Hey guys! So, last weekend I had the opportunity to speak at Camp Shetek's Ladies Camp event... which explains this mid-sentence photo that my mom snapped of me behind a podium. :) I'm sorry you have to see me looking unenthusiastic and kinda nervous, because it was such a great time and I don't think I stopped smiling all day. I got to talk about food! (you know how I love that.) I talked about the top 10 healthy choices our family makes; the things that we've learned or have put into practice in our household that really, honestly help us. It was really fun and I loved getting to chat with the ladies and my mom and sister (who made the long trip to be there) afterwards! I thought you guys might like to see my presentation also, so here are my slides and speech:
Hi, I'm Summer Harms! (and this is my family - cue slide with our pictures on it) I get to talk to you about food today. Which I’m really excited about because I love food (obviously) and I love to cook and feeding my family is one of the biggest ways I show them that I love them. I was asked to speak about making healthy choices today, and was having such a hard time trying to nail down a particular topic under this umbrella. I just love it all! Then Grant suggested making a list of the 10 most practical, important things that we’ve learned or that I try to do for my family when it comes to food. I thought this was brilliant. I know I love hearing how other families get through 3 meals a day, so here's how we are doing it. Eating healthy is a lifestyle. And lifestyles are built on little things - the choices we make throughout the day and small changes here and there. So these are some of those little things that have helped our family, or that we’ve learned along the way as we try to be healthier eaters. I share these things not as an expert, just straight from our family’s experience, with the hope that there might be something in the mix that’s helpful to you.
1. If there’s junk in the house, we’ll eat it. So we don’t have junk in the house. Grant helps me with this one a lot because I’m easily tempted at the grocery store and he sticks to the list. We don’t buy much snack stuff at the store because we know we can make our own snacks and treats at home. That way we know exactly what’s going into our bodies and get the most nutrients out of our snacks. (Our favorites are homemade popcorn, bananas or apple slices and nut butter, pickles, nuts, chips and guacamole, homemade muffins or cookies, or trail mix.)
2. Fats are good. And use the good fats. Our brain is 60% fat and the fats we eat strongly influence our levels of brain function, as well as cellular health. Most processed foods contain the harmful kinds of fats, while healthy types of saturated fats provide a major source of energy, the building blocks for cell membranes, vital hormones, and they help your body absorb important vitamins, including A, D, and E. Coconut oil is our favorite for cooking and baking and we love olive oil for dressings and marinades. Just a few other good-for-you fats that we like are avocados, eggs from pastured hens, and grass fed meats. I know from experience that I feel a lot better when I’m eating enough good fats. When we first started eating less processed foods and having a lot more healthy saturated fat (specifically coconut oil), I noticed that I had more energy and better mental clarity, and felt more full and satisfied for a longer time after a meal.
3. Take a good probiotic and fermented food. Gut health is something that has been a really big deal for our family, because we’ve experienced tremendous health recovery benefits by focusing on cultivating good bacteria and forcing harmful bacteria out. You can tilt your balance toward the good bacteria simply by eating more of them, in the form of probiotics, which are live bacteria contained in foods and supplements. We take a strong probiotic supplement and also eat probiotic-rich fermented foods like sauerkraut and pickles and kombucha in order to boost the beneficial bacteria in our guts.
4. Say no to sugar. This is another big one that has dramatically improved how I feel in terms of overall wellness. We’ve learned to stop when we’ve had too much sugar, and try to view it as a treat. We also like to use sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, or even just fruit to make things sweet, instead of using sugar. These alternatives are real foods found in nature that actually contain health-giving properties, where as sugar is so ultra processed that it is stripped of any nutrients. Not only that, but it’s extremely addicting, and it feeds the bad bacteria that live in our gut.
5. Be prepared. Have a plan for dinner- whatever that looks like at your house. At our house, we often have meat thawing in the fridge for tomorrow night’s dinner. When 5:30 rolls around, if there’s not a plan in place, it’s just way too easy to start eating whatever you can find fast. Don’t wait until you’re starving. Also, bringing snacks with you wherever you go has been a big help to us. If we have enough food with us to get by until we get home, we can avoid the drive-thru.
6. Quality foods. We love to know where our food is coming from. We buy organic produce whenever we can, we love to hit the farmers market as much as possible, and we switched to buying local grass-fed beef without hormones or antibiotics.
7. Don’t give up on something- and when in doubt, roast it.
A few years ago I found out that if I cut back on sugar, everything else started tasting better. Before that time, my tastebuds were so trained and dependent on sugar for flavor that I was a really picky eater. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but as my sugar dependency went down, I was so encouraged, because suddenly I started liking so many new things! And now it’s hard for me to find a vegetable that I don’t like- especially when it’s roasted. Roasted vegetables are the big favorite at our house. So if there’s a food or meal that you haven’t liked in the past, I want to encourage you: don’t give up on it. Try preparing it a few different ways- you never know if you’ll find a new favorite. For us, that was the case with brussels sprouts. We tried roasting them one night and now we can’t get enough of them!!
8. Read labels as you shop. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you should probably put it back. For me a “proper diet” means eating real food... wholesome, nutrient-dense foods that come from nature. The longer an ingredient list gets, the more likely it is to have undesirable stuff and the less likely it is to be nutrient rich. We try to buy things with as few ingredients as possible or single-ingredient food items like eggs, rice, apples, avocados, etc.
9. Make meals that stretch. If you make dinner big enough, you can use it for lunch the next day. This one is kind of just common sense, but we just put it into practice this past school year and it made a huge difference. At my house, especially on week days, lunch often ends up being a scavenging kind of meal, unless there is something already made. Which is why having leftovers is perfect - it doesn’t get much easier than that. And planning one big meal always beats planning 2.
10. Have the right mindset. Know why you want to eat healthy. A healthy mindset about eating is just as important as the food you are choosing to eat - because eating matters to the Lord. Our motivation for eating well can be found right in 1 Corinthians 6:20: ”You have a body, but it is not yours. You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
I loved this quote from John Piper that I found the other day about Worshipping Christ through eating.
-Don’t think worship services when you think worship. That is a huge limitation which is not in the Bible. All of life is supposed to be worship. Take breakfast, for example, or midmorning snacks. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Now eating and drinking are about as basic as you get. What could be more real and human?” You are always in a temple. Always worship. -John Piper
-What does worship look like when it comes to eating? It means getting the proper diet your body was designed by God to have. This is how we applaud and enjoy His design and understand that He made us stewards of these bodies. We honor Him when we take care of our bodies!