Most of us know that we don’t eat as healthy as we should. Most of us also know that we want to eat healthier and improve our health and well being.
But few of us actually take seriously the changing of these good intentions into concrete actions, ending most discussions about healthy eating with ample excuses.
We have no time. We have cravings. We need “comfort” food. We work too much. We work too little. We have kids. We are single. We are depressed. We are celebrating. It’s only one… and on and on run the excuses.
But today I want you to be honest with yourself and cut the excuses. Times are changing. Our society is rapidly awakening to a new way of eating. We know there is a better way. We know we have been blinded by corporations who have had only their own interest at hand for long enough.
We are taking back the old family farms. We are making local, organic and whole food a priority again. We are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We know life can be good, but health will always be a limiting factor in this equation.
So today, we are going to look at how to make the easiest change when it comes to healthier eating, no excuses. We are going to start right at the source of where you get most of your food – the grocery store – and understand how our eating habits revolve all around what decisions we make there.
The Source of Eating Healthy
So let’s think about this. You are at home thinking about your next meal, you feel tired, so you do one of two things – you either reach for the phone or into the freezer and see how fast your next meal can be in front of you on the table.
Or consider this scenario: It is a weekend evening, you are watching television and you feel like you’d like to put something into your mouth. You go over to the pantry and pull out one of the several bags you find there.
The above two scenarios are all too common. We know that in our society today it is all too easy to eat unhealthy. As you may have already heard before, over 75% of what is in the grocery store is low quality, processed food. I am trying to be nice and not call it complete junk, although many other teachers who are also passionate about this like famous food author, Michael Pollan clearly state that these things are food-like, but definitely cannot be considered food.
Yet many of us don’t think twice, making unhealthy choices day after day. It is just too easy, some may say. Our lives are just too hectic and perhaps it is has been so – but the time for change is now. We all know too that ordering take-out of any kind is no better. However, in this article we are only going to focus on what food is in your home. We will handle the take-out issue another time.
So no matter what your will power, no matter what your excuses, your eating choices only go as far as what you have in your home. And what you have in your home, you brought from the grocery store. This is where healthy eating habits truly begin.
I cannot tell you to eat more fruits and vegetables, if you do not have them in your house. I also cannot tell you to stop drinking the soda, if that is what takes up most of your fridge.
Many people think that healthy eating starts in the home, but in reality it starts with where your food comes from – the grocery store. Therefore the choices you make there, make all the difference in how healthy you will eat on a daily basis.
Where the Problem Lies
So let’s look at this logically, all excuses aside – you cannot eat what you do not have.
How can I eat Oreo cookies for example, if they do not exist in my house? Or how can I eat hot dogs or frozen pizzas, or whatever the case may be, if they are simply not there? The answer is, I can’t.
Sure I can go out to the store, overcome by some insatiable craving. But we are all big boys and girls and do have this thing called self control. I mean if that is gone, than we have bigger issues than trying to eat healthy.
So back to your house, you really cannot eat what is not there. And going out to make a special trip just for that “junk” item will usually make most of us think twice about our actions, getting conscious about what we are choosing our next action to be.
Whether you want to lose weight, feed your kids more nutritious meals or just get healthier, better eating begins at the grocery store.
Normally when most of us shop we are not under the spell of hunger or cravings. However, most of us are under the spell of unconscious, bad habits. Like zombies we walk through the aisles picking up the same things week after week. The same processed bread, the same meat choices, the same snack foods, the same high calorie drinks and the list goes on and on.
Well today is the day to snap out of it. Today is the day when change begins.
Ask yourself seriously who are you doing a favor by picking up cereals with more sugar than grain. Who are you making healthier by picking up microwavable meals? Who are you helping by bringing home chemical based drinks?
Whether it is your spouse, your kids or yourself, stop kidding yourself that this “is” the only thing they like or that you are just “treating” them/yourself or that “this” is the only food they/you will eat.
Junk and processed food is just that – and it does not belong in the mouths of the children you love, the spouse you want to stay healthy, family members you care about or the person whose health should be your top priority – YOU.
It is Easier Than You Think
Make new choices today. Start by setting a new time for grocery shopping. Snap out of the old, and walk in with a new vision. Walk in with conscious awareness. Look around the store. The 25% of what we actually CAN call food in the store is located on the periphery, not in the middle aisles.
Every grocery trip should begin in the produce section. This is where you should be picking up the majority what is going to fill your grocery cart and of what you are eventually going to bring home. Do not be afraid of picking up new fruits and vegetables. Where there is a will, there is always a way. Smoothies for example, are the easiest, fastest and most delicious way perhaps to get more vegetables, especially greens into you and your family.
In the bread section, stop picking the bread that is stripped of all its nutrients and than boasts some ridiculous health claims only because it had to be re-fortified. White bread that is trying to be brown bread, should be a warning signal that something is not right. Look around the bread section today – give yourself some time to enjoy this experience, and bring home the best quality bread you can.
In the dairy and meat section, stay away from packaged foods. If you eat meat and dairy pick the least processed options. Stay away from things like cold cuts, processed cheese, flavored milk and colored yogurts, and choose the most fresh, organic options.
Stuck for more food choices? Enter the middle aisles only to pick up whole grains like brown rice, barely, millet or whole grain pastas and various dried legumes. There are perhaps infinite meal ideas of what can be done with vegetables and various grain and bean combinations. From unique stir-fry to homemade soups, you just have to allow your food creativity to shine through.
You don’t need the cans and you need very little if any frozen foods. If in the frozen section, the best choices for healthy eating, if you must have something on hand are frozen fruits and vegetables. The frozen pizzas, lasagnas, battered fish, or any of those prepared meals are not only costing you way more money than you should be paying for meals like that, but they also use the worst quality ingredients and have the least nutritive value. You may say that you cannot afford not to buy them for the sake of time, and things like that, but in the end think about it – this is your and your family’s health we are talking about here. I know every single one of us can make some changes in our priorities to eat better, no matter what.
Finally, skip the drink and snack section – you are literally paying for empty calories that are robbing you of your health. You have free water in your tap and fresh juice can be made in minutes with a simple blender. Need a quick snack? Have ample fresh fruits and nuts on hand. When you make more time for healthy eating, making home made desserts can be just as fun, as it can be easy.
When you get home, do not be surprised that you have less in your cupboards and more in your fridge or fruit basket. At first it may seem odd and you may be asking yourself if you can really handle this. It can be especially hard if you have little ones who are asking for those same old cookies or a spouse who is requesting that same old can of soda. Yes, there may be some challenges along the way, but when making these changes you need to expect and prepare for these. Remember too that the change does not have to be done all in one grocery trip. Depending on your current habits, it can take weeks or even months to swap all the unhealthy food for healthy options.
If you stay conscious and consistent though, before you know it things like Doritos, Oreos and Pizza Pockets, will be a word of the past and things you would never again dream of putting into your body. Before you know it, your meals and snacks will be made of real, whole, nutrient dense foods.
So what are you waiting for? Make the commitment today to start making healthier choices right at the source. Look again at the grocery store, pick anew. Read labels. Spend your money on stuff that adds to your health, not takes away from it. Bring home items that are worthy of being called food and ones you don’t have to feel guilty about eating. Enjoy conscious grocery shopping always, to enjoy healthy options at home always for the best of health.