Tuesday, November 8, 2011

10 Easy Ways to Eat Healthier

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Okay, so maybe the living room isn't this messy!
(Bill Longshaw @freedigitalphotos.net)
My four year-old loves scattering his toys all over the living room.  By suppertime at our house, the floor is covered with books, Legos, Lincoln Logs, and various small toys.  When my husband and I ask him to pick up all his toys before bedtime, he freaks out, crying and whining, telling us he can't do it. The mess seems too impossible to clean up himself.

So I have started a different method.  When he wants something during the day, like to play his V-Smile or to go to grandma's house, I ask him to pick up ten toys first.  He starts counting the toys as he puts them up and keeps going after ten, sometimes putting away 40 toys!  "All" is too difficult for him, but a small, set number inspires him to keep going. 

Eating healthier can work the same way.  If you try to make too many changes at once, you can get overwhelmed and you are more likely to give up.  Instead you can make little adjustments to your diet which just may motivate you to make more little changes. 

Here are a few to get you started.

1.  Switch soda or other flavored drinks to 100% juice or tea. 
Kool-Aid, soda, and other artificially flavored beverages are full of chemicals, dyes, and preservatives and may increase your risk of type II diabetes and obesity.  Drinking 100% juice in moderation and iced tea adds vitamins and antioxidants to your diet.

2.  Switch from canned to frozen or fresh fruits and veggies. 
Canned vegetables have less nutrients in them than frozen or fresh.   If you do use canned fruit, make sure it is packed in juice, not syrup.  Choose unsweetened natural applesauce over flavored applesauce with sugar.

3.  Switch from white to brown (rice, grains).
Choosing whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat adds fiber to your diet.  It may also decrease your risk for many diseases like heart disease and type II diabetes.

4.  Switch from white or red potatoes to sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are similar in nutritional value as white potatoes, but they have more antioxidants and may help with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

5.  Switch from fast food to fast food at home.
Eating fast food even two times a week can increase your chances of developing insulin resistance (diabetes).  Keep a few bagged meals in your freezer for those times you don't feel like cooking or don't have time.  Many freezer meals are lower in fats and calories than take out and they are less expensive.

6.  Switch from processed foods to whole foods.

7.  Switch from candy to dried fruits. 
No matter what your diet, you will probably start craving sweets at some point.  Most dried fruits are high in vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.  Avoid dried fruits that have added sugar.

8.  Switch from wannabe foods to real foods (fruit flavored to fruit, etc.).

9.  Switch from meat every meal to meatless several times a week.  If you are not ready to give up meat entirely, simply eating less meat can have a positive effect on your health.  You can get the protein you need from eating beans, nuts, soy products, and eggs. 

10.   Switch from factory fed to naturally fed meats.  Fish and cows are not meant to eat so much grain.  Grain changes their digestive tract, causing unhealthy fats in their tissues and may lower your chances of exposure to E. coli.

Don't try to make all of these changes at once.  Make just one or two switches for a month, then add another healthier choice into your diet every month or so.  If you gradually trade out unhealthy foods, you are more likely to keep these changes in your life.

You don't need to get overwhelmed like my son.  The most important part is to begin!

What change are you going to make?  Have you already started?  Which one is the easiest or the hardest for you and your family?Pin It Best Blogger Tips
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