As 2010 is upon us and we are reflecting on the past year and how to improve on the coming one, we can probably all agree that getting healthier or fitter is somewhere in our top 5. To honor these new resolutions, David and I have compiled a list of 32 suggestions for some small changes you can make in the new year that will make a big difference in the way you feel and look. The truth is, you are what you eat…and the better you eat, the better you will feel.
- Shop at your neighborhood farmers market and get to know the farmers and vendors. Not only will your food taste better, but you’ll feel better knowing that you’re doing your part to support local farmers and artisanal food producers.
- You could also join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), which basically offers you a “share” (or a membership) of the farmers’ produce for a price. Each week, you will receive an assortment of everything that’s harvested from the farm. This is another excellent way to support your local farmers and enjoy bountiful and, often times, unique vegetables.
- Buy farm fresh eggs, preferably local.
- Use only organic milk and organic yogurt. And even try using Almond milk for a change. It’s less calories than regular milk, doesn’t spoil and tastes great.
- Make your own sweetened yogurt by using plain yogurt and adding a dollop of low sugar fruit spread. We use the 365 brand from Whole Foods. This will cut at least 15-20 grams of sugar out of your breakfast. Did you know that most flavored yogurts have at least 20 grams of sugar per serving?
- Choose grass-fed beef over conventionally-raised beef. Grass-fed beef is loaded with both Omega-3 and Omega-6. We buy Edelen Farms grass-fed beef, which is sold at the Leon Springs Farmers Market. David, a beef connoisseur, says it’s the best he’s ever had!
- Rather than butter or margarine, use Smart Balance butter spread (it’s got Omega-3’s). Never use margarine…it’s high in trans-fat, which is something no one should consume. Ever! While we still keep butter in the fridge, it’s a special occasion treat as opposed to an every day habit. And I wouldn’t bake with anything but unsalted butter, preferably organic.
- Use olive oil whenever a recipe calls for oil. You can use the cheaper versions for cooking and the more expensive Extra Virgin for salad dressings, etc.
- Make your own salad dressings. Read the label on a bottle of store-bought salad dressing. This should inspire you to never buy them again.
- Switch from Iodized salt to sea salt or kosher salt.
- Watch out for the quick-service restaurants, such as Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesday’s and Red Robin. While they claim to have semi-healthy items, generally the fat, sodium and caloric content is far worse for you than fast-food restaurants which we KNOW are unhealthy.
- Drink fiber at night. But NOT Metamucil or anything like that. For the last five or six years, we have been using Michael Tierra’s Tri-Cleanse and it is truly a great product. Before going to bed, mix a heaping tablespoon with approximately 5 oz. of apple juice, stir thoroughly and slug it down. We buy ours at Whole Foods, but it should be available at most healthy-type food stores.
- Have at least one vegetarian meal every week. These zucchini cakes are delicious!
- Drink more green tea, which possesses properties that help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease, certain cancers and dental cavities, protects the skin from UV damage and fights bacteria and viruses. A wonderful elixir that we should all drink more of.
- Buy as much organic produce as you can afford. Here’s a list of the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables that should only be eaten as organic.
- If you must buy a canned product, choose the one with the least amount of sodium, or look for the can that says “No Added Salt,” such as this Whole Foods’ 365 brand Black Beans, which we swear buy. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar, a half teaspoon of sea or kosher salt and cook on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes until they thicken up. You’ll think they’re homemade.
- The same goes for frozen foods. Read the label before buying anything as most frozen foods are loaded with sodium and fat. Be very careful of the frozen foods that proclaim to be “healthy.”
- Switch from caffeinated coffee to swiss-water or CO2 processed decaf, that is, if you feel that you need to cut back on your caffeine consumption. I quit drinking caffeine more than four years ago and I have never looked back. I am such a better person without being jacked up on lead.
- Eat pastured chicken. This is a free-roaming chicken that is generally fed an organic diet and raised on a farm, not in a factory. If you do some research on how conventional chickens are raised, you’ll probably never eat one again. Like me.
- Read a book or watch a movie about food, the food industry or where our food comes from. For example, Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; Michael Pollan’s An Omnivore’s Dilemma; Fast Food Nation is both a book and a movie; Food, Inc. is now out on DVD. I promise that reading one of these books or watching one of these movies will certainly open your eyes to the ugly truths about mass-produced food.
- Breathe…when you are stressed out or uptight, rather than react, try breathing through your nose (with your mouth closed) and count to 10. Or 100. Deep breathing can help you through almost anything. I said almost.
- Try to limit your consumption of juices, as they contain a lot of sugar. However, you should indulge in some fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice occasionally, as it does have certain health benefits.
- Eat more fish—it’s high in Omega-3.
- Take fish oil capsules.
- Choose Blue Bell’s No Sugar Added Ice Cream or another brand of No Sugar Added ice cream. I bet you won’t even know you’re missing the sugar!
- Try Topo Chico’s flavored carbonated waters…we love both the tangerine and lime. David says it “tastes almost as good as a soda.”
- Try to limit your intake of simple carbs, such as white bread, pasta, etc. Don’t be tricked by brands that claim their products are made from wheat. What do you think white bread is made from? In the case of “brown-colored bread,” unless it contains whole wheat and a few simple other ingredients, it’s probably not very nutritious.
- Choose nitrate-free, low-sodium bacon. We buy ours at Whole Foods, although the Pederson’s brand is also good. I know this sounds ridiculous that there might be such a thing as “healthy bacon,” but every little bit helps. And we all know it’s almost impossible to give up bacon!!
- If you can’t give up hot dogs either, like David, you’ll be pleased to know that bison hot dogs and other “not-so-bad-for-you” dogs are available at Whole Foods.
- Eat more nuts and beans, both of which are incredibly healthy foods. Nuts are an excellent source of protein, minerals, monosaturated fats and other nutrients. Try eating approximately 1.5 ounces of almonds, walnuts, cashews and/or pecans every day as part of a diet lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. Scientific research also indicates that nuts may reduce the risk of heart disease. Legumes are consumed in mass by people all over the world and are great sources of amino acids and soluble fiber. Not only are beans good for you, but they are one of the least expensive forms of protein.
- If you can’t give up sketti (aka spaghetti), try Dreamfields pasta. This low-carb pasta tastes as good as the real thing.
- Buy and eat a lot of Cowgirl Granola.
We advocate enjoying the things you eat and are not very keen on deprivation or suffering to maintain a healthy lifestyle. With just a few changes that you really won’t even notice, you can be healthier, feel better and probably live longer.
And think about what you’re putting in your body.
Many of you may already have symptoms of improper nutrition and, remember as we get older, we don’t necessarily process foods the way we used to.
Things like heartburn, indigestion, insomnia, listlessness, lack of energy and headaches could all be indicators that you need to rethink your eating habits and lifestyle.
Have a very happy and HEALTHY New Year!!
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