Hello everyone. Here are some tips for choosing healthy foods to eat.
1. Color your plate.
Make sure to include a variety of colors on your plate throughout the day by trying different fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. Eating a variety of all of these natural foods will ensure that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs daily.
2. Eat fresh foods.
Although snacking on a handful of raisins is better than a handful of chips, choosing fresh fruits and vegetables is always best. Most dried foods are packed with added sweeteners and preservatives. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible but if eating dried fruits, make sure to choose ones that don't have any additives. These are hard to find, but are refrigerated in health food stores due to the lack of preservatives.
3. Only buy food in a package if it's something you could make yourself.
I'm talking about foods such as breads and crackers that can be made at home but we don't always have the time and energy to make. These are okay to buy in a package, just make sure you read the ingredient list. If a packaged food has too many ingredients and/or ingredients that you can't even pronounce, then it is full of preservatives and additives that are not good for you. Check out my post on reading a food package for more detailed information: http://apurifiedlife.blogspot.com/2012/05/whats-in-your-food-reading-food-package.html
4. Don't be fooled by the packaging.
Reading labels is important. Marketing is everywhere and words like "All-natural," "organic," "hormone free," and "no additives" on packages are just a way to get you to buy the product. Make sure to read everything on the package. Look for the USDA Organic label and read the ingredient list carefully to really know whether there are additives or not. Always know where your food comes from.
5. Eat seasonal and local.
Nature knows best. Our body needs to be nourished differently during every season of the year. Seasonal fruits and vegetables provide us with the nutrients we need. Due to food processing, all types of fruits and vegetables are available year round at the grocery store but it doesn't mean that they are in season or have good nutritional value. Foods in season are fresher, have more flavor, and have a higher nutritional value. Ideally, the best place to shop at is at your local Farmer's Market. Farmer's Market only provides what's in season. If you don't have one close by, make sure you opt to buy organic and seasonal from your health food store (ask if you don't know which ones are in season).
6. If something can last months or years in your pantry, it's not real food.
Natural/whole food is meant to be eaten fresh and spoils easily. If you have food in your pantry or refrigerator that lasts forever, then it's not natural and you shouldn't eat it. Just think of all the chemicals that are added to a food in order for it to last months or years without spoiling, not very appealing if you ask me.
7. Eat whole foods.
Whole foods provide the most nutrients and are meant to nourish the body. Most foods available are broken down and are not in their original form. Eating whole foods means eating the most natural form. A lot of times when something is fat free or low fat means that it is substituted with other ingredients like sugar or artificial sweeteners. It is important to read the labels (especially for dairy products) and make sure that there are no added sugars, otherwise, it is better to get the whole food form. Fat is a very important nutrient for the body and it is okay to consume natural whole fat products such as eating a whole egg (egg white and yolk) or eating full fat yogurt and cheese as long as portions sizes are kept small and there is awareness of other fat containing foods in the diet such as nuts/seeds, oils, and avocado. Everything in moderation. I used to be scared of full fat dairy products, but now that I am learning more about whole food and how important it is for health I'm no longer in a fat-free craze and am able to enjoy a whole egg or piece of cheese without thinking I'm eating something bad. I opt for choosing the best quality fats and if I decide to buy low-fat yogurt for example, I make sure it only has the live cultures and no additives. Also, make sure to get organic dairy and look for pasture-raised eggs and meats for the best quality.
8. Balance your meals.
Take a look at your plate once you've served it. There should be a balance between carbohydrates, protein, and fat. If you're eating a bowl of oats with fruit, all you have there are carbohydrates and small amounts of protein from the oats, try adding dairy or nuts to get more protein and some fat. Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables are sources of carbohydrates also.
9. Plan ahead.
Eating healthy is not easy and takes a lot of planning. Planning ahead is good for both snacks and meals. Have a healthy snack with you at all times to avoid going for something out of a vending machine when you're stuck at work/school. Small amounts of a left over meal is also a good snack to have. For meal planning, I usually cook my grains and/or legumes on Sunday night to have ready for the rest of the week and be able to prepare my meals faster. All I have to worry about then is chopping up my vegetables and cooking a piece of fish or chicken which usually takes no more than 20 minutes to prepare. Check out my post on healthy snacks for some ideas: http://apurifiedlife.blogspot.com/2012/04/happy-snacking.html
The World's Healthiest Foods http://whfoods.com
Balanced bites http://balancedbites.com
Natural Chef Training Program, Bauman College