a healthy inventory

I'm very unhealthy these days. I've woken up tired for months and months. I used to assume it was just because Austin was an awful sleeper and I figured that once I was getting better sleep, all would be well. Not so, although that plays a part, of course. Austin is sleeping much better in general, yet I am still dragging. Sleepiness is not my only ailment. I just feel unhealthy.

I've begun to really think it's my white bread diet. I am just not putting enough good stuff into my body, and the nutrients I am ingesting are going to my nursing baby. I remember reading the nienie dialogues for the first time (my first real exposure to blogging) and I was astounded at the amount of thought and care she put into creating a healthy diet for herself and her family. I do care, and I try to keep things pretty balanced, but organic and vegetarian? Really? But I'm beginning to see now that she is really on to something.

I am coming up on a year of nursing my youngest son, and for the first time in five years I will be neither nursing nor pregnant (though I can tell it's going to be hard for me to let go of nursing). I'm taking inventory of what I am and while I'm fine with what I see, I don't like what I feel. I'm skinnier than I was in college, but I feel like an old lady and frankly, I'd take good health any day.

So last night Kev and I had a long meeting about it. We have meetings regularly. I love meetings. I pull out my clipboard (one of my many, I love clipboards.) and we talk about life and work and goals and spirituality and kids and money and whatever else. I take notes and doodle. Usually in our meetings we go through a myriad of topics, but last night we settled on one: our diet. I know it sounds like a lame topic, but we got all excited.

Here are the changes we will be making:

-no more white bread
-start the day with a hearty, grainy breakfast
-Kev will bring a lunch to work and I will eat a healthy lunch at home (I usually just eat whatever the boys are having)
-we will always have a vegetable with dinner
-we will cut back on sugar

Nothing too major, but I think this little shift will make a big difference.

Today I read up on the differences in breads and grains and for the first time in my life I'm excited about whole grain wheat bread. Thrilling, just the thought of it, isn't it? I'm excited for this change because I need it. Lately my breakfasts have consisted of white bread toast and hot chocolate. My lunches have been white bread peanut butter sandwiches. Can you see why I might be having trouble? My babysitter told me ice cream is healthier than white bread. Is that a myth?

My mom was telling be about this lady who fed her children the same breakfast every day of their lives: oatmeal, wheat toast, a boiled egg, and an orange. Her adult children cannot remember EVER having anything else while they lived under her roof. They spoke of this at her funeral and stated that they rarely got sick. Hmmm.

Any other tips or suggestions?


  1. Hooray for health! Good job! There is so much out there on the topic of healthy food, it's really easy to get confused and overwhelmed. I try to focus on exactly those things- fruits and veggies, whole grains, and less sugar. Something that has helped both eating better and happier meal times for us is that if the kids get whiny hungry within an hour of dinner, they are only allowed to have fruits or veggies. That way they maintain an appetite for dinner, (they don't gorge on carrots the way they do graham crackers) but if they are really starving they are filling up on good stuff.

  2. Tips?? We eat a lot of brown rice. I know, it takes an hour to cook, but there are good benefits to that as well...and we never eat plain rice, there is always a sauce or something to mix it in. Plain rice is gross to me. We also eat whole wheat pasta these days too...although it's a little extreme, I am just able to digest it better and I feel like dinnerw was "healthy" even if it was just pasta with sace and possibly some chicken or ground turkey in there. Those are my tricks to pretending I'm eating healthy. And I try to only eat bread once a day, but that's also really weird, but I have to do that so that I add fruits into our diet because otherwise I'll just skip it.

  3. By the way, good for you for wanting to eat healthy!

  4. Sounds like a great start! I am with Sara--we go with brown rice. In fact (now that I think of it) what you purchase can go a long ways: we only buy wheat/whole grain bread and brown rice. We can't afford getting whole grain everything (buns or dough for pizza), and I don't have time to make it all from scratch, but if we don't have white bread or white rice around--it's never an option.

  5. oh I so need to join the healthy bandwagon!! We do eat only brown rice, and I make our pizza dough with half whole wheat flour (it only takes me 35mins to make pizza), but I eat the pbj sammies, frozen chicken nuggets, etc, too. And I'm always tired and never feel like exercising. I have felt much healthier since I started drinking soy milk though, but my tummy doesn't like cows milk so maybe that's it. Chris eats so much better than me and I make his lunch! what's wrong with me?! he has a cup of carrots, an apple, yogurt, and a sandwich with lettuce on it. why don't I eat like that at home???

  6. I love this post. I agree that just a few small changes can really work wonders! I think it's good that you're not overdoing it, too. Sometimes too many changes just lead you back to the beginning. Go, Natalie!

  7. That lady who fed her kids the same breakfast every morning, sounded like a good one. Not sure about having the same thing every day, but oatmeal has beta glucan which is great for the immune system.

    My mom use to tell me about this family when we were growing up who "had to have oatmeal every morning because that's all they could afford." Then she would tell me later, "but y'know, those kids were all so healthy!"

    Another idea: You would be amazed at how much energy you would have if you had a green drink everyday. I have one before breakfast every morning and it's a great way to start my day. You don't have to use fresh greens, there are many powdered green drinks on the market.

    I'm excited for you. Little by little. And you will never want to go back to the white rice and white bread.

  8. About a year and a half ago we purchased an electric wheat grinder and a bread machine. This has changed my life! Store bought 100% whole-wheat bread is sometimes not very good or expensive ($3-$5 a loaf). It got expensive and inconvenient buying whole-wheat flour. Plus, the flour loses its nutrients over time, so fresh ground is healthier. Now that I have a wheat grinder and plenty of whole wheat flour on hand, we make pancakes, muffins, everything with at least a portion of whole wheat flour.
    Once you get the hang of it, using the bread machine is so quick and clean. Its easy to get a good system going so that there is always fresh homemade bread with minimal effort. I love it!
    My bread machine is a cheaper model, about $50 from Wal-mart, and it still works just great. A wheat grinder will be under $200. It has been totally worth it for us.
    Sorry for the lengthy response. Let me know if you have any other questions. I've got some good recipes if you need any : )

  9. For breakfast, Leah and I either have eggs and wheat toast (my mom makes wheat bread for us a few times a week, so we're spoiled) or oatmeal. I bought like 20 cartons of Quaker old fashioned oatmeal on a promo at Albies for like 1.08 a few months ago, and it seriously only takes like 2 minutes to make on the stove.

    I don't binge on white bread, but I know that sluggish feeling. When we have cookies around or I binge on other treats I feel like a grumpy yucky zombie. And then I catch a cold within a few days. Its so dumb, I should know better!!!

    Chalk it up to the time of year too. We're between seasons and I feel like nothing is fresh and yummy. The cuties, apples and oranges are going bad, and there aren't strawberries and grapes yet. I can't wait for lots of fresh fruits and veggies from the garden! Spring will do us all some good!

  10. You go girl. I have to keep going back to basics - low sugar and minimal white stuff. It is so easy to get off course, you know? They even have minute brown rice (since I always forget to cook the rice until the last minute). One of the biggest things for me is breakfast cereal. Most cereal is loaded with sugar and nothing healthy in it. Or low sugar but made from corn or rice products which aren't great either. I make a lot of oatmeal too which I cook in the microwave for 3 minutes, add frozen blueberries (Sam's club huge bag $5), chopped pecans, and a little tiny bit of brown sugar. Yum yum. I am excited for you and needing to get back on track myself. I find it makes a HUGE difference in Noel's behavior as well when she has a healthy snack and not Cheese-its. I also love Emergen-C in the morning. Good luck! You CAN and WILL do it!

  11. Well I love this topic more than anything, but I will be honest about white bread...not the sandwich kind but warm french bread...I just ate some. I have wheat allergies so I eat the white glue waaaay to often and I think that is why I have a little pooch in the front. I think the key is never to diet and never feel like you are living without something (although sometimes I dream about hot dogs)--the key is to think long term and think about your long term body and the decisions kind of make themselves.

    This post motivates me to re-dedicate myself to no sweets. I have been meaning to cleanse!

    I hope this makes sense, I am super tired/out of it.

  12. I love how you have meetings. Seriously. and with a clipboard? You truly are my kind of woman!!!
    Healthy eating is something i am pretty into, but definitely still cheat. We buy whole wheat bread, pasta and rice...the kids gobble it up. One fruit and veggie a day....sometimes you can hide it (I puree steamed carrots, red peppers and broccoli when I make spaghetti sauce and use half puree and half preggo....scads of veggies on whole wheat pasta...my kids get this a lot!)
    Also, scrmabled eggs with veggies and cheese are a favorite of the kids!
    Go Nat, GO!!!!
    PS. Have you got your iron checked? Mine was really low after Maya and I was ridiculously tired all.the.time. Something as simple as that can boost your energy huge too!

  13. Try sneaking wheat germ into stuff you make. It adds protein and is very good for you. I find that when my carbs vs. protein are way off then I'm tired and tend to want more sweets and processed foods.
    I switched my kids to a lot of whole grains and I thought they might care (they are 5, 3, 7mo) but they like everything just the same. We usually have a fruit and veg at lunch. And 2 veggies at dinner. Although it's not perfect, it seems to be good for us all.
    Also, even if I'm getting less sleep at night, if I exercise in the morning, my energy is much better through the day...and so is my mood.

  14. One thing that my mom got me hooked on is Spinach Shakes. They are quick to make if you have everything on hand. I don't measure things, and they usually vary each time I make them, as I usually just use what I have around. But some of my staple ingredients are: Frozen fruit (my favorites are whole strawberries or the three berry mix, both available at Costco); milk (either cow's milk or soy milk--I've done a lot of soy recently); fresh spinach (I get the pre-washed stuff and put it in by the handfuls); yogurt; baby carrots; frozen bananas; half eaten apples left by my kids (bitten parts cut out, of course). I buy fat straws from an Asian grocery stores and my kids gobble them down. I don't need to add sweetener because of the fruit and yogurt. I love knowing how much spinach and carrots they are drinking with the rest of their lunch. I love thinking that I've had a serving of fruits and veggies when I drink one.

  15. You said you weren't going to give us a play-by-play of your meals, but I really am interested to know what else you've been eating lately!


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