Real Food ~ The ultimate challenge



The Food Game.

For me there have been many years of flip-flopping back and forth…I’ll decide to start This Way of Eating and when I waver, I’ll decide I will begin That Way of Eating. I’ve been dancing with the real food diet idea off an on for years–somehow meandering my way back to the land of salted pretzels and Special K breakfast bars. I’m a victim of the low-fat/non-fat way of thinking, circa 1989. Somehow it is deeply programmed in my brain that low-in-fat foods (no matter what they might be or how many scary chemicals they might have in them) will enable me to stay a size 6, even as I dip into my “What-is-happening-to-my-body?” 40’s.

I can attribute The Great Food Epiphany going on in my life presently to a few things. One came from a lovely friend, Sainta Maria, who has shown me what Real Food can do for your waisteline, skin, mood and general state of well being. The other two helps came in the mail from Amazon.

In Defense of Food has me thinking. A dangerous past time, I realize.

It was a book I found via another blogger mom who decided to make a massive change in the way she cooks for her family. Her story spoke to me and I began to see that it’s possible to switch directions even in mid-life with a cupboard full of Snackwells. She has some great recipes and tips on her blog.

The basic premise of the book is: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

The author did a fantastic job of laying out what our country has done–“most of what we’re consuming today is no longer the product of nature, but of food science.” The debunking of the low-fat craze was particularly persuasive for me. Somehow this book did the trick for me. The flickering light bulb finally stayed lit and I made a commitment to cross over (however gradually) and give more attention to a Real Food diet for all involved at the Blair abode.


Forks Over Knives was a movie first and I watched it with my kids. It’s one thing to have an Ah-Ha moment and throw out 70% of your pantry contents, but it’s another feat entirely to eliminate meat out of the meal plan. In my case, fish and chicken. I have IBS and have trouble digesting any other meat products. I’m close to veganism  because I don’t eat dairy at all (stomach issue again) and it seems like a good idea to go that extra mile… but I just can’t seem to let those last two proteins go. Another issue is that I’m far from a wiz in the kitchen–more of a reluctant workerbee. I’m pretty sure we would starve (or eat out every meal) if I wasn’t slothing my way through my simple meal repertoire.

Attacking the more-than-five-ingredients Forks Over Knives recipes is a little daunting, but I’m getting the hang of maneuvering my cart through the aisles of Whole Foods. I even found bulgar wheat by myself on a recent trip! Tabbouleh, here I come.

I’m starting to get it.

The garbage I’ve been slinging in my cart bound for the kid snack cabinet is really not good for their bodies. I’m not going to the edge of nutrition darkness, subjecting them to carob cakes and cardboard crackers, but I am making more of an effort to make snacks with real live ingredients. I got a recipe for homemade granola (yummy raw nuts, honey, agave, olive oil, puffed brown rice) and the fam loved it. In the past, nuts have scared me (that high fat thing), but I’m coming around, wrapping my brain around the concept of eating Real Live food every meal…my body and the bodies of the weed-like kidlets will be happier for it. I certainly feel better.

Yet…I’m a realist.

The occasional high fructose sugar bomb snack treat will pass between the kids’ lips. Probably mine too. Yet, I can start modeling that good taste and higher energy can come in spades from nonprocessed food. The trick is having it around the house, in the car and available when the after-school-hungries hit (do you kids eat the kitchen like mine do after school? It’s a sight to behold!).


Some of the things that I’ve layed down as eating law since my 20’s have worked well (I did get some things right). I also added some new guidelines for my eating life that are not too neurotic and can be done gradually.

1) Drink 64 oz of water a day. Yes, you may end up in the loo every 45 minutes, but the benefits for your skin and body outweigh the inconvenience.

2) Stop food intake at 7:00 pm. This one was really a struggle at first, but now after 10 years it seems completely normal. You do wake up a grizzly bear—that brings us to #3.

3) Eat a high protein breakfast. I like Kashi and a piece of sprouted wheat toast. It sticks to my ribs and I don’t reach for carbs within the hour.

4) Green juice truly is a secret weapon in overall health. I invested in a good juicer and try to do it four days a week. A little pineapple makes is taste better, btw. I posted about it here and I highly recommend this movie to make you a believer.

5) Eat more protein/fewer carbs. Did I mention I’m a carb whore? Horrible thing that can be overcome. Protein helps with energy levels and keeping bloating at bay. I like boiled egg whites, quinoa, quinoa pasta and lettuce wraps.

6) Two good sized snacks a day keep me from losing my mind at 4:00 and inhaling Cheetohs.

7) A glass of red wine is lovely and feels like a treat when I’m cooking dinner. I recommend this one because it doesn’t have sulfites.

8) Going to the gym straight from work keeps me honest. My kids also go too–we keep each other on track.

9) Drink flavored green tea–this is a new one for me. Teavana flavors have been recommended–they are amazing and trick the tastebuds into avoiding sugary snacks.

10) Kick the sugar habit for good. Currently I’ve not had sugar since December 29th. I’m not a big candy person—my poison comes in the form of baked goods. I have to say, I feel so much better and my hormone headaches are not nearly as bad. This is a challenging process…one I’ve started and stopped so many times! I’m thinking I’m ready now. Refined sugar is evil…period. This is a great book about the subject.

11) Allow yourself a splurge meal once a week. I’m human…I have my favorite restaurants. I feel like a knob when I order salad and PH (my hub, for those of you just joining us) is enjoying Thai burritos at our favorite hole in the wall. I choose wisely because I’ll have to wait another whole week until splurge time.

The portion control thing is the hardest for me. I love meal time…much like a dog walking around with his dish in his mouth. If I’ve done the protein thing for lunch, I’m especially ravenous in the evening and dinner can become a personal shoveling fest. People have told me about the small plate trick, but it doesn’t really help when you fill it multiple times! This is my next conquest. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

I won’t go into it here, but my relationship with food (years ago, friends….think college stupidity) wasn’t exactly healthy. It’s taken me years to see food as an ally. Eating Real Food seems to be a big step towards that healthy attitude. I’m in a place now where not only do I want it to shape the outside, I revel in it shaping the inside too.

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Not my usual artsy girl post, but there are times I feel compelled to share my life journeys with you, sweet lovelies. I know that many of you have the same struggles and sometimes it’s nice to hear you’re not alone.

Here’s hoping you have the day off!



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6 Responses to Real Food ~ The ultimate challenge

  1. Elaine says:

    Not easy to eat right. i think we all should eat less meat and more fish and maybe chicken. some occasional pasta and home-made sauce i think is good too! cutting out sugar completely-that is indeed a challenge i am still working on! Good luck to you Lara

  2. Terry Brau says:

    You are a warrior! You will find Lara that your IBS will be much improved just with the omission of refined sugar as well. Good luck with your journey. I too have trouble with the food see saw. 😛

  3. Jennifer Ulrich says:

    Hello, My husband and I just started eating the “Paleo” way and feel it is just one step better for us. Basically, it is the way our “caveman” ancestors ate and the way our bodies are genetically programmed to function. We feel much better already. While yours is a very good step in the right direction, this takes it a bit further. Thanks and happy eatin’
    Jennifer and Joseph Ulrich

  4. Karen says:

    I’m an advocate of the paleo/primal diet and have a blog that features grain-free meals without processed foods and sugar. There is some dairy, but minimal. I do a lot of research on food and nutrition and am also working toward a Masters in Nutrition and Functional Medicine this spring. I personally think it is a mistake to be vegan or vegetarian as this is not the way we were to eat as humans (also the fact that the only way to get vitamin B12 is through animal products, otherwise one has to supplement and that is a whole other story). I don’t believe in factory farming and get my meat from local farms where the animal was able to live its normal life outside, free from cages. I highly recommend a few books: “Practical Paleo” “It Starts With Food” “The Paleo Solution” and “The Vegetarian Myth” – Three of these authors I have met personally and they have selflessly helped thousands. I also have helped many people get healthy and lose weight by teaching them how to eat for a lifetime with any special “diet” just by eat nutrient-dense foods and to learn how to cook which seems something people just don’t do anymore and don’t even know how to do! No calorie counting or measuring required! Obviously I could go on, but I have seen paleo work in so many unexpected ways that one cannot even begin to imagine. Nothing surprises me anymore. Giving your body the right fuel and healing the gut is the key.

  5. Beth says:

    Good morning Lara, Have you seen Renee’s blog, Fun in My Backyard (FIMBY)? I think Renee and her family have been on a similar food journey for years and she has many posts on that subject. I think you would like her. Best of luck with all the changes.

  6. Karen says:

    Let me clarify my post.. I respect anyone’s wish to be vegan or vegetarian and by “mistake” I just meant that with the way the human body is made up it is depriving nutrients the body needs to thrive properly. Not all protein is created equal. For vegans I recommend fermented products such as tempeh, natto, or organic edamame. I wish you well in your food journey!

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