Back in college when I started by food journey, I actually believed I was being healthy based solely on the fact that I was cooking. I had no real concern of the ingredients that I was using in my meals – some of those ingredients would be processed and the rest just produce from my grocery store. As I learned more about food and how we should use it to fuel and heal our bodies and not just FEED our bodies, it became apparent that the ingredients we use when cook are just as important. Real food is the key with minimal processed foods. They are the foundation – the building blocks to any healthy meal. I know when you are trying eat healthier it can be quite overwhelming, there are tons of questions –
- Where do I start?
- What do I buy?
- How do I know if this is good for me?
The list can go on and on, but it doesn’t have to. Through my journey, I have learned that change doesn’t have to be overwhelming you just need a starting point. Here are 8 simple changes that you can make to help get you started – and you don’t have to do this all overnight.
Start reading labels
Stop the grab and go when you are at the grocery store. Take the time to look at the labels to see what you are ACTUALLY buying. You should be able to read and understand the ingredients that your body will be consuming. If you can’t even pronounce the first syllable…RUN fast the other way. The things that you buy should have ingredients you know and recognize, not a long list of ingredients that you need Google for. This definitely takes practice and time but it’s worth it when talking about your overall health. Here are some ingredients you should avoid:
- Hydrogenated oils – can be found in fast foods, margarine, tv dinners, coffee creamers
- Food colors – anything with color and number – Blue No. 1, Green No. 3
- High fructose corn syrup – can be found in condiments, beverages, deli meats, soups, bread
- Monosodium glutamate – also known as MSG can be found in marinated meats, canned foods, fast food, pre-prepared meals, low fat and fat-free foods
- Aspartame – also known as artificial sweeteners can be found in flavored waters, coffee drinks, instant breakfast shakes
Eat with the seasons
When you eat with the seasons you are providing your body with optimum benefits that the food has to offer. Eating in season also helps protect your body from the seasonally elements that occur. The thing is all fruits and vegetables cannot grow at the same time; each one has its own optimum growing conditions. Some fruits and vegetables grow better than others based on the region – you definitely won’t see oranges growing in the dead of winter in Michigan. It’s also cheaper on your pockets when you decide to eat in season. Think about it the next time you are picking up that carton of strawberries for $6/lb.
Let’s face it when you don’t plan, you are setting yourself up for failure. You will be lead right to fast food, because in all honesty – it’s convenient and time saver. But that may not always be the best option. Planning your meals will help ensure that you are feeding your body the BEST food possible. Yes, it takes time but it’s worth it knowing that you are fueling your body with ingredients that you know.
Check out the farmers market
Farmers markets are able to provide you with the best locally grown and sourced foods in your area. They provide you with a variety of the freshest in-season produce and locally made goods. Besides, it’s just a good time when you go.
Reduce processed foods
Whew! This here is a MAJOR KEY! Processed foods have so many ingredients that are toxic to our bodies. Take a look in your freezer, fridge, or pantry – what do you see? Can you read any of those ingredients? Those are the things that you need to reduce – then complete eliminate it from your life.
Buy in bulk
I love buying in bulk. You have complete control of how much YOU want to buy – which is usually cheaper than being stuck with some amount you don’t need from the grocery store. Buying in bulk is also helpful when you are transitioning to healthier alternatives – it allows you a change to try a variety of things without breaking the bank or being stuck with something that you don’t like. Here are some of the things that I like to buy in bulk:
- Beans – much better than can
This one is kind of tied to # 3, if you plan ahead you can cook you some meals once in a while. The taste is just better; it’s really nothing like home cooking. Besides you will know what is going into your meals.
Eat in color
I CANNOT stress this enough! Having a plate of all brown food or just one color is so BLAH. If your plate is all one color, you may need to have your eyes checked. No joke, I am serious. You should be eating with your eyes. Bright and vibrant colors should be on your plate, sort of like a piece of art work.
These are 8 simple changes you can make to help move your towards making better foods choices. All of these do not need to be done at the same time but try to focus on just one and work your way up to all 8. This is not a race to get there fast but a journey to do it RIGHT. I have created an 10-FREE page guide to help get you started so that you are not overwhelmed with trying to transition your lifestyle. Get your FREE guide today.