March is national nutrition month!
There is a ton of confusion on nutrition in the media. There are a million diets, some are fads, some are sustainable, some are just ridiculous (do you remember the guy that ONLY ate bananas for a year????)
This is not meant to argue what is or isn’t healthy for you - I mean really, we are all bio individuals, right?
Let’s start with the basics. We all need:
Water - water is life! Drinking enough water daily helps us to stay hydrated which helps our brains and organs to function at optimal efficiency.
We all need whole foods that are nutrient dense.
As a general rule we are lacking in various vitamins and minerals - thus nutrients.
How to better our health and immunity and reduce our “bad” foods intake?
Let’s dive in!
Cut out fast food - here is why:
High in calories, low in nutrients
Increased heart disease
Reduced brain function
Increased risk of Diabetes Type 2 and kidney problems
Weakness & Fatigue
Depression and Anxiety
So, while fast food can be a quick “fix” for dinner, it should be rare and known that you are eating empty calories that have zero to little nutritional value.
Replace with whole foods that are nutrient dense, high in fiber and rich in antioxidants.
We can “cut corners” in this process with pre-cut veggies, frozen versus fresh, but make sure that you are reading labels (see below). The fewer ingredients on a package, the better and you should be able to know and pronounce every ingredient. If you can’t it is probably a chemical or preservative.
Reduce Processed Foods
A processed food is a food that has been altered from its natural state. Pre-prepped foods, such as pre-washed and pre-cut veggies are still healthy and not chemically altered. Foods processed at their peak to lock in nutritional quality and freshness include canned tomatoes, frozen fruit/vegetables and canned tuna. Foods with ingredients added for flavor and texture (sweeteners, spices, oils, colors and preservatives) include jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing, yogurt and cake mixes as an example. Ready-to-eat foods — such as crackers, chips and deli meat — are more heavily processed (these are often very high in sodium). The most heavily processed foods often are frozen or pre-made meals, including frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners. These have chemicals and preservatives, and the food has been altered in a state in which it no longer holds its nutrients.
How to read labels
Example: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
- Macaroni: the macaroni in Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is an enriched macaroni product. It's made from wheat flour, to which the B vitamins niacin, thiamine mononitrate, folic acid and riboflavin have been added. The macaroni is also enriched with iron in the form of ferrous sulfate.
- Cheese Sauce: every package of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese contains a package of mix to make cheese sauce. The cheese sauce mix contains several milk ingredients: whey (milk protein), milk protein concentrate, milk, milkfat and cheese culture. The cheese sauce mix also contains salt, sodium tripolyphosphate, sodium phosphate and calcium phosphate. According to the International Food Additives Council, sodium phosphates help cheese retain its melting properties and calcium phosphate improves nutritional value. Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are added to the sauce mix as colorings. Final ingredients in the sauce mix are citric acid, lactic acid and enzymes. According to the Food Additives and Ingredients Association, acids are added to foods as preservatives and emulsifiers. Enzymes are catalysts and may help the cheese sauce reconstitute properly.
While this may, at first glance, make you feel like this pasta is “healthy”, it is in fact not. The only reason we “enrich” our foods with vitamins and minerals is because the process we use to make the ingredients is stripped of all natural nutrients in the process. So - while this ingredient of macaroni makes you feel like you are giving your family a nutritionally rich food, in fact it is the exact opposite.
The sauce contains stabilizers that are thought to be harmful - but most importantly are the dyes. In rare cases, Yellow 5 has been linked to fatigue, migraines, blurred vision, and anxiety. It is also possible that Yellow 5 causes chromosomal damage, but more studies need to be done before anything conclusive can be said. Also, like other food dyes, Yellow 5 has been found to have carcinogenic chemicals.
And let’s not talk about sodium! First a box of Kraft mac n' cheese is 3 servings. And in each serving, there are 350 calories and 710 grams of sodium. That is 31% of an ADULT’s daily sodium. If you were to run a 10-minute mile, you would have to run almost 30 minutes, or walk just over an hour at a pretty clip pace to burn off this one meal (and let’s be honest - when was the last time any of us ate only a ⅓ of a box?)
This is one example of many where we read misleading labels and feel good, but the marketing is just that - marketing.
So how do we make changes from these easy (and in fact often delicious and addictive foods) that our family craves?
Let’s start by swapping!
Swap out 1 processed ingredient for a homemade or minimally processed one. Example: try your hand at making homemade pizza, or pasta. Instead of ordering takeout - make Friday night dinners a family cooking affair of a new cuisine. Will it all be great? No! But that is ok! You are building memories and will discover some newfound foods and techniques in the process.
Fun Fact: Did you know that kids are far more likely to eat foods they would never consider, if they are involved in the gardening/cooking process?
If you have read this far - you may feel really overwhelmed! And that is not where we want you to be……
Replace chips with either:
- Crunchy veggies or homemade chips (not super hard to make at home and kids can help!)
- Replace junk food drawers with homemade desserts or even better: boiled eggs, nut butter, sliced cheese, nuts, fruit and maybe some high-quality chocolate
- Try making 1 thing homemade a week instead of buying premade, or ordering takeout
- Turn that fast food line into an at home BBQ of burgers and a fun family night!
Read your labels and try to swap out unhealthy for healthy. I like to add tons of veggies to a spaghetti sauce, the kids don’t notice - it adds nutritional value and stretches that one jar.
Try making homemade mac n cheese
Try to bake a cake versus buying a pre-boxed one
One of the biggest things Stephanie hears as a health coach is…. shopping is sooo overwhelming! Here are some of her tips for:
How to shop at the grocery store
1) Order staples ahead of time either to be delivered or picked up. Think things like: broths, canned foods, dried beans/legumes, veggies for soups or stocks that you don’t necessarily need to pick out yourself, replace soda for flavored soda water, or buy plain and try different at home combinations of mocktails!
2) Shop the perimeter first! a. The perimeter of the store is chocked full of whole foods. Your veggies, fresh baked (low preservative) breads, whole (minimally processed) cheese, deli items, the butcher.
Ways to make quick, healthy, meals at home that the whole family will eat
- Mix n Match easy store-bought ingredients with whole or minimally processed foods.
- Rinse your canned foods to reduce their sodium
- Have a list of “pantry” meals on hand to go to for busy nights
- Cook once and eat twice.
- What can you cook and freeze half of? Think casseroles, pasta dishes, coups, curries. So much can be cooked (or par cooked) and frozen for a quick easy meal on busy nights
- The crockpot is your BFF!
I DON’T have the time or money!
We know that eating all natural, all organic, free range, blah blah blah can become super expensive.
So here are some ways that you can cut costs - even with little to no time:
- Have a day where you shop, prep and cook for the week. Stephanie likes to make this day Sunday. In her house, they wake up, make breakfast - sometimes have some champagne - and then hit the chores. Groceries were ordered on Friday for Sunday morning delivery. The fridge gets cleaned out. All produce is cleaned, cut and prepped for the week. (This makes grabbing a salad or snack easy and healthy during the week). A chicken or pot roast (or something along that line is usually slow cooked - with half being saved for a busy night in the near future). A soup or lentils are made for the first part of the week for easy lunches.
- Prepping all of this in one fail swoop frees up so much time later in the week and stops the “what’s for dinner”. Even if you are not a meal planner, you have lots of veggies already cleaned and ready to throw into a stir fry, a sauce, lasagna, etc. Prepping snacks and fresh juices a. Stephanie is a big snacker during her workday so having easy go to’s like sliced fruit, nut butters, nuts and high-quality chocolate and cheese keeps her satisfied without filling her up on empty nutritional calories. Having things on hand like the above, or hummus and veggies or rice crackers helps curb cravings and are high in protein.
- Boil eggs for the week as easy snacks
- Precut cheeses, veggies and fruits
- Make a big pot of beans
- Buy a whole chicken (the highest quality you can afford) and roast it for Sunday dinner.
- Keep the carcass for broth (make now or at a future date)
- Use the uneaten meat pieces for enchiladas or tacos or chicken salad
- Make friends with your crockpot (or buy one!) You can dump ingredients in before the day starts and have dinner almost completely prepped by 6
- Roast a giant platter of veggies
- Add an egg for breakfast, heat as a side dish, throw into soups for more depth
- Make a big pot of oatmeal on Sunday for breakfast for the first 3 or so days of the week
- Add hemp seeds, nuts, honey, frozen fruit for added nutrients and flavor
While these tips do take some time, they make your week so much easier. You can feel proud for reducing those number of drive-through meals, you can make this a family event and do prep and clean up 1-2x a week versus multiple times daily.
You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram. We talk about being an entrepreneur and how to make the most of your time so you can spend your valuable time doing the things you love while also running a successful business! Think beach days, lazy summer days, reading snuggled in a blanket or family game nights!