10 Ways in 10 Years Our Family Diet Has Changed
What a difference a decade makes, which is about how long I’ve been writing this blog. Reflecting on this photo of us ten years ago, it’s impossible not to consider how much life has changed. My youngest was about six back then. Now my oldest is a college senior. I’ve gained new friends, lost a parent, earned smile lines from the good days, and worry lines from teenagers. I’ve seen shifts in my diet, too, and the way I feed my family. The Instant Pot has become part of our repertoire, I’ve embraced kombucha and cacao nibs, and have adjusted my eating habits as I’ve learned more about nutrition and what works for my body. I thought it would be interesting to share how my family’s diet has changed over the years and invite you to do the same. Please share in the comments section below!
Time and again nutrition research proves that packing your diet with produce pays big dividends in our health. Over time I’ve started adding more vegetables to meals and snacks more often during the day. I’ve found ways to work spinach, kale, and cauliflower into breakfast smoothies. I routinely add leftover vegetables to our morning scramble, pile sandwiches with everything from shredded carrots to sliced avocado, and swap vegetables for some or all of the noodles in our pasta dishes.
2. Less Meat and Poultry
Most of our meals these days are meatless and I think that’s reflected in the types of recipes I now to post on the blog. Don’t get me wrong, I still relish the occasional hamburger and would be hard pressed to give up my beloved prosciutto, but having two of my kids go vegetarian has really moved our family to a more plant-based track. My interest in eating for a healthier planet has also been a major motivator in cutting back my intake of animal protein.
3. Better Bread
Ten years ago my kids were still whining about the “healthy” bread I would buy. Over time they’ve gotten on board with dense, whole-grain loaves. It’s a testament to the benefit of repeated exposures to less familiar foods. Eventually kids tend to get with the program (though I still remain the sole superfan of Adventure Bread).
4. More Sustainable & Humanely Raised Foods
As my awareness about how food is grown and animals are raised has increased, so has my interest in knowing where my food comes from. I try to buy local, organic produce, pastured eggs, organic and humanely raised beef and chicken, and sustainably sourced fish. I think the marketplace is more abundant in these options than ever before, making it easier for consumers. I still have plenty of days when my shopping cart doesn’t hit all the high notes and I also recognize that these foods tends to be pricier and not always doable for everyone. We’ve carved out space in our budget to make room and have also found that eating more meatless meals, which tend to be cheaper, makes room for high-quality meat when we do buy it.
5. Fermented Foods
Eating fermented foods wasn’t so much on my radar 10 years ago, though I knew they were good for you. Since then, we’ve learned that gut health may be a major key to overall wellness. It’s with that in mind that I try to stock my fridge with probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt, kefir, pickled vegetables (Wild Brine and Farmhouse Cultures are favorite brands), kombucha, tempeh, and miso.
6. No Soda
Ten years ago I was still indulging in a small but consistent Diet Coke habit. I cut it out cold turkey one day several years ago and haven’t picked up a can since. As for my kids…they’ll occasionally order a soda when we’re out at a restaurant, but seem to prefer sparkling water or lemonade.
7. More Wholesome Packaged Foods
Mr. Mom’s Kitchen is an infamous snacker in our house. He loves all things crunchy and salty. Lucky for him, the world of packaged snack foods offers more wholesome options than ever before. For the most part I’ve replaced the likes of cheese crackers and pretzels with snacks that pack more nutrients in every handful, such as spiced/roasted chickpeas, roasted edamame, toasted/spiced nuts, and whole grain/seed crackers.
8. Plant-Based “Dairy”
Having vegetarians in the house has helped put plant-based milk, yogurt, and cheese more on my radar. Yes, I always have the real deal on hand, but also routinely stock oat and almond milk, have played around with vegan cheeses (Kite Hill is a brand I like), and occasionally try the latest dairy-free yogurt to come into the marketplace. Some are better than others, plenty are full of junk, but I’m open to what’s new and different.
9. More Fat
I went to graduate school in nutrition at the peak of the fat-free craze. We now know that fats play an important role in the diet (and let’s be honest, makes food taste good). I use healthy fats a bit more liberally these days both for cooking and snacking. Olive oil is a daily essential, I snack on all manner of nuts and seeds, an avocado is always in my fruit bowl, and I enjoy full-fat Greek yogurt when I’m in the mood for something rich and creamy. I am conscientious of how much I’m using, though, since fat can pack a lot of calories in a little amount.
10. Plain Yogurt
When my kids were little, I appreciated the convenience of single-serve fruit-flavored yogurts. And they liked eating them. At some point I faced the fact that most of what you’ll find in the yogurt aisle has as much sugar as a typical dessert. I’ve largely phased out fruit yogurt, though I do buy Siggi’s and Stonyfield Farms, which are pretty low in added sugar. My refrigerator staple now is a big tub of plain yogurt, usually Greek-style. I like to add fruits and sweeteners myself, such as berries, jam, honey, and maple syrup, rather than have someone else do it for me.