I have been asked many times for suggestions on how to incorporate a healthier diet into their family lifestyle. I successfully eased our family into a more healthy diet, one baby step at a time. SO here they are, 5 baby steps to choose from. Select just one for now, or start with a couple. You decide what is right for you and your family and when its time to incorporate another baby step if at all!
1. Incorporate more Raw Vegetables and Fruit - Its no surprise that this is the first baby step. If you add just one baby step, "me, me, me" this one is crying out to be picked. Our body desperately needs the nutrients, oxygen and enzymes from fruits and veggies throughout every day. Raw food really should be the staple of our diet, yet it's probably the least popular choice for the average American family.
*Purchase Sale Produce - Sale items continually rotate, so you'll be sure to get a variety of produce as well as stick to a budget friendly plan.
*Veggies on the Go - Cut up a gallon size baggie full of veggies before heading out for the day. The kids and I end up munching on veggies all day long. I cut big chunks, so it only takes me 5 minutes tops to do this.
*Veggie Plate - Cut up veggies and place in a pretty bowl or plate. When my girls were toddlers I discovered a little trick to get them to eat their veggies. One of my girls would come up to me while I was cutting veggie and inquire about what I was doing. When I would tell her I was cutting up a snack for myself, this would instantly make "my" snack extremely desirable. They would continually sneak "my" veggies, and that would secretly put a smile on my face ;)
*Fruit Alone - First thing in the morning, after school, before dinner, before bed, pretty much anytime cut up a plate full of fruit to share. Eat fruit anytime, except on a full stomach. Fruit is best eaten on an empty stomach. Fruit wants to move quickly through your digestive system, and can do this when eaten on an empty stomach.
*Fast Fruit - Pack apples, oranges, grapes, strawberries and any other fruit on the go. Most fruit is wrapped in the perfect "to go" packaging.
*Juice - Experimenting with juicing at home is a great way to get a multitude of nutrients into the person who is sampling the juice. My kids come running when I say, "juice is ready!" Try one of our favorite basic juice recipes Green-Light Limonade
2. Prepare Meals with More Whole Foods - This is also a great baby step to begin with. I believe it is so important to know the ingredients that go into the food you are eating, most of the time. Of course we need to allow room for some flexibility in our diet as well, because preparing a home cooked meal every night can be time consuming, and possibly unrealistic.
*Bookmark it - This might sound crazy, but my favorite cookbook will probably forever be the classic Betty Crocker Cookbook. Besides the basic education in the area of cooking, the recipes are super easy. For years it's been a snap to "healthify" traditional American as well as ethnic recipes to suit our family's health preferences. A few modifications I regularly make: subbing whole grain spelt flour(much easier on the digestive system) in place of processed all-purpose flour, using butter in place of margarine and replacing cow's milk with almond or rice milk.
*Follow a Foodie - Of course there are many whole and raw food recipes right here on Breathetree, however there are countless other food blogs that can give you an abundance of "real food" recipe ideas. Foodbuzz and foodgawker will give you many options. One of my best friends writes an ethnic, yet down-home food blog named Have you eaten yet?
*Freeze for Later - I love doubling a recipe I am already preparing for dinner and freezing a "fast food" meal for later. Gallon size baggies full of soup are very helpful to pull out of the freezer on busy days. This helps us avoid ordering pizza or getting any number of unhealthy fast food.
*Real Color and Flavor - A sensitivity my oldest daughter acquired instigated one of the best changes to our diet as a family, leaving artificial coloring and flavoring in the dust. I make my own coloring using fruits and veggies, such as beets, carrots, spinach and raspberries, its fun! More and more products are being made with natural colors and flavors with the increasing awareness.
*Choosy Eater - If you have a "picky" eater, you have probably heard all the tricks to get your kiddo to eat more of anything that's healthy, and maybe nothing has worked. If that is the case, you may be interested in Kiddie Florish to help encourage a healthy appetite and disposition for your child.
3. Leave Trans Fats Behind - Getting rid of trans fats (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils) years ago was one of the best choices we made as a family. Just subtracting this one item from your diet will eliminate many processed foods and allow your body to detox and thrive.
*Go Natural - Purchase natural or organic peanut butter, also use real butter. Most peanut butter and margarine brands on the shelf are filled with partially hydrogenated oil.
*Shop Fresh - Stick to the perimeter at your grocery store, shopping fresh and as organic as possible. Many pre-made crackers, cookies, breads, snacks, pre-made meals, and fried foods have trans fats. However, there are many organic and natural alternatives to items which are pre-made.
*Natural Food Options - There are many organic and natural alternatives to pretty much any prepackaged foods at your local natural food store.
*Food from Home - Since most fast food contains trans fats, prepare "to go" meals ahead to bring along. When the temptation arises, you will be prepared with a healthy lunch or snack alternative.
*Read Food Labels - Avoid any type of hydrgenated or partially hydrogenated oil by reading food labels. Thankfully most items have a natural or organic alternative.
4. Hydrate - I frequently read that most Americans do not get enough water in their diet. Let's be the exception :)
*Drink More - Drink half of your weight in ounces per day. So if you weigh 150 lbs., you would want to drink about 75 oz..
*#1 Beverage - Let this be your first and possibly your only choice beverage. Our body is made mostly of water and we must have it to survive. Try natural herbal tea to change it up.
*Clean Source - Choose a purified water source, and refill water jugs to go green and save on cash. If you have the cash to splurge, incorporate alkaline water.
5. Light on the Wheat and Simple Carbohydrates - Our family always feels lighter and more perky when we are eating more lean and crisp, unprocessed foods.
*Gluten or Wheat Free - Most processed baked or packaged foods have natural or organic and gluten free option at your local Trader Joe's or health food store.
*Sub Veggie for Carb - Use your favorite pasta sauce over green beans, julienned cucumber, spaghetti squash or spiralized or julienned zucchini or summer squash in place of pasta. Choose an extra veggie in place of mashed potatoes or any other starchy side.
*Green Wrap - Wrap lettuce, chard or any type of green leaf around your favorite sandwich. My family loves using romaine for a yummy taco shell!
Enjoy incorporating any one of these baby steps, which are bound to enhance your lifestyle. Sending much peace and raw love to you and yours.