Healthy Eating Ideas from a Mac n' Cheese Junkie

I know a lot of you (myself included) are trying to start 2014 by eating healthy - I certainly need it after a few weeks of holiday indulgence! Eating healthy is something that is easy in theory and hard to do, but incredibly worth it. I personally did not eat well for a long time, but in the past few years, have figured out some things that work for me. Read on, if you're interested! 

 
 

I grew up on Kraft mac n' cheese and lemon-lime gatorade (it was awesome). Luckily, my tastebuds expanded, and in college I started to fall in love with more complex tastes... goat cheese, red wine, even brussel sprouts. Chris grew up eating very healthy, with a love for all kinds of vegetables. I can thank him for showing me the way to green! I can also thank him for having a sensitive stomach... Chris has dealt with acid-reflux his whole life, and in college started to test to see if he had intolerance to dairy and gluten. Thankfully, the removal of dairy from his diet didn't seem to have a major effect on him, but gluten certainly did. While we're not sure he has celiac, it does appear that removing bread and pasta from his diet helps his stomach stay settled. And it's made me improve my diet by leaps and bounds! 

We've done some research, but mostly we do what feels best for us - and that's what health should be. I personally have a mindset that what God put in the Garden of Eden for us to eat was all food that was good for us - meats (red and white), vegetables, fruits, herbs, wheat. It's when we start to process it that it makes it harder for our bodies to break it down. And everything in moderation, plus a healthy dose of exercise ;) Chris and I try to avoid bread and pasta, and usually eat quinoa instead of rice (because it's a pure protein - how awesome is that?). We eat fish, chicken, and beef. We try to include as many vegetables as we can with each meal - Indian & Asian style foods are great for this! - and look for richly colored fruits/veggies when shopping, since those have the most nutrients. We swap flour for corn, so we can still eat our favorite Mexican food. We certainly do NOT eat this way for every meal (hello, chick fil a twice a week...), but we've found that doing this has helped us feel so much better. We don't wake up in the morning feeling heavy. We don't go to bed stuffed to the brim, almost sick. We have more energy during the day. It's easier for us to focus on school & work. This year, we're trying to work out 3-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes to keep our hearts healthy (we are really good at running regularly during the warmer months, but terrible about exercise in winter). This is what works for us. 

 
 

The key to getting on track with your health is to try. Give yourself grace when you don't do well. (For me - don't look at a scale. It doesn't matter.) I make good decisions when we go out to eat, and the longer we eat this way, the less I want to eat unhealthy options. My personal motivation for taking care of myself is that my body will be better able to fight disease and be able to provide health to my children during pregnancy (when we decide to start a family someday). I still eat dessert. I still have a cocktail (or three). I still eat macaroni and cheese from time to time. Everything in moderation. 

 
 

Our pastor, Matt Chandler, has something very unique to say on the idea of enjoying things in life. He calls it "rolling up". It's easy to order a big steak and an expensive glass of wine and say, "This tastes incredible." As Christians, we have the amazing opportunity to "roll up" experiences like that... and they go beyond just tasting good. We "roll up" our praise of the food to praise to God for providing such amazing things for us to enjoy. Chris and I were out with my family for my dad's birthday recently and we tried a pumpkin cream cheese dessert with cinnamon ice cream. Chris leaned over and said, "I think this is one of those 'rolling it up' moments." I laughed, because he's so right. Keeping food in that mindset also means that I see it for what it is - brief earthly enjoyment that God provided for me to survive. I don't need to eat three servings of it. Honestly, I just need a bite of that delicious-looking pasta to be able to appreciate it. And "rolling it up" applies to so many aspects of our lives - relationships, material possessions, and certainly our health. 

If you've gotten to this point in the post, thanks for sticking around ;) I hope this helps to inspire you to love yourself in 2014! Your health is so vital to everything in life. Love your body, and praise God for providing us vessels to take good care of! 

PS - These pictures are all recipes on the blog! Try a pumpkin pie smoothie, mexican-style quinoa bowl, or sweet potato fries. You can also click on "Recipes" in the sidebar to the left for more deliciousness!

All images via That's Pretty Ace