What we eat can trigger a sense of enjoyment, indulgence, guilt, satisfaction or some other feeling. We often cook as a way of caring. We eat “comfort” foods and share meals with family and friends to foster a sense of connectedness. When we’re stressed, angry, sad, lonely or bored, our emotions can trigger “bad” eating.
Fundamentally, our food choices are about nourishing our bodies, minds and relationships. But they’re complicated by a lifetime of food-related memories, pressure to “eat right for the environment,” and fear of being judged for our food choices – often silently and without considering budget and time constraints.
My first draft of this post began with an explanation of why I eat what I eat. Somehow, it managed to be preachy and defensive, all at the same time – mirroring our often-complicated relationship with food. Deleting those paragraphs was a lot easier than developing consistent, healthy eating habits! But I’m working my eating habits, using the 80/20 rule as a measure of success. See for yourself…
1. Quick and Hearty Breakfast
Breakfast most days: 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 Tbsp ground flax seed, generous dash of cinnamon, mixed with water, cooked in the microwave for 2 minutes and then topped with 1/3 cup berries, a handful of nuts (pecans, almonds or hazelnuts) and a drizzle of milk. Frozen berries work, too; just add before cooking and increase microwave time by 30 seconds.
2. Not-so-Quick, but Healthy, Lunch
Lunch most days: large salad made with torn kale and lettuce leaves; chopped celery and cucumber; fresh tomato; whatever leftover oven-roasted veggies are in the fridge (in this case broccoli, cauliflower and carrots); all topped with a couple Tbsp of seeds/dried cranberry mix. I went a little overboard with the tomatoes the day I took this photo, as they were the last of the bunch and were getting soft.
It’s hardest to stay mindful about snacking. The best I can say is I’ve made some progress when it comes to more often choosing snacks without added sugar. The Mandarin oranges that become available in November are a tasty and refreshing snack option.
One of the essential food groups, and we always have a good selection (of mostly dark chocolate) on hand!
5. Backyard Buffet
A small herd of Rocky Mountain mule deer wander through our neighbourhood on a regular basis. In the spring, they dictate which annuals and perennials we buy (must be deer-resistant). In the summer, they prompt us to put up temporary fencing around the vegetable garden and keep our tomato planters on our second-floor deck! Come fall, they get a little less choosy and will dig up and eat just about anything if there’s snow on the ground. And in the depths of winter, we’ll spot them balanced on their back legs as they go after the little crab apples that hang on our flowering crab tree for months after the leaves drop. This was one of seven deer in our yard one chilly, November afternoon and she was chowing down on pansies.
With that, my limit of 5 photos/month is full! Can’t wait to see what tickled the taste buds of other participants this month. And what about you…whatcha eatin? Make my mouth water by sharing in a comment (photos welcome).
Remember, you’re always welcome to join the photo blogging challenge! Consider it a low-stress photo assignment – a regular prompt to hone your camera skills. For each month’s theme, you’re asked to share five photos snapped with your choice of camera. The amount of accompanying text is up to you. The next theme will be posted at a ‘lil Hoohaa in early December.
For those interested, here’s some of the preachy/defensive stuff from my first draft…
We’ve been working on making better food choices this year. Why? It all started back in February, when a friend recommended a book she’s found helpful living with rheumatoid arthritis: How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger. Since my Mom also lives with RA and other autoimmune illnesses, I gave it a read. Greger’s main point is that North Americans typically lose years of healthy life because of overnutrition – diets dominated by animal-sourced and processed foods.
Then I read A Woman’s Guide to Healthy Aging by Vivien Brown, MD. After that, my neighbourhood book club read The Hacking of the American Mind by Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL. Currently, I’m working my way through Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T. Colin Campbell, PhD.
While the specifics differ, each of these books makes the same general case in favour of eating plant-based, less-processed foods. Of course, there are other books out there that make convincing cases in support of paleo, keto and other food choices. All the references to (often contradictory) studies can quickly become overwhelming. And I’m not convinced that eliminating certain food groups is a good way to eat. But there are enough consistent and convincing threads in these books that we’ve gradually shifted our food choices to more vegetables, fruits and nuts and less white bread, packaged breakfast cereals, snack crackers and meat.
It’s not easy to make a permanent change in the kinds of food you choose to eat every day. The first six months of the journey, I tracked each day how I was doing in terms of Dr. Greger’s recommended daily dozen: beans, berries, other fruits, cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, other vegetables, flax seeds, other nuts/seeds, spices, whole grains, and tea/water (that’s eleven, #12 is exercise). Somewhere around the six-month mark it became ingrained habit. Now my focus is shifting to reducing added sugar.
11 thoughts on “Photo Blogging Challenge – Whatcha Eatin? (November 2019)”
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First, the photos. Great as always. I love how simple the orange photo is, yet.. it’s so complex. And great looking. The breakfast and the salad… yum!
Onto the second part.. I’ve been doing better with my eating. I’ve tried to cut back on certain things and it’s showed in my blood tests. One things I’ve realized over my own battles over the years is you can’t cut things fully out. Will it give you an extra year or two of life? Aguable but possibly. But at the same time, if I’m not every indulging in what I would love to eat, am I fully living? As I keep moving forward, I too am trying to cut back and add better things. And for some reading — healthy doesn’t always mean it tastes bad! My biggest issue is I am not a fan of many veggies — so that makes it tough. I’ve looked at some recipes where you can use veggies in different ways and they don’t taste like normal, so maybe that way. But I’ve cut back on a lot of things and I’ve seen and felt the change. Great post all around!
Agree…there’s no magic solution when it comes to striking the right balance with mostly healthy eating. It’s kind of a life-long experiment, incremental improvement process. And we all need something tasty to foster a sense of joy
I’m jealous of your delicious meals. And the deer is adorable.
I, too, struggle with healthy eating. It’s hard to reduce all the added sugar and salt in our diets as well as all those unknowns that get thrown in. We’ve certainly done better at my house at eating more single item foods and work to be aware of the source of more of what we eat. But sometimes convenience kicks in and there you go. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
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I like blueberries and almonds in my oatmeal too.
Your breakfast is almost exactly what I eat everyday. Love the deer!!
I always love your photos, but your commentary is equally compelling. Although you won’t be able to tell from my photos this month, I do try to cook from scratch most of the time with little to no processed food items due to Entrepreneur’s cancer. And, dark chocolate is healthy, right?! Along with red wine…….:-)
Mrs. GeoK, You are doing great in your food choices. I do try to have fresh vegetables every day. I have to severely limit my chocolate to once a week as I am needing to reduce caffeine. You have nice colorful meals. Excellent.
Eating “right” can drive you crazy. So many aspects to consider, and shouldn’t it be satisfying and fun at the end of the day? I say you’re doing a pretty great job with the choices you shared with us. I see no fried and overly processed stuff, and dark chocolate is even supposed to be good for you!
Especially love your last picture because it displays so well how spoiled us humans are. We can buy and eat pretty much anything, anytime.