Very excited to begin this New Year by introducing myself to all of you in this wonderful EmpowHer community! As a Registered Dietitian I have lots of valuable tips and information to share with you.
Through my experiences I’ve learned that in order to make healthy choices you need to educate yourself about food. That doesn’t mean you need to take nutrition classes, but it does mean you need to become more aware of how the quality of foods you choose plays a role in your overall well being. I’ve complied a list of recommendations to help get you focusing on eating real, delicious, healthy food in the New Year.
Pay attention when shopping in supermarkets.
Believe it or not, supermarkets can be a dangerous place. I know that sounds crazy but unless you’re a nutrition expert or have some handy little app on your phone that can decipher nutrition labels, it can be tricky to figure out what is safe to eat and what is not. The endless parade of processed and artificial foods that lines supermarket shelves are often packed with added sugars, sodium and harmful ingredients that have been attributed to ADHD, cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. In addition, consumption of processed foods has played a major role in contributing to the obesity epidemic and the skyrocketing health care costs associated with these diseases. If your not careful, you can wind up filling your cart with food that is not only sabotaging your health, but your waistline as well. It’s best to stay along the perimeter of the supermarket where most of the fresh produce is displayed.
So, what are processed foods? In general, a processed food is any food that has been altered from it’s original state. So you can imagine then, that most foods in sold in packages and bags (i.e. those found mainly in the center aisles of supermarkets) are processed. Some of the most common examples of highly processed foods are potato chips, salad dressings, cake mixes, crackers, granola bars, white breads, white pasta, chicken nuggets, pre-packaged frozen dinners and deli meats. One sure way to tell if product is highly processed is to examine the label. When there are more than just few ingredients, immediately it should alert you that the “food” has most likely been processed. Ingredients are often added back after processing (mostly sugar, fats and artificial ingredients) to make it taste and look better and keep you craving more. This is why it can be so difficult to control your weight if the majority of your diet comes from foods that are highly processed.
Clean out your pantry.
Once you’ve acknowledged that not all food is created equal, it’s time to check out your pantry (and your fridge while you’re at it). When you take a closer look at what’s lurking inside, you may realize you’re consuming more sugar, sodium and fat than your body has use for. By replacing processed foods like bags of chip, crackers, cookies and candy with healthier choices such as real fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds you may begin to notice that you are much more satisfied and need less to keep you feeling full throughout the day (see my post http://thehangingspoon.com/top5realfoodsnacks/). Cooking from scratch with fresh, natural ingredients, is one of the best things you can do to promote clean eating habits in your household. Consequently, you will start to notice your palate becoming more sensitized to sweet, salty and artificially flavored foods and find you need and want them less and less.
Think about where your food comes from and how it’s produced.
Once you begin to take notice of what you’re really eating, you may want to ask questions about your food… Is it produced locally? Is the food organic or genetically modified? Have antibiotics or growth hormones been added to the milk or meat? The answers to these questions can often have a significant impact on your health.
So, don’t make the focus of this new year dieting, but rather a healthy and consciencious attitude toward food and well being.
Have a Happy & Healthy New Year!