Fall into Health

reposted from Fall 2013
 

Why is it that when it’s a new year or a new season we think about making changes? With our diets, it is our bodies natural rhythms that are telling us to eat seasonally. When Summer approaches we want big, cool salads. As Fall and then Winter gets near we look forward to soups and stews and food that keep us warm.

 
Why not let this Fall be the season you listen to your body and start making some simple changes in the way you eat and cook. Yes, I said cook! You have to cook in your own kitchen to ensure you are getting real, whole food that is going to fuel your body. When you do this, your body will respond with more energy and you will look and feel better. You will set a great example to your kids and when the simple changes become habit, the whole family succeeds.
 
As you make the decision for these changes I’m sure it can be a bit confusing and overwhelming. That is probably the reason most people don’t stick to it or never get started at all. With everything you see and read no wonder people don’t know where to begin. My best advice… keep it simple. Here are some simple steps for your action plan.
 
 

  1. Eat real food. The main goal for eating right is to eat whole foods with as few chemicals and additives as possible. Eating lots of vegetables, fruits and healthy meats are the key to this. There are absolutely no added ingredients! As you look for whole grains, breads and pasta, stick to packages that have less ingredients… if you can find them with 5 ingredients or less you have found a good one. Packaged foods contain so many added man made chemicals it really isn’t even food anymore. Our bodies have a hard time digesting them and it isn’t the fuel we need to keep our bodies at their best. It is the reason obesity and diseases like Type 2 Diabetes are at an all time high. Because of the artificial preservatives, these packaged items have years and years of shelf life. A good rule for choosing food is, if it doesn’t rot… don’t eat it!

 

  1. Eat at home most days. Eating from your own kitchen is the best way to stay healthy. Not only will you save money but you will know exactly what you are eating. Restaurant food can be deceiving. Just because you order a salad does not mean it is healthy. Most of those salads contain as many calories as a burger and fries not to mention the hidden fats and chemicals. Drive through foods are even worse. I know it’s hard when you are rushing home to take a child to a game, another one to  recital and your spouse is on the phone asking what’s for dinner. That is where the next step makes it possible to have a family meal at home. Plan ahead, use a crock pot and when weather permits pack a picnic and stay at the park instead of taking the kids to McDonalds. When you do eat out avoid fast food. Instead find restaurants that offer healthier choices. We will cover in a future article how exactly to order out.

 
 

  1. Stock a healthy pantry. Getting into the good habit of grocery shopping and keeping your pantry well stocked is the key to sticking with this and making it a permanent part of your life.. Learn to navigate the grocery store by sticking to the outside perimeters where all the fresh produce, meat and dairy are in every store. Always plan ahead and go with a list. Eventually you will know your staple items. Find a few easy recipes to try. One of my favorite cookbooks to give as a gift for new cooks or busy people are the ones that are 5 ingredients or less. Go to Amazon.com and you wont believe the selection that is available. Once you find a few favorites you can change some things, add a few spices and make it your own. Always having the vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy on hand allows you to throw together a quick, healthy meal at the end of the day when you come home starving. Healthy oils and spices are a must have item. Also chicken, beef and vegetable broths can be used for soups, stews and stir frys. Experiment and try lots of new things. If you stick to grilled chicken and salad everyone will be bored and these new habits wont stick. In future articles we will address specific shopping lists and pantry items as well as lots of recipes to try.

 
 

  1. Ease in to it but learn to say NO… if you have children or a spouse who is not on board with this it will be more difficult but not impossible. At first just do this for yourself. However if you keep the unhealthy processed food around it will be harder to maintain a healthy diet as well as expensive and time consuming to cook separately for family members. Let everyone know it is time for change. Slowly eliminate the old choices.  Have everyone participate so they understand why these food choices are right. Teaching your children young will keep them healthy and informed when the time comes for them to make their own choices. They will get enough of the junk when they are at school and with other families. Working with families I hear a lot of “my kids wont eat that”. One Mother said to me  “my son needs his cheetos after school”. There was no fruit or anything healthy to grab after school except junk food so it was the habit they were in.  Have healthier choices in the house and keep out the junk and even if it is slow to come they will eventually eat what is on hand. Its alright to have cookies and treats. Just eat the real ones. Have the kids help and bake cookies on the weekends. Make them in big batches and freeze them.

 

  1. Make it a lifestyle. As you feel and look better with your new choices you can share your success with family and friends. Be the one who brings the healthy meal to share at a potluck. Share your recipes and tips with others. Pack healthier lunches for your children instead of the cafeteria meal. The longer you do it the more habit forming it becomes. After a night out or a vacation where you get off track, you now have the tools to get right back on track.

 
People admire others who work  at being  healthy. Be the friend who sets the good example. Learn to love your kitchen and be well prepared. You just might be amazed that it is always worth it. My favorite thought on food and eating comes from Michael Pollan, a NYC writer and food critic. He sums up all of this in a few words…
 
Eat real food, mostly plants, and not too much.
 
Happy Fall everyone…
 

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