Often when presented with the topic of diet, many Americans find themselves lost in the milieu of opinionated and polarized information that shrouds this crucial component to all human life, and, essentially, a healthy life. The fact is that most of the largest opponents and proponents of various interrelated topics such as organic vs GMO foods, food additives and coloring, and the health effects of high fructose corn syrup, on both sides, are mainly large agricultural corporations, or various scientific and government organizations that are literally funded by those same corporations. The result is a very complex web of half truths and extreme vagueness, sometimes out right lies, that makes the choices for the average consumer difficult. Either buy the same food you’ve been eating since you were a kid from the same stores you’ve always shopped at, or fork out the extra cash for a “high quality”, soy based space food that just barely resembles something edible, often leaving flavor and palette as an afterthought.
The reality is that eating health isn’t that hard, and doesn’t require hours at the grocery store scrutinizing labels for organic and all natural ingredients, blacklisting an endless list of unfamiliar compounds you can barely pronounce. In fact, the quickest way to a health diet, and in turn, a health life, lies in simplicity and a little creativity. Food comes first and foremost from nature, in the form of vegetation, seed, or animal, and humans have evolved over millions of years to survive on the fruits of the Earth. So what’s the secret to maintaining health in our culture? If it’s not from nature, don’t buy it! Unprocessed or minimally processed foods (such as whole wheat flour) can be used to make or replace anything you see in the grocery store, is much more nutritious, and usually tastes way better (once you’ve retrained your tongue away from artificial flavors).
Of course we don’t always have the time to make everything from scratch, but there’s a few key areas of our diet that are really easy to effect. All it takes is just a few extra minutes, some fresh ingredients, and a little creativity. Humans are known to over think things, so give yourself a break and let us do the thinking for you! Here’s 7 easy ways to break those old habits without breaking the bank:
1. Homemade Salad Dressing – Instead of spending extra for a little flavor with a lot of extra additives, make your own! Here’s a quick and simple recipe that takes 5 minutes, and you probably have the ingredients already: Mix 1 part vegetable oil (olive is preferred) to 1 part lemon juice or your favorite vinegar, add a teaspoon of sugar, a pinch of salt & pepper, and serve with salads or use for a marinade.
2. Fruits for Breakfast and Snacks – This is almost so simple that its appreciation might be easily missed. Having an ample supply of fresh fruits is great for when you need a quick breakfast before work or a snack on the go. For something more filling and nutritious, simply dish out your favorite fruit with peanut butter.
3. Make Smoothies – Everyone loves smoothies, but how many people make them themselves? It’s actually super easy: just blend up some of your favorite fruits, add some juice or milk, and blend away! You can also add peanut butter or yogurt to this mix for added nutrition, and some ice to thin out the mixture. No flavoring needed, its very filling (many times replacing a whole meal), and is a great way to cool off in the summer.
4. Drink Water – Resist the urge to glaze over this one. Drinking water with meals instead of milk, tea, or soda is more hydrating, contributes to healthy digestion, and is (obviously) much cheaper.
5. Eat Salads Frequently – While unprocessed foods is the key to healthy diet choices, raw, or uncooked, foods are even more nutritious, and incidentally, cheaper and easy to prepare and serve. Instead of cooking your veggies, make a salad for lunch or dinner. Its much easier and quicker to make and serve, and will save energy costs both from cooking the food and from subsequent cooling of the added heat, and will reduce the used dishes & clean up time as an added bonus.
6. Go For a Walk – OK, this doesn’t really have anything to do with eating directly, but diet and exercise are two sides of the same coin. Make sure to use your body and provide the necessary fuel to metabolize all those great nutrients you just ate.
7. Start a Garden – One of the most powerful ways to improve your quality of life is to start a garden. You’ll save money, increase nutrition, and get much needed exercise and sun light, all while reducing your dependence on the big Agra-Businesses that threaten human and environmental health. Nothing tastes better here in Northern CA than sitting in the sun and eating a fresh tomato or peach (or carrot or cumber or squash or strawberry….) right off the plant you just poured a whole season of love into. That’s how nature intended us to eat, like kings.
Do you have any tips to add to the list? What about home made salad dressing recipes, your favorite smoothie mix, or the best you’ve pulled from your garden? We want to hear about it, so let us know in the comments below and share with your friends!