Making changes in our foods can be daunting. People tell me they want to be healthier, but they don’t know where to start. My suggestion is to make a few easy changes. Don’t try to change everything in your diet in one day. Becoming healthier is a slow transition that for many of us is on-going for the rest of our lives. It can be overwhelming to think of it in these terms. So don’t!
Think of getting healthier as a process. Choose one step each week, or every couple days, or whatever fits within your schedule. You will look back and be amazed at the number of changes you’ve accomplished, how far you’ve come, and how much healthier you feel. Start with any step now, and then add another, and another, and another / soon you will have a solid foundation for healthier living.
Healthier Step 1: Get Hydrated
Many of our aches and pains come from not drinking enough good quality water. For a healthier you, do the math to know how much water you need to drink. Take your weight in pounds, divide in half, and that’s the number of ounces you need to drink each day. Add more for warm climates, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and exercise. But start slow. If you’re ultimate goal is 80 ounces and you’re only drinking 8 ounces, add an additional 8 ounces each day until you reach your goal. It’s healthier to get your body hydrated than to just rush to the restroom all day long. Try and sip your water throughout the day for best hydration.
Healthier Step 2: Eliminate the White Stuff
Refined flours and sugars are everywhere and most people are addicted to them. Healthier options include local raw honey, pure maple syrup, stevia, coconut, dates, fruits, and carrots. Become a food adventurer. There is a fabulous array of recipes available that use natural sweeteners instead of the refined stuff. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to substitute healthier sweeteners in all your favorite recipes.
Healthier Step 3: Say NO to Processed and Artificial Foods
Start reading labels. Focus on the list of ingredients. Do you know all the ingredients? If you can’t identify something, don’t eat it. Begin to eliminate cans and boxes from your pantry. Properly soaked beans are much cheaper than canned and much, much healthier. Purge all additives, preservatives, colorings, flavorings, and artificial ingredients. Weston A. Price Foundation produces a yearly shopping guide that can be helpful; purchase it for only $3.00 here Yearly Shopping Guide. If you have a smart phone, the app Fooducate can also help you make healthier choices (although they still recommend some processed foods, it’s a step toward learning about healthier options).
Healthier Step 4: Embrace Fats
The ’80 & â€˜90s try to convince us that low-fat foods were healthier, but time has proven this theory wrong. If you are still using low-fat foods, refined vegetable oils, hydrogenated fats, or canola oil / it’s time to switch to good fats. Start slowly and begin to balance your fats by adding unrefined extra virgin coconut oil, raw pastured butter, unrefined nut oils, unrefined seed oils, or unrefined extra virgin olive oil. Eliminate anything that has the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated in the ingredient list. Look for products that have been pressed with low heat, without chemicals, and are stored in dark colored glass. Again, be a food adventurer. Begin investigating the exciting number of recipes available that use good quality fats. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to substitute healthier fats in all your favorite recipes.
Healthier Step 5: Season with Sea Salt
You get more minerals by eating unrefined salts from the sea or salt flats. Color is good, be daring and bold – try pink, black, or gray. Bright white usually indicates refined and processed, skip it. Avoid iodized salt and enjoy the healthier good stuff.
Healthier Step 6: Snack When You’re Hungry
If you’re not hungry, don’t eat. If you are hungry, eat in proper portion sizes. If you’re trying to lose weight, keep your metabolize going by having a small snack every 2-4 hours. Think ahead about snacks to make healthier choices. Prepare easy foods so you can grab and go: hard-boiled organic eggs, chopped raw vegetables, homemade trail mix, homemade jerky, hummus, yogurt, cheese, and fermented veggies.
Healthier Step 7: Find a Farmer’s Market
Healthier is fresh, local foods whenever possible. Check out the Local Harvest website to find fresh and sustainably grown produce. Talk with the vendors / they know great recipes for new-to-you fruits and vegetables. You can also join a Community Supported Agriculture (same website) which helps a farmer while ensuring you receive the best local foods.
If you don’t have a farmer’s market nearby, look for signs at your local market. Try to choose foods that have traveled the least distance (look for signs stating origin), choose pesticide-free or organic produce if possible, or buy frozen organic fruits and vegetables. If your pocketbook needs to be your guide, use the Environmental Working Group website. They list the “Dirty Dozen” (the top 12 foods with pesticide/herbicide residue) and the “Clean 15” for healthier options.
Healthier Step 8: Find Grass-Fed and Pastured Meats
The healthier your protein source, the healthier you are / so budget to spend a little extra on good quality animal proteins. Look for grass-fed beef and pork, pastured raised poultry and eggs, and wild caught fish. All of these animals raised in native environments without hormones, antibiotics, and unnatural feed will provide healthier building blocks for your body. If you have difficulty finding a local source, US Wellness Meats and Full Circle Bison Ranch are two great sources for delivery.