It is more expensive to eat healthy, but if you base your diet on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans, you’ll find that these simple ingredients don’t break the bank. Fresh foods taste better and will give you more bang for your buck nutrition-wise. Also make sure your produce is fresh with vibrant color (no wilting or yellowing leaves and no soft spots where they shouldn’t be.) Check the Environmental Working Groups website to see which foods are healthier when organic: http://www.foodnews.org/.
2. Make a list. Keep your weight in check while keeping more of your check in your pocket.
By planning what to eat on a daily or weekly basis, you stick to your budget. Also, you will be less likely to grab fast food or junk food. There are so many tempting and brightly colored packages in the store. These are mostly processed foods. You pay for the package and what’s inside. Anything that makes some sort of health claim (low-fat, fat-free) should be avoided because removing fat from foods doesn’t necessarily make them non-fattening. Processed carbohydrates can also make you fat, and many of these non-fat foods boost sugar to make up for loss of flavor. Sweet potato, greens and carrot growers typically don’t package to make health claims but they still produce some of the most low-fat, nutritious items in the store.
3. The produce aisle is your best friend. You can eat as much as you want.
Fruits and vegetables are almost always low-fat or fat-free without the expensive label, and fiber is only found in plant foods. Fiber reduces caloric intake, keeps your digestive system on track, regulates blood sugar and hormones, and helps to purify blood. While most Americans only get between 5 and 15 grams of fiber per day, doctors and dieticians recommend 25-40 grams of dietary fiber per day.
4. Avoid the snack aisle unless you know specifically what you are looking for (even at the health food store).
The best bet is to create your own snacks out of whole foods. Bean salads, kale chips, celery or apples with nut butters, dried fruit, smoothies, cucumber chips, or veggies and hummus will all take the edge off without taking you off track.
5. Read labels.
Avoid food with more than 30% of calories from fat and foods especially those that list sugar as one of the first 3 ingredients. Also, if a third-grader (or you) cannot pronounce it, the food probably shouldn’t be eaten.
6. Frozen is just as good as fresh, sometimes better.
There are some instances when “fresh” food is out of season or has obviously been sitting around too long, and we should turn to frozen foods as a healthy option. Frozen foods are frozen at the peak of ripeness whereas “fresh” foods may have to ripen in transport. Also, it is important to have veggies in the house, and freezing them is a way to keep them for a longer period of time while using only the portion that’s needed.
7. Canned is not as good as fresh or frozen.
Canned foods must be heated to extremely high temperatures to eliminate the possibility of contamination or harmful bacteria. This process kills many of the nutrients and enzymes that are needed to digest foods properly.
8. Never shop when you’re hungry.
You know why!
Brandi Redo is a Holistic Health Coach in Washington, D.C. She is a health educator and cooking instructor. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.lifewithspice.com.