10 Healthy Eating Tips

10 Healthy Eating Tips

There are probably a lot more than ten tips to eating healthy, but here are some of the most important things you can do to feel better and live longer!

Number 1 on the list of 10 Healthy Eating Tips is:

Drink water as your beverage of choice. Years ago, when bottled water first hit fast food menus and vending machines, I can remember a friend being shocked 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 the 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. This may be the most important of all 10 Healthy Eating Tips.

Of course, when we drink any liquids, or even when we eat juicy foods, we get some water. The problem is that everything 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 just for when you are drinking wine.

Fill a glass to the brim with the best beverage around—ice cold, crystal clear, thirst quenching water—and relax and sip your way to more vibrant health.

Number 2 on the list of 10 Healthy Eating Tips is:

Limit or avoid junk food, and if possible, find a healthy but satisfying alternative. 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. Try it, you’ll like it!

Number 3 on the list of 10 Healthy Eating Tips is:

Eat more fiber-rich foods. Even if you are 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 zucchini 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 that time you won’t be spending in the “throne” room, waiting for—well you know—you could maybe take up a new hobby!

Number 4 on the list of 10 Healthy Eating Tips is:

Choose healthy fats. I was visiting a friend recently, and she told me her grandmother, who lived to be ninety, grew up on cooking prepared 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’s 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 flakiest piecrust. If only your arteries got to vote!

Note: There is some emerging information in the health science community that saturated fat may not be as awful as we thought it was, and that it is much better than trans-fat or certain processed oils.  I would still limit consumption of animal fats that come from cows that are treated with antibiotics and who consume chemical-laden feed, if for no other reason than much of this type of contamination is stored in the fat of the animal in highly concentrated amounts. 

Number 5 on the list of 10 Healthy Eating Tips 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. However, you need to know that 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 drift.

A rule of thumb is, if you find it in the lunchroom at work as a birthday treat or in a vending machine, it's 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 6 on the list of 10 Healthy Eating Tips 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 does not 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 diet, as well as increase your intake of fiber and other nutrients, and your meal will be 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 7 on the list of 10 Healthy Eating Tips 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 not tried it.) Do not just use plain water. Even if you are removing the skin, such as with melons or avocados, wash the item first to avoid contaminating the inner surfaces. 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 in between.

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 wash!

Number 8 on the list of 10 Healthy Eating Tips is:

Eat lots of fresh, colorful vegetables—either raw or lightly cooked. Vegetables are at the core of any healthy eating plan, 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 taste preference.

Keep in mind that cooking can destroy some of the vitamins in vegetables, so choose methods such as steaming or lightly sautéing whenever possible. When you were a kid, and your mom said, “Eat your vegetables,” she was giving you great advice!

Number 9 on the list of 10 Healthy Eating Tips is:

Buy local, and organic, whenever possible. There is a whole movement of people who are choosing to buy from local growers and foregoing 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 healthfulness 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 advocating that fewer chemicals to be added to our soil and water.

Number 10 on the list of 10 Healthy Eating Tips is:

Choose fresh, whole foods. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the futuristic cartoon show “The Jetsons,” particularly the part where they ate meals, which, rather than being real food, consisted of little pills dispensed by a clever machine. A roast beef pill, a mashed potato pill, with an apple pie pill for dessert. Although we haven’t gotten to that stage yet, there is so much in the grocery store aisles these days that would barely qualify as actual food, when you take into account its nutritional value, lack of fiber and the potentially harmful ingredients it contains.

Even if you are on a limited budget, try to choose as many fresh, whole foods as you can afford, and leave the over-processed, “futuristic” foods on the shelf. Even though, I don’t think much of the Jetson's’ concept of food, I would like one of those robot maids to clean my house!

I hope you will take to heart these 10 Healthy Eating Tips and be healthy with my warmest regards,

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