In our modern society, it’s become more difficult than ever before to make sure that what we are putting into our bodies is truly good for us. The industrial age, while making food more plentiful and available, has also added a myriad of unhealthy food products to the mix. For most of my adult life, I’ve been obsessed with nutrition, the foods we eat and the positive or negative effects that those foods can have on our bodies. My goal is to live life to the fullest, and making healthy food choices is going to help me to be able to do that. So, I’ve compiled a few simple rules to help make selecting your next healthy meal just a little bit easier.
Tip #1 – The Closer to Nature Our Foods Are, The More Our Bodies Will Thrive.
The simplest rule of thumb in making smart choices with your meal plan is to keep things natural! Our bodies are creations of nature and they prefer foods that are also creations of nature. So, keep those ingredients to a minimum and make sure that they haven’t needed a whole lot of processing to create. The more processed a food is, then the farther it has come from nature and the harder it is on our digestive tracts.
Your grains should be whole and your fats should be natural! So ditch the white bread and margarine, enjoy some whole grain bread and butter instead. Even better, grab some veggies, quinoa, or brown rice and replace some of those saturated animal fats with heart-healthy olive oils or avocados!
Tip #2 – Choose Natural Sugars over Sugary Snacks!
Let’s face it, completely cutting sugar out of our diets is tough work!
Modern food companies LOVE to jam their products full of sugar and salt, because it lights up pleasure receptors in the brain and makes the food “taste good”. Well, when your body becomes addicted to these sugary treats, it is going to have a hard time adjusting to healthier foods which will allow your body to thrive. Sugar is food crack.
So it’s important to find yourself some healthier alternatives that will still scratch that itch. Fruits can do that trick! Load up on them. Frozen fruits are cheap and taste great in smoothies or oatmeal. Yet a simple apple, banana or bag of grapes makes for a great snack in a pinch as well. Try cooking up some sweet potato wedges or carrots if you’d enjoy a hint of sweetness with your dinner.
Tip #3 – Watch That Sodium!
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the average North American is eating at least 50% more sodium in their diet than the recommended amount. Very high amounts of sodium are found in bread, processed foods, canned foods, and cheeses. The recommended daily intake is about 2300mg for an adult, but most are eating closer to 3400mg or above.
This wouldn’t be such a terrible fact for the average person, if it also wasn’t for the fact that most North Americans are also consuming only half of the recommended daily amount of potassium! Potassium is found mostly in plant foods. Potatoes, leafy greens, beans, and other veggies/fruits are all abundant sources of potassium. The recommended daily intake for potassium is 4700mg per day but most are only consuming about 2640mg per day at average.
This is important because these are both considered electrolytes in our bodies and our bodies work hard to keep those electrolytes in balance. An imbalance in electrolytes within the body can lead to cardiac issues like irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, lethargy or muscle spasms. So eat a lot of veggies and keep that sodium to a minimum whenever possible!
If you can follow these 3 rules for healthy eating, then you’ve already made a great start towards living a healthier lifestyle and becoming a better version of yourself. The version of yourself that you had never even known that you wanted to be! Good luck and happy munching.