2.26.2010

simple steps to eating healthier

although we've just started to take steps toward eating healthier, this isn't new to me. i've known what is bad, and why it's bad, for quite some time; although, it wasn't until i was pregnant with river that i actually cared. we started looking into not only eating healthier, but living healthier - we researched vaccinations, homebirth, the meat industry, cleaning products. we've learned that there are a lot of unhealthy things out there - in our clothing, in our particle board furniture, in our cosmetic products, and even worse, in the very food we consume. by far the easiest way to live healthier is to eat healthier.

when you start to eat better, you feel better. i experienced this during my pregnancy when i was dealing with very bad morning sickness. as soon as i switched from frozen meals and fast food, and started eating fresh fruit, grains, and veggies, my morning sickness became more manageable, and eventually, faded away. throughout my entire pregnancy, i realized my nausea came back when i chose to eat foods packed with preservatives, trans fats, and artificial flavors. knowing where to start can be overwhelming. here are some some steps we've taken:

1. stop buying foods with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), hydrogenated oil, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and artificial sweeteners. some of the worse things you could put in your body. if you cut out these, you're cutting out a lot of bad foods already. HFCS is highly processed and is linked to the obesity epidemic of our day. your body doesn't digest and use hydrogenated oil (transfats) like it does natural fat. MSG is known to cause neurological problems in some people. and artificial sweeteners are also highly processed and some can cause cancer. reasons enough to stay away?

2. cut out processed foods (that you can) and all heavily processed junk foods. of course, we still buy some processed foods, like pasta, but we have nixed the oreos, barbecue sause, lunch meat (unless it is all-natural or better, organic), and store-bought bread - pretty much anything that has a long shelf-life. when we do have to eat food prepared, we try to buy organic, or at least as natural as possible. 

3. don't eat out. this one is hard. not for john - he would be fine if we never ate out again. i, on the other hand, had chickfila last night. it's so easy to spend a few bucks here and there on quick, easy fast food, and so nice to eat out every once in a while, spending upwards of $35 or more for just two people. i try to keep in mind that the money we don't spend eating out - even if it's something from the dollar menu at mcdonald's - is money we can put toward buying organic food. and that usually makes it worth it to me. except for last night. (dangit!) not to mention most food at most restaurants (not just fast food) has been cooked with hydrogenated oil and topped with taste bud pleasing MSG.

4. switch to whole-grain. not multi-grain. whole-grain. i no longer buy white flour, or anything that contains white flour. we have completely switched to whole-grain, and while it has taken some getting used to whole-wheat pasta and tortillas, it is so worth it. and using whole-wheat flour to bake with is fine too - even in the recipes that call for half white and half whole. white flour has little nutrients, and it is also chemically bleached (like a lot of our food) to look pretty. 

5. prioritize your organic purchases. i didn't think we'd ever be able to eat organic. it's so expensive! eating completely organic is out of the question, as we are on an extremely tight budget, but by not eating out, we have the money to buy more healthy food to cook at home - which is so good! 

6. eat less meat, poultry, fish. and for me, cut out beef altogether. the meat industry is disgusting. i have considered going vegetarian, but i'm currently not creative enough in my meal planning to come up with enough meat-free meals without eating tons of dairy (fattening) and soy (most soy products are heavily processed, and 90% of soy here in the US is genetically modified). i don't mind eating grass-fed beef, but i don't really care for beef that much anyway (until i see a barbacoa taco or some spicy chili), and we don't have the money to spend on organic or grass-fed any kind of meat, so we try to buy chicken that was not raised on antibiotics or hormones, and is free of preservatives. i won't give river any kind of meat, poultry or fish until he's at least two years old.

7. drink green smoothies! i've heard so often, if you don't do anything else to improve your diet, drink a green smoothie every day. you'll get tons of fresh fruits and veggies your body needs, and it's so quick and easy and refreshing. i make my green smoothies with any kind of fruit and spinach, which has a very mild taste and is soft and easy to blend up so it's not chunky. even my eleven year old sister likes green smoothies! if it's not sweet enough, try adding honey, agave nectar (my favorite, because it dissolves well in cold liquid and is 3x sweeter than sugar) or raw stevia.

8. cut out refined sugar. one i haven't done yet, and will be extremely hard to do. i have a sweet tooth like no other. sugar is so bad for your body. it messes with your immune system and is a big factor in weight gain. i don't want river to have the same problem as me! i wish i didn't love sugar so much. eventually, i want to switch to using only raw sugar or stevia at home, along with honey and agave nectar - it buying these will be more expensive - so we'll eat less sweets to save money, and our bodies will thank us.



of course, there are things you could do to be even healthier, but these were the easiest, and seemed like the best for our family. they are simple, but it takes discipline. and after a while, you start passing up the oreos at the super market - i promise! i could go on and on about each of these things, so i will save each point for a later blog. if i ever get around to it.

1 comment:

  1. I made homemade chocolate syrup to keep on hand for making chocolate milk, and it is soooo good and easy. Of course, it contains no HFCS!!!

    From this website: http://smallnotebook.org/2009/07/10/homemade-chocolate-syrup/

    ½ cup cocoa powder
    1 cup water
    2 cups sugar
    ⅛ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon vanilla

    Mix the cocoa powder and the water in a saucepan. Heat and stir to dissolve the cocoa. Add the sugar, and stir to dissolve. Boil for 3 minutes over medium heat. Be careful not to let it get too hot and boil over! Add the salt and the vanilla. Let cool. Pour into a clean glass jar, and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for several months, but trust me it will be gone before then. Yields two cups.

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