This is the first in a series of reader stories that I’ll be sharing this month, and maybe even beyond, depending on how much you guys like them! Today’s story is by Emily Allen with That’s What I Eat. Thank you, Emily, for sharing your inspiring story with us! If you’d like to submit your story, you can do so here.
I didn’t recognize myself.
I’ll never forget the day I looked in the mirror and realized that I didn’t recognize the person who was looking back at me. It was about a year after my youngest was born, I was clinically obese, felt sick all the time, and was simply miserable in my body. As I looked at my reflection, I was shocked and horrified that I had let it get to this point. At that moment, I decided that I didn’t want to feel that way anymore.
I had tried to lose weight several times throughout the years, trying every different diet plan out there. The problem was that nothing ever stuck. For some reason, this day in the mirror was different, and it changed everything. I decided that I wanted to do this right.
I wanted to actually nourish my body and focus on health rather than calories and the size of my jeans. So I started researching what I should feed my body, and the more I learned, the more I realized that what I needed to do was cut out processed food.
My study naturally led me to Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, and to Lisa and 100 Days of Real Food. I started cooking more from scratch and found lots of great recipes, and without even really trying, 70 pounds simply slipped off my body.
70 pounds! Gone!
What Helped Me
Cutting processed food was definitely not an easy process, but here are a few things that helped my family along the way:
First and foremost, we had to cut ourselves some slack. If we had thrown away all processed foods from the beginning, we would have failed, big time! Instead, we took baby steps, replacing one thing at a time. I started with cereal, making granola as a replacement. Any little improvement is still a success!
Lots of Produce
The easiest way to eat real food for us is to reach for fruits and vegetables. We always have tons of apples, oranges, carrot sticks, etc. on hand for those times when we want to eat but don’t want to do any prep work.
Meal planning has been essential! I put our meal plan in my Google calendar so I can see the family’s weekly activities as I plan. For example, I know that on Wednesdays I need to have a crock pot meal planned because that night we have dance class and otherwise would be hitting a drive-through.
Making My Own Convenience Food
Batch cooking and stocking the freezer helps so much! Everyone has days where they simply don’t want to cook. I love knowing that when I have one of those days, I can grab a lasagna from the freezer because the last time I made lasagna, I made three of them and froze the extras.
It has now been more than five years since we started the process of cutting processed food, and my weight loss has been very easy to maintain. I have had such an incredible change in the way I feel that I had to share that feeling. So I went to school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a Holistic Health Coach. I love teaching other people how to nourish their bodies with real food! I share my journey and my recipes on my site, www.thatswhatieat.com.
Eating real food has changed my life in so many ways. Most importantly, it has completely changed the way I feel. I’ve never felt healthier, happier, or more capable of handling whatever life throws at me. Everyone should get to feel this good!
Emily Allen is a former obese girl turned Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She lost 70 pounds by cutting processed food, an experience she documented on her site, www.thatswhatieat.com. Emily now teaches families how to cut processed foods and live their healthiest lives. She teaches cooking classes, does public speaking about healthy living, and has even appeared on local news programs featuring her recipes. Emily believes that anyone can live a healthier life, no matter their schedule or budget.