Thursday, January 27, 2011

So I'm trying to eat healthier...

And yeah, it's hard. Well, not crazy hard, but harder than not trying. I love food. In fact, I look forward to every meal every day. I love preparing it, eating it, and being proud of myself to making something delicious. I read a comment on this post that said that humans survived on very little food and occasional meat since forever, so food shouldn't be the center of our lives, it should be viewed more like gas fuel for a car. How can someone live like this? Meals are SUCH a big part of our lives! I would lead a very miserable existence if I couldn't enjoy food as much as I do. I guess everyone views it differently, but it's comparable to saying that you can physically survive on 4 hours sleep per 24 hours (I don't know if you can, it's just an example), therefore you should spend the bare minimum sleeping. I literally need 8 hours in the least to function as a reasonable human being. Life can get pretty meager if we don't take pleasure in things that we do the most and can't live without, no? I love me some good comfy sleep! A random weekend mid-day nap - oh god! The point is, food is awesome, and everyone should enjoy what they eat.

Unfortunately, the best tasting things are usually the worst for your health. Nature thought it'd be funnier that way. But nowadays there is a variety of substitutes available to help eliminate at least some horrible compounds that we eat every day.

Coming from that post, I wanna try to change my eating habits - I'm not gonna call it a diet since I don't want there to be a day when I stop this kind of "dieting". Diets never work out for me. I don't believe in eliminating carbs or fats or sugars completely. I think the key is everything in moderation. You don't want to be depriving your body of anything it might need.

A few simple rules I want to follow:
  • Eliminate white/refined flour
  • Eliminate white/refined sugar
  • Eliminate processed foods
  • Eliminate excess meat
  • Eat 5-7 servings of fruit/vegetables daily
  • Eat more fish
  • Glass of wine every night
  • Take a walk every day

Flour and sugar are hard ones :( White flour isn't too hard to substitute (use whole grain, duuhh), but sugar is a little trickier. So I did some research and here are some options and some random facts about them (the where-to-buy link has nutritional info about the stuff).

Date sugar
  • doesn't melt so will remain in small specks in baked goods, but will give sweetness (although reviews on that site said that this particular brand is great for baking)
  • 2/3 cup date sugar = 1 cup white/brown sugar
  • can be used in yeast bread
  • expensive, buy here for $6.20/lb
Xylitol (birch sugar)
  • found in fruits and veggies
  • looks and tastes like sugar
  • used in gums, pastilles, toothpaste, and pharmaceuticals
  • tooth friendly
  • nonfermentable sugar alcohol
  • good for diabetics
  • improves bone density
  • safe for pregnant and nursing women
  • acts as a weak laxative but you can adapt (don't use to sweeten drinks!)
  • 75% less carbs, 40% less calories
  • just as sweet as table sugar
  • cooking - use as sugar (maybe a bit less), but not in baking yeast breads, does not caramelize, don't feed to your pets!
  • buy here for $20/2.5 lb bag
  • comes from a plant
  • in liquid and powder form
  • cooking: good in drinks or jellies, but does not caramelize well
  • 1 cup sugar = 1/4-1/2 tsp stevia
  • good for diabetics!
  • no carbs, no calories
  • too much can give a bitter taste
  • could be toxic in HUGE doses (there's some controversy about this)
  • buy here for $11.29 per 98 g
  • pretty straight forward choice - it's natural but has calories and sugars and stuff
I also research agave nectar, and turns out - not so good for you. Also, it's processed. Look it up.

My main concern about sugar substitutes is using them in baking. Baking with xylitol or stevia doesn't sound too good to me because I read that they both have that bitter taste if too much is used. So I guess that leaves date sugar. I'm gonna try and find some of these substitutes around town and use it in stuff. We'll see how it turns out I guess.

Meat I'm planning on cutting down to 2 days a week. I eat meat practically every day, so I hope cutting it down like that will have some kind of positive impact.

Fruit and vegetables shouldn't be a problem. I think I'm already getting around that amount per day since I usually take 3 pieces of fruit to work, and have some kind of cooked veggies and salad in the evening. How much is 1 serving anyways? Well apparently it's like 1/2 cup. 3 medium pieces of fruit = 1.5 cups, 1/2 cup cooked veggies + 1 cup salad = 1.5 cups. I'm at 3 cups, so 6 servings! I think I'm doing pretty well there.

I'm not looking forward to cutting out white flour and sugar since every awesome baking recipe ever contains at least one of those ingredients. I guess I'm gonna have to get a little more creative. At least these dietary changes still let me have dairy! I love myself a good chuck of cheese and butter. Not together, of course, that's just ridiculous. ...Or is it?

Take care,
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CanadianMama said...

I don't like to feed LW processed foods so I do most of my own baking. I also don't like to give him much sugar. I've found that you can substitute oil and butter for applesauce (I use unsweetened) which is healthier and sweeter. So I find I can usually reduce the amount of sugar by at least half in a recipe. I also use fruit in recipes to sweeten them and then reduce the sugar by more than half.

like.thunder said...

The thing that sketches me out about substituting sugar with stuff is the final consistency of the batter. You know what I mean? I guess I've just never tried it. Do you substitute apple sauce for butter/oil one to one?