10 Tips that will get you started and keep you on the right path to HEALTHY EATING
Anytime you can incorporate more whole foods and eliminate refined and processed foods, you are doing a great service to your body. But if you want to experience life changing health benefits, avoid sickness and disease, be at your ideal body weight and enjoy a lot of all day energy, it’s best to make a lifelong commitment to healthy eating. Making this big commitment can seem like such an overwhelming task and you might not know where to start. These are the tips that I came up with that I wish I knew about when I began my transition into the healthy eating lifestyle.
1.) Go through your entire kitchen and get rid of ALL processed foods, refined sugars and any foods containing gluten.
I know what you are thinking right now – “But, that’s a lot of money being thrown away!” Yes, it is, but I firmly believe that you will not succeed if there is still food in the house that is not healthy. You can always donate the food to a shelter or a neighbor in need. This is my #1 tip because I didn’t start fully committing to healthy eating until my kitchen was cleaned out of all processed foods. When I first wanted to eat clean, I just couldn’t bring myself to throw all that food away so I held on to some items. I am a type A personality and have a stronger willpower than most, and guess what I ate when I had a long day, was hungry, and didn’t feel like cooking? You guessed it. I went straight to the box of organic granola bars that I didn’t throw away that were loaded with wheat and sugar. Fail. After that happened a few times, I put on my big girl panties and went through my entire kitchen and got rid of everything that was processed, refined and contained gluten. This was the biggest step I made in being successful at this lifestyle.
2.) You need to restock your pantry with clean eating items.
This can be the expensive part, but you are making a commitment to your health and it will be worth it and save you so much money in the long run, I promise. No more (or far less) doctor bills (I haven’t been to the doctor in years), co-pays, over the counter cold medicines, etc. Sounds good, right? Just remember that when you are buying these new items for your pantry!
–Fats and Oils: Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Sesame Oil are good oils to have on hand. Grass-Fed Butter and Bacon Fat are also a staple in my home.
–Sweeteners and Baking items: Almond and Coconut Flours, Pure Maple Syrup, Raw Honey, Molassas, Cocoa Powder, Dark Chocolate, unsweetened coconut flakes, dried unsweetened fruits, Almond Butter
–Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, Walnuts,Macadamias, Pecans, Pistachio, etc. **Peanuts are not nuts. They are legumes and should be avoided** Sesame, Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds
–Canned whole food items, such as: diced tomatoes, tomato paste, etc, canned pumpkin, tuna, salmon, capers
–Sauces (read labels carefully and make sure they are all natural and contain no gluten): tamari or coconut aminos (a soy sauce replacement without wheat), fish sauce, hot sauce, mustards, and vinegars
–Plenty of spices and sea salt
–Frozen fruits and vegetables
–On the go, quality packaged items such as: Steve’s Original Beef Jerky Packets, Larabars, etc.
3.) Locate farms and farmer’s markets in your area.
www.localharvest.org is a good site if you are not familiar with the organic farms and farmer’s markets in your area. There are numerous farms that are not on this website, so if you know of a farm near you, call or stop in to visit the farms and talk to the people there. All of the farms I’ve dealt with are super friendly and helpful and enjoy talking about their farm. If they can’t provide what you need, most are more than helpful to point you to another farm who can help you. You will need to find a farm to provide you grass-fed beef, free-range poultry and eggs and chemical free produce. Most farms can provide everything, but not always. If there are absolutely no farms in your area, visit: www.uswellnessmeats.com for great quality meats and service.
4.) Pretend that grocery stores don’t exist.
People always look at me like I have two heads when I tell them this one. It’s very rare that I step foot into a grocery store. When you are eating clean, you are doing the majority of your grocery shopping at a farm or at the local farmers market. I only have to go to a regular grocery store when I run out of olive oil or mustard, or something like that. When you do have to stop into the grocery store, only shop the perimeter and avoid the center aisles, which contain mostly processed foods (exception: when you have to buy canned, whole food items).
5.) Plant a garden.
This is a great way to get chemical free produce and herbs. You can’t beat the price and high yields of quality, organic vegetables and fruit when you grow your own. If you don’t have the land to plant a garden, grow herbs and other vegetables in containers. If this is not possible, join a community garden or just support your local organic producers.
6.) Have a weekly meal plan.
You will be most successful with healthy eating when you plan your meals out at least weekly. I write a meal plan every Sunday night for the following weeks worth of meals. I take into consideration my family’s plans and activities and plan my menu accordingly. Most of the time, I head to the farmer’s market on Monday and get everything I need to cook for the week. This works very well for me and the only way I can stay organized and be committed to eating healthy.
7.) Have a few good quality, packaged food items available to you at all times.
You can plan your menus in advance all day long, but let’s be real: stuff happens and life gets in the way. I am always on the go and sometimes unexpected stuff comes up and I need something to eat in a pinch. Before I carried items with me, I had to make the best choices I could at places like McDonalds, Wendy’s etc. Even though I didn’t want to eat at these places, I needed something quick. Now I don’t have to be forced to eat burgers without buns at fast food places. I make sure I have a baggie of almonds, some beef jerky, Larabars, and my favorite Steve’s Originals Paleokits with me at all times. I have some in my purse and some in my car so I have no excuses. I can still eat healthy even when I’m on the go.
8.) Cook extra for dinner so you have enough for lunch the next day.
Pretty self-explanatory, but it’s a great tip and leaves you to only have to plan out your breakfast and dinners from now on.
9.) Find other people who share similar views on health and nutrition.
Try to find others in the area who are already eating clean or have the same desire to eat clean and healthy. You can share your favorite recipes, tips, articles, books and resources and maybe even workout together. It’s easier to stay on the right track when you have friends that are supporting you.
10.) Don’t ever give up or feel like a failure if you eat something you know you shouldn’t.
No one out there is perfect and eats perfect 100% of the time – that’s just unrealistic. I like to view my nutrition as a commitment. I am committed to my health and eating clean. Does that mean that I am perfect at it 100% of the time? Heck no. One of my favorite blogs, Health Bent, compares the commitment of eating healthy to the commitment of marriage and I love that comparison. I am committed to my marriage, but that doesn’t mean I am 100% sweet and loving to Zach all the time. At times, I can be mean and a brat. (I thought brat was a nicer term for the other B word that I was really thinking.) But, this never alters our commitment to love and stay with each other for as long as we live. It’s the same way with nutrition – if I screw up and eat something I know I shouldn’t, I am still committed to eating well for the rest of my life. No big deal. I just dust myself off and keep at it. If you are eating well the majority of the time, be proud of that!
If you have any other tips that will help us all out, please share by posting a comment here. I’d love to hear what has helped you in becoming a healthier you!