5 Quick Ways to Improve your Food Choices and Health
If you're like most people, you're busy and on the go all the time. Cooking with fresh ingredients is ideal, but not always realistic; especially when time is an issue! Pre-cooked foods can be very tempting. Avoid the pitfalls of the supermarket aisle and improve your food choices with these five easy tips.
#1 Avoid healthy on-the-go snacks
These products fill our supermarket aisles, shouting out how low-calorie, low-fat, and ‘good’ they are for us. They're marketed as the perfect snack for the health-conscious individual. Don't believe everything you read, because unfortunately that's not the case.
Most of the highly processed, packaged on-the-go snacks are not helping your health. They're usually full of man-made chemicals and heaps of artificial sugars.
Avoidance Strategy: If you want a sugar hit, grab a piece of fresh fruit, and avoid reaching for the dried versions. Fresh fruit contains plenty of nutrients and vitamins which are beneficial for your body.
Pro Tip: If you really are craving something quick like a snack bar, go for a Nakd bar.
#2 – If it's brightly coloured and heavily marketed, it's probably not good for you
Have you ever heard the saying “those who shout the loudest have the least worth listening to?” The products boasting about the goodness in them, are usually low in value, and quality. These products are often heavily marketed to meet sales quotas. You will never see apples, bananas, and potatoes get the same kind of marketing money spent on them, but they're the healthier option.
Avoidance Strategy: Be weary of anything heavily marketed and looks like lots of money has been spent on making you want it more. Usually the labels will be colourful, bright, and tempting, or even disguised with special offers like buy 1 get 1 free.
#3 – Foods with added vitamins usually don't contain them naturally
Real foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds don't usually list the vitamins and minerals they contain. That’s because they are so dense in nutrients, and it is assumed they are good for you. Manufactured products often make big claims about the vitamins and minerals they contain. They're usually added in after all the goodness has been removed through processing. They are added so that the manufacturers can use the claims in their marketing materials. Sometimes, only small amounts of the vitamins are added so they can legally make the claims.
It is important to understand that consuming specific vitamins and minerals doesn't mean our bodies will absorb them. This is because our bodies are used to getting them in real foods, and not in isolation. Even if you consume food with added vitamins, your body might not benefit if they can't be absorbed properly. For example, calcium cannot be absorbed without Vitamin D. If you needed an excuse to sit out in the sun with a cold glass of milk, there you have it.
Avoidance Strategy: Stick to foods which you intuitively know contain all the vitamins and minerals you need, such as fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, meat, and fish.
Pro Tip: Supplements are called supplements because they are designed to be taken in addition to a balanced diet. The bulk of our nutritional needs should be through high quality, real foods. Using supplements to replace real foods is not a good option if you want to remain healthy. There is no quick fix because our bodies are very complex
#4 – If it has a long shelf-life, it's usually the chemicals keeping it that way
Real food spoils in a short amount of time. Consider how bananas are green one day, and yellow with brown spots the next! This is normal and natural. Unfortunately, this is not good for storage, transport, or making a profit. Manufacturers joined forces with scientists to create amazing ways to extend the life of our foods. The chemicals and modified ingredients used are not so amazing, however. Our bodies are not used to dealing with the chemicals, or the new ‘Frankenstein foods’. It's like putting diesel into a gasoline car. It's going to cough, splutter and run very badly; eventually it will break your engine!
Avoidance Strategy: opt for fresh produce, minimally processed foods.
#5 – Diet varieties of drinks still contain added chemicals
Making a change from full sugar varieties to sugar free fizzy drinks is a good choice. If you really want to improve your health overall, try to eliminate sugary beverages altogether. Drinks without added sugar have added chemicals instead to make then flavoured. These chemicals wreak havoc within our bodies and we must work hard to remove them.
Avoidance Strategy: Coming off fizzy drinks can be hard. Try to gradually wean yourself off or go cold turkey. If weaning, try to find a replacement such as sparking water with lemon/lime or add fresh fruit for some flavour.
The Biggest Takeaway Tip
Maintain a healthy body and mind by eating minimally processed food. Choose to buy fresh, whole foods.
Try this at home: Next time you go shopping, stick to the outside aisles, this is where you will find fresh, natural foods. Take a photo of your shopping cart when full. How does it look? Is it full of colourful fresh fruit and veggies, or is it full of processed items?
Have you tried to lose weight by eating less and exercising more? This practice may be hurting your efforts! Instead, read 5 reasons why eating less is a flawed weight loss strategy.
Wondering what the best diet is? Check out my informational video. Above all else, keep things simple. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.