First, let me say eating healthy today is not easy, especially when you think about how our families are bombarded with fast-food commercials today. Advertisers put them on when they know we are watching and hungry. Then some of the fast-food companies try to appeal to our healthy side by posting dietary percentages in the restaurants, while at the same time offering prepackaged salads with prepackaged dressing. We are fighting an uphill battle. Our efforts are thwarted at every turn.
Health care costs are rising out of control. Diet-related diseases are among the top 10 in the world. Somewhere, we must begin to take control. We have pushed poor foods and poor lifestyles until we are suffering from poor health and malnutrition. We need to start educating ourselves and applying some common sense.
Healthy eating can be taken to many levels. I am going to try to provide a practical guide to help you transition to more balanced, healthy food choices. I want you to become more aware of what is available. If you are going to eat healthy, some changes need to take place – changes like where you shop, how you shop, what kinds of foods you buy, possibly picking up some handy utensils, reading labels, and more. But change does not happen overnight. It’s best if you go slowly, and it helps to have a sense of humor and a good, positive attitude. Change is much easier this way.
I would like to point out a few myths about health foods in general. First, there is a misconception that healthy foods do not taste good. Rule of thumb – all taste is acquired. So actually, more often than not, healthy foods taste better. Try an organic banana compared to a commercially grown banana or any other piece of produce. There is usually no comparison in taste. The second misconception is that healthy cooking takes more time. But, by the time you stand in line at a fast-food counter or wait at a restaurant, you could have easily prepared and eaten a delicious, nutritious meal, especially with just a small amount of planning and using some handy tools.
There are seven basic goals to healthy eating:
1. Eat a variety of foods.
2. Maintain a desirable weight.
3. Avoid too much fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
4. Eat foods with adequate starch and fiber.
5. Avoid too much sugar.
6. Avoid too much sodium.
7. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.
These are good goals, but they need to be defined a little more. This is where we come to our second rule of thumb: always choose the most natural product. In other words, regular table sugar is better than artificial or butter is better than margarine. These may not be a good choice when thinking about calories. But when it comes to chemical composition, they are far better. There are even better choices than the ones just mentioned. The main thing is to get off processed foods. That means it is time to shop with a new attitude. Read labels more carefully. Avoid certain aisles or sections of the grocery store. Eventually you may avoid that store all together. What you will learn is there is a healthy alternative to almost everything you currently purchase, and you will be delighted to know that it tastes good.
Tomorrow we will continue our talk about healthy foods.
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