All too often I hear from people who want to make healthy changes to their diet, but they are lost. They are bombarded with information on the internet, from television ads, magazines and even their doctors. The key is to make small, simple changes, that one can follow not just for a few weeks but as part of a maintainable, healthy lifestyle. So the theme of this post is going back to the K.I.S.S. principle we all learnt back in school: ‘Keep It Simple Stupid”. I have broken down 5 simple steps to implement to begin the journey of healthier eating.
#1) Drink more water. Water is THE most important tool for your bodily functions. You can live longer without food than you can water for a reason. In today’s world, we seem to overconsume food and under consume water. The human body is very good at adapting to decreased water consumption, but these adaptations are merely for survival and are not optimal for long periods. Unfortunately, most people are chronically dehydrated without even knowing, leading them to symptoms such as have poor energy, increased hunger, poor elimination, dry skin, and toxic build up to name a few. One easy way to know whether you are well hydrated or not is to check out the colour of your urine, that’s right, look before you flush! If your urine is NOT clear and virtually colourless, you need to drink more water. So if you are well hydrated, you should be seeing minimal amounts of yellow in your urine if at all (keep in mind if you take a supplement or vitamin that can make urine yellow because of excess vit B’s and C in the urine). Avoid soda’s, pops, commercial juices, fancy starbuck’s drinks, and energy drinks. Stick to water, and herbal teas are great as well!
#2) Eat more fresh food. This is super simple, we all know fresh homemade food is better than the drive-thru. Try to minimize and eliminate foods that come from a drive by window, or that only require the microwave. The most nourishing food is freshly cooked or prepared to eat. This will include food that is raw, but also food that is cooked, steamed, baked, roasted or sauteed but not fried in oil or destroyed in a microwave! (I hate microwaves…). Just think, what would you rather eat, your grandma’s lasagna made from scratch OR a frozen lasagna? Let’s just say neither will help you fit into your skinny jeans but grandma’s will be much more wholesome.
#3) Eat local and seasonal produce. This is not only good for your health, but also good for the planet, local economy and your pocket! Fruits and vegetables that are in season offer the most nutrients and they actually help your body adapt to that current season. Plus, the less distance a fruit or vegetable has to travel before it gets to your plate, the more of its original nutrients will be intact. This also helps keep variety in your diet which is very important! Berries are great but they do not grow all year round, same goes for apples, enjoy each while they are in season in abundance. Aim to be eating atleast one fruit or vegetable at every meal/snack. 5-8 servings is the goal! (one serving is a handful).
#4) Be careful with your condiments. Read your ingredients! The most typically used condiments that are not great for our health are commercial soy sauce, relish, mayonnaise, table salt, margarine, and sour cream to name a few. Rather than using these items to flavour your food, opt for the healthier options such as spices which can offer a variety of actual health benefits (ie. garlic is great for fighting colds and flus). Opt for wheat free or organic soy sauce (Bragg’s is the best!) which has no additives or preservatives. Sea salt is good in moderation, cracked pepper is also great for seasoning without consequences. Opt for healthier fats to flavour your food such as extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. And keep in mind if you are using good quality, fresh in season foods, your meals will always taste better!
#5) Don’t overeat. Although you may be in denial, obesity is a major issue for so many of our health concerns and costs our health care system a lot of money! This suggestion not necessarily just for people who want to lose weight, even if you are happy with your weight, it is best to make sure you do not eat too much at once for optimal health. Eating past your body’s satiation point can leave you feeling sluggish but can also wreak havoc on your digestive tract and cause inflammation in the body. It’s best to eat just until you are satisfied, but not stuffed, and simply save your leftovers for another meal. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you’re full, it’s so simple it’s stupid!
There you have it! 5 simple ways to start eating better and improve your health without doing anything crazy! I hope you find this helpful and please share this with anyone you know who may be feeling overwhelmed but would like to start eating healthier.
Thank you for reading!
-Holistic Hayley 🙂