10 Weeks With “Real Moms Love to Eat”: Part 1

Beth Aldrich’s new book “Real Moms Love to Eat” promises to tell us “How to conduct a love affair with food, lose weight and feel fabulous.”

This Wilmette mom lives what she preaches, but could I live with what she preached?

Her uber-approachable book makes it seem easy. She asks for 10 weeks and gives you 5 things to do each week. I committed to giving it a try. Less because I wanted to lose weight and more because I needed to clear up my skin, get more energy and feel less tired. (Although I freely admit that several of these might be linked to issues other than my diet!)

Week 1: The Seduction

The first week actually looks the hardest because Beth asks you to start each morning with a “Green Smoothie.” I have started every morning of my life—literally since I was 2 years old—with a bowl of cereal. I love cereal; it’s sweet, delicious and easy. And my cereal is healthy! Mostly, whole grain variations, but no matter, for this week I put away the cereal and got out the blender.

To my absolute shock, the “Green Smoothie” is really more like a healthy chocolate shake. You don’t taste the handful of greens (not kidding) and the chocolate protein powder and frozen banana are yummy. The kale becomes little tiny green specks. Not pretty, but who cares.

The shake is also a plus to my tummy and that whole system. Bonus.

Week 2: Make It All About You

This week is about finding out about your favorite foods and foods you never want to eat again. So here it goes.

10 Favorite Foods
1. My Aunt Mona’s hot fudge sauce.
2. Delicious salad topped with grilled salmon (Michigan Shores Club and The Noodle)
3. Perfectly ripe pear
4. Pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw from Smoque
5. Medium rare filet mignon au poire
6. My homemade lasagna
7. Cooked greens with hot sauce
8. Roasted sweet potatoes
9. Bacon
10. Gelato (in Rome)

10 Foods I Don’t Want to Eat Again

1. Any pastry made or sold in a supermarket. If it’s not homemade or from an amazing bakery, why waste my time and calories?
2. Lima beans
3. White bread from a supermarket
4. Any frozen food entree
5. Overcooked, mushy veggies
6. Bluefish (I love any other seafood on my plate, but not this fish)
7. Calves’ liver and onions

I could only come up with 7. Basically, I like food!

She also asks for 5 foods you’ve never tried, but would be willing to try. Honey, I’ve eaten scorpions (in China, stone cold sober). There’s almost nothing I wouldn’t try. Okay, that same trip I did refuse to eat a bat, but hello, the wings were still attached!

Week 3: Make Over Salt, Fat and Sugar (Your Dysfunctional Friends)

This week is about getting rid of processed food—anything with trans fat, high fructose corn syrup or white sugar. I’ve done this before (with a little backsliding), so this was a pretty easy week.

Food I had to give up:
- Edy’s ice cream – ingredient list a mile long and although it says trans fat 0 grams, it has partially hydrogenated oils and white sugar, so it’s out for the week.

She doesn’t leave you with an empty kitchen. You get to add a few things too.
–    Better salt. My chance to head to the Spice House and buy a few new kinds. Yay!
–    More and better spices. Since my spice drawer could supply an episode of Iron Chef, I’m not lacking in this department. But for the week, I make an effort to use the spices I have. (Favorite: ground fennel flower a friend brought back from Italy.)
–    Agave nectar, honey, molasses and even stevia are okay. I bought some agave to experiment with for the week.
–    Drink more water! And she puts in a plug for reusable water bottles, which I love!

Week 4: Tame the Food-Cravings Dragon

Okay, this fell on Thanksgiving week, and I basically let the pumpkin pie fly and ignored every good idea I’d learned.

Week 4 (one more time): Tame the Food-Cravings Dragon

Now, my weeks are off in count, but I’m back on schedule. This week is about working on your cravings. Mine are any sweet thing I see: cookies at the office, my daughter’s old Halloween candy, the chocolate chips leftover from a recipe … you get the idea.

I was skeptical, but Beth’s ideas did make a difference:
–    Eat breakfast every day
–    When a craving strikes, drink a glass of water and have a good-for-you snack and wait 20 minutes

Shockingly, these two simple steps, plus drinking enough water each day did make a difference. I was able to ignore the cookies in the office and the candy at home. Instead I planned when I wanted a sweet treat—after dinner—and kept to a square or two of dark chocolate.

Week 5: Get Naked with Raw Foods

Whenever I’m at the French Market I stop by Raw. Love their stuff, but I’m not interested in “cooking” with raw zucchini and dehydrated nuts. Just not gonna happen. But “Real Moms” has a cheater solution to nudge you toward getting raw. This week you add something raw to each meal, have raw snacks handy and keep drinking that water.

I love fruit and salads, so that took care of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then I bought some exotic fruits that I normally don’t splurge on out of season—blackberries, raspberries and pineapple—just because I love them and they’re delish raw.

I confess I didn’t try any of the raw recipes, but I will make sure I buy the most delicious salmon pate (not made with salmon, but so good you’d never know) the next time I’m downtown.

For weeks 6 – 10, click here.

Putting it All Together

If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to feeling better, eating healthier and repairing a dysfunctional food relationship, take a look at “Real Moms Love to Eat.” Beth’s tone is like a best friend who’s there to encourage you, nag you just a little, and nudge you toward what’s best.

If you’re interested in meeting Beth, she’s making several local appearances, including January 19 for an 11:30 a.m. lunch and talk at Michigan Shores Club.