What do you eat?
How often do you look at the labels on the packaged foods you eat?
Do you opt for convenience over health?
Changing your lifestyle to become a healthy eating can mean eliminating just one thing from your diet.
What is that one thing?
Processed (refined) food.
Two of the biggest culprits leading to poor health are
refined flours and refined sugar.
Refined flours have most of the nutrients removed and a few added back. That beautiful white flour most of us grew up on in North America is not a good option.
Avoid foods containing refined sugar. Opt for natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and stevia. In moderation, they’re more easily handled by the body and they contain at least small amounts of important vitamins and minerals.
Did you know that refined foods are actually addictive according to some studies? Cut out refined flours and sugars and often you’ll see a reduction in your cravings for junk foods in just a few days. In a very short time, you’ll likely find that you’ll start to crave the healthy foods and not the sweet, greasy, oh-so-pretty junk foods. You may find they just won’t seem so appealing anymore.
Healthy eating means minimal eating. Minimal in that you should aim to eat foods with the fewest ingredients (preferably one, sometimes two or three, if they’re wholesome foods). Eliminate foods with those words you can’t pronounce that typically indicate preservatives, flavorings, dyes, sugars, bad fats, and salts. Minimal also means that you should view food as fuel, not as comfort, entertainment, or boredom. It’s all about enjoying your and appreciating your food, listening to your body, and not over-stuffing yourself.
As always, use the Internet.
Do your research.
Find out what all those many-lettered, hyphenated, unpronounceable, chemical-sounding names really mean. Here are a few things to be on the look out for.
- Hydrogenated oils (trans fats)
- Nitrates and nitrites (typically found in processed lunch meats and hot dogs)
- Refined flour
- Refined and artificial sugars, and high fructose corn syrup
- Food dyes
- MSG (and quite often foods that contain “natural flavors”)
- Preservatives (e.g., Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Make the change gradually as you learn.
Don’t make the change overnight. Changing your lifestyle with respect to food is a process. Start with adding more fruits and/or vegetables. Be adventurous and try some you’ve never eaten before. Start to restock your shelves with healthy items and stop buying the foods with ingredient labels having lists as long as your arm.
You should aim to eat whole, pure, natural food like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats and fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. If you think you can’t survive on salads everyday, search the Internet. You’ll find a bazillion recipes to choose from that include only healthful, natural foods.
Eat local. Support the farmers in your community.
Try to eat organic, free range, and grass-fed if and when you can.
Buy fresh ingredients and cook, or otherwise prepare, your food at home. The media these days has many of us believing that cooking is difficult and time-consuming. So not true! Sure, some recipes are, but forget those. With a little effort you can find foods and recipes that take just minutes to prepare. Even a roast chicken dinner is easy. You put it in a pan, add a few herbs, spices, and a little water. Wait a few hours and it’s done. During the last half hour or so, you can boil some potatoes*, steam a few veggies, or toss a salad. You can’t get much simpler. Throw the meat and veggies in a slow cooker in the morning and dinner is ready when you get home. Simple, nutritious food. Try it!
Oh yeah, and by all means, have a treat of potato chips, ice cream, or your other favorite snack once in a while. What’s life without the occasional treat! Remember, it’s all about balance in your quest for health and pleasure.
*White or sweet. Personally, I’m not giving up white potatoes. They’ve been given a bad rap, but mostly because of how many people consume them. Sure they are high in starch and you may not want to eat them every day, but we need starch in our diets. They also are high in vitamins and minerals. What you want to avoid are things like greasy French fries, packaged hash browns, and salty snack chips with all the artificial flavors. However, properly prepared with your favorite herbs, spices, and a healthy oil, boiled, baked, or cut into oven fries, potatoes are tasty and nutritious. Don’t eliminate them from your diet, but do be careful about what you choose for toppings and how you prepare and consume them.