Two years on . . .healthy eating

Our Australia Day dinner - healthy and yummy! Photography by Joluise
Two years ago (January 2010) I decided to loose weight and change our diet to make sure it was healthy. We had always eaten home cooked meals, but I wanted to further reduce our intake of "bad foods" and limit take-aways, lollies, chips, fizzy drinks, bad desserts etc... In 2011 I cut back on processed tinned foods and only used those that were essential (tomato paste etc). In doing so, I have lost weight (and keeping it off) and we are eating far better than ever before. In the process we have reduced the amount of food we buy.  Instead of wasting money on processed foods, I now buy more expensive cuts of meat, organic foods and we spoil ourselves with healthy treats -  so our overall bill hasn't reduced considerably - its just healthier.

I also visit fewer aisles in the shopping centre which makes shopping much faster. I am yet to completely convert my husband - whilst I cook all his main meals, I don't have control over what he buys from the shops (chips and lollies) when I am not looking. However he is slowly reducing his intake of these items as he realises that as you get older, weight doesn't come off as fast as it goes on!!

Even though I am busy each day - coming home and cooking a homemade meal is very easy to do - I have created a collection of recipes that are fast and full of freshness that I can whip up on those nights I am not feeling very motivated.  As long as you have fresh vegetables in the fridge, some pasta, lemon juice and some danish feta (even goats cheese) you can create a pasta dish in 30 mins. You don't even need meat if you don't want to - but I sometimes add chicken fillets, chorizo sausage or bacon.

Some radishes I bought - Photography by Joluise
I have been watching Jamies School Dinners on DVD, if you haven't seen the series, Jamie Oliver (British Chef) spends 6 months in a secondary school in the UK and was horrified at the school dinners (midday meal) being served to children - frozen processed food that was simply reheated.  For some children, it was their main meal of the day.  His mission - bring about change and convert school dinners to something healthy and nutritious. But what he found was tragic - most children (from the very young to teenagers) didn't know where their food came from and rarely ate basic homecooked meals. You can blame the government for their school dinners, sadly though, most mothers were serving up the same processed meals at home.  Why, they had allowed their children to dictate what was cooked in the evenings and they didn't know how to change this very bad habit that in the long term would cause all sorts of health issues. In one area in Scotland the local hospital had a constipation clinic for children as they ate so much processed food (chips, nuggets etc) that they no longer had proper bowl movement and this was young children.

No one has the excuse that they don't have time to cook - it isn't hard to cook a healthy meal (as I have found over the last 2 years). It requires a little pre-planning, perhaps some pre-made meals in the freezer, a well stocked pantry and a good collection of recipes.  Our children's future is in our hands and its our responsibility to cook healthy nutritious meals. Even a busy working mum can do this.  Cooking healthy is in fact cheaper than cooking "rubbish" - so if living on a tight budget is an issues - healthy is the way to go.

"I want to inspire you to get in the kitchen and cook meals for yourself and your family from scratch, whether you're a complete beginner or a good cook who likes simplicity. With some basic skills under your belt and a handful of recipes, you'll be able to prepare nutritious meals on any budget."
Jamie Oliver (Ministry of Food website)


  1. Thanks, Jo. It's interesting to read your experience. We have not moved as far that direction as I think would be good, but we've made a lot of changes over the last years.

    I've wondered for some time if people actually need less food when they eat nutritiously. It seems in my mind that eating food so lacking in nutrition would result in the need to eat more food to feel satisfied.

    I'm interested also in your finding that cooking healthy is cheaper than cooking rubbish. I've known people who thought they "couldn't afford" to eat healthier food "like you do", yet some of these folks are financially better off than some folks I know who do try to eat healthier. I've come to the point where I just don't believe it. What they seem to really mean is that they don't want to be bothered by learning what they need to know to eat healthier or to do the cooking required. One friend was forced to do so against her wishes because her son got into such a serious health situation. Some in my family had been concerned about what they fed their children for some time and were not shocked that health issues had come up. Really, people can't afford not to eat healthier!

    1. Just in relation to take-away food - to buy Chinese dinner for 2 of us can cost $25.00 (US) and that is the cost of 2 tubs at $12.50 each and add some bottles of fizzy drink and its easy to spend $30 on one meal. I can buy a some chicken fillets and some really nice salad veg (that will last a few days) for less than that price and but some much nicer and far more filling and satisfying.

      I try and buy vegetables in season and that is always cheaper than buying what is out of season (common sense) and things like rice and pasta aren't expensive at all - especially from Costco. I'm sure Clara find buying healthy is cheaper and as you say, it is far more filling. Even baking a cake is cheaper (and tastes better) than buying one. As you say, its an excuse - they see it as easier to open a bunch of tins or pull things from the freezer. Its really sad as its so bad for our next generation.

  2. Jo-- you are so disciplined-- I'd give anything to be as motivated as you. I'm always watching my weight-- it's a struggle-- you are so much more dedicated than I am. Wish we were closer and your motivation could rub off on me!


    1. That would be a lovely idea :)) It is really hard and to keep at it is hard work, but the one thing I didn't do was completely remove sugar (like some do) as that only drives you to want more sugar. I am trying to motivate my husband but I have to stop him from buying lollies that he sneaks into the house when I am not looking!!! Naughty boy:((

  3. A few weeks back, we literally tossed all the "junk food" from our freezers and kitchen cabinets. Now, our selves and freezers have healthier choices. It certain does make a difference in your lifestyle, and yes, weight becomes LESS of a problem if you eat real food that's natural, organic, and lean.

    I won't lie though, I still make sweets, as my husband loves my baked goods. However, I tend to cut-back on putting so much oil and butter in my baked goods by replacing them with healthy substitutions. The baked goodies still taste great with less of the "junk" inside them.

    One more thing, I think some "junk food" on occasion (e.g., pretzels, snack bars, and baked potato chips) are okay. I still eat them sometimes, but I balance my "junk food" and fat intake well, and if you can do do this, one can still enjoy these items when they have a little "junk food rush." :)

    1. I still like to bake but I think home cooked cakes and muffins contain way less fats and sugars than anything you buy and at least you know what it contains (100%). We also have treats, I like to make a yummy dessert from time to time, but because we don't have it very often, it is something to really enjoy:)) We have had some really hot weather this summer and my husband and I have enjoyed some ice-cream (I like drumsticks) as treats - they aren't healthy, but they are nice on a really hot day. Its about being sensible about ones diet and not extreme. But the more we eat health, the less I really want to eat junk, its quite strange!! One of my favourite snacks is brie or camembert on savoury biscuits - now, that is yummy!!!

  4. Oh yes - I found that going healthier was a big deal, and seemed almost impossible at first, but the truth of it is that once you get into a habit, it becomes easier and you really do start to THINK twice before you buy (if you buy) the junk food because you realise how awful it is for your body and health. It is largely a psychological hurdle - you feel like you'll be in the kitchen all day trying to chop things up and make meals from scratch - but in reality it takes the same time or just a little longer, and the rewards are manifold - you feel better about yourself and your meal, and honestly, homemade food just TASTES SO much BETTER!!
    It doesn't have to be a lot more expensive, either. Processed and packaged food is often laced with "ingredients"/chemicals that make you feel like you haven't eaten enough, and they lack nutrition, which means your body cries out for nutrition and you end up keeping on coming back to eat more. Things like chocolates and chips might SEEM cheap on the supermarket shelf, but if you figured them out dollar for dollar and gram/kilogram for gram/kilogram, meat and vegies are actually a LOT cheaper to buy - even organic.
    Somethings I make sure I ALWAYS have on hand is a lot of onions, organic garlic, lots of herbs, dairy, meat, veg, and organic tomato pulp (you buy it in a bottle - it's called Passata). With those ingredients, you can create almost ANYTHING your heart (or stomach)desires... And it tastes good. And it is healthy and nutritious. Canned foods and packaged foods are completely unnecessary. :)

    And for the icecreams - if you have a blender, blend together some fruit (fresh or frozen) or melted chocolate, cream and milk, pour into those ice-block makers and voila, you have yourself delicious homemade icecream within a few hours. Add a little raw, organic honey or maple syrup or stevia if you need it sweetened a little. Delicious! (Tupperware has some fantastic ice-block makers called Lollitups. If you can get hold of them, you won't regret it.) :)

    1. Couldn't agree more. When I look at food I look at it differently as you say. I must lend you Jamie's School Dinners and you will be both staggered and cross as you watch it. How bad eating in Britain has got and never should have.

      I don't eat enough ice cream to make it, but as you say, it's simple to make. And there many "sweets" that can be enjoyed that are quite healthy. No plans to turn back now:))


Post a Comment