When it comes to healthy eating, there is enough information circulating the internet to make a person’s head spin. Conflicting scientific studies on what is okay to eat and what isn’t, personal opinions on what foods to eliminate, the best way to prepare healthy recipes, and what foods should be included in your healthy meals are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s enough to make a hopeful health-nut want to throw in the towel before even giving a start to that healthy lifestyle. The most important thing to remember when sorting through the barrage of well-meaning articles and studies is to start with the basics. Here are some simple tips to get you started on the right track to a habit of healthy eating.
Take Baby Steps
You’ve found out what will be best for you and your health, and you don’t want to waste another single minute doing it wrong. That’s perfectly understandable, and a commendable attitude for positive change. The problem with this line of thinking is that it will most often lead to burnout. Deciding to make all your meals healthy meals is an excellent goal, but switching from pop-tarts and TV dinners to egg-whites and gourmet salads in one fell swoop is no easy task. While some may succeed in going from little to no thought or preparation for any meals to three fully planned, chopped, prepped, and sauteed masterpieces each day, most of us will need to take things more slowly. If you don’t want to burn out on your quest to superior health, try taking baby steps. Choose one positive change to make, such as starting the day with a healthy and filling breakfast or eating a salad for lunch, and stick with it until it no longer seems like a sacrifice. Then add in another step, like trying at least two new healthy recipes for dinner each week. The key is to keep doing each step until it is a natural part of your life, and not stop one good habit when you start a new one. Keep building new healthy habits upon that foundation.
Organic is Best
Eating healthy can be a challenge for anyone. If you can conquer the desire to eat poorly or the lack of desire to cook healthy foods, don’t undo all your hard work by choosing foods that are laden with damaging pesticides and fertilizers. It’s better to eat apples than candy bars, but it’s even better to eat organic apples; so do the best you can to make the organic choice. If buying all organic all the time doesn’t fit into your budget, then buy organic as often as you are able. Use the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” lists as guides to what foods are okay to purchase conventional and which are best enjoyed organic.
Skip the Sweeteners
Refined sugars cause blood sugar spikes and additional body fat storage, so it’s best to minimize these sugars in your healthy diet. But what about zero calorie artificial sweeteners? These are supposed to give you the sweetness of sugar, without all the calories. But as is most often the case – If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Artificial sweeteners are believed to cause a myriad of health problems and contribute to weight gain, as your body tries to figure what to do with the strange molecular structures it doesn’t recognize as food. It’s best to stick with natural sweeteners in strict moderation. Honey, natural syrup, or even real sugar are usually the better choices, since they are found in nature rather than created in factories.
Stick to Whole Foods
The way humans eat has changed dramatically throughout history, as industry and manufacturing has made it possible – and easy – to create, cook, and eat foods that are made mostly of complex chemical ingredients, and flavored to taste like actual foods. These unnatural, complex ingredients create a lot of work for the body to figure out how to use them, and lack the real nutrients that the body needs in order to function properly. The result is a body that is often overfed, yet still suffering from nutritional deficiencies. As often as possible, choose to eat and cook healthy meals with foods that come directly from nature. Organic fruits and vegetables, and animal products that have been raised naturally and fed a diet that comes directly from nature offer maximum nutritional value to your healthy recipes.
Once you have a handle on these few steps to get you pointed in the right direction, you can take an objective look at the more complex health suggestions, experiment, document your results and the way you feel, and find out what specific dietary choices work best for you. Eating healthy is a way of life, and nobody knows better than you what will keep you feeling and functioning at your very best.