Hey there, I’m Alex! I blog at AlexHaralson.com. I’m am so excited to be guest posting here at Mother’s Niche. I am a mom to 3 wonderful kids, two boys (4,2) and a girl (8 months)! I am passionate about all things happy, healthy, and domestic and helping others to improve their lives through natural solutions.
I’m here today to share some tips with you about eating healthier.
Sometimes it can be overwhelming with all these new diets popping up telling you not to eat huge food groups – no grains, no dairy, no eggs, no beans, no carbs, no sugar, etc.
So I want to share with you some tips to help you navigate healthy eating without a complete overhaul of your diet. Maybe you’re not ready (or willing) to become vegan/paleo/vegetarian/etc, but you want to make small changes to overall better health. Here are some tips for you…
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#1. Buy and eat FOOD as close to nature as you can – I'm sure most of you have heard the advice to shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That's where you'll find actual food. Fruits, veggies, meats, eggs, and dairy. Nothing too overly processed there. I also make sure to choose these foods in their most natural form. I buy butter over margarine, whole milk over reduced fat, full fat yogurt over non-fat, etc. Anytime you see the words ‘non-fat', ‘reduced calories', ‘sugar free' or others you are getting a food that has a natural element removed and replaced with something artificial to accomplish that.
#2. Choose foods with ingredients you recognize and an 8 year old can pronounce – chemical names are a red flag that the food is highly processed. Some of the worst offenders are high fructose corn syrups, monosodium glutimate, aspertame, and sodium nitrate/sodium nitrite. MSG consumption has been linked to obesity, learning disabilities, Alzheimer's, and others. Beware of the words ‘natural flavor’ as this often indicates the use of glutamic acid (similar to MSG). MSG can be found in tons of things like canned soups, frozen foods, crackers, salad dressings, and even baby food. To avoid MSG in the foods you eat, try making your own cream soups (I have a recipe on my blog – it’s super easy!), prepare your own freezer meals, and baby food. Shop for foods that contain ingredients you recognize and really, the fewer the ingredients the better!
#3. Shop for foods that will eventually rot – After you finish reading here, go Google ‘world's oldest hamburger' and be disgusted by a 15 year old hamburger that doesn't seem to have aged a day. It and many other fast and processed foods are so full of chemical additives and preservatives that they cannot rot. How can you possibly expect your body to break down and process these chemicals if they don't break down naturally on their own?! Foods that can go bad are good for you!
#4. Don't buy artificially colored foods – Artificial colors, such as Yellow #5, Blue #1, and Red #40, add absolutely no nutritional value to foods and are derived from petroleum! They are are linked to ADD/ADHD and cancers. Shop for and eat foods that don't have added colors. Your body will thank you…this means, now don't hate me, no soda!
#5. Shopper Beware: Don’t be fooled by the word ‘natural’ – Many people see the word ‘natural' on the label and assume it is healthier than other foods. Until you inspect the ingredients label, you can't be sure if it is a health food. The words ‘natural’ or ‘all-natural’ are not regulated in the same way as ‘organic’. It is a very loose term and many things claim to be ‘all-natural’ when they clearly aren't. Inspect the label for things like how high sugar is in the ingredients list, high amounts of sodium and fat, and the words ‘natural flavor' (see #2)
#6. Shop for and eat mostly plants – The Modern American Diet generally consists of high amounts of processed foods, meats, added sodium, fat, and sugars and as a result we see large amounts of disease! Obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer rates have risen substantially in the last 30 years as convenience foods have become more common place. Diets based in plants with meat eaten sparingly don't develop these disease as prevalently. Shop for lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains, and plant based proteins. I love using quinoa, give it a try!
#7. Shop for COLORS!! When you're shopping be sure to buy lots of colored fruits and veggies! Red peppers, blueberries, carrots, pomegranates all contain high levels of antioxidants to help protect against chronic disease. They all have slightly different roles, so be sure to get a variety of colored goodies to optimize your health.
There you go, 7 simple ‘rules' to follow when you're grocery shopping to help your family eat healthier. What are some other ways you shop smart at the grocery store? I'd love to hear!