Saturday, April 9, 2011

Making Healthier Eating Choices

I get asked a lot about how to switch to eating more whole foods. Well, five years ago I was eating the Standard American Diet and have slowly switched to a whole foods diet and there is no looking back!

First of all be prepared for the transition to be slow, especially if you have a husband and children making the change with you. As you run out of things in your pantry replace them with healthier alternatives. For example, replacing white pasta for whole grain pasta, white flour with whole grain flour, etc. Switching your meats, dairy, and processed foods should be top priority. I highly recommend buying your meat in bulk from a local farmer. I know of several great farmers that offer great prices if you're interested. If you have a Bridge Card you can buy your meat at Heffron Farm market and even though they are not grassfed (which is healthier) they are hormone and mostly antibiotic free.

When it comes to dairy I highly recommend raw dairy. It is much healthier and tastier. We use raw goat milk and cheese and LOVE it. If raw milk isn't something you're interested in then buying hormone and antibiotic free milk and dairy products should be high priority. If you can find pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) non-homogenized milk that would be a great option. Mooville is a dairy here in Michigan and can be bought at Heffron Markets in grand Rapids.

Getting rid of prepackaged foods will be the hardest part about changing your diet, especially if they are a huge part of your diet. Prepackaged foods (including many organic options) are loaded with preservatives. Try finding something you buy premade and make a point to find a recipe for that item that you like. Take it one thing at a time. You can even make extras to freeze to have on hand for a quick meal later on.

Start incorporating fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables into your diet at every meal. They have important vitamins and minerals your body needs. Smoothies are a delicious way to get fruits and vegetables into your kids!!

Get rid of the pop and juice in your diet! Unless it's fresh pressed juice it's loaded with sugars and usually preservatives a well. Cut it out, you don't need it. Water is your best option, but teas sweetened with raw honey is fine as well. You can wean your kids off juice by slowly watering down their juice over time and in a month or so you can have them drinking plain water without thinking about it!!

Say no to sugar!!! That includes artificial sweeteners like Splenda. Sweeten your food with maple syrup and raw honey. You can even bake with it. Seriously, sugar has a negative effect on your immune system and overall health. We don't use sugar here at home, but do occasionally indulge while we are out and about.

We have a really tight grocery budget and we manage to by whole foods, primarily organic, so I know you can too!!!

Tips and tricks to saving:
1. Check out Amazon and be prepared to be amazed. I buy a lot from their subscribe and save. I love Larabars, which they sell several flavors reasonably (like Cherry Pie). Just last week I ordered a case of bandaids!! Anyway, check it out.
2. Join a bulk buying co-op. I know of several in the area and save a lot of money buying this way.
3. Stalk the sale adds for sales and stock up. Subscribe to coupons from your favorite brands.
4. Buy meat in bulk from a local farmer. It's healthier and saves money.
5. Get to know a local farmer that grows organically and buy from him/her.
6. Grow a garden.
7. Buy in season and learn how to preserve food!!
8. Subscribe to Frugal Girls for amazing deals.
9. Spend time with others who eat whole foods.
10. Learn to cook. :)

Good luck on your journey!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Juice is a no-no in my home. Sam's never had it, and I never plan to introduce it. He drinks water and milk, and he loves unsweetened iced tea from daddy's cup. Your tips are wonderful! They're not practical for all of us (if I grew a garden in my backyard, my apartment manager would have a fit), but implementing even a couple will put anyone closer to a healthy lifestyle. The biggest one is buying in season for me. It's so much fun to go to my favorite grocer (the one I love in my area has a HUGE organic and local produce section) just to see what's there!

You didn't mention one very important healthy eating choice: eat to aim for a healthy weight. All the organics in the world won't save you from heart disease if you eat too much and don't exercise. There seems to be a recent fad among some of our friends to find the "quick" solution that doesn't involve getting off the couch or implementing healthier foods into their diet. Healthy living takes work, but it's worth it.

I certainly don't even come close to eating all healthy all the time, but the small choices I make have a positive influence on my health. Even the little swaps allowed me to lose all my baby weight with a good exercise plan. Loved reading this, Mel! Way to encourage others to make good choices. :-)