This is the beginning of a basic step by step guide to help you become healthier. This could be a transition to a vegan or plant-based diet. Or it could just be the beginning of a healthy lifestyle.
Start with the step that works best for you. If you are already vegetarian, you may still need to go through some steps, like eating out less and eating whole grains. You might be able to skip other steps, like cutting out meat.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interested in a personal health consultation. No matter what your financial resources are, you deserve to be healthy.
1. Cook for yourself and eat out less
Knowing what goes into your food and body is important part of starting the journey to becoming healthier.
Home cooking is important. This ensures you know what ingredients are in your food. Home cooking allows you, the chef, to make executive decisions. Decisions about what you do and do not put into your body. There’s a minimal chance of a meal containing an ingredient that you don’t want if you cook your meals at home.
Many restaurants add lots of salt, sugar and fat. These additives increase the taste and mouth-feel of their foods. Unless the restaurant specifically specializes in healthy, wholesome food, there’s an extremely small chance that anybody associated with the restaurant cares about your health.
The objective of restaurants is to make customers enjoy the food. Customers eat the food, purchase lots of food and return to the restaurant to spend money on food again. Serving unhealthy food at a restaurant is extremely simple.
Serving fresh, nutritious food on a large scale is much more difficult.
You don’t make everything from scratch at home.
Just cooking at home will give you more control over what you eat.
Even if you decide to eat burgers and fries in your kitchen instead of out at a restaurant, you’re still making a better decision in regards to your health. You choose what meat to make the patties with. You decide what bun to use.
Many restaurants include ingredient lists on their websites. However, combing through all of the items on the website menu is a hassle. Eating out allows people the mentality of “ignorance is bliss”. Preparing foods at home gives consumers more information and control over their food. Even if they are processed and packaged.
2. Switch to whole grains
Achieve better health by replacing refined starches and grains with whole grains.
Eating refined grains is terrible for your health. Eating refined grains is basically like eating junk food. They contain very little insoluble fiber and natural nutrients. Refined grains contribute to blood sugar spikes. And give lots of empty calories.
Swap white rice out with some brown rice. Eat wholewheat instead of white wheat bread. Or find another wholegrain bread.
Breads have many whole-grain replacements. Be aware that only some breads are made with 100% whole grains. Many other “whole grain” breads actually contain non-whole grain ingredients. Make sure to replace all of your processed foods that you purchase with whole grains.
Most cereals contain white wheat flour, so it’ll be necessary to change. You have two options:
- Replace with whole grains
- Replace with bran
Replace white pasta with whole wheat pasta.
Switching from refined grains to whole grains means that many processed foods will have to be avoided. Examples packaged cookies, cakes, crackers and chips.
Hide and seek
You probably don’t realize how much of your food contains refined and processed grains. Until you start looking for them.
And once you start seeing them, you won’t stop.
The majority of what Americans eat today are refined starches and sugars. Very few calories are whole foods. It’s certainly understandable that it will take time to cut out all of the refined foods. You will find yourself wondering what to do for replacement foods.
That’s where step number one comes in handy.
If you want cookies or a cake, replace the white flour with whole wheat. If you desire crackers, try to make them yourself with a whole grain. It’s possible to bake wholegrain versions of cookies, cakes, crackers and chips in your own home. It’s easy with the help of the internet, creativity and kitchen know-how.
All changes take time
Switching from refined grains to whole grains may not seem so big in the beginning. Yet it’s a huge transition.
Doing a switch from 100% white wheat to 100% whole grain can be difficult. The taste, texture and fiber are all different. You might not be able to switch to 100% whole grains right away. If you can’t, use a combination of whole grains and refined grains. This gives your your taste buds and intestinal tract time to adjust.
Make baked goods with a ratio of 1:1 whole grain flour to refined wheat flour. This initiates a change in your taste buds. It also helps you get rid of any extra refined grain products in the kitchen. Do the same with white rice and white pasta if you have a store of these products in your kitchen, too.
Switch it up
There are more grains that just wheat and rice. Experiment with new types of grains and pseudo-grains. Other grain include:
Who knows? You may end up finding a new food that you like!
3. Eat more produce
Do you eat your 5-A-Day?
Eating fruit and veg results in numerous benefits.
- Eating more produce keeps you hydrated.
- Fruits and vegetables aid in weight loss and weight management.
- They add essential nutrients to your diet.
- Produce aids digestion.
- Produce helps regulate blood sugar.
One effortless way to add produce to breakfast is to top cereal with sliced fruit.
When I had just turned vegan and still ate from the university dining center, my breakfast every morning consisted of a neutral cereal, granola, a sliced banana and vanilla soy milk. It always satisfied me. My cereal combo provided me with carbohydrates to fuel my brain and protein and fat to satisfy me until lunch.
Or add produce to oatmeal. Mash a banana and cook it in the oatmeal to create banana bread oatmeal. Other common fruits to add include apples and oranges. But any variety of fruit works. So feel free to choose your favorite.
Another healthy, produce filled breakfast is a fruit smoothie. You can keep it simple and blend bananas with water. Make it fancier by adding a different liquids, fruits, and flavorings. Add rolled oats to create a bulkier breakfast. Smoothie possibilities are endless.
Even adding dried fruit to breakfast will be beneficial. Just make sure they’re not cooked in oil. Dates, raisins and banana chips can all have added oil. Dried fruits don’t provide as much benefit as fresh fruits. But any way to increase the amount of fruit you eat is a step in the right direction.
As long as you include a piece of fruit or two to your morning meal you’re on the right track.
Oftentimes, it’s necessary to bring food from home or buy food for lunch.
Fresh produce can be difficult to find and travel with. However, it’s still possible to include more produce into your diet. Even while eating in an office, restaurant or on the go.
It’s simple to add produce to a lunch meal if you prepare the food at home. The easiest lunch is leftovers from a nutritious dinner. Did you make extra spaghetti with a side of peas for dinner last night?
Throw it into a container. Bring it to work. Reheat it at the office. Simple.
When dinners include produce, eating nutritious lunches at work is no sweat.
Let’s say you don’t have leftovers— now what? One idea is a large, filling salad. Here’s how to make one that’s satisfying:
- Start off your salad with a leafy green. Choose one or a mixture. It’s up to you.
- Add traditional salad toppings. Grated carrots, sliced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, canned olives and chopped onions are colorful ant tasty.
- Add bulk to your salad by including a cooked meat, grain, or legume. Grains and legumes are best. They’re full of fiber and are cholesterol-free.
- Dressing. You can opt for a premade salad dressing or a homemade one. The easiest dressing is white or red wine vinegar and lemon juice.
Need other ideas? Try a bunch of fruit. Or veggies and hummus. Or a sandwich stuffed with fresh lettuce, tomato and cucumber.
When eating at restaurants, order a salad for an appetizer. Or choose cooked vegetables for your side instead of fries. Fruit salads make healthful desserts.
You may be exhausted after work. But you always have the ability to add produce to dinner.
The easiest way to include produce to your dinner? Heat up frozen veggies in the microwave while you prepare your main course.
Another way to add produce is to add extra vegetables to your main meal. For example, add grated carrot to a spaghetti sauce or sloppy joes. Or throw in a bell pepper to a chili. Nobody will notice the difference.
Opt for recipes that already contain produce when possible. Tacos, vegetable stir-fry and paella all include produce. No need to work them into the recipe.
A few last-minute tips about produce:
- Fruits and vegetables are fantastic snacks.
- Don’t force yourself to eat produce you don’t like. Eat the ones you enjoy.
- If you need a sprinkle of salt on your vegetables or sugar on your fruit, add it.
- Potatoes and corn are not nutritionally classed as vegetables. They don’t count towards your 5-A-day.