This is my final installment in my nutritional series. Please check out the previous ones if you like this post.
For the past week I’ve been blogging about good nutrition to fuel your body. I’ve touched on fiber, the low-fat craze, the meat/vegetarian question, and nutrition especially for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Today I’d like to give some pointers on how to easily fit good nutrition into any lifestyle and on any budget.
1. Have fruit and veggies convenient and available. Our family has always kept most fruits on the counter because they do not require refrigeration. Our regulars like bananas, apples, oranges, mangoes (unpeeled), and clementines are fine sitting on the counter staring us in the face. When fruit is right there in your face, you are more likely to grab it when you are hungry. The same goes for vegetables; have them and make them convenient. If you don’t normally cook with vegetables, buy something fairly easy to use, like those tubs of washed baby spinach. It’s easy to make a salad or sautee that up for a nutritious treat. Baby carrots are also my best friends. We are members of Sam’s, so we can buy 5 lb bags of baby carrots, and yes, we can eat them all before they go bad. They are delicious! For other vegetables (like peppers, broccoli, avocado, tomatoes) think about how you usually use them or may want to use them, and cut them or slice them when you have a few minutes. Having a container of pre-chopped bell peppers means I am much more likely to throw them into a sauce than if I had to chop them after having already chopped the onions and garlic.
2. Buy real food. And you will know what real food is when you see it. It will require washing, maybe soaking, and usually some cooking, but it is worth it. I promise that learning to make your own rice pilaf is so much tastier and healthier than the box of Rice-a-roni you’ve been serving. The same goes with meat. Buy pre-cooked, pre-seasoned meats means you don’t really know all that is put in your food. Sure you could read the label, but who really knows what dextrose gum and xanthanol are anyway??
3. Buy whole chickens. This is really to help in the budget area, but it is also so simple that no matter what our food budget has been I’ve always like to roast a whole chicken. A whole organic chicken at our grocery store usually costs about $8. I can either roast the chicken whole or cut it into pieces and cook it that way. When budgets were very tight for us, Beard and I would survive on one chicken per week for the two of us. We could have pieces of roast chicken one night, some shredded chicken in quesadillas or paninis another night, maybe a stir fry another night, and make some chicken soup with the bones. The best part, the chicken is real and you know what’s in it. And whatever you add to it is your own choice.
4. Stay away from reduced fat anything. I learned this lesson all too well with peanut butter. When a company advertises some food as low fat, typically all they have done is removed some of the fat and replaced it with sugar (or worse, processed syrups) for flavor. Usually the reduced fat versions have nearly as many or just as many calories as the full fat version, but they simply won’t keep you full as long because it will spike your blood sugar and leave you hungry an hour later. Do yourself a favor and go ahead and buy the full fat version of whatever you’re purchasing. Your waistline and your taste buds will not be disappointed.
5. Use whole grains. This is almost a no brainer. Experts have been saying to eat whole grains for more than a decade now. The truth is whole grains have more nutritional punch than any of the white, bleached ,tasteless carbohydrate products you can buy. when you’re bringing home a loaf of bread, make it whole grain (not whole wheat, that’s a misnomer), and cook with whole grain pasta. Sometimes it may cost a little bit more, but your heart and your colon will thank you (they told me so, I promise don’t ask why bodily organs speak to me, but they do).
I hope this series was helpful to my readers. Tomorrow we’ll be going back to our regularly scheduled programming. Thanks for reading!