Healthy Eating Basics, based on the book, “It’s Not About the Food” by Alegra Loewenstein, et al

It can be overwhelming to try to figure out what is the healthiest food and how we should be approaching a healthy lifestyle. While real change always starts with awareness of the unhealthy habits that are sabotaging our efforts, simple guidelines are also helpful when it comes to figure out what to eat.

What to Eat

If you are wondering what you should be eating, I came up with a few guidelines.

Keep it Simple. Every meal need not be fancy and complicated. People watch more TV shows about food than any time in history, yet we spend less time preparing our own food.

It is time to rediscover simply prepared foods. Quality ingredients, simply prepared are the basis of traditional foods around the world, and we owe to ourselves to rediscover that.

Buy fruits, vegetables, and ingredients. If it goes bad in a week, it’s probably good for you. The effect of preservatives and the plethora of food additives found in prepared and packaged food is still largely unknown. Luckily, the list of ingredients below can help you avoid unhealthy processed foods.

Enjoy your kitchen.

The kitchen must become a part of your healthy living plan. Learn to cook a few simple meals. Enjoy spending time with friends and loved ones. Take the time to enjoy real food.

Try to answer “Yes” to these items while you shop. Does your cart have fresh fruits and vegetables, including some that you will enjoy eating raw? Would you consider most of the items in your cart single ingredients? (rice, butter, salmon, almonds, etc.)

Now for the trickiest bit of all: When to say “No.” No one should tell you what to eat (except a doctor who advises you based on a diagnosed medical condition).) Every bite is a choice, and it’s OK to have fun eating junk once in a while.

And on the other side, it’s important to develop a relationship with food where you honor your body and live your values. So, instead of making this list about being “bad” or “not allowed” – think of these as positive trigger words.

These words remind you, “This is not real food. Does my body need more nourishment today?”

The secret signal to look for is more than ten ingredients or any of the following words in the ingredient list:

  • Artificial
  • Any color #
  • Preservative
  • Nitrite
  • Nitrate
  • Hydrogenated
  • Hydrolyzed
  • Anything ending in “-ose” or “-ol”

What about sugar?

Sugar is bad for us, but it’s fun to eat! If sugar is in the first three ingredients, or if it’s in the ingredients at all and it’s not supposed to be sweet (such as pasta sauce), then consider if an alternative would serve you better. If you are occasionally in the mood for ice cream or cake or cookies, sugar should be in the top ingredients, and you can just enjoy the sugar.

Remember that if you know what to eat, and you know that the simple guidelines above are the healthiest way to eat, but you continue to fall into old patterns of unhealthy foods or overconsumption, it’s probably not about the food. In this case, be sure you check out the complete book, “It’s Not About the Food,” to address the real issues behind the food, in order to make lasting change for a healthy life!