Eating Healthy Tips

Eating Healthy Tips

What you eat and how you eat plays a major role in how you feel and particularly, how well you are. For this reason, it pays to become more aware of what healthy eating involves, and of the extreme benefits that can be found in being conscious of what and how you eat.

Here are some useful tips to get you started on your goal of pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

Eating Healthy Tip - Drink water as your main beverage. Years ago, when bottled water first hit as a beverage choice on fast food menus and in 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 your money than soda, and I still believe that is true. Your body needs water to function well. Not coffee. Not soda. Not energy drinks. Not juice. But clean, pure water.

Of course, when you drink any liquids, or even when you eat juicy foods, you get some water, just not all that your body needs to function well. 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 just for when you are drinking wine.

Eating Healthy Tip - Eat lots of fresh, colorful vegetables—either raw or lightly cooked. Vegetables are the heart of any eating healthy plan, and the natural chemicals that give them their vivid color seem to protect against many illnesses. Vegetables are low in calories, loaded with nutrients, and are available in abundant varieties that will satisfy any taste.Keep in mind that cooking can some of the destroy nutrients in vegetables, so choose methods such as steaming or lightly sauteing whenever possible. When you were a kid, and your mom said, “Eat your vegetables,” she was giving you excellent advice!

Eating Healthy Tip - Limit junk food, and if possible, find a healthy and satisfying substitute. In case you’re wondering, “junk food” is all of those empty-calorie, overly-processed foods that we know we shouldn’t eat.Although It may not be easy, you can retrain your palate to prefer healthier foods.

Eating Healthy Tip -  As mentioned above, 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 (or with a dry popper) adding 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 if you eat it in moderation, you won’t run into trouble. (I recommend organic popcorn that has not been genetically modified.)

Know the difference between good carbs and bad ones.Although carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation, your body needs them to be healthy. However, there are what we might call “good carbs” and “bad carbs.” Good carbs are all those tasty fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes that you know about, while bad carbs are the white flour products, such as pies, cakes, cookies, pastries, chips, doughnuts—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 most likely a bad carb—except, of course if the birthday girl is the office health-nut or the vending machine is at the health foods store!

Eating Healthy Tip - Choose more fiber-rich foods. Even if you are sick of hearing the word fiber, it’s still beats being sick from not getting enough of this important carbohydrate. Educate yourself about which foods have fiber and choose them more often than not. 

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 on the “throne” waiting for—well you know—you might be able take up a new hobby!

This is important:  Each time you choose whole grain foods over white flour products, each time you eat a piece of fruit instead of a piece of pie, each time you snack on raw veggies instead of 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 blueberries on your cereal. Have a baked sweet potato. Add some shredded apple or zucchini or pumpkin to your pancake batter. 

Eating Healthy Tip - 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 consisted of little pills dispensed by a machine. A roast beef pill, a mashed potato pill, with an apple pie pill for dessert. Although we haven’t gotten there yet, there is so much in the grocery stores these days that would barely qualify as real food, when you take into account poor nutritional value, dearth of fiber and the harmful ingredients it contains.

Even if you have a limited food budget, try to choose as many fresh, whole foods as you can afford, and leave the over-processed foods on the shelf. 

Eating Healthy Tip - 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 use plain water. Even if you are removing the skin, such as with melons or avocados, wash the item first to avoid contaminating the food inside the skin. Always keep meat separate from fresh produce, both in the refrigerator and during preparation, sanitizing your cutting boards and utensils in between.

Please avoid 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 soap!

Eating Healthy Tip - Eat healthy fats. A friend recently told me her grandmother, who lived to be ninety, grew up eating foods exclusively cooked with lard. I knew her grandmother, and she was a diminutive, feisty octogenarian who never sat still and worked hard 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 here, have concluded 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 pie crust. If only your arteries got a vote!

Eating Healthy Tip - Limit your consumption of meat by treating it more as a condiment or side dish. Even if you are a meat lover, it is preferable 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 large portion of meat to provide your protein needs 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, while making your meal easier to digest. You might even try some meatless meals once in a while! After all, even Popeye consumed a meal of spinach at least once on every show!

Eating Healthy Tip - Buy local, and even organic, if possible. There is a whole movement out there of people who are choosing to buy from local growers and skipping out-of-season produce and foods shipped in from far-away places. In this way, your food will be fresher, cost less, you will support your local economy and you will have fewer concerns about the way the food was grown that may affect its healthfulness. In addition, the advantage of buying from orchards and farms that are not only local, but also organic, is that you will be consuming fewer toxins and encouraging fewer chemicals to be added to our soil and water.

Eating Healthy Tip - Take baby steps. Keep in mind that you don't have to make all of these changes all at once. Start with just one change and then work your way through the list at your own pace. Every little bit you do to eat healthier will help you live longer and feel better!

Click here to go from Eating Healthy Tips page to Nutrition page.