Eat this, not that.
Are you getting overwhelmed by all of the ads, social media, magazines, books, and websites that are telling you what you should and shouldn’t eat? I am! I feel like no matter what I eat, it just isn’t “good enough.” I should always being eating more of this, but less of that.
Despite what the media is telling me, I know that eating healthier really is something I could always do. But where do you draw the line? Can you draw the line? There is such a wide spectrum of opinion on what is good for you and what isn’t.
I have decided to make my own spectrum. Over the years, I have learned a lot. I have learned to appreciate the natural in life. Natural foods. Natural remedies. Natural products. Now, I am going to preface this with saying that I am not a health nut. AT ALL. Just walk into our house and you will find a drawer full of unhealthy baking supplies. I am constantly cooking and baking for our youth group and I will be the first to admit – sweets are a way to their heart. Do I cook unhealthy for them? I try not to. I try to make well-rounded meals, but a dessert is always in order. Whether it is lime chiffon, peanut butter fingers, or who knows what. They love it. As you can see, I am not a health nut.
Is this something I could work on? Probably. Do I care about what I put in my body? Of course! I think about it daily. I think about it when I cook. I think about it when I eat the meal. I have learned though, that I could spend a LIFETIME trying to eat the “right” foods. All I know is that I feel healthy, exercise on average 4-5 times a week (sometimes more, sometimes less), and am not overweight. Good enough for me.
I know that I am probably not the only one who deals with the “pressures” of what to make, how to eat healthy, and not become obsessive about it. We have taken steps and maybe you want to too, towards eating healthier. Here are a few ways we have grown to eat healthier and by all means, know that we are not perfect; this is not the only way and this is not “doctor recommended.” This is purely our life; choices we make, that daily need improvement!
1. Make gradual changes. This is the BIGGEST one I feel. We all know about “fad” diets. Well, I think there is “fad” healthy eating. You buy this one food item because a magazine told you too, but after it is gone, you just go back to the way things were. Don’t change everything at once.
2. Moderation, moderation, moderation. I LOVE chocolate. Do I eat it everyday? No, but I would if I could! Why “starve” yourself of your favorite food? If you love it, why leave it? Just eat it in moderation!
3. Eat regularly. So many think that skipping meals will help them lose weight. Quite the opposite because actually your metabolism slows down and your body stores it. I am a big eater and I have no problem eating regularly. I just try not to stuff myself every time I do it. Save the stress on your body and eat regularly.
4. Get an appetizer at restaurants. Do you sometimes find an entree is too much food, but you don’t want to take home leftovers? Get an appetizer! It’s cheaper and just slightly less food.
5. Prevent fast food stops by planning ahead. Too much fast food can reak havoc on anybody’s system. Plan ahead and save money by making sandwiches and packing snacks for the road, before you hit the road.
6. Eat 100% whole grain/whole wheat. This has been a recent change for us, but whole grain bread is much more filling and much better for you.
7. Add flaxseed to yogurt, granola, or cereal. I struggle to get enough fiber in my diet and this little seeds, you will never know you are eating because they are so small! They may look a little odd floating in your milk with your cereal, but they add that extra fiber boost, that we all need!
8. Choose water over carbonated or sweetened drinks. I am a big water drinker boy can I tell if I haven’t drank enough in a day! I am more tired, sluggish, and drained. Water does the body good!
9. Whole wheat pasta vs. “white”. Again, much more filling and personally, I think whole wheat pasta has more flavor too! Not to mention, a fiber boost once again.
10. Bland cereal – add natural sweeteners. I used to be that girl who ate krispies and then took a tablespoon of sugar and dumped it in one spot. My first bite? Where I dumped the sugar! I now no longer put sugar on my cereal and typically eat “bland” cereal – not the sugary stuff. Why? Because I love it!
11. Shop the perimeters of grocery stores. The more you can get on the perimeter of the grocery store, the healthier you will be eating. This consists of produce, dairy, meats, eggs, etc. Anything in the aisles are typically processed and way overpriced. Do I still go up and down the aisles? You bet. BUT, I try to do the majority of my shopping on the perimeters.
12. Eat breakfast. How people skip breakfast, I don’t know. I just love food too much, I guess. Breakfast has so many health benefits and doesn’t leave you eating 10lbs. of food at 10:00am because you are so hungry!
13. Go for natural. Vegetables, I used to get sick of. Fruits, I loved. I have learned over the years though, that the more I eat of these items, the better I feel. It’s just that simple.
14. Freezer is my friend. Instead of buying frozen and processed meals, I freeze our leftovers. We have had countless already-made meals because we took the time to make a little more of it and chose to not throw away our leftovers.
15. Sales are my favorite. Eating healthy is actually not a budget saver. Unfortunately, organic foods are extremely expensive. Do I buy organic? Not really. But if I see something that is on sale and is comparable in price to the “regular”, I buy it. Sales are also wonderful when it comes to produce. There are “seasons” for produce, so buy it cheap and freeze it when you can.
16. Always bring a snack. Prevent vending machines and quick fast food stops for something easy. Always bring a snack. This also helps curb the appetite until the next meal and prevents binge eating because you are SO hungry!
17. Choose grilled vs. fried. As much as I love fried, I know that grilled is just so much better for me! Yes, I do splurge (everything in moderation, right?) but I do try to choose grilled!
18. If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it. I often hear people say that they can’t stay away from junk food sometimes. Well, if ya don’t buy it, ya won’t eat it! You won’t get caught eating a bag of chips if you don’t buy them. Whatever you stock in your house, know that eventually, it will end up in you!
19. Bake from scratch. Save money and stay healthier by baking from scratch. Why? I personally enjoy from-scratch baked goods so much more, and you can make them as healthy or as unhealthy as you would like. The choice is up to you.
20. Keep an eye on my clothes. When my jeans get tight or my shirts don’t fit right, I know it’s time to watch the weight and lay off something for a little while. My clothes are a great indicator on how well I am eating. Unless of course I am doing some crazy “get in shape” video that increases muscle, but that’s a whole different story!
21. Meal plan. Meal planning is one of the best decisions you can make for your family if you are struggling with giving into a restaurant when you don’t know what to have for supper. Meal planning allows you to have pre-prepared meals, meals that are healthier, and you can even have some baking while you work! It is worth those few extra minutes at the beginning of the week.
22. Make a mean sandwich. I am talking the works! Why not add what the restaurants add – plus, you are adding those vitamins that we often miss out on. Add lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, onion, etc.! Make that sandwich worth every bit!
23. Dip has been my lifesaver. Like I said earlier, veggies don’t always call my name. I decided to add an “unhealthy” twist to eating “healthy.” In order to make me eat my veggies, I dip them in caesar or ranch dressing. Oh so good!
24. Use spinach and kale instead of iceberg lettuce. Have you ever tried kale? I feel it’s one of those “buzz” foods, but it is worth it. It is packed with vitamins and a large bag is around $3.00. Worth every dollar because there is so much more flavor than iceberg lettuce! Can I just say “kale chips?” If you haven’t ever made them, they are a must try!
25. Have fun with salads. Just like a sandwich, add those “goodies” to make a healthy salad even healthier.
These are the steps we have taken to eat healthier. Are they perfect? No. Could we make improvements? Oh yeah. Are they right for you? Not necessarily. Choose for your family, what you feel is best. If you are looking to take steps towards healthier eating, remember, make it gradual, which makes it lasting.
What steps are YOU taking towards healthier eating?