By Natalie Bardwell
Nutrition can be overwhelming. There are diets in every color of the rainbow and they often contradict one another. When choosing to change the way you eat, knowing where to begin can be the most difficult part.
Mother of four under five and a husband with a love for Taco Bell, I am the more nutritiously conscious of the bunch. I mention how I did not grow up eating particularly healthy, and since reaching adulthood, I have taken a great interest in health. If it were up to me, our family would never eat white sugar or anything processed, but I’ve had to compromise for the sake of family unity. Since they were babies, I fed my girls a lot of fresh veggies and fruits so they will eat just about anything including mushrooms and sugar peas. My son on the other hand could live on tortilla chips for the rest of his life, but surprises me more often these days by eating his veggies.
I still long for the day when we will all happily eat the same thing, but in the meantime, I am slowly transitioning our family one food group at a time.
Whether you have a family or not, not everyone is ready for quitting their favorite foods cold turkey. For those of you in that boat, allow me to share some tips that will help you make that transition one step at a time.
6 Tips for Eating Healthier
1) Assess your lifestyle. How do you (and your family members) feel? How often do you get sick? Are your kids hyperactive? Are you tired most of the day? Consider starting a food journal or at least be conscious of what you’re eating and drinking throughout the day to see what’s missing in your diet and what you’re consuming excessively. Be sure to write these things down so you get a clear picture of where you’re at.
2) Determine your needs. Depending on where you’re at, you may need to pull in the help of a doctor or nutritionist for this one. You may not know that you have a food allergy, or your blood pressure is too high, etc. It’s always worth checking in on. If you are mostly healthy, you can probably assess yourself realistically, either by online education (e.g. sugar is not healthy, reduce and replace it.) or by fasting typical allergens like gluten, dairy, sugar and caffeine for a month and then slowly reintroducing one at a time to see how your body reacts. I have a friend who did this with gluten and she noticed a dramatic difference therefore she no longer eats gluten. We’ll post more on this type of fasting another time to make room for more explanation.
3) Educate yourself. We have so many resources to pull from, we have no excuse. As you shop, look carefully at the food labels on the packaging. What the heck is Disodium EDTA? Whip out your smart phone, it’s time to Google this bad boy! My rules of thumb are as follow: a) don’t eat something you can’t pronounce (unless it’s asian)
b) don’t eat something that sounds like a science experiment
c) keep the ingredient list short and sweet
4) Eat your veggies. I would be shocked if there was a diet out there that discouraged the consumption of vegetables. We can all benefit for eating more of the , so I recommend stocking up. Here are some tips on adding more veggies into your diet:
-buy your favorites. -try one new vegetable per shopping trip. -chop them up at the beginning of the week for an easy, convenient snack. -add a salad to lunch and dinner…try our Spinach Salad with Pears and Gruyere. -mix them into your main dish or add them as a side.. -eat them raw as often as you can to get all their great nutrition – Homemade Salsa is a great recipe to start with! -blend them up in a smoothie or juice them with some fruits, start with our Popeye’s Bruiser Purple Smoothie (this helps kids make the transition to eating more veggies too) -feed them to your kids when they get home from school and they’re hungry
There are thousands of recipes to try, and you will be delightfully surprised at how many you enjoy.
5) Replace. Next time you go grocery shopping, make healthier choices. -replace bleached white sugar with sugar in the raw or honey. -replace vegetable oils with high quality olive oil, grass-fed butter or coconut oil -experiment with gluten free grains like brown rice, oats and quinoa. -and of course, fill your cart with fresh produce
6) Make it yourself. There is great satisfaction in making your own food. The smell, the taste, the quality and lack of preservatives brings me so much joy. I understand most of us are busy, but I recommend making one thing from scratch a week, you may get inspired to make more as you go. Some tips: -if you don’t already, make your own meals as often as you can (you’ll save money too) -bake some muffins or healthy cookies as a snack -make your own veggie and fruit dips -make your own salad dressing … our simple Balsamic dressing is such a winner (you’ll impress your friends)
The possibilities are endless but these choices are healthier and less expensive than what you’ll find at the store-plus you can be proud of your new found skills.