Tips for Healthy Eating
Many people are familiar with the “Top Ten List” that used to be a highlight of a popular late-night talk show. Although these lists tended to be tongue-in-cheek and irreverent, the following is a top ten list with some real gravitas. Without any drum roll or trumpets, here is the list of Top 10 tips for Healthy Eating:
Number 10 on the list of Tips for Eating Healthy is:
Eat fresh, whole foods whenever possible. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the futuristic cartoon show “The Jetsons,” especially the part where they ate their meals, which, rather than being actual food, consisted of little pills dispensed by a machine. A pork chop pill, a scalloped potato pill, with a cherry pie pill for dessert.
Although we haven’t gotten there yet, there is so much in the grocery store aisles these days that would barely qualify as real food, when you take into account its nutritional value, lack of fiber and the possibly harmful ingredients it contains. Even if you are on a fixed income, try to choose as many fresh, whole foods as you can afford, and leave the over-processed, “futuristic” foods on the shelf. Although I don’t think much of the Jetsons’ food delivery method, I would like one of those robot maids to clean my house!
Number 9 on the list of Tips for Healthy Eating is:
Buy local, and organic, whenever possible. There is a relatively recent movement encouraging people to buy from local growers and skip out-of-season items and items shipped in from far away places. The advantages of this choice are many. Your food will be fresher, cost less, you will support your local economy and you will have fewer worries about the growing practices that may affect the quality of your food. Along with that, the advantage of buying from farms and orchards that are not only local, but also organic, is that you will be consuming fewer toxins for your body to contend with and encouraging fewer chemicals to be added to the environment.
Number 8 on the list of Tips for Healthy Eating is:
Eat lots of fresh, colorful vegetables—either raw or lightly cooked. Vegetables are at the heart of any healthy eating regimen, and the substances that give them their vivid color seem to protect against many health-destroying maladies. Vegetables are loaded with nutrients, low in calories and are available in so many varieties as to satisfy any palate. Keep in mind that cooking can destroy some of the nutritional value in vegetables, so choose methods such as steaming or lightly cooking whenever possible. When you were a kid, and your mom said, “Eat your vegetables,” she was giving you excellent advice!
Number 7 on the list of Tips for Healthy Eating is:
Wash all fresh produce with a commercial vegetable rinse—sometimes called a “Veggie Wash”—or a weak solution of vinegar and water. (I have also heard that baking soda works, but I have never tried it.) Don’t just use plain water. Even if you are removing the skin, such as with grapefruits or avocados, wash the item first to avoid contaminating the inner flesh.
It goes without saying, that you should keep meat separate from fresh produce, both in the refrigerator and during preparation, sanitizing your utensils and cutting boards. I would not recommend using dish soap or other poisonous products to wash fresh produce. Instead, use a product that will kill the germs, but will not harm you, should any residue inadvertently remain on the food. It would be counter-productive to get rid of the bacteria only to get sick from the washing method!
Number 6 on the list of Tips for Healthy Eating is:
Limit your consumption of meat by treating it more as a side dish. Even if you are a meat lover, it is better to eat smaller portions in favor of items from the other food groups, including whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. It doesn't take a lot of meat to provide your protein requirements for a meal—some experts say a serving the size of a regular deck of cards will do—and many of the other foods you eat have some protein, too. In this way, you can reduce the amount of artery-clogging, saturated fat in your meals as well as increase your intake of fiber and other nutrients, and make your food easier to digest. You might even try some meatless meals once in a while! After all, even Popeye ate a meal of spinach at least once on every show!
Number 5 on the list of Tips for Healthy Eating is:
Know the difference between good carbs and bad ones. Although carbs in general have gotten a bad reputation with the popularity of the low-carb diets, your body needs carbohydrates to be healthy. Then again, there are what we might call “good carbs” and “bad carbs.” Good carbs are all those wonderful fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes that you know about, while bad carbs are the white flour products, such as cookies, pastries, doughnuts, cakes, pies, chips—you get the idea. A rule of thumb is, if it’s in the lunchroom at work as a birthday treat or in a vending machine, it is probably a bad carb—except, of course if the birthday boy is the office health-nut or the vending machine is at the health foods store!
Number 4 on the list of Tips for Healthy Eating is:
Eat healthy fats. I was visiting a friend recently, and she told me her grandmother, who lived to be ninety, grew up on cooking done exclusively with lard. I knew her grandmother, and she was a diminutive, feisty old lady who never sat still and worked like a Trojan all her life.
Unfortunately, we are all not like that. It is possible that if you are extremely active, eat simple, unprocessed food all your life, grown on yours or your neighbor’s farm, cooked in lard (that you probably rendered yourself), and you have good genes, you will also live to be ninety. However, the odds are against you. More studies than I can cite, have shown that consuming more mono-unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, instead of the more saturated varieties, will significantly lower your risk of developing heart disease and even some cancers. I know. I know. Lard still makes the best and flakiest piecrust. If only your arteries got a vote!
Number 3 on the list of Tips for Healthy Eating is:
Choose more fiber-rich foods. Even if you're sick of hearing the word fiber, it’s still better than being sick from not getting enough of this important carbohydrate. It’s not difficult to get sufficient fiber if you know what you are doing. Each time you choose whole grain over processed grains, each time you eat a piece of fruit instead of a piece of candy, each time you snack on raw veggies instead of potato chips, each time you order a bean burrito instead of a chicken one, you have added fiber to your diet. Even a sesame seed bun has more fiber than a plain one. Put some raspberries on your cereal. Have a baked sweet potato. Add some shredded apple to your pancake batter.
Every little bit helps you to reach the 25-30 grams of fiber recommended for adults each day. In addition to the health benefits of getting enough fiber, just think, with all the time you won’t be spending in the “throne” room, waiting for—well you know—you could maybe take up a new hobby!
Number 2 on the list of Tips for Healthy Eating is:
Limit or eliminate junk food, and if possible, find a healthy but satisfying substitute. In case you’re wondering, “junk food” is all of those over-processed, empty-calorie foods that we love to eat. It may not be easy for you, but you can change your taste buds to prefer healthier foods. One thing you can do is to find a healthier substitute for your favorite junk foods.
For instance, when was the last time you popped some popcorn in a little oil with a bit of good quality unprocessed salt? It tastes wonderful and it’s a whole food without the chemicals or additives or anything that would adulterate it into a junk food. Of course, it still has calories, but just remember to eat it in moderation. I have one of those old-fashioned poppers that stirs the oil and seeds while they pop, but my dad used to make the best popcorn in a Dutch oven on the stove top.
And the Number 1 item on the list of Tips for Healthy Eating is:
Drink water as your beverage of choice. Years ago, when bottled water first became a beverage choice on fast food menus and in vending machines, I can remember a friend being surprised that I would actually pay money for water. Soda she could understand, but water? I told her then that water is a better value for your money than soda, and I still believe that. Our bodies need water to function well. Not soda. Not energy drinks. Not coffee. Not juice. Not tea. Clean, pure water.
Naturally, when we drink any liquids, or even when we eat juicy foods, we get some water. The problem is that everything that we eat or drink except water has to be digested and filtered and processed in varying degrees by our bodies, and that requires—you guessed it—more water! So, don’t save that beautiful stemware only for drinking wine. Fill a glass to the brim with the best beverage around—cold, crystal clear, thirst quenching water—and relax and sip your way to vibrant health.
Eat and be healthy with my warmest regards,