The Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating {Steps 1-5}

hybrida rasta mama, natural foods, natural health, natural remedies, natural products
natural foods, natural health, eating healthier, how to

The Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating

More and more emphasis is being placed on making better food choices these days. From outrage over ingredients that are hidden in our food to a demand from the public that food labels clearly state if the product contains GMOs, more and more consumers are getting serious about what goes into their body. As well they should.

While the intention to find better health through improved nutrition might be there, it is often very difficult to navigate the murky water of healthy choices. After all, it seems like every decade or so the definition of healthy food changes. Coconut oil was good, then it was bad, now it is good. Eggs were a staple and doctors encouraged their patients to consume them by the dozen. Then eggs were the enemy, responsible for raising cholesterol. Now they are our friend again, but only if they are free range and organic.

What is the average consumer to do? Where should someone who wants to improve their health begin?

This series is designed with YOU in mind! Not everyone has the time to research and wade through all of the competing information. Most of us have busy lives and need someone to help us create a workable plan to change our eating habits gradually and in a way that makes sense without being overwhelming.

BABY STEPS TO BETTER HEALTH {STEPS 1-5}

Today I will outline 5 steps that you can do RIGHT NOW to help get you on a path towards improved health. These changes are lifelong lifestyle changes, not band aids or quick fixes through a fad diet. By incorporating these changes over the course of the next 4-6 weeks, you will begin to see a positive difference in your health which will encourage you to continue on tackling some of the more difficult changes that come along further in the series. But for now, let’s start with a few basics!

Step 1 – Forget what you think you know about the definition of healthy eating

Let’s start with a clean slate here. If I were to ask 100 people to define “healthy eating” I would get 100 different responses. You see, most consumers have been brainwashed by clever marketing schemes. Oh, this is gluten free, therefore it is healthy. That gluten free product might be loaded with sugar and artificial coloring, neither of which is healthy. I eat salad every day, therefore I am healthy. Did you know that the salad dressing you are using may be loaded with high fructose corn syrup and hidden MSG?

A simplistic definition of healthy foods is “food that you can theoretically grow or raise yourself.” These foods are not manufactured. They do not have vitamins added in because they original nutrients are stripped out from over processing. These are foods that are raw, unrefined, and as close to their original state as possible. They are prepared and eaten shortly after being picked or in the case of meat, seafood, and poultry, eaten shortly after being butchered.

Example – a peach or a banana is a real food. Banana flavored fruit roll ups are not. Fresh squeezed orange juice is a real food. Orange juice in the carton is not. Homemade sourdough bread made with properly prepared grains is a real food. Store bought bread made with additives and preservatives is not. (Are you sensing a theme…prepackaged foods are typically not very healthy).

Now, I absolutely understand that NOT everyone will be able to cook from scratch. Don’t worry – we will get to that later. Right now, I just want to make sure you understand the basic definition of a healthy real food. It is a food that is as close to its natural state as possible. Period.

Step 2 – Make A Food Journal

Now that you have a basic idea of what I am referring to when I say “healthy food or real food,” let’s move on to a very important part of changing your nutritional lifestyle.

Making a food journal is an exercise that is almost guaranteed to open your eyes to just how poorly you have been eating. The idea here is to be as detailed as you possibly can be. Cutting corners won’t do you any favors. So here is what you need to do:

  1. Get a notebook or pad of paper that you can carry with you at all times.
  2. Use a separate piece of paper for each day of the week. You will be keeping a journal for 7 days.
  3. Write down everything you eat noting the item, the portion size, and all nutritional data about that food. You are looking for calories, protein, fat content, carbohydrates, sugar, and salt in particular. If you are eating a packaged product, you can find that information on the label. If you are making something from scratch or simply grabbing a piece of fruit or a veggie, you will need to look up this data. It is VERY important to be honest here.
  4. At the end of each day, add up your totals for calories, protein, fat content, carbs, sugar, and salt.
  5. Do this every day. (I know I mentioned that. Just reiterating).
  6. At the end of 7 days, take a good hard look at your food intake. How often did you eat processed foods? How often did you eat out where you weren’t really sure what was in your food? How much sugar did you consume in a week? How much salt? Was it unrefined salt or MSG? How many products contained gluten?

Keeping a food journal serves to provide you with a reference point. Most people are shocked with the end totals of their food intake. Sugar is almost always out of control high. You probably do not realize just how much sugar you are consuming. (Again, don’t worry. We’ll do a blood sugar control challenge down the road.)

Step 3 – Don’t Be Afraid Of What You Don’t Know

While it can be daunting to change the way you purchase and prepare foods, don’t be afraid to make a change! Fear is really the only thing that will ever hold you back.

Although I am a cook-most-everything-from-scratch person these days, I didn’t use to be. And I will admit, cooking from scratch was scary as all get-out! I had no idea how to make broth. Cutting a chicken properly was a mystery. Peeling garlic? Say what?

In order to be successful in improving your health, you need to know some cooking basics. You can certainly search You Tube for helpful videos, but again, who has time? I would like to suggest a few resources which may prove helpful to you. Yes, they cost a little money but trust me, they are well worth it! I have personally used/read each one and can say that I would have been lost without them.

Kitchens Resurrected – A Real Food Cooking School

I absolutely love this video course that tackles the fundamentals from a real food standpoint. You know, things like how to cut a chicken, how to tell if fruit is ripe, basic cooking techniques, and other basics that seem to have become a lost art.

There is course content in the following areas:

  • Instruction in basic, intermediate and advanced real food cooking techniques and skills for cooks at all levels for beverages and drinks
  • Broths
  • Grains
  • Homemade sauces, dressings and condiments
  • Appetizers; soups; main dishes; side dishes; salads; egg dishes; grains; beans and legumes; snacks and desserts
  • Ethnic dishes
  • Allergy and intolerance substitutes
  • Superfoods

The course includes a video dictionary of cooking terms with demonstrations as well as instruction in food storage. There are also video catalogs of:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Meats
  • Grains, Nuts And Seeds
  • Fats
  • Spices
  • Pantry Staples
  • Kitchen Equipment

Real Foods Basics

This book will show you how to cook real, recognizable foods in your own kitchen. Foods that everyone loves, like pizza, ice cream, and French fries, that have been made over with healthy ingredients! People will be amazed that these foods are healthy because they are so delicious. You don’t have to be deprived when you’re living the real foods lifestyle! Also, it’s important to know why you’re making some of these changes. But who has time to search for and then read hundreds of pages of research, and try to make sense of it all? The book will explain to you why you need to make changes, what changes to make, and how to re-stock your kitchen to reflect these changes. Every page has a resource section at the bottom, too, so that if you are so inclined, you can read the research for yourself. In short, this book is a bite-sized, reasonably priced bit of information that will help you to understand the real-food lifestyle and adapt your kitchen to it, while still making recipes that please your family.

Plan It Don’t Panic

Part of moving towards better health through proper food choices involves meal planning. Flying by the seat of your pants will only push you towards convenience foods which are far from the picture of health.

This eBook will allow you to:
Stop spending too much money and start making the most of every grocery dollar
Avoid the stress and panic of what to cook each night for dinner
Serve your family more balanced, healthful meals (rather than resorting to convenience or compromise foods)
It also offers 4 weeks of meal plans which will help take the guess work out of that first month of your new nutritional lifestyle.

Step 4 – Make One Small Food Swap

This series is all about getting your toe wet before you dive in headfirst. So let’s start with something really easy. Starting now, commit to making ONE small food swap. No, you don’t get to pick. I’m picking for you. Today, I want you to stop using margarine or other butter substitutes. They are nothing but chemicals, all of which are bad for you. Real butter IS good for you, no matter what you have been led to believe. If you are already using butter and avoiding the fake stuff, good for you. Your challenge will be to replace vegetable oil, canola oil, and soybean oil with coconut oil or olive oil! Vegetable, canola, and soybean oil have all been linked to numerous health problems including hearth disease (the very thing they were designed to prevent) as well as diabetes and obesity. Coconut oil has hundreds of health benefits and uses. (See 333 Uses for Coconut Oil for more information). It is the best choice for all of your cooking needs!

Step 5 – Start Taking A High Quality Probiotic*

Probiotics are a type of living bacteria that actually benefit your health. This friendly bacteria, located in the gastrointestinal tract, comes in a variety of forms. With more than 400 different bacteria living in the human gastrointestinal tract, the most common forms of intestinal probiotics are L. acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidum.

These bacteria act as balancing agents for non-friendly, pathogenic, gut-bacteria such as Candida or E. coli. When the “good-guys” are not present enough, a number of bacteria-related health problems such as digestive upset, headaches, sluggishness, irritability, cadidiasis (an overgrowth of the bacteria Candida albicans), and even anxiety can ensue.

Most everyone who eats a diet high in processed food will have a compromised gut. While an entire post can be devoted to this topic alone, trust me when I tell you that there is a 99% chance that your gut health is not optimal. The only way to jump start it is through the use of a high powered probiotic. Regulating your gut flora will pave the way to continued health through better nutrition.

*I am not a medical professional and cannot dispense medical advice. So please, before taking any sort of supplement, discuss it with a trusted medical professional, nutritionist, or health coach.

Let’s stop here and give you a few weeks to implement these first five steps. Like I said, these are the easy ones. But as with everything, a solid foundation is critical to the long term success of staying the course and making permanent changes. So go now and begin your journey towards better health. I’ll see you back here in a month or so!

Learn more about food health and nutrition at HybridRastaMama.com

 

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