I've been compiling a list of healthy eating ideas that I thought I'd post. It helps to hear what has worked for other people when trying to make better choices. Hope it helps someone out there!
1. In my opinion, the most effective tip for healthier eating is to focus on cramming as many vegetables and fruits in or day as possible . Aim for 3 cups of veggies and 2 of fruits a day. 3 baby carrots does not count as a serving. When I try to eat 5 cups of produce a day, there's simply not enough room in my diet for junk! Even if you change nothing else about your diet, this tip will force you to cut our garbage in order to replace it with veggies. I am always amazed at how full and satisfied I am when I meet this goal and my appetite for junk food disappears. And don't just throw broccoli on the side of your plate! Try to find veggie-centered entree recipes so that you develop a taste for healthier fare.
2. Change where you shop. I got this tip from an amazing nutritionist who says that if you surround yourself with beautiful ripe produce and healthy food choices you will naturally shop and eat this way. Try switching to a market like Sprouts or Sunflower instead of your super Walmart or Fry's trip. On that note, those mega grocery stores often have a very poor produce selection because they buy cheap stuff to keep prices low. There are also so many affordable farmer's markets out there that you don't have to spend a fortune to buy produce. Especialy if you cut down on meat and dairy. THAT's the expensive stuff!
3. READ LABELS!! Keep in mind that even if you're shopping in a healthy store, not everything they sell meets good ingredient requirements. I was shocked to buy ginger snaps at one of these types of markets, only to discover when I got home that they contain hydrogenated oils. Yuck! Be an informed consumer. If you keep reading about lecithin and nitrates and corn syrup, go home and Google them. Read as much as you can about the food you're eating and don't believe any email forwards about food until you verify them! Just by switching out a couple of your favorite brands, you can potentially avoid putting hundreds of needless calories or other nasty chemicals into your body.
4. Drink lots of water. You hear this one all the time but I'm amazed at how many people don't follow it. It's always been easy for me because I never developed a taste for soda but if you find yourself stuck in a caffeine, sugar guzzling streak, try this: for one week cut out any liquids but water. Just commit to a week at first so that you can stick with it. That means no juice, sodas, Gatorade, crystal light etc. Nothing but water. I promise you that you will develop a taste for water and you will not even want the other stuff anymore. (ok, if you're a hardcore Dr. pepper fanatic, it may take a couple weeks :). You want to get to the point where your thirst is only quenched by water, because in reaity it is. That other stuff does not hydrate you like water. Another note about soda, don't fall into the "diet" trap thinking that diet colas are better for you. Sure they may not spike your blood sugar but don't put those crappy fake sugar chemicals in your body! Who knows what they're doing to us. Also, remember that any sweet-tasting drink will only make you want more sweets and lead to junk food bingeing. Water cleanses the palate and makes even vegetables taste good!
5. Do not go crazy at first! That means that you can incorporate healthy eating slowly into your life by choosing more whole foods and less processed junk. Don't think that you have to change everything at once. If you do this, you will most likely get frustrated, and dive right back into your old bad habits. And don't beat yourself up over one trip to Burger King. The idea is to change our eating habits forever and we can only do that if we forgive ourselves for our setbacks and make a resolution to do better tomorrow. Also, let me add that if you have a sweet tooth, there ARE healthier dessert options out there! Dreena Burton's recipes are all fantastic and her desserts are to die for...all vegan with no refined sugar. Some of the ingredients may seem weird at first, but where does it say that drinking half a gallon of milk from some other animal's udders is normal?? We're simply conditioned to think that. Do yourself a favor and try a new, healthier recipe this week!
6. Get out there and do SOME form of exercise! Walk briskly around the block, rollerblade, snowshoe...do anything that's practical for you in your neighborhood and try to do something every day. It may take getting up a half hour early or carving some time out in the evening. But nothing will help you feel better and be more motivated to eat better than using your body. In the end, food is simply fuel for our bodies...albeit often ridiculously delicious fuel! Remember that everything you eat and drink goes somewhere.
It really helped me cut out sugary drinks, for example, by thinking about what liquid looks like when it comes out of me (not to be gross). Our body pulls all the sugar, dyes and chemicals out of a drink and does something with them. They're stored up in us and probably causing damage! Whereas water pulls all that crap out of our bodies and allows us to excrete it. The next time you're tempted to eat something you know you shouldn't, think about what your body can use it for. If the answer is simply to store fat and toxins, make a better choice! We not only damage our own bodies when we mistreat them, but as a mother I think about the habits and genetic code that I'm passing on to my children. I want long, vibrant, healthy lives for my entire family and the coming generations!