Although well worth it in terms of your health, eating healthy and organic foods can initially be tricky and time-consuming. You have to kick the junk food habit. You may need to upgrade your store of nutritional knowledge. Stopping to read labels can be critical in identifying organic foods, lengthening your grocery shopping trips. Most importantly, you have to get your taste buds on board, taking the time to savor the natural nosh of the moment, because a love of good food is the key to healthy eating.
Stock your kitchen pantry and refrigerator with healthy and organic foods. Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat and quinoa contain the fibrous grain coating that provides dietary fiber for your digestion, plus many B vitamins and essential minerals as well (see References 1). Use more fresh and unprocessed foods, including raw fruits and vegetables, to maximize nutrition (see References 2). Keep in mind the following tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in selecting groceries: Increase your fresh produce intake; mix up your vegetable color scheme to get a variety of nutrients; eat protein such as lean meat, poultry, seafood, legumes, soy and nuts; and eat no-fat or low-fat dairy products (see References 3, page xi). Verify that your fresh produce, dairy and other foods are organic by checking the labels for the USDA organic certification. Select those healthy and/or organic groceries that make your mouth water for best results.
Plan your week's menus. Having a plan on paper will help you stick to a healthy, organic diet. Search for healthy recipes that call for the ingredients you have on hand, or be creative with your own menu ideas. Adapt recipes for your favorite foods to make them healthy. For example, rather than eating french fries prepared in hot oil, cut fresh potatoes in wedges, season them with herbs and bake them in the oven. Seek out new recipes each week to keep your menus varied and interesting.
Cook your own meals. You don't have to be a trained chef. Tossing together a Saturday night salad is a simple matter of combining your fresh greens with other ingredients you like. For example, saute some skinless chicken in a nonstick pan and chunk it up as a salad topper. Add toasted walnuts, a few slivers of cheese, halved grapes, diced apples, radishes and cucumbers. Steam some brown rice for a side dish. Garnish with a glass of milk or herbal tea. If you run out of creative, fresh ideas, find out what other people are eating for good health.
Start your own organic mini-farm. One of the drawbacks of buying organically certified foods is that, due to the stringent USDA guidelines under which they are grown, they typically cost more than their conventional counterparts (see References 4). Instead, economize and eat organic produce from your own garden. The primary requirements, as stated in the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, are avoiding synthetic soil amendments and chemical insecticides (see References 5, section 2109). Even apartment dwellers can organically grow herbs and vegetables in patio containers. Taking pride in your own homegrown organic garden produce makes it more enjoyable than ever to eat healthy.
Items you will need
- Whole grains
- Fresh fruit
- Fresh vegetables
- USDA organic products
- Low-fat dairy
- Lean meat
- MyPyramid.gov: Why Is It Important to Eat Whole Grains?
- MayoClinic.com: Healthy Menu and Shopping Strategies; Mayo Clinic Staff; March 2009
- MyPyramid.gov: Executive Summary, Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010; USDA; January 2011
- Organic Farming Research Foundation: Organic FAQs
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Organic Foods Production Act of 1990; Title XXI, Organic Certification; November 2005
- Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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