Twenty Easy Tips To Eating Healthier
1. Seek out local markets. Farmers’ markets are becoming more and more popular in communities all over the country. You can also look for local farms that sell to customers directly. It is always the best way to by food knowing the person who grew it or raised it or baked it, and having a relationship with them. As a bonus, it will boost your local economy.
2. Learn to read labels, and stop being embarrassed about it. I was a label reader ten years ago in Southern Indiana and I got gobs of funny looks. How ridiculous is that, that I should be seen as odd, because I cared about what I was putting in my body?
3. In the grocery store, look for foods with fewer than five ingredients. Take baby steps, and don’t give yourself a hard time about buying a thing or two that isn’t healthy. But seriously, if you stick to the less than five ingredients rule, you will be shopping much healthier.
4. Learn to cook! Anyone can learn to cook, there is the food network, there is you-tube, and many classes are available for adults to take as well. If none of those ideas are working for you, ask a friend who cooks to teach you how. I volunteer and lead a 4H cooking club out of my own kitchen. Food that is homemade is better for you, plain and simple.
5. Avoid individual packaging! Most people don’t know that foods in smaller packages contain more preservatives and coatings than those sold in larger bulks. I once compared a regularly sized peanut butter cup to the miniature ones. The regular size did not contain hydrogenated oil, and the miniature one did.
6. Speaking of hydrogenated oil, do dot buy foods that contain anything hydrogenated, or hydro-anything for that matter, I even avoid homogenized milk and replace it with soy or rice milk.
7. Lighten up on the meat. On this blog, I publish a lot of recipes that contain lesser quantities of meat. A ton of protein is not required in a healthy diet, and it can come from foods other than meats. Lessening the amount of meat that your family consumes is easier on your wallet, and more ecologically responsible as well.
8. Don’t buy foods that contain MSG. Monosodium glutamate is basically a super-salt. The chemical is much higher in sodium than actual table salt, and it tricks your brain into enjoying foods that don’t actually taste good. EWWW!
9. Go whole grains, all the way. If there is a whole grain option, buy it. Packaging can be tricky, so read the labels to be sure that the item is actually made of all whole grain, not simply containing some whole grain.
10. Buy plain items, rather than flavored ones. For instance: plain potato chips contain very few ingredients, whereas flavored ones have a long list, which usually contains hydrogenated oil. You can make dip at home right? You can also buy plain yogurt in the large container and add fresh or frozen fruit to it to flavor it, instead of eating artificial flavorings.
11. Distrust any product that advertises itself as being, low fat, light, or diet. Not all of them are bad for you, but many of them contain additional chemicals in exchange for what they are advertising that they are taking out.
12. Avoid sugar substitutes. I love diet coke, but I try to limit my consumption to sharing one soda with my kids when we go to the grocery, which is about every three days or so. I never let my kids have sugar free gum either. Sugar substitutes are not healthy to consume in excess.
13. Seek out dark colors. The darker the natural color of a food, the more vitamins and minerals it tends to have. Almost all super foods are dark in color. Dark berries are great for your health, as well as dark leafy greens, and vibrant carrots and sweet potatoes.
14. Try to eat natural sugars. When I lived in France, we ate a piece of fruit for dessert usually five out of seven days of the week. We ate delicious fancy desserts a couple of times a week, they were almost always homemade, and to be honest, I think that we appreciated them more because we didn’t have them every single day.
15. Fresh is always better…because, fresh foods only have one ingredient. Canned and frozen foods are often more convenient, but you give up in health what you gain in convenience.
16. If you cannot pronounce it, question it. My family uses Isagenix, so I have to admit that I consume many ingredients that I cannot pronounce. However, unlike at the supermarket, these products are coming from a highly reputable company that is dedicated to bettering health, and which I trust. I do not trust foods with unpronounceable ingredients at the store, which are manufactured by companies that I know nothing about.
17. Remember that fat doesn’t make fat. If you are looking to lose weight, then carbohydrates are what need to be avoided. Foods that are high in protein are lower in carbs. Skim milk has four times as many carbs per serving as cream does. To lose weight, avoid white foods like white breads, potatoes, pastas, and especially sugar. Don’t forget that fruits are sugars; even tomatoes contain a considerable amount of sugar as do peas and beans.
18. Don’t disregard GMO’s. People are pushing for mandatory GMO labeling, and I believe that we will make it happen, but in the meantime, do not ignore those products that are certified GMO free. They are most likely better than the alternative. This is the reason that it is so important to seek out local growers. I certainly prefer asking the grower if something is GMO free, than relying on a certification.
19. Never ever put plastic in the microwave. I don’t think that microwaves are completely safe to begin with, but I definitely think that they are unsafe when you cook foods in them that are wrapped or placed in plastic of any sort. Studies have been done that show this changes the chemical make up of the food that is cooked in them.
20. Blanch your vegetables! No cooked vegetable needs to be cooked past the point that its color starts to dull. This is when the vegetable loses its nutritional value. If you eat veggies raw, they are even better for you. I noticed that my son will actually pick through a plate of broccoli to seek out the brightest, least cooked pieces to eat first. Sometimes we believe that our kids simply don’t like certain vegetables, because we don’t understand that we are over cooking them.