My Steps to a Healthier Life

What can I do today to make tomorrow better?  I try to answer this question on days when I’m struggling to eat properly or on days when I feel cruddy because I’ve eaten poorly.  Many people struggle day in and day out to eat the way they think they should eat.  Whether it’s to lose weight, get a disease under control, or to help prevent future ailments, changing eating habits is difficult.  I’m trying to change my eating habits to control mental issues, get my weight under control, and achieve a healthy relationship with food.  The three goals I have set out for myself this year to help me change my eating habits are; switch to 100% grassfed, hormone free, and antibiotic free beef, purchase a CSA, and switch to free range eggs.

I have struggled with depression and anxiety issues for most of my adult life.  In late 2010, I realized that my issues were connected with the foods I was eating.  I wasn’t eating the typical terrible foods but when I really thought about it I realized that most commercial food is bombarded with ingredients that our bodies are not able to handle.  I slowly shifted away from preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and highly refined and processed food.  I began eating tons of animal protein, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats.

I ate like this for about 5 months.  In that time, my depression and anxiety only cropped up when I slipped and ate something that was toxic to my body.  Then I had a miscarriage and all care for my health went out the window.  I went back to my old eating habits and all my symptoms returned.  All the progress I had made seemed to vanish instantly.  Three months after my miscarriage when I was ready to get back on track I set these goals for myself to help me find my way back to healthy eating habits.  This Labor Day weekend was the anniversary of my miscarriage and I’m still struggling to get back to where I had been diet wise but would be lost if not for the goals I set.

My Eating Goals for a Healthy Lifestyle

Switch to 100% grassfed, hormone free, and antibiotic free beef

I accomplished this goal in April when I purchased a side of beef from a local farm.  Grass fed beef is lower in total fat and cholesterol. It also has more omega 3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C than grain fed beef.  It tastes better too!

Purchase a CSA

CSA, community supported agriculture, is where you purchase a share of a farms crop for the season.  Every week during the growing season you pick up a box of veggies and fruits.  The CSA we are participating in this year runs approximately 27 weeks.  27 weeks of pesticide free vegetables as fresh as you can get it has been phenomenal.  I’ve been spoiled and will be sad in 2 month when it’s over.

Switch to free range eggs 

This goal has been a little difficult because I haven’t found a consistent supply of them at a price I can afford.  Ultimately, I want to raise chickens for their eggs but at our current house that is not doable.  Consuming free ranged eggs is important to me because they have less saturated fat and cholesterol and more omega 3’s and other vital nutrients than commercial eggs.  I hope to find a consistent source soon.

These goals are not going to get me where I want to be eating wise but they are great steps toward it.  I also need to focus on eating out less and avoiding convenience foods by preparing more snacks and meals at home.

Readers: What are some ways you’ve tried to improve your overall health recently?

17 Responses to My Steps to a Healthier Life

  1. You had a miscarriage after 5 months? I am so sorry to hear that, but it’s good to hear that you’re getting back on track. My wife and I really can’t afford to do any of these great, healthy options — we do try to go to the farmer’s market when we can though, that’s about as good as we can do!

  2. Well it was actually a miscarriage a week before 4 months. I meant I had been eating healthy for 5 months and when that happened I gave up on eating healthy.

    You would be surprised at how affordable it can be. there are big upfront costs but if you break it up into weekly amounts its not too bad. The CSA costs just over $11 a week for the 27 weeks we get food. And the amount of veggies we get is more then we need. I have been able to freeze many things for when the share ends in November. The only thing I’ve had to supplement produce wise is fruits (not apples currently since its apple season!) The side of beef cost 3.75/lb hanging weight which came in under $4/lb actual yield. All the top cuts of beef would never cost that little at the store unless they were almost going bad. Yes, more expensive than ground beef when bought on sale but more reasonably priced then many think

  3. I was working out more often until I had my accident in July. Since then nothing but trying to eat a little healthier. I’ve heard that certain types of foods can change your moods, especially junk food. I ahve noticed I feel better when I eat healthier fruits and veggies than chips and candy.

  4. Where do you keep a side of beef?! Will the butcher prepare the cuts for you or are you out there with a butcher knife? I think I am going to look into the CSA for next year sounds like a really cool idea and would force me to eat more veggies.

    I am sorry to hear about your miscarriage. The Wife and I have one of those in our history as well. Best way to put it is to say it just plain sucked.

    • The farmer writes down your cut specification (how thick you want steaks, what size roasts you want, what type of cut you want) and then deals with the butcher for you. Butcher does the cuts, seals them up, freezes the portions, and sends it back to the farmer for you to pick up. Some farmers will include the butchers fee in their per lb price but you need to make sure you figure that out before hand so you know the true cost of things. I purchased a used freezer off craigslist to store the beef.

      They truly do suck. Certainly has made this current pregnancy more stressful because of the not knowing what could happen factor.

  5. I’m so sorry to hear about your miscarriage. I can’t imagine the emotions that come with that.

    For the healthy eating, my wife gets bad headaches from beef and pork but did not realize this until about 5 months ago. Since cutting beef and pork out of her diet she has been doing a lot better. We are going to try the 100% hormone-free, grassfed beef and see how she does with it. It’s amazing how much food is processed. For hot dogs, she had to switch to Turkey dogs and there really is only 1 or 2 brands (out of 20 or so) that are nitrate-free.

    I think investing time, money, and energy into changing to a healthier diet is definitely worthwhile in both the short- and long-term. It’s something I have not dedicated a lot of time towards but would like to in the future.

    • Glad she figured out what was causing the headaches because it can certainly be difficult pinpointing the culprit. Finding nitrate free things can be tricky but at least she found some.

      That time, money, and energy investing is certainly worth it and the best thing is that you can start whenever.

  6. Em, I’m sorry to hear about your struggles. I’ve had a friend who battled depression in a similar manner and it turned out food was partly to blame. There are people who swear by low carb/no carb diets and that it made them a new person. Mark’s Daily Apple is one of the website I’ve actually been recommended. He has a lot of interesting information there and many followers of his “diet” … more like a lifestyle. If you want to check it out, it may be worth your time.

    • The diet I’m attempting to get back to is a high protein, high fat, low carb diet. I’ve read somethings on Mark’s Daily Apple and will have to give it a more in depth look because it is the lifestyle I’m trying to get back to

  7. I’m a big fan of CSA and locally sourced beef. Plus, my roommates are all about cage-free eggs!

    I would add working out to your list.

    • Glad to hear I’m not alone in the loving locally grown foods. I don’t need to add working out to the list. I work out at least 5 days a week. It’s certainly a part of my life that I don’t have to squeeze in. Other things get bumped before the workout does.

  8. I’ve been doing a lot of these as well. This is my 2nd year on a csa, and I’ve basically cut all beef out of my diet (and chicken) – actually, it’s been a long time since i’ve eaten meat that I didnt kill myself. As for eggs, I dont really eat those that much. What i’ve been focusing on lately is to cut out sugar from my diet – it is hard though because it’s in everything!

    • Cutting sugar for the diet is hard! My first step for that was just getting rid of all white sugar in the house so I at least wasn’t adding it to food I made at home, or to my coffee. I replaced that with stevia but find that I use it rarely since my taste buds have gotten more sensitive to sweet things.

      P.S. I love reading about your CSA experiences!

  9. I am sorry for your lost, but i want to tell you that what happened made you even stronger for the future. Look at you now and that achievement you have. I hope you are doing great and i wish you success on that thing you are pursuing.

    • Thank you! Situations like that certainly give a person an opportunity to become stronger and I know I took the grief and succeeded in overcoming it and am now stronger then before.

  10. Oh…how painful to lose a pregnancy over a third of the way through. I’m so sorry.

    It’s amazing and interesting that you made this discovery about the relationship about food and psychological health (which IMHO is effectively the same as physical health). It underscores exactly the thought that came into my mind when we were bombed with the report that organic food contains no more nutrients than factory-farmed, antibiotic- and pesticide-ridden food: What nutrients are in it is not the point; the point is what’s not in it.

    Hope you continue to feel better and stronger.

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