I am often asked to give advice on how to “clean up” one’s diet. I tend to get overly enthusiastic and offer up so many ideas that I’m sure it seems like a large mountain to climb. That needn’t be the case. The way my family shops and eats today didn’t happen over night and I wouldn’t expect that of any of you, either. (But I would love for you all to climb to the top of the mountain with me!) The real key is to lay a strong foundation and then to build from there.
The end of summer (and back to school for my college kids) means the routine shifts in our house and probably for many of you as well. This can be a good time to start new habits. If you want to improve the quality of your family’s eating habits, and ultimately their health, then here are three quick tips for getting started.
1. Make Green Your Favorite Color. Add in dark, leafy greens to your meals any chance you get. Green vegetables are high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium ,zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are loaded with fiber, folic acid and cholorphyll. Organic is best, but non-organic is better than not eating them at all. Add a large handful of them to scrambled eggs or smoothies, put them on sandwiches, add roasted green vegetables to your meals and use the leftovers for your leafy green salads – incorporate them whenever and wherever you can! You can’t get too much of them.
2. Ditch the processed beverages and add in more WATER. Water is the most important thing– lots of it, all day long. Aim for 8 glasses a day. Coffee and plain ice tea do not count toward that goal since the caffeine dehydrates you (though I am not against them, in moderation -as in a cup or two per day, sweetened with healthy sweeteners and whole milk). Ditch the splenda and fat-free milks. In general, processed beverages might not be a term you hear too often, but there is a large chunk of bad habits that begin with what you drink. Everything from the fancy coffee shop’s calorie laden, sugar filled concoctions that are pawned off as coffee drinks to the variety of sodas (diet included!), sports drinks and sweetened ice teas to flavored coconut waters and sugary fruit drinks with a bit of green added to mislead you. Staying hydrated also controls hunger, headaches and fatigue.
3. Get Moving! Even something as simple as a walk around the neighborhood after dinner can benefit your health. Start with one or two days a week and then gradually increase to four or more. The exercise not only helps you control weight, it helps strengthen your heart, keeps your joints mobile and increases endorphins (neuropeptides that elevate your mood).
Start with these three tips and you’ll be on your way to reaching the top of the wellness mountain! You can do it – you just need to start!
Coming soon…. my review of a new cookbook that is being released this month. I’ve been selected as a cookbook ambassador for a real food expert who has improved the health and wellness of her family, all by changing how they eat. Look for my review next week!
Happy, Healthy Eating!