Learning how to eat healthy is a must for healthy living. Here are 4 steps to take for healthy eating that are not as hard as you think!
We all want to be healthy. Part of healthy living is healthy eating. But, how to start eating healthy can be overwhelming.
When I learned how to eat healthy, it was not all at once.
In fact, I already a large family and was suffering with chronic illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, meat allergies and even osteoporosis at an early age before I learned the importance of healthy eating for healthy living!
I took small steps and made small changes that our family could handle and then moved on to the next change until, slowly but surely we were eating healthy and enjoying it!
I want to encourage you to learn how to start eating healthy and do it - step by step.
Healthy Eating Defined
First, for those of you who are new, let's define what healthy food is.
After all, you need to know the difference between what is nourishing and what is not, to know how to eat healthy before you can know how to start eating healthy!
I am sure there are many definitions for healthy food but here is mine:
Healthy food is food as close as possible to its natural state, locally produced when possible, without chemical preservatives and artificial ingredients.
Healthy food contains ingredients that you can pronounce and understand - foods that your grandmother would have eaten!
Healthy eating is giving your body food that is filled with nutrients to nourish your body - not just fill it with calories.
Does This Mean You Must Buy Organic?
Healthy eating is not necessarily the same as eating organic foods. While there are some foods that are better to eat when grown organically, it is not a must.
The Dirty Dozen list is a good place to start when choosing btween organically and conventionally grown produce. If possible, choose to buy organic when buying foods on this list.
Budget is definitely a consideration. But, there are ways to maximize and stretch your alloted grocery budget money.
An easy way to start is to take a look at the dirty dozen list, and the healthier options in other food categories that you use.
Make a list of the top 10 healthy food choices in order of priority.
Number one would be the food that is most important for your menu planning. Number 10 would be the one of least importance to you.
So, my #1 would be grass fed meats - I will spend extra to purchase these rather than conventionally raised meats. My #10 might be extra virgin olive oil - I would save and use virgin olive oil instead.
Next comes menu planning. I have given the exact steps I have taken to cut my grocery bill drastically in Menu Planning on a Budget when I learned how to start eating healthy.
Through books such as Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price and healthy living food blogs, like Cultured Palate, learn for yourself how to eat healthy for healthy living.
Don't let yourself get overwhelmed! There is a lot of information and you can not expect to learn it all at once.
Set goals for yourself and make changes, one at a time if necessary but make them stick.
How to Eat Healthy - 4 Steps
1. Skip the Processed Foods
Foods made at home from scratch are more nutritious and less expensive.
Processed foods (aka store-bought) are filled with unhealthy ingredients - things you can't pronounce much less know what they are.
Things like artificial colors and flavorings, sugar, fillers and preservatives.
Homemade foods, on the other hand, can be powerhouse products filled with nutritious ingredients that nourish your body. So, skip the processed foods!
Often, buying locally from farms you can visit, is less expensive and definitely better quality.
Plan ahead. We are all busy, but with planning, even the most busy of people can make changes for the better when it comes to nutrition.
Be sure to check out Learning to Cook Real Food if you are wondering just how to ditch the processed foods.
2. Minimize Processed Sugar in Your Diet
I know this can be a controversial subject and I am not advocating banning it altogether. But, the American diet is filled with hidden sugar which can be detrimental to your health.
This is especially true if you have leaky gut and poor digestion as in GAPS diet patients.
Not only is sugar addictive, but it lacks nutritional benefits and is filled with empty calories. These empty calories are responsible for much of the obesity in America. (source)
Sugar is found on the labels of processed foods as sucrose, dextrose, maltose, white sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and fructose.
Instead of processed sugar try natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, rapadura (unrefined cane sugar), monk fruit sweetener, stevia...
Get rid of the conventional vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats (partially hydrogenated fat) in your house!
Illnesses associated with trans fats include autoimmune diseases, infertility, cancer and heart disease jut to name a few! (source)
See Is Margarine Harmful - 6 Secrets They Don't Tell You for more information.
4. Add Probiotic Foods
With the common usage of antibiotics and sugar laden foods, the bacteria in the gut can become unbalanced causing what is commonly referred to as leaky gut.
This lack of balance can be the cause for many physical ailments from autoimmune diseases to psychological symptoms.
There are many probiotic supplements available but many of them do not make it out of the stomach and into the intestines.
That is the beauty of probiotic foods, they are not completely digested and neutralized in the stomach. They allow the intestines to benefit from the probiotics.
I have used this fermented food starter but I normally just use kefir as a starter culture.
The 80/20 Rule
I hope these 4 steps will get you started on your journey to healthy eating and that you have learned how to eat healthy, or at least, how to start eating healthy.
Remember, each step you take, each change you make, will provide health benefits to you no matter how small the steps are.
Since I learned how to eat healthy when several of our children were in their teens, they had years of eating habits to unlearn.
The 80/20 Rule from Dr. Weston A. Price is a comfort to me - as long as 80% of our diet is nutritious, 20% can be not so nutritious.
While I don't use this as an excuse to provide nutritionally deficient meals, it is comforting when choosing to eat foods that are enjoyed but not so nutritionall dense!
What Steps Have You Taken to Eat Healthy?
Leave a comment!