The spark notes version of what I'm about to share is that Mark and I have changed our eating habits SLOWLY, but surely over the past two years! We started with two road blocks:
1) Mark is stubborn and likes his food to taste good. There was NO sneaking chalky-granola-tree-hugger food into our cupboards without him noticing and never TOUCHING it.
2) I am stubborn and have a very hard time breaking nasty habits. I am the most undisciplined person I know. SO, I knew any healthy changes we made would need to be slow, steady, noninvasive and relatively pain free.
We started to worry more about the things we ate more. To learn about our bread choices, click here! To learn about our milk choices, click here!
Though YOGURT might not seem like a staple item, trust me when I say that Mark and I go through a lot of yogurt. We love it for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks in between!
We started out eating the cheapest version of strawberry banana yogurt Wal-Mart or Hy-Vee offered. It was usually an off-brand.
Why did we decide to make a change? A couple of different reasons.
1) Sugars. Friends, if there's anything you start to cut down on in your diet, do yourself a favor and cut down on sugars! It is incredible the amount of sugar we eat without even realizing it. Here are some articles that I'd highly recommend. Sugar and Weight Loss Resistance | Sugar and Connections to Cancer | Sugar and Your Immune System | Sugar and Depression
So...take a look at the nutrition facts on this strawberry banana yogurt. TWENTY-SIX grams of sugar? Are you kidding me? In one little cup-sized container? Holy smokes. I am not against all sugar, but I would rather enjoy my sugar in the form of chocolate or potatoes or breads, rather than have all of these sugars hidden in my "healthy" yogurt.
2) Most "mainstream" yogurts like ours came with several sketchy ingredients we didn't want to consume. Modified corn starches, preservatives like calcium sorbate, aspartame and other artificial sugars, high fructose corn syrup, and some strange food dyes. I'd encourage you to read up about why some of these ingredients can be dangerous to your health. Though I'm no expert, I included some quick and easy links to help you get started in wrapping your mind around this stuff. See what you can find out for yourself!
Our first baby step: Stoneyfield Organic Vanilla yogurt. Less artificial ingredients, healthy fats, and a little less sugar...twenty-TWO grams. I told you it was a baby step.
Our NEXT baby step: Chobani Greek Vanilla Yogurt. Less sugar (only 13 grams this time!), TONS of healthy protein (16 grams!). We liked this yogurt, but struggled a bit with the texture. If you've never tried greek yogurt before, it is a lot thicker, yet has some watery parts to it, if you don't stir it up. Overall, it was really worth the change.
Our THIRD baby step: Stoneyfield Organic PLAIN yogurt. This was a hard step to take. Plain yogurt just does not taste like regular yogurt. We stayed on this step for a while and really gave our taste buds some time to adapt to this less-sweet version. The perks...only ELEVEN grams of sugar in this kind. Not as much protein, but creamier, since it is NOT a greek version. PS - To help ourselves adapt a bit, we added a lot of things to this yogurt - berries, peanut butter, cereals, granola, etc. Eventually, we were able to add less and less and actually enjoy the real taste of the yogurt.
Our FOURTH baby step: Chobani Greek PLAIN yogurt. Our taste buds had already adapted to creamy, plain yogurt, so this wasn't such a hard jump. Plain greek yogurt has a little bit of tangy-ness, and has the same greek texture, but again, if you stir it up, the texture is great. Again, we added granola, berries and whatever else we wanted to to this kind of yogurt to help us adapt. Over time, we were able to eat it with less "add-ins". We are still eating Chobani Greek Plain yogurt and loving it. The perks include: only 7 grams of sugar, a whopping 18 grams of protein (this is almost more than a protein meal-replacer bar!), it's really filling, and can double as sour cream in tacos or other recipes to make them healthier. Score.
Our favorite combination for breakfast is to add blueberries to Chobani. For a snack (because it adds a little extra sugar, but 9 grams more protein!) is this Chobani yogurt mixed with Kashi Go Lean Crisp in the Toasted Berry Crumble flavor.
I would, once again, like to end this post by saying... 1) Research what I've said (I am not an expert, just offering our personal experiences), and find out what works best for YOU. 2) Don't stress, and take baby steps. Over time, you will be able to stay consistent in your healthy choices because you will have given your taste buds time to adapt and you will learn to actually ENJOY this food. If you go cold turkey, there's a chance Chobani will taste like tangy cardboard. Don't say I didn't warn you to go slow, folks. :) Remember that any step forward is a step in the right direction!
PS - Stoneyfield brands are readily available in larger cities' Hy-Vee health market section. Good news, though, Chobani yogurt and Kashi are available at Super Wal-Mart and sometimes Fareway- even in my small town!
PPS - (a repeat from last time) YES, healthy food is more expensive. Mark and I choose to invest in our health in a proactive way, rather than a reactive way in more doctor visits and sick days. Again, we choose to invest MORE in the things we eat MORE. We continue to buy some things very cheaply but other, more important things, we are willing to shuck out more cash on. One thing to consider - we SAVE money on buying extra protein bars or protein powders because we are gaining so much protein through our greek yogurt!
Good luck, folks.