My best friend inspired me to write this post because, one night after talking with her, I realized that eating healthy and choosing the “best” food choices at the grocery store is not always easy for everyone. It’s become habitual for me to look at ingredients on products and to know which one’s are good options and which ones I should avoid. Most people that are just starting out on a healthier lifestyle don’t know where to start or they end up buying things that they think are healthy because of what the label says or because of a TV commercial.
It’s a scary world out there when you first start to dip you toes into a completely new lifestyle and it can be quite confusing.
Here are my 5 simple steps to get started:
- Choose whole foods first and foremost. Fresh fruits and veggies, whether they are local or organic, are the best place to start. Organic options for berries, tomatoes, apples, etc. are the BEST choice, but if it’s not in your budget then choose local produce next and if you can’t find local produce then buy frozen. The key here is to start adding in more fruits and veggies into your daily diet. Choosing organic is best because so many of the foods we eat are sprayed with chemicals and pesticides, so the fewer foods we can consume that aren’t sprayed with chemicals and pesticides the healthier we will be. There was a study done that shows how chemicals increase food allergies and food sensitivities.
- Buy foods with minimal ingredients. The fewer the ingredients in the foods you buy, the healthier they will be. Everything you buy does not have to be organic, but you should read the ingredient labels to see what exactly is in the food you are eating.
- Avoid artificial colors, flavorings, & sweeteners. If you see a food item that has “caramel color” or “red dye #40” for example, avoid it. No food item should have to have added colors to it, the only reason food companies add these colors is to make them “more appealing” to consumers. If a food item needs to be “colored” then it’s not natural and should not be eaten. If a food item needs to add flavorings to it then it’s made in a plant and does not have any flavor to it at all and should not be eaten. Artificial sweeteners are toxic to our bodies and should also be avoided.
- Limit all sugar. Sugar is in EVERYTHING, from ketchup to bread to salsa to almond milk. Sugar itself is not a bad food item, but because it’s in pretty much everything you buy at the grocery store, it’s wise to limit your consumption of it. Always buy unsweetened almond milk, and unsweetened nut butters, and even when buying frozen fruit, make sure it says “no added sugars”. Sugar is not always labeled solely as “sugar” either. It can be labeled as sucrose, maltose, molasses, high fructose corn syrup (really bad for you), cane sugar, raw sugar, corn sweetener, agave, syrup, honey, fruit juice concentrate, etc…
- Don’t stress. Buying healthier food shouldn’t be stressful. Pick one food item a week to change to something healthier. So, if you still buy Jiff peanut butter (hey..I grew up with Jiff too), then switch to an organic unsweetened and unsalted brand (and yes, you will have to stir it…it’s natural for it to separate). Peanuts are highly sprayed with pesticides so that’s why it’s important to buy organic peanut butter. Remember, the less we expose our bodies to pesticides and chemicals, the less food allergies and sensitivities we will have and the healthier we (and our planet) will be. Small changes lead to big results. Don’t try and change everything all at once, because it will be too overwhelming and you will be less likely to stick with it in the long run.
I hope these tips help you on a journey to living and eating healthier. Just remember that eating healthy isn’t everything in life…there are times when we are going to enjoy some birthday cake, a glass of wine (or a few) and pizza and french fries. It’s all about moderation though and if you really want to change your body and your overall health you need to remember that small daily changes will lead to big results!
Stay Healthy my Friends! (and enjoy life while you’re at it)
Carrie A Groff
-Healthy, Fit & Barefoot!