Everyone knows that eating healthy is an important part of living a healthier life and feeling better about ourselves. That’s nice, but how many of us are doing anything about it on a regular basis? Yes, as the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas pass we all want to start out each New Year by turning over a new leaf, and we all vow to eat healthier, exercise more and lose weight. For the vast majority, however, that genuinely sincere commitment has vanished from our conscious thought before the first page on the new calendar gets turned.
What is wrong with this picture? Why are we so weak when it comes to sticking to our commitment of eating healthier and exercise? If you are looking for the magic bullet we can use to help strengthen our backbones and get us to stick to our commitments, I’m sorry, no such thing exists... At least, not as far as I know! However, there has to be something that can help motivate us all to try harder for longer periods of time so that a healthier lifestyle need not be a wild, unattainable dream.
I’m somewhat convinced that part of the problem is that when we finally take on the task of addressing how we eat and exercise, we feel the only way to succeed is to “go all in”. Going all in, however, is not how we are built and that approach tends to set us up for failure. Many of us ask ourselves, “If I can’t do it exactly correct, why bother at all?”
Once doubt sets in, failure and resignation are quick to follow.
I’d like to suggest a different tack and a different time of year. You see, some people are indeed successful at changing their less-than-good eating habits, and often this happens because of some outside influence like a warning from the doctor that they need to change their diet and lose weight or suffer dire consequences. So, my idea is this: Why not start a weight loss/healthier eating campaign now at a time of year when it’s not the thing everyone is doing? The weather is warn, exercise is easier, and fresh wholesome fruits and vegetables are most plentiful.
The other thing to do to give us at least a fighting chance is to keep it as simple as possible. Let’s not try to lose twenty pounds in a month or run a marathon by October. Let’s just try to stick to some very basic good habits for as long as we can, and in time see if we can add to that discipline if prudent. The key to our success is being able to maintain this perspective: Our food should be about pleasure and nourishment.
Here are some practical ideas I’ve run across while researching healthier eating options.
1. Eliminate processed foods.
Don’t know where to start? Take a look at the ingredient list of each item in your kitchen cupboards, refrigerator and storage room. Avoid anything that has artificial additives, artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, or vegetable oils. This includes fried foods, sweets and refined grain products such as cookies and bread. Processed foods will mess up your digestion, increase your anxiety levels, and more than likely lead to weight gain. There are plenty of healthy alternatives for your favorite comfort foods, such as raw chocolate, flax crackers, oven-baked sweet potato fries, and fresh green salads.
2. Choose whole foods.
Whole foods include fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, unrefined grains and beans. They're unprocessed, unrefined and don’t contain any added salt, added sweeteners, added fats or artificial additives. Whole foods are very high in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and water, which is why they will keep you healthy, beautiful and energized. By choosing whole foods over processed foods, you'll be able to enjoy delicious meals without feeling guilty or bloated afterward. Our produce department is your best source for these foods, and check out some of the homemade salads and prepared foods in our deli. Beth and her team are always tweaking our offerings to add new healthier and tastier items.
3. Have at least 1 green smoothie a day.
Admittedly, this a a bit radical for most folks, but it’s not so far out there that it is impractical to try. Green smoothies are an excellent way to start your day. They will satisfy your sugar cravings, cleanse your colon, and provide your body with plenty of vitamins and minerals to keep you energized and happy. Green smoothies are also incredibly high in chlorophyll, a powerful antioxidant that flushes out heavy metals, pesticides and other toxic residue from your body. Not certain how to make a green smoothie? Here is a very simple recipe: 1 large ripe mango (or 2 ripe bananas), two handfuls of spinach (or any other type of leafy green) and 1 to 2 cups of water. Add everything to your blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
4. Don’t be afraid of fruit.
If you ever tried a low carb diet, you were most likely taught that fruits were loaded with carbohydrates and something to be avoided. Well that is a misconception and not a good rule of thumb; you see, not all carbohydrates are created equal! Yes indeed, you will want to avoid processed carbohydrates like white bread, cookies, wheat pasta and sugar-laden breakfast cereals, but you should consume healthy carbohydrates such as fresh fruits and sweet root vegetables. They'll reduce your cravings for sugary snacks and keep your energy levels high at all times. As with anything, too much of a good thing can be a problem. In order to prevent blood sugar spikes and to protect your teeth from fruit sugars, try combining your fruits with leafy greens. A fruit and spinach salad tastes delicious and does the trick.
5. Eat your greens.
Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, collard greens and romaine lettuce will help you to detoxify, alkalize your body and get your mineral levels up. They're packed with essential nutrients such as iron, zinc and magnesium that will boost your energy levels, strengthen your immune system and clear up your skin. Enjoy your leafy greens as the base for a colorful rainbow salad, blend them into a creamy green smoothie, or treat yourself to a fresh green juice. Green juices are an excellent way to avoid that dreaded afternoon slump!
Good Eating – and stay healthy.
Bill Vella, Produce Manager