14 Baby Steps, Goals, & Habits on the path to Healthier Eating
Drink no sugar. At worst ALWAYS drink water first then chase it with one swallow of a flavored drink (this satisfies both your thirst AND your taste). Make it a habit to have a bottle of water at your table, desk, night stand, couch, etc.
Ideally eat “real food” whenever possible. (single ingredient foods)
Be a label detective and stop buying foods with hidden sugars……next eliminate packaged foods made with unhealthy hydrogenated or processed oils.
Eliminate deep fried foods. (they have unhealthy oils AND added carbs)
Swap your snacks – make it a point to stop buying candy, chips and pretzels. If you don’t buy it you can’t eat it. Focus on veggies, cheese, nuts, hardboiled eggs.
Eliminate corn and white potatoes. Possibly use a small sweet potato or switch to mashed cauliflower as a substitute. (Also switch from rice to cauli-rice mentioned below). Corn and potatoes often displace healthier non-starchy vegetables from your diet. Take this opportunity to load up on 5-6 cups of good veggies daily (with healthy fats). This will give you all the fiber you need and keep you feeling fuller without all the carbs.
Make it a habit to prep your vegetables as soon as you get home from the grocery store. If you wash, cut, and place in serving size containers once per week, it will make it much easier for you to eat them when you’re in a hurry or tired. Place them in plain sight in the refrigerator so you don’t forget they are there. Also pre-make salads for several days. Place a fork next to your car keys so you don’t forget to take it with you to work.
Quit or cut down on bread. If you’re only going to eliminate one refined grain product, bread will give you the most bang for your buck. They all have added sugar too. Swap sandwiches for salads (no croutons), use whole romaine lettuce leaves for wraps, stop getting bread on the side, and skip the toast. This even has its own baby steps: Try moving from your regular sandwich bread to one with no added sugars, fewer products on the label, or an ingredient list that starts with a whole grain like sprouted grain breads instead of any type of flour. Try bun-less burgers or at least eat sandwiches open-faced. Try to leave behind 40-60% of the bun. Even if you never get completely off bread, at least you’ll be cutting your grain carbs in half. Maybe set a personal limit of “one slice” (or equivalent) per day.
Move past pasta. At first maybe try some alternative grains like quinoa, quinoa pasta, soba noodles. Then try your favorite pasta dishes with a vegetable base like spaghetti squash or shredded zucchini noodles.
Rethink breakfast. ANY food can be breakfast food…it doesn’t have to be high carb cereal, biscuits, and pancakes. Try a vegetable and egg omelet, plain full-fat Greek yogurt with frozen berries, make a home-made protein/fat/green veggie drink in your blender.
Clean out your pantry and don’t buy foods that compromise your will-power. This will break you from simply “eating something out of habit”.
Learn basic carbohydrate counting and work on gradual reduction or stick to a daily limit….maybe less than 75 grams per day, or a different number that works for you. “Eat to your meter” if you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic.
If you eat a meal higher in carbs than you probably should have, be sure to go for a thirty minute walk afterwards.
Finally, don’t always focus on the negative about what you “can’t” eat, but concentrate on eating the healthiest foods first so you’re not hungry for junk. Stop saying “I can’t eat that because I have a condition” and start saying “I choose not to eat that because I choose to be healthier / stronger / use less medicine / look better / sleep better / walk farther / have energy to play with my kids / perform better on my job / help my family / travel more / go to the doctors less / play sports / dance / save money on medical bills / see my grandkids grow up……”. What motivates you?
Tips for cleaning out your pantry and stocking it with Real Food:
When you switch to a REAL FOOD eating plan you’ll no doubt spend more time in the grocery store and the kitchen. Real food does spoil (that’s a good thing….think about it – if bugs won’t eat processed food why should you?)
26 Shopping Tips to Save Money:
Don’t waste anything. Keep a list and make sure you know what you have that’s going to spoil soon.
Buy in bulk and buy meat on sale. Freeze extras. Look for marked down close to expiring product and cook immediately or freeze.
Check a variety of different supermarkets for new sales on Wednesdays and deep discounts on Tuesdays.
Buy in bulk from a “warehouse” club.
Shop online, use loyalty rewards, coupons, and special offers. (but stick to your shopping list)
Consider dividing bulk portions with a friend or neighbor.
Grow your own food. Start a garden. Start simple with a container herb garden, add some lettuce, kale, spinach, etc.
Get to know a local farmer, farmers market, and look for CSAs (community supported agriculture).
Eggs are relatively inexpensive, nutritious, and versatile. Priority is pastured, if they are not available look for Omega 3 enriched eggs.
Non organic vegetables and grain fed meat is still better than processed foods when the budget is tight. In order of preference, buy high quality fats first, meats second, and organic produce last.
Avoiding eating out. The mark ups are outrageous and you have little to no control over ingredient quality.
Stick to simple meals. Build most meals with an protein source, double veggies, and a good fat.
Plan out meals ahead of time. This will not only time but money as well. Keep it simple, see if meal planning isn’t easier if you stick with weekly dinner themes: Fish Friday, Steak Saturday, Shrimp Sunday, Chicken Meal Monday, Taco Salad Tuesday, Salmon Wednesday, Chili Thursday…etc…
Focus on simple, staple foods: eggs, meat, canned seafood, olive oil, butter, cheese, seasonal vegetables, some nuts, and a variety of herbs, spices & seasonings.
Eat according to the seasons – seasonal vegetables are typically cheaper than out of season produce.
Frozen veggies/fruit are cheaper and likely just as good as fresh.
Frozen and canned seafood can be cheaper than fresh.
Learn to love left overs.
Use a crockpot – you can buy less expensive cuts of meat and slow cook them for hours and they will turn out tender, moist, and delicious.
Learn to love other cheaper cuts of meat – organ meats are usually the cheapest meets yet are very nutritious.
Buy and use whole chickens instead of pieces.
Use a shopping list and stick to it.
Drink mostly water, but make your own tea, coffee, & infused waters.
Avoid convenience foods like pre-packaged salads, pre-cut veggies, shredded cheeses, trimmed green beans, etc…..these always cost more. (Chop your own veggies and store them in the refrigerator for easy made salads.)
Make your own salad dressing, ketchup, sauces, mustard, & pesto.
When cooking meat, always make extra for breakfast or lunch the next day(s).
Uses a variety of herbs and spices…your food should taste great!
Stir fries are quick and easy…cook your protein and veggies in the same pan with a healthy fat.
See my one-page salads to go for several excellent home made dressings and salad combinations.
Here is a fantastic substitute for bread with one-egg and 2 tablespoonful of almond flour. Try not to overcook, my microwave only takes about 65 seconds. Here he adds cheese, but you can do endless alternatives such as “banana nut bread” (one-egg, 2 tablespoonful of almond flour, 4 smashed walnuts or pecans, and 1/4 mashed banana).
Other Recipes and Ideas:
Green Smoothies (Juicing). Combinations are endless but keep these ideas in mind. Always use a BLENDER not a juicer. Target a minimum 3:1 ratio of whole veggies to fruit. Steer toward high fiber berries. Rotate your veggies. Include some fat to help nutrient absorption: avocado, coconut MILK, chia seeds, flax seeds, nuts, nut butters, olive oil. Consider adding 15-25 grams of protein powder to balance it out as a meal replacement. Use frozen berries or frozen coconut milk ice cubes to chill and thicken.
An alternative to the above is to create a “stock soup base” that you can freeze and use any time to create unlimited soups. Start with 1-part chopped onion to 3 or 4 parts base vegetable (carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, etc). Saute’ over medium heat with 1 Tbs coconut oil for 10 minutes. Add liquid just up to the top of the vegetables and cover over medium heat for 30 more minutes. Blend. Stock is now ready for any additions and spices.
**for other ideas visit YouTube and search “Paleo chicken”, “Paleo recipies”, “Paleo Stir fry”, “Low carb chicken” etc….and literally find thousands and thousands of ideas.**
Instead of rice eat cauliflower rice (cauli-rice).
Instead of mashed potatoes eat mashed cauliflower.
Instead of hash browns eat hash browned zucchini.
Instead of pasta use a “spiralizer” to make fresh, low carb zucchini pasta.
Instead of store-bought salad dressing make your own.
Instead of raisins use blueberries.
Instead of pancakes try the variations on the egg/almond flour sandwich recipe above.
Instead of balsamic vinegar with sugar use apple cider vinegar.
Instead of barbecue sauce use dry spice rubs.
Instead of sandwich bread use whole lettuce leaves for wraps or tacos.