10 Weeks With “Real Moms Love to Eat”: Part 2

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!) Here are Weeks 6 – 10. For Weeks 1 – 5, click here.

Week 6: Find Your Sweet Spot

Real Moms Love to Eat” doesn’t pretend that women don’t love sweets, but the strategy—served with a lot of love and good will—is to manage, not deny. So this week, the five things are to experiment a little with sweets. More fruit, a chocolate dessert made with a natural sweetener, juicing, and of course lots of water. But the biggest “aha” was the continuation of the idea to only eat sweets once a day at a prescribed time.

This week is squarely in the Thanksgiving to Christmas cookies blitz. So it wasn’t easy and there were several days that I ate a cookie at work (but only homemade) and then had one at home too. But really, not the end of the world, and Aldrich’s tone never makes you feel bad, you just want to try harder tomorrow.

I totally failed on the juicing assignment. I’m just not a juice gal. If I want fruit, I eat a piece of fruit. I don’t get the benefits of stripping out the fiber and bulk, so I passed on that assignment. But if you are interested in learning more, here’s an article with recipes: Craving Kale and Carrots? Try Juicing.

Week 7: Do It In the Kitchen

This week isn’t about food, it’s about your kitchen. Tossing the junk and cleaning it up. And she’s not just talking about food. I love her commitment to reducing your exposure to all sorts of nasty chemicals by getting rid of non-stick pans (seriously, you can do it) and getting the plastic out of your cabinets.

I’ve done a lot of research on plastic, because I’m freaked out by BPA. Putting food into a plastic container and storing it in the refrigerator isn’t going to do much. I never reheat in plastic and I avoid canned tomatoes and canned soup. Those are the biggest sources of BPA in adult diets, because the cans are lined with a BPA-rich plastic and then heated for the seal. That BPA gets in your food.

Week 8: Commit to Whole Foods

Three genius ideas this week:
• Get your kids to help in the kitchen
• Prep on the weekend to ease the weekday crunch
• Plan ahead, so you can cook once and eat two or three times

Why do we need these strategies? Because as Beth notes, there are lots of nights that moms have no time and no energy. The siren call of pizza delivery is tough to resist on those nights. So if you’re going to eat whole foods—some of which must be chopped, peeled and cooked—you need a plan.

This week, I worked mostly on the planning ahead part. When I peeled carrots for a shepherd’s pie, I kept going and made carrot sticks for the week. I chopped and sautéed 6 onions, because I’ll use those all week long. Ditto some celery that was starting to wilt.

Here’s a great recipe to try if you’re thinking about cooking more whole foods: Grilled Polenta with Mushroom Ragu

Week 9: Go Out on the Town

This week focuses on eating out, because let’s face it, you’re not going to cook 365 days a year. You have friends, a life, vacations—so you’ve got to learn to let go—without totally letting go.

We were in Park City, Utah, for this week, and we did eat out a lot more than we would have at home. The best strategies:

  • Check out the menu online before you go. Every Park City restaurant has a variation on mac ‘n’ cheese. And they all sound delicious, but after reading about them, I was able to let them go and choose something healthier at the restaurant.
  • Appetizers are perfectly sized. I made a salad and an appetizer my meal most evenings. That was plenty of food, and since appetizers are usually the most delicious things on the menu, I never felt deprived.
  • Roll with the punches. It’s what you do 80% of the time that counts. The occasional splurge isn’t a big deal.

She also advocates taking home half of every entrée and saving it for a later meal. I have two teenage boys. There is never anything left on anyone’s plate for later. They inhale anything that might be left, but it’s the same idea. Eat a reasonable portion size and pack up the rest (or hand your plate to the nearest teen).

Week 10: Explore the Ethics of Eating

This week encourages you to go organic for some things and to think about where your food comes from for ALL things.

This week was easy for my family. We already eat vegetarian one day or more a week. And I’m pretty careful to only buy organic produce if it’s on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen.

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.