By Brigitte Cutshall
Most Americans grew up on processed foods. I know it was around our house! Processed foods are very prevalent today. We buy them in high quantities because of the convenience factor. Extremely processed foods get a bad rap for good reason - many nutrients are removed through a manufacturing process. Whole foods and minimally processed foods retain more nutrients.
Technically almost all packaged food is considered processed, in the sense that it is made or grown elsewhere, and is altered before it reaches the consumer. Bagged spinach or frozen peas are two examples. But there's obviously a huge difference between bagged spinach and flavored potato chips that's all the rage now.
Many people want to eat "healthier" yet get frustrated when they try and go back to old eating habits. The dietary changes you're trying to implement make shouldn't feel overwhelming, restrictive or hard to live with. You won't stick with it long term if you are feeling that way.
Think of healthy eating as a journey. Transitioning to a healthier way of eating may seem daunting but can be attainable with a simple and doable plan.
Changes to your diet should be made in a simple manner and in little steps. You can pick one or two changes to start off with, and once those are in place, then choose one or two more. This process is the best way to make it part of your lifestyle and something you can deal with long-term.
You're probably thinking how do I start on this journey? Here are six easy tips to add healthy, whole foods to your diet:
- Eat some type of vegetable with every meal. Eat a rainbow of different colors, to include beans and whole grains. Think salads, side dishes, soups, or even adding vegetables to your sandwich. Sprouts are one of my favorite go-to sandwich additions. My personal goal is to try and fill my plate with plants most of the time.
- Choose to eat fruit if you are craving something sweet. Opt for organic whenever possible. Going with organic will keep you away from harmful pesticide residue. The rainbow color factor can be applied to your fruit choices as well.
- If you decide to eat meat, its best to choose organic, grass-fed and hormone-free. You will get the maximum nutrients without being exposed to antibiotics and unnecessary hormones. And eating skinless chicken breast is a better option than fried chicken nuggets.
- Keep your pantry and fridge filled with healthier choices - whole foods or minimally processed. Pantry staples should include dried beans and lentils, steel cut oats, and whole grain pasta just to name a few. Recommended snacks are nuts, seeds, and fruit. You can also make your own trail mix. Avoid pre-made trail mix as most of them contain hydrogenated oils.
- Don't leave the house without a healthy snack if you'll be gone for several hours. Eating healthy foods on a regular basis will help you avoid unhealthy choices. I like to travel with an organic apple in my bag. You can also bring a small cooler to hold a healthy leftover meal and keep in your vehicle.
- Don't be too hard on yourself. There will be some slip-ups and that's okay. Remember that making changes takes time and those small steps will make a big difference over time. This will make the changes you want easier to stick with.
Eating healthier with whole foods will lead to improving your health and prevent disease. There is no single path to healthy eating because everyone is different. What's your best tip or trick to eat healthier?
Brigitte Cutshall is a Media Solutions Consultant and a Certified Health Coach and a two-time breast cancer survivor and living with a benign brain tumor. Brigitte obtained her Health Coach Certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition based in New York. Brigitte is the author of "Real Things: 6 Ways to Embrace Life" published April 2015. For more information visit www.brigittecutshall.com and http://realthings.guru/. Connect with her on Instagram. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.