don’t.

Their Goals:

To make changes that will stick! They want this to become a lifelong change, even if it’s slow and steady, so that it becomes a way of living, and not just something that they try for a while and then give up on.

Mom and Dad would both like to lose some weight. Mom has also struggled with increasing levels of depression after having each successive baby. They would also like to deal with some present and possible allergies (they run in the family), and prevent them from getting out of control.

Most importantly, they want to get on track with planning and preparing healthier meals in a consistent way and keep up the motivation to continue on with these changes. Overall better health and more real, homemade food is a major goal for this family!

Time for Their Real Food Makeover!

3 Baby Steps for Them to Take:

1. As a family, decide on some ways to further educate themselves, and also to motivate themselves to make these changes

2. Get rid of most of the processed/convenience foods that they are eating.

3. For Stephanie, begin to have 1 planning session and 1 prepping session each week.

chopped leeks

Image by gusilu

Education and Motivation- They Make All the Difference!

As I read through their answers to my questions and prayed about what to say, the biggest thing that kept coming to mind is that for this family, it’s not necessarily about changing their meat or soaking their grains or eating more vegetables (although those are all good steps that they should ultimately take).

What they’re seeking is a lifestyle change… a way to really make these changes become the new normal for their family.

I’ve been there. In my experience, the only thing that kept me going when I began to make healthier changes was becoming educated about WHY I was making the changes, and having something that truly MOTIVATED me to change.

Ways to Educate Yourself:

1. Watch some eye-opening videos that will underscore the importance of these changes, like Supersize Me, Food Inc., or Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

2. Read, read, read. Some of the books that I have found to be very accessible and challenging are The Maker’s Diet, What the Bible Says About Healthy Living, Real Food: What to Eat and Why, and Nourishing Traditions (though this one is definitely a bigger jump- start with some of the others first, perhaps).

3. Go through some real food basics, in bite-sized chunks. DON’T try to read through or tackle these things all at once. Just pick some topics of interest and start learning. Here are a few places to start:

  • Nutritional Foundations- My own series that works systematically through the grocery store, discussing food options and some of the why’s behind what I do and don’t recommend
  • Nourishing Foundations- From the Nourishing Gourmet, a selection of posts on various topics to do with real food, like grains, raw milk, natural sweeteners, etc.
  • Beginner’s Tour- From the Weston A Price Foundation website, an intro into who they are and what they believe about foods and health.
  • Monday Mission Checklist- From Kitchen Stewardship, a fantastic list of posts on a large variety of real food topics, with baby steps to take and information on why you should makes these changes
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Dad (Josh) with Delaney

Getting Motivated

For me, it was health issues that drove me to make changes. What will motivate this family to keep walking down this road?

I think that spending some time together as a family, discussing the reasons why you want to do this, would be so valuable. Write a list of what you come up with, including everybody’s ideas (especially the kids!). Post the list up in a prominent place, like on the fridge, where you will all see it often and be reminded of the reasons why you are making these changes.

While you’re at it, you should discuss some of your goals. Which areas would you like to work on first? What foods would you like to eat more/less of? What health results would you like to see? Post these up as well, alongside your reasons for making these changes.

In fact, you can increase motivation by making some tangible goals as a family and establishing some sort of family reward. Perhaps if you can make it through a week without any processed, convenience foods, you can make homemade popcorn and have a family fun night. Or a month of zero fast food runs equals a trip to the zoo or aquarium! If everyone knows that a special treat is riding on achieving your goal, then you will all work harder to stick to it and hold each other accountable!

Start Some New Food Traditions

Food habits are often related to our traditions, our relationships, our celebrations, and things that feel familiar or comforting to us. These can be hard to let go of. I know this, because many of the foods that I grew up eating, although I know in my head that I shouldn’t eat them, are still a major struggle to say no to when they are offered or accessible to me. Old habits die hard.

Making new traditions can be a powerful way of creating positive associations with foods that are good for you, instead of ones that aren’t. By establishing new family traditions, like special meals or a Saturday morning routine, real foods begin to have a more important place on your family table.

Simple Mom gives a great example of how real foods can be incorporated into a special family night. Why not choose a night each week when you can cook a meal together, enjoying the process, rather than feeling rushed like you might on other nights? Make Saturday mornings a leisurely time when you make soaked, homemade pancakes or waffles, with fresh berries.

mount of pancakes

Image by smittenkittcnorig

Planning and Prep Times

One of the best ways to ruin a good diet is to get hungry and realize that there’s nothing quick and simple to eat. Not knowing what to make for the next meal and not having snacks or easy foods ready when you need them.

Make a time each week to plan- It will take about 1-2 hours at first, but gradually it will get easier and faster. See my makeover for the W family, for detailed suggestions and links for getting set up to meal plan in a more effective way.

Make a time each week to do food prep- This is also very important for a busy mama who doesn’t want to resort to convenience foods. This can be chopping veggies, washing and ripping lettuce, pre-cooking meats, cooking large amounts of beans and freezing them, making baked goods like muffins or bread, making large batches of homemade granola.

Consider Once-a-Month cooking (or a variation of it)- Another useful thing to do is to make freezer meals, so that there can be some nights when dinner is as simple as thawing something in the morning and popping it in the oven that afternoon. This can be done by taking a half day or a day each month to make as many meals as you can. It can also be done by doubling or tripling meals once or twice a week, so that you can always have a few extra meals to pull out when you need them.

Get more efficient in the kitchen- The Nourishing Gourmet has had a couple of great posts lately on learning to increase efficiency and speed in food preparation. This is a skill that every busy mama needs! Check out her posts The Pemmican Principle of Food Preparation for Time Efficiency and 4 Tips for Increasing Your Work Speed in the Kitchen.

Just to help them even more with applying these suggestions to their lives, this family will be receiving:

What motivates you to stick with your health-related goals and eating habit changes?

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. I honestly can’t thank you enough for this great advice….I am so excited to share with you the baby steps we have already taken! Boxed foods – out of the house! Toaster strudels – gone! We had smoothies with berries, Greek yogurt, bananas, coconut oil, whole milk, and organic raw honey for breakfast this morning and they were a huge hit. I am SO EXCITED about these changes and I am grateful that you’re so generous with your knowledge. :) And thanks to your helpful readers, too!

  2. Beatrice says:

    Hi Nola!
    We use an old plastic package that lettuce greens came in store washed lettuce in it. I buy several heads at a time and wash two or three and keep them in the box. The water that remains on the leaves keep it fresh. I only wash lettuce about twice a week yet we have salads twice a day, most days.

    bea

  3. I agree about taking tiny steps. Making a change, even a small one, seems to take so much energy. So, I do one thing at a time and do that one thing until it seems like no big deal and then do one more thing. Sure, it takes a while, but otherwise, I probably wouldn’t get anywhere! Great thoughts in this post…

  4. What motivates me is the feeling I get when I don’t eat properly, be it right away or later. It motivates me to do the right thing.

    Taking little, tiny, tiny steps is the key for sure. I have not made, and possibly will never make, some steps that I know others do, simply because its too overwhelming at this point for me. I would rather make a step with full ability to do it than do it and not continue. I want to fully understand why, and fully want to do it first.

    On another point- I’ve often wanted to do something like wash up lettuce and then dry it and put it away in the crisper to use through the week…but was told that was somehow going to contribute to it going bad faster? I want to do this and you mentioned it in the prep section of this post. Thoughts?