There is a running joke in my family about how many corn dogs I ate when pregnant with my first child who is now 5 years old. The image of the Town Pump convenience store marquee reading, “Corn Dogs: 2 for $1” now haunts my dreams. But at the time, it literally made my mouth water as I whipped my car around, dashed into the gas station and had double corn dog dinner for 1 alone in my car sometimes more than once a week.
Doesn’t sound that evil right? Except I kept doing it, giving in to my cravings’ every whim even when I had gained 60 pounds during my pregnancy! Could I blame it all on the corn dogs? Maybe not entirely but they had a great role along with my diet as a whole. Late in my pregnancy I had a corn dog from the concession stand at a football game and that night I honestly thought I was going into labor. Instead, I was just reaping the not so beneficial benefits of what that measly corndog did to my digestion! That very well may have been the last corn dog I ate…ever. Now, the running corn dog joke isn’t so much a knee slapper as it is a painful reminder. Let’s break down the basics of a corn dog.
First: The stick, harmless and zero calories per serving (as long as you don’t eat it)…not the culprit!
Second: the meat. What kind of animal produced this meat? It’s most likely the unsavory scraps from an array of stock anywhere from chicken, turkey, hog and cattle…all together. I mean they all lived together on the farm, yeah? Why not stick em in the sausage press together too?! Bleached, rinsed, dyed, salted, mixed meat.
Third: The cornbread. Don’t start counting this as your vegetable serving. Most likely there is no corn in your average corn dog. More-so, a batter made of white flour, white sugar and oil, with some yellow dye and artificial corn flavoring.
Fourth: The deep fat fry. A deep, sizzling, bubbling bath of hot Canola Oil.
Enough. I have said enough.
Now, how much of the former do YOU want to put in your body. Yes, it all tasted delicious when you put it all together. But like the animals that made up the meat, together doesn’t always mean better! On their own, these ingredients are lacking in nutrients, packed with fat and sugar, OVERLOADED with sodium and preservatives, and drugging your brain to tell you that it’s good and you want more. When really your body is crying out, “I AM GETTING NOTHING FROM THIS GARBAGE! FEED ME REAL FOOD!” But all your appetite hears is, “MORE CORNDOGS!”
Slowly but surely I have made more and more healthy decisions about how I was fueling my body. It started with weaning some very commonly known naughty foods from my diet, straying away from ‘fast food’, buying less processed food from the store and eating more from our garden. The real eye opener for me was when I really started to learn about what is IN food and what our bodies NEED from food and how to find REAL FOODS that are friendly to our bodies. This was a gradual process for me as I learned, practiced, made some mistakes and learned and practiced some more! If I were to do it again, I would have cold-turkey cut myself off from all the over processed garbage out there. Completely weaned myself overnight from the toxins, fats, sugars, rubbish in the country’s “food” that does nothing but enable me to become slave to the artificial nonsense we all eat! But that is knowing what I know now and wishing I could fast track the process.
Here is my rule of thumb:
Would a caveman eat it?
This means, could you hypothetically hunt, garden, scavenge or gather this food to feed your family?
AND if you did not have unlimited supply of food, how would you ration it to give you the most energy and last the entire day? Answer: Frequent small meals. Frequent small meals. Frequent small meals. There is such wisdom and truth in this concept. Embrace it.
Protein: Lean meats, the less processed the better. I live on a cattle ranch and yes we do have our meat processed. You must if you don’t want it to spoil. Meat is not cheap. That’s why meat processing is a thing; people want to be able to store their meat and feed their families. With that said, the cheaper the meat is (2 for $1 corn dogs, 5 for $5 packages of Lunchmeat, etc) the more processed it is and the less meat you are actually eating. GO to the deli or the butcher, read the labels on your meat. Be smart. Support your local butcher shop and in turn you are supporting local ranchers, boosting local economy AND your health. BOOM! Two birds, one stone. That’s how the caveman ate his white meat.
Carbohydrates: Shouldn’t “carb” be considered a four letter word? To most the country it is! To the extent that “Gluten-Free” has become the “he-who-should-not-be-named” when referring to the evil Voldemort that is wheat, flour, gluten….CARBS. Except, minor detail, carbohydrates do not always come from grain and they are not all bad! Processed, bleached, refined grains are not digested the way the original grain was meant to be digested. Simple truth. It’s science people. Also, if you still can’t handle the Gluten, get your carbs from fruit, vegetables, potatoes, lentils, whole grains. The caveman ate grains that he farmed himself, vegetables, fruits as well. That or he sent his berry picking kids into the wilderness to gather it for their breakfast.
Healthy Fats: Eating fat does not make you fat. Eating bad fat makes you NOT burn off your own fat reserves but eating good fats like those in nuts, avocado, seeds…stuff the caveman would gather in the brush…helps your body by getting the proper biological necessity of fat for healthy brain function AND takes the excess fats out of your system with it. Not to mention, helps your fish not stick to the pan when you are cooking it. Just saying.
So if you want to eat “clean” look for foods with very few (and I mean VERY few) ingredients. The closer to nature, the cleaner it is.
Learn how to make things yourself! I couldn’t find a yogurt I loved without all the added nonsense…So I learned how to make it at home! Delicious and I know EXACTLY what’s in it! Same with bread! Shopping can be very frustrating when trying to eat clean so simplify it for yourself. Less packaged foods means less packages to read. Remember, CAVEMAN! He couldn’t read so you shouldn’t have to either!
Buy in bulk for fruits and veggies. Eat a lot of them so you don’t have to throw it out when it goes bad! Costco is life.
Buy local farmers market food! Buy a lot and freeze or can!
Plant a garden! Look up square foot gardening, or container gardening if you don’t have space for a full garden. Get an indoor plant light if you live in Narnia (Always winter, can’t rottotill the tundra) like I do. If Matt Damon can plant potatoes on Mars, you have no reason not to plant something. Even if it’s live basil from the produce aisle that just sits in your window and you water it long enough to eat it. Plants are our friends and our food.
Most of all, TRY NEW THINGS! If the idea of eating healthy food turns up your nose, grow up you picky little baby! You have a car right? Or know someone who does that gives you rides places…Well you wouldn’t put gas in a diesel engine, or diesel in a gas engine so don’t put the wrong kind of fuel in your own machine, your BODY! Show yourself more respect than you would your car. The wrong fuel in the wrong machine, even if it’s a GREAT machine, a HOT machine, a TIGHT little Sports car with racing stripes or a BEAST of a monster truck and straight pipes…it could blow up! Fuel a pregnant (or not pregnant) lady with corndogs, she will blow up! True story. Be nice to your body. If you want to look good in a loin cloth like Cro-Magnon man, and throw boulders around like no big deal, eat like he did!