I’ve decided to dedicate a few blog posts to helping my readers make sustainable changes to their health and wellness and to providing some general guidance as you embark on your New Year goals, resolutions or one-word themes. Let’s get started with real food and banish the fake food from our kitchens for good.
Getting Started With Real Foods
Real foods are foods that are as close to its natural state as possible. An organic chicken you have to cook yourself is more real than chicken nuggets or chicken from a can. Whole ripe tomatoes or sweet potatoes are far more whole and healthier than sweet potato chips fried in canola oil or pre-made tomato sauce filled with additives, colours and preservatives.
The benefits of eating real food include minimizing the chemical additives that are linked to disease and obesity. These include artificial food coloring, preservatives and artificial flavours. Real food also has less sugar, sodium and added fat. Real food is filled with natural vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and is free of harmful ingredients that place a heavy burden on your digestive system, and organs of detoxification like your liver and kidneys.
Shopping the perimeter of your grocery store is a good way to start eating clean, real foods. That’s where the fresh produce, natural meats, eggs and less processed foods usually are. Here are a few more tips to get you started:
- Drink only naturally low-calorie beverages. Water is your best choice. Then stick with herbal tea, almond milk or fresh-pressed juice.
- Choose local, organic meat. Buy from your local farmer’s market or order from a butcher that is committed to meat that is free of hormones, antibiotics and grain feed.
- Cook with organic, cold pressed oils. Ditch the bleached, processed canola or vegetable oil and go for real butter, olive or coconut oil.
- Make fruits and vegetables your go-to snacks. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter. Wash and chop veggies into sticks and pack them into baggies for easy grab-‘n-go choices.
- Quit fast food. Make extra portions of your main dinner entree to pack for lunch the next day. This easy habit will save you from eating processed meals at the local fast food joint.
- Go gluten-free. Buy whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. If you’re going to buy food in packages read labels carefully and buy only gluten-free foods. The exception to this rule is that not all gluten-free foods are healthy. Cookies are still cookies even if they are gluten-free.
As you’re getting started with real foods, it’s very useful to do a kitchen clean-out. Here are the steps:
Kitchen Clean Out Check List
Before you get started on changes for a healthier you, take a good look at your kitchen – the fridge, what’s lining your cupboards and the pantry – and get rid of all the things that might tempt you or are less than healthy options.
✔ Toss processed, packaged foods –
Chemical ingredients, artificial sweeteners, and trans fat – your body doesn’t recognize them as food, and will spend a lot of energy processing, detoxifying, and eliminating them, and they contribute to inflammation.
✗ Cold cereals with more than 4 grams of sugar per serving
✗ Soda juice and fruit cocktails or drink mixes
✗ Cookies, cakes and candies
✗ Chips, crackers, and pretzels
✗ Granola bars, breakfast bars and energy bars
✗ Frozen dinners
✗ Bacon (with nitrates and artificial flavours), high sodium lunch meats and sausages
✗ Artificial sweeteners and products with sweeteners
✔ Toss old condiments that you hardly use –these are often hidden sources of added sugar, sodium and fat that maybe harbouring mold or other pathogens.
✗ Mayonnaise, Ketchup
✗ Salad dressings
✗ Cream cheese and cheese spreads
✔ Replace vegetable or canola oil with organic extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil.
✔ Replace plastic food containers with BPA-free glass containers.
✔ Check your non-stick cookware for scratches and rust. Replace with Teflon-free cookware (stainless steel, glass or cast iron).
✔ Rid your fridge of any “fridge experiments” lurking in the back
Set up a labelling system to ensure that leftovers are eaten in 2-3 days.
Eating whole, real foods that are unprocessed will provide many benefits beyond weight loss and is a GREAT place to get started on your health and wellness goals for the New Year. As well as reduce weight you’ll also reduce your inflammation levels, improve your digestion, balance your hormones and feel significantly more energy. This a a great place to start nourishing your body and living your Healthy, Vibrant Life.