I recently had a funny e-mail conversation with an online buddy about healthy foods. She’s a regular visitor to my recipe blog and, good-naturedly, made fun of my inclusion of turkey bacon on my Current Top 10 List of Healthy Foods and Drinks. She said something to the effect of preferring to have her face ripped off than to ever eat turkey bacon.
Silly girl. That’d hurt.
I finally got her to admit that she’d never even tried turkey bacon and, I think, she kind of sort of maybe consented to give it a go this week.
I’m just glad to see more people taking charge of their health in the most important place: In their own kitchen. When you stop and think about the diseases that can be avoided, and even improved, by eating the right foods and drinks – you can’t help but want to eat a healthier diet. Don’t listen to your inner negativity – healthier food isn’t always more expensive, it most certainly doesn’t taste bad, and you won’t even miss the unhealthy alternatives. In fact, you’ll probably start feeling so good that many of them will sort of gross you out!
I’ve actually been quite successful at introducing healthier foods to my family. They love grilled and baked fish and chicken, steamed vegetables, green tea, oatmeal, fruit, and didn’t even through me out of the house when I served Sweet Potato “fries.” My husband crinkled his nose when he saw them, but he actually seemed to really like them.
The following are a few things you might want to keep in mind when trying to get anyone (including yourself!) to eat/drink healthier:
- If you don’t buy it, it won’t be eaten. Leave the unhealthy foods and drinks on the grocery store shelves. Hold food accountable before putting it into your cart. If it doesn’t have any nutritional value, let it stay where it is. Roll your cart and your health on down the aisle.
- Kids, kids, kids. Big and small kids can be difficult to navigate around when it comes to healthy foods. But, not only CAN it be done – it MUST be done. Their health depends upon it. If a child is given healthy food, he or she will eat it. Of course, the adult can’t be sitting beside them making all kinds of horrid faces about it – it’ll scare the wits out of them! If you have fruit, cereal bars, little cups of apple sauce, mixed fruit, smoothies, and such on hand – your kids will eat them. What’s more, they’ll like them. Allow them to pick out their favorite healthy foods. Fortunately, many food manufacturers are making it easy on parents by making the packaging more attractive to kids.
- Start out with small changes. Have dried fruit in the bowl that once held candy. Dried banana chips and pineapple are most excellent. Instead of potato chips, offer up air-popped popcorn and nuts (except for very small children, of course). Introduce a new type of vegetable at different meals – repeat those that are liked, revamp those that are ignored. Replace soft drinks with fun pouches of fruit juice. Kids love them – but make sure little ones don’t run through the house with those little straws.
- Navigate the Grocery Store like a pro. Stay completely out of the aisles that bring nothing but trouble – potato chip aisles, soft drink aisles, the bakery aisle for crying out loud… or maybe I should say for gaining out loud! Become a regular grazer in the produce section as well as the Health Food department. Also, try out different Lean Cuisine and Healthy Living frozen meals for lunches. Again, allow kids and spouses (after all, they aren’t totally unlike children, are they?!) to pick out their own.
- Read those labels – some are horror stories. Often you think you’re doing well by cutting calories only to realize that you’re consuming enough sodium to make a replica of Lot’s wife. Biblical refresher course: She looked back. She turned to salt. Moral – if God says GO, GO and don’t look back. Don’t focus on the calories as much as the nutritional value, or lack thereof.
- When given the choice between white or brown (bread, rice, pasta..) – go with brown. In order to turn products white – fat is added. Ick. I have to admit, wheat pasta can take a little getting used to. For me, it isn’t the taste as much as the smell – it just smells different. Fortunately, I use a lot of herbs and garlic when I cook, so I can outsmart my nose.
- When eating out, always go for grilled or baked rather than breaded or fried. Also, falling in love with Subway has done wonders for many people. Frankly, I love Subway as much as any fast food restaurant. It always smells so fresh and amazing inside and the food? Delicious.
- The more color on your plate, the better. I’ve always loved serving really colorful meals to my family – even before I fully registered the health benefits. Always serve up plenty of dark greens, rich reds and oranges, purples, and yellows. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables will reward you with a healthier body. Not only will you be healthier and look better – you’ll feel better, with more energy. Suddenly you’ll feel years younger!
Read on to find out my Current Top 10 Favorite Healthy Foods and Drinks.