Last night, a friend of mine linked to this funny article on today's conundrum of healthy eating. A few months back, I decided I really wanted to be healthier. That meant exercising more and eating better foods. The exercising part was an easy addition. People can quibble over what kind of exercise is the best and how often you should do it, but the bottom line is that if you're doing it, you're improving your health. And since I wasn't exercising at all before, I knew I was doing a good thing. Food is so much more complicated. There are SO many different opinions on what you should and should not eat. I don't think we're very unhealthy eaters in the first place. We don't buy soda, prepackaged, or frozen foods. I do love dessert, but I don't eat it very often or in excess. When a restaurant brings me a giant piece of cake, I'm good at eating 1/4 of it, saving the rest and enjoying a few bites of it throughout the week. All this to say that I don't feel like Erik and I need to drastically alter our diets, but I always want to be learning the healthiest ways to make food and knowing ways we can improve.
This leads to a class I attended last week. First of all, my mom was correctly diagnosed with Celiac Disease (a severe gluten allergy) by one of her friends at a Christmas party. I always find this funny because my mom had been desperately seeking a diagnosis for her health issues from doctors for decades, and it turns out she gets the correct diagnosis at a Christmas party. Anyway, because of this, my mom has obviously had to make some drastic lifestyle changes to accommodate her new diet. She even mentioned that a few of the things I've complained about in the past could mean I had the same condition. Well, I'm too terrified to get that officially diagnosed. I know. I should. But something holds me back. And I think it's Papa John's pizza. Or cake. Or Panera.
Needless to say, when my mom invited me to attend a gluten free/dairy free class with her on how to make some "normal" foods in a healthy way, I was interested. I wasn't GUN HO. But I was interested. The class was hosted by Kelly, the same woman who diagnosed my mom with Celiac Disease. She started off the class by saying that what she did was extreme, but it didn't happen overnight and that she didn't expect any of us to go home and decide to be completely gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, vegan, whatever. She was just trying to show us that it's not as scary or as difficult as you might think. And for her, her diet change had completely cured (I think she was afraid to use that word, but it's basically what she meant!) her rheumatoid arthritis, that was leaving her in so much pain she was unable to even walk down the stairs in the morning. She had great motivation to learn a lot and this class was another way for her to share what she's learned.
Kelly showed us how to make things you'd expect to miss on such a diet, like milk, cheese, and ice cream. The homemade almond milk was delicious, and I don't even like milk normally. The cheese, which was more of a cream cheese, made from cashews was so delicious I ate it like a crazy person, which my stomach regretted later. At one point she mentioned that eating nutritionally rich food like this would make you full so much faster than the food we're used to, because we're so used to eating empty calories and having to eat a lot to be full. She was definitely right about that. I haven't felt so full in years. I couldn't even eat my ice cream! It was very strange.
But overall, I did learn a lot. Not just from Kelly, but from the other attendees who all had a unique reason for coming to the class. It was interesting to hear how almost all of them had started their health education because they wanted their children to be healthier, but now they were happier, too.
What did it all mean for me? I still don't really know. It was definitely intriguing and I think if anything, it has inspired me to start reading and learning. I've always kind of closed my ears when people talk about the food industry. I try to be local, organic, but I also try to be frugal and those things don't always go together. It's frustrating that things are that way, but if there's anything to prioritize when you're spending money, I think your health is an easy choice to make.
What are you doing to improve your diet? What works for you and was it a hard transition to make? Let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear other people's stories.
If you're local and are interested in Kelly's classes, you can visit her website/Facebook here.