Steps For Ditching Junk Food and Eating Better

Written by Laura on October 19th, 2012

Healthy Eating, Healthy Living
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I love "fancy coffees", but they are pricey and filled with additives. My husband made this healthy version for me — homemade syrup and all!

Back when Engineer Husband and I were first married, our diet was less than stellar … or natural! Although my mother cooked whole foods from scratch when I was younger and his mother is a wonderful cook, we had just left the Lean College Years behind and were beginning the Lean Married Years. We didn’t have a lot of money, so boxed mac and cheese, pasta and boxed hamburger meals were on the menu often.

When we had our first child, I knew I wanted him to eat healthily and knew that I had to model good eating habits. Slowly, over time, we changed what and how we ate. Now, we eat a diet based on whole foods (with the occasional treat!).

Changing your eating habits is easier than you think. The information out there can be overwhelming, but breaking it down into simple, manageable steps makes everything easier!

  1. Begin by adding in — Are you getting enough fruits and veggies? By ADDING in healthy foods, you are making a positive change without feeling like you are giving up something. You can also make it a goal to drink MORE water. Both of these are healthy changes that you can make without feeling deprived!
  2. Whole grains — Although white pasta was cheaper than whole wheat pasta, we made the switch. At first, I mixed just a little bit of whole wheat pasta in with the white pasta. Over time, I increased the amount of whole wheat pasta in the mix until we were eating only whole wheat pasta. We also experimented until we found a brand of whole wheat bread that we liked.
  3. High fructose corn syrup — When our first child was born, the Internet was just beginning to buzz about the evils of high fructose corn syrup. It was harder to find foods that we liked without this additive. However, I carefully read the labels of foods we loved, like spaghetti sauce and salsa, and found that some were already HFCS-free. If a food had HFCS in it, we used up that bottle and then looked for a new brand. I was pleasantly surprised to find some store brands were HFCS-free!
  4. Artificial colors and flavors were the next thing to go. I also began to have a reaction to artificial sugar, so avoiding “sugar-free” options was a must. This was perhaps the easiest step because we didn’t, and still don’t, buy a lot of gummy snacks or brightly colored cereals. Now natural versions of these treat foods are easy to come by, but we were also pleasantly surprised that these treats began to taste “off” to us. Once we cleaned up our taste buds, we no longer preferred the artificial foods.
  5. Go natural — What foods are you eating that come in a more natural, less processed from? For us, it was peanut butter. I wanted the all-natural versions, but my husband hated stirring it. We compromised on a no-stir variety and, later, finally went to an all-natural brand.
  6. Reduce processed foods — Like many parents, I cannot grow or make from scratch every item that my children eat. While I have found many time-saving meals that mimic our old boxed dinners, we still use some quick prepared meals. Thankfully, I have learned how to carefully menu plan over the years, so needing a quick, pre-packaged dinner is rare; I usually rely on my crock pot to get us through those hectic nights!

Making changes a bit at a time, instead of all at once, helped us stick to our new habits. Over the years, we have continued to make good changes. My husband has kicked his Diet Coke habit, going from several in a day to only drinking Coke at parties or as a treat. I’ve learned portion control and different substitutions in cooking and baking to make a recipe healthier. Our kids love a variety of fruit and veggies and will happily eat whole wheat pasta.

Is our diet perfect? NO! We still eat out on occasion, and my two-year-old loves to say, “Yay! French Fry!” when we drive past any fast-food restaurant. The kids will happily gobble cakes and cookies, and if there is ice cream in the house? They ask for it until it’s gone. However, when I think back to where we were ten years ago, I can’t help but be pleased with the changes we’ve made.

What changes could you make in your eating habits? What changes have you made already?

About The Author: Laura

Walden Mommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door My NPN Posts

Laura is the mother to a herd of four small children, wife to her Engineer Husband, and owner of a pesky dog. She blogs about her life in the Midwest at Walden Mommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door.

9 Responses to Steps For Ditching Junk Food and Eating Better

  1. Janine  

    Great post! Adding rather than taking away is a fantastic tip! We started switching to natural and organic as we ran out of products and it was very low-drama and not even that expensive.

    Our weakness is still takeout/fast food. Coffee is super easy to make at home – and it’s WAY cheaper – but it’s hard to beat the price and convenience of fast food when you’re tired or short on time. I’d love to see a post on quick, healthy and SAVORY meals.

    • Laura

      Thanks Janine! I find most of my recipes on Pinterest and sub in ww pasta or my own “cream of” soups and so on. I also sometimes add more spices to my dishes because I think WW products “mask” the flavor of spices and herbs.

  2. Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen  

    It seems like I always have tons of room for improvement, but then I realize that we aren’t doing so bad when I think about what we don’t eat. Things like pop (midwesterner for soda), processed foods, candies, etc.

    We always have ups and downs, but I don’t beat myself up about it.

    One thing we’ve started recently is juicing a few times a week. That really has been great for my hubby because he’s an ultramarathoner and recovery is so seamless when he has homemade juice.

    Another trick I sometimes have to do is make sure I eat the healthy filling veggies first because there’s less room for unhealthier empty calories.

    • Laura

      My husband cut way, way down on his soda over time. He was a hard core Diet Coke drinker and now he only has one on occasion. We mostly drink plain, boring, unsweetened iced tea. I am very proud of him for cutting back on something that was such a staple in his diet!

  3. Momma Jorje  

    Good post. I have high hopes for after we move – when we have a freezer I can trust with meat and a kitchen bigger than 2 sq ft. I want to start cooking more of our meals and hope not to resort back to box junk.

    My spouse is SO picky. It makes it very difficult. When he eats things that don’t appeal to him, it literally makes him ill. And he likes to eat absolute JUNK. He is setting such a horrible, horrible example for our children.

  4. Mandy

    Going traditionally healthy was much easier for us than cutting out food allergies. We are still working on it, and that is okay.

  5. Amanda McMichael  

    I struggle with this! Thanks for the encouragement

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