Today we welcome Allison Reyna, nutrition consultant and owner of Food As Life, who optimistically reminds us that it’s never too late to establish behaviors to create a healthy life.
It is never too late to make healthy changes in the same way it is never too late for a person to quit smoking cigarettes. We truly are what we eat. When we digest our food, it goes into our bloodstream, builds our cells that becomes our organs, goes to our brain and becomes our thoughts, and makes our hair, skin, and nails shiny and healthy. Did you know we have a brand new set of organs every 7 years because of this process? Amazing, huh? My childhood diet was filled with the same unhealthy foods the Reader describes above. I suffered from migraines, low energy, frequent colds and flus…and eventually cancer through my mid-20s until I took control of my health through my diet. Seven years later I have no doubt that my high energy, no-migraine, cold, flu, & cancer-free life is credited to my diet.
Focus on what you can do today to maximize healthy & vitality in your life through your diet. Often people get overwhelmed because they feel it takes too much time, effort, and money to become healthier. Incorporate small changes, such as the ones I suggest below, one at a time and slowly you will truly be using food as your medicine.
1) Minimize the amount of chemicals and pesticides on your plate. Follow the Dirty Dozen list when deciding whether to spend the extra money on organic produce. This list details the 12 fruits & vegetables you should always but organic, yet conversely includes 12 other fruits & vegetables where it is not necessary. This allows you to use these savings in other areas where it is also important to buy organic such as dairy, meat, or poultry.
2) Cook once, eat thrice. When you cook, think beyond that one meal. Can you double or triple the ingredients to have leftovers for lunch or to put in your freezer? Can you add a protein such as chicken, frozen shrimp, or tempeh to a leftover side dish to turn it into a filling lunch for the next day? Can you add some leftover chicken broth and canned beans to leftover veggies and create a soup that lasts for a couple meals?
3) Have a well-stocked pantry. I am not ashamed to admit I often rely on good quality chicken broth, canned beans, and quick cooking whole grains such as quinoa and millet when throwing together dinner. Extend this philosophy to the freezer as well. Mine includes frozen shrimp, turkey burgers, vegetables, and individually portioned leftovers.
4) Eat locally. Shop at farmers markets and join a local CSA (community supported agriculture). Not only are you helping to save the environment but you are also saving dinero. Often these outlets are cheaper than going to the local supermarket since you are cutting out the middleman and buying straight from the farmer. An added bonus: you will never get bored as the food on the plate will naturally change with the seasons.
5) Eat in more. It is nearly impossible to eat healthy outside of the home. There are too many forces working against us between portion size and inferior ingredients. Even seemingly healthy choices such as grilled chicken, fish, or vegetables are usually cooked in low quality oils and finished off with butter and other surprises to make them taste better. Even if you are eating your favorite comfort food such as macaroni and cheese or meatloaf, you are better off making it yourself and controlling the ingredients and portion size. My version of baked ziti with whole wheat pasta, steamed organic spinach added to the tomato sauce, and antibiotic-free chicken is much better (and healthier!) than anything I could have ordered out.
These five simple tips can help you on your journey to a healthier you! Best wishes.