I have struggled with this subject for a while now. There are thousands of doctors, nutritionists, and bloggers out there with all of their own opinions which can make it quite complicated to come up with your own way of doing things. After many years of eating ramen noodles and mac and cheese from a box, I decided there has to be better things to eat than all the junk listed in the labels of many of those foods I had enjoyed most of my life. I read a few blog posts from some foodies, watched a few documentaries about how disgusting our food system is and I was hooked. It has really been life changing for me, I convinced my husband we needed to try a vegetarian diet, eat all organic, and now where I think we should finally be, just eating REAL food as locally sourced as possible. I think the only things I do buy with labels are yogurt, tortilla chips, butter, and cheeses. Mostly because one, I am a procrastinator, oh no my secret is out, and two I have not yet learned how to make them myself….I know, tell me how easy it is to do those things, or don’t that would be nice…. Oh and I guess there are the things that I literally can’t make myself, such as maple syrup, honey, and oils. So some things I have started making at home are things like kefir, kombucha, just tried making gelatin-literally about a half hour ago, sauerkraut, and most meals are things I cook from scratch. This is just the start though, I really want to try doing yogurt or butter (most likely both) and the list goes on, trust me it does. Anyway, back to should I be eating that?? Well, do a simple search on Google when you think something might not be that great for you, such as “how bad are potato chips for me?”. I guarantee you will find some things you will not like, and if it isn’t about the chips then it will most certainly be about the rancid oil they are cooked in. And before you tune me out because I just ruined your favorite snack, I am not here to get on anybody’s case. I truly care for the people in my life, and who I can help through what I am learning in this journey. Some simple rules I try to stick with when shopping are as follows (and these are not new when it comes to “being healthy” or whole but they may be new to you):
1. Take a peek at those labels on the back of that can of ravioli you are about to feed to your kiddo, not the nutritional values but the ingredients list. Can you pronounce what’s in it? If I can’t then I avoid it! PS many of those things are preservatives or GMO’s that we shouldn’t be ingesting. (more on that later…)
2. While looking at that list of various ingredients, count how many there are. I bet you could cut out a lot of junk if you just stuck to the products that have a very minimal list of ingredients, think five for a goal. I know that this does not always mean it is a great product, but it may be better.
3. Eat a colorful diet, and I am not talking food dyes here (watch out for those by the way). I like the saying eat the rainbow, it is helpful to me to remember what I need to add in to the meals I am preparing. If I don’t see something green there is a problem!
4. Location, location, location, for your food that is….do you know where your food is from? Did it travel to you from a thousand miles away or another country maybe? Try one thing local this week! Go check out a farmer’s market, it is fun I promise!!!
5. Last but not least try avoiding packages and labels all together, this is a good one….at least I think it is!
These are just a few things that I try to keep in mind when shopping and meal planning for the week. I would like to add many more things to the list to help you out but these are hard enough to start with. Just remember start slow, look for things you can replace in your meals with better options. Try a new fruit or veggie this week or try preparing something a little differently than usual. Even if it is a complete fail remember it takes time and effort to get to a healthier lifestyle, I mean, how long did it take you to get set in your unhealthy ways? You can do it!