These days, more and more people are choosing to take the healthy option when it comes to eating. You get out what you put in, as the old saying goes. If you’re filling up your body with junk food, takeouts, and calorie-loaded sodas, the chances are your health and wellbeing will suffer.
There’s no doubt that healthy eating takes a little more effort when you’re shopping and cooking, but the benefits make it well worthwhile. Eat the right way, and you’ll feel happier, have more energy, and enjoy better health. Meal times become social occasions again, and you’ll discover and rediscover the most wonderful tastes and flavors. You’ll also be doing your bit for the environment.
To help you find the new healthy you, here’s our helpful guide on making the right choices when it comes to shopping healthily.
If you want to start eating more healthily, it’s surprisingly easy to do so. And if you’re really smart, it needn’t cost you much or anything more.
One of the first things you need to do is to replace frozen and processed foods with fresh versions. Fresh fruit and vegetables are much healthier options than their frozen or canned alternatives, and they always taste much better too. The downside is that they don’t last as long, so you’ll need to be more disciplined when you’re shopping. Remember to only buy what you need!
It’s also a fact that the most expensive gifts aren’t necessarily the best presents. A meaningful gift that’s been chosen with thought and care will always be better received than a costly but inappropriate present.
Another easy change to make is to switch to healthier versions of your favorite treats and chips. Many chocolate bars now come in low-fat options, and baked snacks are a healthier alternative to traditional chips, which are often fried. You’ll soon become an expert in checking labels for fat content and nutritional values!
However, it’s important that you don’t beat yourself up over your new approach to healthy living. It’s OK to have the odd relapse – we all need a McDonalds or Ben & Jerry’s sometimes! Accept that you won’t always be able to be perfect and that moderation in all things is the way to go. The occasional lapse is always permitted!
A commitment to healthy eating typically means a commitment to spending more time shopping for food. And it also means a change in mentality. You’ll need to plan better, and allocate more time to cooking. No more coming home and lazily putting a ready meal in the microwave! Here’s a link to some cookbooks to help inspire you!
The payoffs of healthy eating are amazing. You’ll find the organic burgers freshly prepared by your local butcher have a lot more flavor than the frozen ones you usually buy from the supermarket. The taste, texture, and smell of newly-baked bread will have your taste-buds tingling in anticipation in a way that no sliced loaf ever did! And those vitamin supplements will help to boost your energy levels and improve your mood.
Naturally, organic fruit and vegetables are the best healthy option, but they do tend to be more expensive to buy. That means you’ll need to shop around more. You may find that your local greengrocer or artisan butcher is actually cheaper on certain lines, and they’ll certainly be more knowledgeable. Many people have forgotten the joys of eating with the seasons, and your local food producers and sellers are always much more helpful in this respect.
Farmers and local markets are a great way to go. Not only can you be sure of freshness and quality, but you’ll also be helping to support people in your local community.
As you start to eat more healthily, you become more attuned to the importance of balance and nutrition in your diet. That in turn will start to inform your shopping choices. How much salt, sugar, saturated fats, chemicals, preservatives, and so on are in the food? When you actually start reading the labels, you’ll be amazed by some of the things that manufacturers put in!
Happily, there is much expert advice out there to help you on your way. Initially, it can be a bit overwhelming as you try to process all the information as to what’s good for you and what isn’t. But you’ll soon pick up the relevant know-how, and in fact, much of what you need to know is refreshingly simple (fresh and natural is good, processed and lots of salt is bad!).
As well as shopping well, you’ll need to shop smart. We’ve already mentioned the benefits of shopping with the seasons: seasonal products are in abundance at certain times of the year, for example, which makes them cheaper. In your search for value and buying only what you need, you’ll learn where to find the best bargains, and also save money by throwing away less food.
When you’re changing your lifestyle, you may find it beneficial and indeed even necessary to add some health supplements to your diet. Click here for a selection of health-enhancing options.
Fail to plan, plan to fail. That little nugget of wisdom applies in spades here. If you don’t plan ahead, you may find yourself reverting to convenient but unhealthier options like takeouts or processed meals. Yes, you’ll need to spend more time thinking about what you need and where to buy it, but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.
The other side of it is that planning meals can actually be fun. There’s also a sense of anticipation at what you’ll be eating. Why not treat yourself to a new planner to help you in the process?
Perhaps you can start to involve your partner or family, too. With a little cajoling, you may even get them to help with the cooking (remember that the person who cooks doesn’t have to do the washing up!). And if you plan properly, there should be no excuses for turned-up noses when the meal is served!
Finally, when you have your list and know exactly what you need, shopping actually becomes quicker and easier – no more traipsing up and down the aisles looking for inspiration, or trying to remember what you’ve forgotten!
Here are six simple tips to help you choose the best real food and eat healthily:
1. Fresh is better: whenever possible, always choose the fresh option over frozen and canned fruit and veg
Stay natural: avoid products with high levels of added sugar, salt, preservatives and so on
Be smart: some foods that you think might be healthy actually aren’t! Some popular breakfast cereals have a very high salt and sugar content, for example
Watch what you drink: again, some fruit juices may look natural but they actually contain lots of added sugar. Read those labels!
Eat lean meat: choose lean options like turkey, ask your butcher to trim the fat off your meat, and limit your intake
Go fish or veggie: eating more fish or going vegetarian for some meals are both tasty and nutritious lifestyle changes
A French philosopher once wrote “You should eat to live and not live to eat”, but we’re not so sure. When you start to eat more healthily and really enjoy your food, you rediscover the delights of shopping, cooking and eating well.
You won’t believe the difference your new approach will make to your life, health-wise, socially, financially and in your mood. So happy shopping and bon appetit! And click here for some more ideas on healthy eating.