So you want to start eating a more healthy diet, but there is so much information out there that it can be overwhelming. It might seem that everything you currently eat is bad for you, which may cause some to want to give up before they even start. I have felt that way before. So what do you do?
Here are a few of my suggestions. Just pick one (or more) to start. I have found that if you make a radical change cold turkey, you’re more likely to want to give it up. Some people can do it, and if you are one of them, that is awesome! It’s the most healthy way to go for sure. But for the rest of us, I suggest small changes that you will make a permanent part of your diet, not just something to do for a short time and then go back to your former way of eating. Here are some examples:
Use brown rice instead of white. The first time, the flavor will seem a little different, but it’s easy to get used to. You can use brown rice instead of white in all your Asian, Hispanic and other recipes, or just eat it plain. Cooking time may be a bit longer than for white rice.
Read the ingredients! Become a label reader. If it has high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, or a bunch of stuff you can’t understand, don’t buy it. Choose something with whole, natural ingredients and without preservatives. Ingredients are listed in order of quantity, so the first few ingredients will have the highest amounts in the item. Avoid cereals that have sugar as one of the first few ingredients. Also watch for a common trick where they split the sugar between two types, so it doesn’t have to appear first. For example, instead of sugar being first, they take away some sugar and replace it with honey or rice syrup or dextrose or evaporated cane juice, and then they can legally list the major grain first. Another deceptive tactic that is very common is the use of a unrealistic serving size, such as a 1/2 cup of cereal when everyone eats 1 cup or more for breakfast. Also, foods packaged in individual portions might be listed as two servings per container. That way, if there is less than 1/2 gram of fat in their mini serving, they can legally call it fat free, when it really does contain fat.
Eat your veggies! Fresh vegetables not only give your body the nutrients it needs, they help you feel full with minimal calories. There are tons of testimonies online of people who have reversed diseases by making the major portion of their diet fresh fruits and vegetables and eliminating animal products from their diet. (See hacres.com and click on testimonies for a bunch of examples.)
Try milk substitutes There are many different plant based milks on the market. Try them until you find one you like. I personally like Rice Dream, and Pete prefers unsweetened Almond Breeze. Both are available at Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, and even our local Walmart Supercenter. You may not like to drink it by the glass, but will find it perfectly acceptable to pour over your morning cereal.
Get rid of the junk food in your home. Throw it away, give it away, or pack it up and take it to your local homeless shelter. If it’s in your home, you’ll be tempted to eat it. I have found time after time that it is easier to win the battle at the grocery store and not even purchase those items. This is where it is so important for everyone in the family to be on board. People attempting lifestyle change are much less successful in the long run if their spouse is not cooperating, or if they continue to buy junk food for the children. Training your kids to eat healthfully now could save their lives when they are older.
Make wise choices. If you aren’t ready to give up animal products altogether, at least avoid processed meats. Fish is your best bet, followed by range fed chicken. Avoid red meats and meat from animals/birds that have been caged in processing plants where they never see the light of day. There is more disease, more antibiotics and other chemicals that you end up ingesting when you eat that meat.
Watch what you drink. I thought I was doing pretty well since I gave up carbonated beverages, Gatorade and the like years ago. What I didn’t realize was that the natural juices I was drinking, while “healthy”, still added a lot of natural sugar to my diet and contributed to weight gain. Fruit juices have the fiber removed, so it’s not as healthy as eating the whole fruit would be. Also, drinks with artificial sweeteners are dangerous. Please research the type of sweetener that you use before continuing to use it. Many health problems have been linked to the use of artificial sweeteners. It’s great not to have the extra calories, but at what cost?
Drink water! There has been some controversy about bottled water (chemical leaching from the plastic into the water at when left in warm vehicles) and it’s not good for the land fills, so I bought several BPA free water bottles with filters. I carry one in my purse at all times, and if I run out of water, and can refill it from any drinking fountain and know that I’m getting safe, chlorine free drinking water. When it’s always with me, it’s much easier to sip throughout the day. It also helps when I start getting hungry but it’s not time to eat yet. Drinking water helps me resist the urge to snack.
Bread. White flour causes cardiac inflammation, just like sugar does. (Google it if you have any doubts.) Try Ezekiel 4:9 bread. We like the sesame variety in the green package best. It’s usually in the frozen section. This bread is made with sprouted whole grains, no flour. It’s probably a little more dense than what you’re used to, but much better for you. Or buy whole grain bread from a bakery where they make the bread fresh everyday without preservatives (like Whole Foods).
Eat fresh fruit for dessert. Getting rid of the sweets in your diet could make the biggest impact, especially if you are already vegetarian or vegan. Sugar weakens our immune system, causes inflammation, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease among other things.
Get moving! I know it’s hard with the heat, but find a way to get exercise at least three times a week for 20 minutes or more. This will raise your metabolism and help you burn calories, as well as help your cardiac health.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and am only sharing what I have learned. Please research for yourself, because there is much more to learn! These are just some tips to help you get started. This is not medical advice nor a substitute for a physician’s care. Be sure to find a physician that believes in nutritional healing and preventative medicine.