No matter how good our intentions are, when we walk into a supermarket we sometimes get lost in the vast variety of options available to us. Sadly, not all of those options are healthy ones. This often occurs simply because most people have no idea what to actually shop for. Most of us do not have nutrition classes in school, so we are left with what our families fed us, whether it was healthy or not. Illnesses tend to run in families not only due to genetics, but because nutrition habits run in families. Most illnesses are either caused or helped along by our food choices. If your family ate processed foods, chips and sugary drinks, chances are that is all you know, and altering that is not as easy as it sounds.
There are many courses online which are inexpensive or even free, which will help you get a good, solid footing with regards to nutrition. You can also watch one of the hundreds of Youtube videos, as well as read books, magazines, websites and blogs. To get started, learn about the following topics:
- Fat soluble vitamins
- Water soluble vitamins
Apply What You’ve learned
Next, apply what you learned about nutrition to the food you find in the store. Once you learn of all the benefits gained from each vitamin, mineral, phytochemical, and antioxidant, and become familiar with foods that contain them, you’ll look at your produce section in a entirely different way. For instance, when you look at a tomato, instead of seeing a juicy delicious food, think of it as supplying you with fiber, vitamin C and Lycopene. When you pass the berry section, you’ll be aware of their anti-cancer and anti-aging properties, and so on.
If you grew up on processed foods, then be kind to yourself here, and go slow. Choose a bunch of bananas, a small selection of fruit, and another of vegetables. Remember, they will spoil quickly so buy only in small batches. Organic fruits and vegetables should be your first choice. However, if they are too much for your budget, you can opt for soaking your regular fruits and vegetables in vinegar to help rid the skins of pesticides.
Avoid ‘White’ Food Products
White food products are heavily processed. This means their nutritional value has been stripped from them. These products have lost much of their fiber, vitamin and mineral content. They are often associated with increased weight gain, so avoid these products and processed foods made with them. White products include:
- White rice
- White bread
- White sugar
- White flour
Get in the Habit of Reading Labels
Once you learn a bit more about nutrition, it’s time to take a good look at those nutrition labels. Work to slowly ditch foods with additives, colorings and other unnecessary ingredients from your shopping list. When you read a label, pay attention to the order of ingredients. Ingredients are listed in a first to last hierarchy, meaning the product contains more of the first listed ingredient than the last. So, if the first ingredient listed is sugar, then sugar is the main ingredient for that product. Below are some ingredients to avoid:
- Corn syrup
- Hydrogenated oils
- Artificial colors
- Eat Natural Foods
Grow Your Own Produce
Did you know that there are ways to even grow produce indoors? In todays modern world, urban gardeners have found ways of growing produce inside, or outdoors on patios in pots. Tomatoes, carrots, radishes, and lettuce are a small sample of the produce you can grow inside. In other words, even if you don’t have a lot of land, you can still eat healthy by adding some homegrown goodness to your menu.
Eat Less Meat, Fish Dairy and Eggs
Consider cutting down on your intake of animal products. Research has shown that diets high in animal products are the most harmful, and can lead to premature death and the onset of disease. If going full fledged vegan is too much for you right away, then consider the popular Mediterranean or Okinawa diets. These diets are derived from regions of the world where the nutritional intake of people correlate to longevity and excellent health.
While eating healthy is not as hard as you may think, it does take a bit of thought, self-education and behavior change. Those of you raised on unhealthy diets loaded with processed foods and animal products, may find it a bit more challenging to eat healthy. As such, see if you can find a fitness buddy, or someone online who you can chat with from time to time when it comes to binging, falling off the wagon, or simply needing some basic support.