I was blessed to grow up with a mother who was always very health-concious. Because of her, I have always sought the latest research on healthy living and try to incorporate my knowledge into my diet. And in a world where everyone is so busy, it can be easy to just eat conveniently. I too am a busy woman but have learned some easy ways to make my diet as healthy as possible without a lot of extra time and energy. Here are some simple ways you can do so.
Lots of Color—When adding fruits and vegetables into your diet, choose as many different colors as you can. A variety of color will ensure that you include a range of vitamins into your diet, add incredible flavor into your food, and frankly, just add beauty to your food and brighten your mood. Have fun with color, and be experimental. You’d be surprised by the delicious combinations you could come up with. I came up with a great recipe for crab pasta salad with this in mind. Multi-grain penne pasta, mayonnaise (good options are olive oil-based, Veganaise, or regular mayo with no high fructose corn syrup), sliced red and yellow bell peppers, shredded orange carrots, chopped green cilantro, diced green celery, diced green onions, diced sharp cheddar cheese, imitation crab, and dried red cranberries or purple raisins.
- Red fruits and veggies are great for lowering blood pressure and killing free radicals, preventing cancer. It includes nutrients such as lycopene, ellagic acid, Quercetin, and Hesperidin.
- Green fruits and vegetables are also excellent at fighting cancer-causing free radicals, improving digestion, ensuring vision health, and strengthening your immune system. They include nutrients like calcium, beta-carotine, vitamin C, and chlorophyl.
- Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are excellent produce to help strengthen bones, develop collagen, lower cholesterol, and improve prostrate health. They include flavanoids, potassium and vitamin C.
- Purple fruits and vegetables improve mineral and calcium absorption, are anti-carcinogenic with anti-oxidants, and fight inflammation. They include less commonly known but vital nutrients such as ellagic acid, resveratrol, and quercetin.
Check out this link for more information on adding color to your diet: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn595w.htm
So go ahead and do something different like making salsa with red strawberries or yellow mangos, throwing in some sliced plums in your salad or using purple cabbage in your fish tacos, maybe add some diced pineapple, red cherry tomatoes, and green apples into your chicken salad sandwich. Your body and your tongue will thank you. 🙂
Read labels. You will be surprised how much of our condiments and foods have unhealthy additives to our foods like high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and harmful color dyes like yellow number 5. These ingredients have been linked with diabetes, obesity, and ADHD-like symptoms. And you don’t have to go to expensive health food stores to find healthy options. While these ingredients can pop up in ketchup, mayonnaise, peanut butter, yogurt, barbecue and teriyaki sauce, I have found healthy options at decent prices even at affordable markets like Walmart. And remember, the higher the ingredient is on the list, the greater the amount of it sits in the jar.
For more information on the dangers of high fructose corn syrup check out: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-fructose-corn-syrup/AN01588. For information on yellow number 5: http://www.livestrong.com/article/370945-health-effects-of-yellow-5-food-coloring/ and hydrogenated oil http://www.naturalnews.com/024694_oil_food_oils.html.
Enjoy the right Fats: Fat is absolutely necessary for energy, digestion, vitamin absorption, and even maintaining healthy body weight! You just need to know which are the good ones to use and how much. Firstly, get rid of your vegetable or corn oils and never look at them again. These oils are extremely dangerous when heated and will produce cancer causing free radicals. Second, instead cook with coconut or olive oil or even real butter. These are all safe at high temperatures and even have added nutrients that are beneficial. I just recently discovered the benefits of cooking with coconut oil and am amazed. Even better, it tastes amazing! Coconut oil is rich in saturated fatty acids like Capric Acid and Lauric Acid which raises your body’s High Density Lipoproteins , lowers bad Cholesterol, boosts immunity and regenerates cells. Coconut oil also increases your metabolism so will actually help you shed weight. It can also be used on your dry skin and hair and stays solid at room temperature so you can store it in your cupboard and use less of it than other oils. Other good oils include Olive oil , which is a monounsaturated fat that lowers the amounts of low-density lipoproteins, lowers cholesterol, improves, and maintains blood sugar levels. Next, watch those hydrogenated oils in your jarred and boxed foods. If you can, minimize your use of boxed foods as much as possible and instead prepare the food yourself. If you must eat prepared or boxed foods, I recomend buying those from stores that specialize in selling choices without all the processed ingredients and hydrogenated oils—I like Fresh and Easy, Henry’s stores, and Trader Joes. About 25-30 percent of the calories in your diet should be made of healthy fats for optimum health. That is of course not in addition to the unhealthy fats you get from fast food, processed meals, and junk snacks like chips. So keep those to special occasions. I have found that most of the time when I’m craving fatty foods, it most often because I’ve waited oto long to eat and really need protein. To prevent fat cravings like this—eat some healthy trailmix or some low-fat cottage cheese for a snack between meals. The fats and proteins in these foods will help curb your cravings later.
Check out this link for more information on the benefits of olive oil: http://www.all-about-olive-oil.com/benefits-of-olive-oil-7-reasons, coconut oil: http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-oils/organic-coconut-oil/uses-of-coconut-oil-in-cooking.html. Or read about them all in this article: http://www.truthaboutabs.com/unhealthy-vs-healthy-cooking-oils.html
Cut down on your sugar and fructose intake. People often think they are doing their bodies well by eating fruit-flavored yogurt, drinking juice, and eating fruit. But even these can pack excessive amounts of sugar into your daily intake. Some tricks I have done to help minimize my sugar and fructose intake: 1)–read labels and buy options without if available. 2) Be aware of yogurt! While they do contain bacteria such as acidophilus which is essential to digestive health, it is best to avoid flavored ones completely and instead buy plain yogurt and then sweeten it yourself. I will pack a 4-oz dish of yogurt in my lunch and sweeten it with a teaspoon of sugar or a tablespoon of berries, blended smooth. It sweetens it just fine and uses only a fraction of the sugar or most often, high-fructose corn syrup found in most flavored yogurt. 3) Be aware of the amounts of fructose in fruits and limit yourself to just two servings of fruit a day. Believe it or not, even fructose in excessive amounts is linked to diabetes, ADHD symptoms, and obesity. Here is a very informative link to an article on the dangers of a diet high in fructose and even includes a chart with fruit and the amount of fructose in those types of fruit. Believe it or not, it varies significantly! Check it out at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/06/19/richard-johnson-interview-may-18-2010.aspx. 4) Cut down your soda intake! Soda is diabetes in a cup, and if you drink soda often, most likely a number of your ailments are due to just that habit alone. If switching to just water is too much for you to follow through with switch your soda out for a sparkling mineral water and add a squeeze of lime and perhaps sweeten it with some agave. Agave has fructose in it, but much less than that which you would find in a typical soda.
Change it up— Don’t get caught up eating the same ten dishes or making your salads the same way every time. Vary up your diet with different combinations and try fruits and vegetables you haven’t tried before. Make it fun. Studies show that eating the same foods over and over again can actually lead your body to develop allergies to it. Also–adding variation will ensure you get a broader range of vitamins in your system. You can vary your fruits and veggies by buying them in season and even save money by purchasing them at farmer’s markets in your area. I can walk out of a farmer’s market with two grocery bags packed with produce for under 20 dollars. If you run out of ideas, grab a cookbook from a bookstore that emphases healthy but delicious meals or look for ideas via the internet. I subscribed for a year or so to Cooking Light magazine and got many great ideas through it.
Hope you enjoyed these tips! I’d love to hear from you on your thoughts and ideas!