An eye-opening look at a healthier diet
Now that you have a family, you’re likely more diet-conscious than you ever had been. Not that you ever were an extremely poor eater necessarily, but now you feel a greater sense of responsibility as to what you eat and feed your loved ones. You’ve heard a lot about “real” and “organic” food over the years, but only recently have your ears perked up. What are they exactly, and what makes every day common food poor in comparison? You know that you should cut processed foods out of your diet, but why exactly?
In its simplest form, real or unprocessed foods are whole foods or foods in their most natural state. Including them in your improved diet would mean eating many more fruits and vegetables, whole wheat and whole grains than you would typically otherwise. You’ll want to use natural sweeteners only of the honey, maple syrup and natural sugar (no white sugar!) varieties. They’re still reasonably decadent so enjoy them in moderation.
Seek out organic dairy products only. No skim or reduced fat milk, use whole only. If possible buy the kind that is from pasture-raised grass fed cows. Raw unpasteurized milk is best. It’s not widely available so it’s okay to settle for organic. Enjoy your yogurt unsweetened. Sound crazy yet? It’s really not.
Look for meat that comes from grass fed animals and poultry from pasture-raised chicken. See if you are able to buy them – along with your milk and eggs – locally.
Are you concerned that you’ll no longer be able to indulge in snacks again? Well, that’s just nonsense. Everyone loves popcorn, right? Continue to enjoy it, and make it yourself (much of the store-bought popcorn is loaded with chemicals). Help yourself to dried fruit, seeds and nuts as well. And of course, continue making your homemade treats (just be sure to use whole foods).
As far as beverages, hopefully you’ve already cut the soda out. If you haven’t, do it. You will enjoy a dramatic weight drop. Thereafter, concentrate on drinking water. Enjoy 100% PURE fruit juice (NO sugar added) or whole milk. In moderation, as a treat, have tea, coffee, beer and wine.
So that’s pretty much what you want to focus on in a ‘real’ food diet. Now let’s look at what to avoid…
An easy rule of thumb is not to purchase any packaged product that has more than five ingredients listed on the info label – especially if you can’t pronounce them! If there’s an ingredient that you would more likely find in a laboratory than an average kitchen, why would you want to eat it?
Avoid refined grains like white flour or white rice. Refined sweeteners are bad, too. Cut out white or brown sugar, corn syrup, cane juice and any artificial sweetener. And you must already know, deep fried foods are not good for you. Yes, this includes fried chicken. Ultimately you’ll eat what you want but before you start cheating on any diet commitments you’ve made, try eating imitation deep fried dishes that are made with veggies or tofu.
Get into the habit of cooking your meals at home. Make the days of fast food a thing of the past. Of course it is not easy, especially for those of us who are always busy and on the run. Make eating out a rare occasion. The switch can be made easily, but increase your fruit and vegetable consumption in the meantime.
Go organic with your produce, too, and try to get it locally sourced. They are pricey and maybe even hard to find so if you have to buy food at the market be aware that thinner skinned fruits and veggies could contain pesticides. Such at risk fruits are apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, grapes, potatoes, lettuce, peaches, spinach, and strawberries.
If you can bake your own bread at home, go for it! If not, see about getting it from the bakery, the chances are greater that it will fall under the ‘real food’ classification. When shopping for products such as pasta, cereal, and crackers remember to look for them in whole grain. You’re less likely to find added sugars or chemicals in whole grain items. And speaking of sugars, always avoid store bought products that list high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient – that stuff is bad news.
It’s probably obvious that it is in your best interest to stay away from processed foods. They are typically packed with sugar, it’s added to everything in gross amounts. With even shadier intentions, chemically processed foods are actually engineered to make you want to eat more. How evil is that?! No wonder obesity has become such a recent phenomenon. They are addicting the masses to processed food.
You can resist, however. Fight back by taking on these lucky seven tips to a healthier lifestyle:
1. Use organic butter instead of margarine.
2. Use coconut and olive oils instead of vegetable and canola oils.
3. Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour / brown rice cover white rice.
4. Eat more veggies.
5. No soda!
6. Eat real food treats instead of store bought candy.
7. Buy organic (local if possible)
You may find these suggestions to be a bit expensive. You get what you pay for, however, and the more real foods you incorporate the healthier you will become and the better you will feel. Sometimes you need to make a small investment for a big pay off!