My Food Philosophy

It's no secret that I love food and that I value quality food. In fact, my food passion continues to grow to the point where I'm trying to decide how to pursue this creative outlet of mine. Over the last couple years I've slowly developed what I feel like my philosophy is on food and eating healthy, etc. I would say that probably for many of us, myself included, this is a big deal in our culture/community. For example, I don't even consider taking a meal to someone before first finding out if their family has any food allergies or restrictions. There are big surges of certain types of eating like vegans and the paleo crowd and the list goes on. I found myself wondering where I really landed...and I think I have finally landed somewhere.

Mostly, fads annoy me (even the ones I find myself swept in to), but I do have to say that (in my opinion) a push to reevaluate how our food is being grown and processed and where it's from and how it affects our overall health is a good thing. There have been way too many years of people eating things wrapped in plastic without wondering how it will affect their health in 20 years. I'm not sure how anyone can look at all the crazy health problems our country has and not relate it to what we're putting in our mouths.

That said, I do think there is always room for balance and creating a health philosophy that is sustainable. Health trends come and go and I think the real work is finding out which ones aren't going to be laughable in 10 years. (Like, I've heard there was a time when people were told formula was healthier than breastmilk. Any sort of medical professional who ever told a woman that should feel like a huge idiot.) Also, I think the ag/dairy industry has taken some blows that aren't entirely fair.

So, my philosophy, which in turn is our family's philosophy since I do the majority of the food buying and making...

First of all, the 80/20 mentality is one of my main goals. I first read of it in the book Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider. She gracefully put into words what I already believed, so I loved getting a label for it. (Side note, great book.) Anyway, the concept is pretty basic...80% of what your family eats are whole foods, non-processed, non-boxed/canned, mostly cooked at home, sourced as healthily as possible. The other 20% leaves room for when this isn't possible or you just want to splurge. So for us, it's the night when I want to order pizza or we're on vacation and there's tons of junk food around. For Henrik, it's the snacks that keep us all sane on road trips or letting him have the  grilled 'cheese' off the kids menu at a restaurant. 80/20 feels manageable to me. I know some weeks it's probably more like 70/30, but we do what works with our week and I feel good about that.

Along with many people, I'm on the train that certain fats are really good and we should eat them. I pretty much never buy anything that says "non-fat" because chances are some of the healthier parts of that food have been removed (and often non fat items are loaded with sugar). Obviously, this needs to be in moderation and they need to be good fats (no vegetable oil in this house). I always try to get full fat dairy products, add coconut oil to smoothies, split an avocado with Henrik for lunch, and I've eaten more butter in the last few months than I have in the last few years combined. I love butter and I'm kind of bitter I spent years thinking some sort of fake hydrogenated butter spread was the way to go because of calorie content.

Devin and I try to have at least a couple dinners a week that are just lean protein and vegetables. This has been a good tradition and simplifies meals when I know two nights I can just grill up some meat and roast a bunch of veggies. I've also been making more vegetarian meals and varying our sources of protein.

There is nothing we don't eat. Personally, I think much of the gluten-free, dairy-free craze will fade (except of course for those people who have actual allergies). That being said, we don't really eat a lot of grains/carbs. Often, you wouldn't be able to find a piece of bread in our entire house. We do choose to try and stay more toward protein and vegetables and if we do have grains, have them be as minimally processed as possible. Ideally, homemade. Although lately we've been obsessed with grilled sandwiches, which means there has been some really tasty sourdough bread from the bakery on our counter, which is fun for a change.

If we're sick or have allergies/congestion going on, I limit dairy and switch to things like coconut milk yogurt and almond milk. But overall, we like our Fage, whole milk, and lots of cheese.

I've mentioned before that I'm not convinced everything needs to be organic. Organic farming is not a sustainable way to feed the world, which it seems many people don't realize. Organic is luxury that you pay for and who knows how much it really matters in the end (obviously I know many people disagree with that). I have had some conversations with some people involved in food science that are a million times smarter than me and they've definitely influenced my opinion in this area. That said, there are certain items I always do organic just for personal preference, but most of the time with produce I'm looking for what looks the freshest and like it's traveled the least amount of miles. And what's in season.

I do think our family needs to take a look at our sugar intake. We don't really watch sugar because most of what we buy are whole foods, but I do think there is some sugar to be cut out of our diets. And I do still bake with white sugar because well, baked goods aren't really supposed to be healthy, right? They're the 20%. :)

Of course these are just my opinions and what my family does. And we're lucky because we don't have any allergies (other than shellfish, boo) and we enjoy cooking, which helps greatly in being healthy. And thus far we're pretty healthy people so we don't feel too bad about doing the occasional Five Guys splurge (those cajun fries dipped in malt vinegar!).


Daveana said...

Love your insight! I've been trying to cut out processed foods and boy, sometimes it's just hard for convenience sake. But when I look back on it, those meals from fresh produce just taste so much better! And yes, those Cajun fries!!!

Heather Hoerr said...

wow... I think we have the same food philosophy! I agreed with like 100% of what you said. I like the 80/20 thing - hadn't heard of that before, but it definitely describes how I think. When you mentioned the food science thing I thought of our discussion with Amber at the last Pfledderer wkend.. we'll have to hash again this year - love talking about this stuff!

Christen Leigh said...

Interesting thoughts! I also like the 80/20 philosophy, but sadly I am sure I am rarely that unprocessed. :)

leah said...

i like this! i love the combination of being aware/careful while also realistic in that it's not possible to be perfectly careful all the time. :) interesting post!

Britni said...

Grilled 'cheese' had me rolling!