I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist, but I do consider myself a healthy person. I am not overweight and I try to exercise every day. My mother (who still runs three miles every day in her late 60’s) taught me how to eat healthy. But somewhere along the path of life, I myself lost my way. Eight years ago I was about 30 pounds overweight when the serious matter of food allergies appeared in my family. At the time I was overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do. My husband and I researched food allergies diligently, and it became obvious to us that our diet choices were largely to blame for our son’s illness. Having spent the past eight years of researching various diets and allergies, and trying to determine which foods are healthy and which ones are not, I have come full circle.
Both of my friends are highly intelligent women. I believe that intuitively they know which types of food are nourishing and which are not. However, with all of the convenience products so ubiquitously available, they have just lost their way and need a little guidance to get on track. Although there are many different diets out there on TV, the internet, and in magazines, there are several basics that are advocated by nearly all of them.
I think there are some simple changes that many families can make that are a great launching point for much-improved health. I truly want my friends and anyone else out there who is suffering from medical issues or poor health to know what it is like to feel alive and vigorous through better eating habits. Here are my recommendations:
Make one simple change per week, and don’t cut out foods. Instead, replace unhealthy foods with more healthful choices that give energy. Just remember that it took a long period of time to fall into your dietary rut, so you should expect to take a slow approach as you create your new dietary habits.
- Replace sodas, coffee and alcohol with a combination of fruit juice, milk or milk substitute, and water.
- Continue eating whatever you eat at mealtime in slightly smaller portions, but add two vegetables to each lunch and dinner meal to make up the size difference. This could be something like carrot sticks and cucumber slices, steamed cauliflower and broccoli, a salad with mixed vegetables, homemade salsa and guacamole, a can of corn, bell pepper slices, or squash and potatoes.
- Replace white breads with whole grain or whole wheat breads. Try to buy your bread fresh from a bakery to avoid the preservatives.
- Replace junk food snacks such as cookies, donuts, and chips with something like a rice cake with peanut butter and an apple, a slice of bread with cream cheese and a banana, or a hard-boiled egg and some grapes.
- Replace white rice and white pasta with brown rice and whole wheat or whole grain pasta.
- Replace convenience food meals with homemade meals made from scratch. This is a bigger change than the rest, so try to phase it in slowly over two to four weeks (perhaps one week for breakfast, one for lunch and one for dinner):
- Breakfast Examples–
- Replace cold sugary cereals with low sugar alternatives. This really narrows the selection to just a few such as Cheerios, Corn Flakes, and Shredded Wheat.
- Replace sugary packets of instant oatmeal with steel cut oats, old fashioned oats, muesli, or another whole grain such as millet and then add a few nuts, and dried or fresh fruits. It takes a little longer for these grains to cook, but I find the time goes fast if I cut up the fruit, sweep the floor, empty the dishwasher, fold the laundry or perform some other task I have missed.
- Add a vegetable such as carrots or bell peppers to a morning meal that would typically consist of meat and eggs.
- Lunch and Dinner Examples -
- Replace packaged stir-fries with homemade. Boil your own brown rice, and slice and fry meat and veggies with a little soy sauce. Check the internet or Heart and Soul Blog Hop for some great recipe ideas.
- Try making a soup in the slow cooker. Soak beans the night before for 12 hours, rinse in the morning and start cooking on low in the crock-pot for the day. When time is available add:
- grains – pearled barley, whole wheat cornels or rice
- vegetables – potatoes, turnips, leeks, spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes
- meat – chicken, beef, pork, fish