Let's pretend that you have made the decision that you are ready to start eating healthier. Great! Now what? What does healthy mean and where do you even start? There is a lot of different "resource-like" information out there for you to take in. So much so, that it ends up being information overload!
Maybe a realistic step that you could take to start eating healthier could be to Just Eat Real Food (JERF.) Think back just this past week. How much of the food you consumed came from a packaged box, was delivered to you through the window of your car, wouldn't be recognized as food by your great-grandmother, or that had ingredients that a third grader couldn't pronounce? All of these things are considered processed foods that can bog our energy levels down, increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and in some cases are specifically designed to make you overeat.
The first thing to do when embarking on the journey to eating healthier is to consider your current relationship with food and find areas where you can make improvements. If you consistently start adding a little more real food into your daily food intake and slowly cut back on the food that is processed, it will likely lead you to a more successful health journey than jumping into a diet plan that either has an ending point or is difficult to sustain for the rest of your life.
Here are three tips to help you successfully JERF:
1. Real food is something you can picture growing in nature.
Have you ever seen a Nacho Cheese Flavored Chip Tree? Or even a tree with some of the ingredients they contain growing on it; yellow 4, red 40, monosodium glutamate? Hopefully not. But what about a tomato plant, apple tree, raspberry bush, a chicken or a fish? Those are real foods.
2. Real food has ingredients that normal people keep in their pantry.
"Honey, can you pick up some more Sodium Benzoate when you go to the store?" Always read the ingredient labels on everything you consume. Shoot for eating foods that have fewer ingredients and decrease the amount you consume of things that are made in a lab.
3. Real food is located on the perimeter of your grocery store.
For the most part, the walls of the grocery store contain mostly produce (fresh and frozen), meat/fish, and dairy. The inner aisles are where you should keep your guard up. Go ahead and dive in there for things like rice or dried herbs and spices, however, don't linger too long or else the things that are disguised as food might start calling your name! Also, pay special attention to the dairy section. There are some sneaky ingredients in some of those products, too.
There you have it. Armed with these three easy tips, you are ready to start cutting back on processed foods and embark on your journey to healthier eating!