Planning for a Healthier Lifestyle

Aug 14, 2010
Planning for a Healthier Lifestyle

By: Dr. Donna Thomas

Okay ladies, you have to admit that to accomplish anything in the fast paced life a considerable amount of planning is required. The same goes for eating healthy. You will definitely be fooling yourself by believing you can achieve the goal of healthy eating and living without putting some work into it. I have tried it on many occasions and before realizing it, the week had ended and my ratio of takeout to home-cooked meal is extremely high. Now before you start attacking me let me tell you why I have a problem with takeout. Lack of control!!! When you buy takeout no matter how healthy it seems you have no control in the amount of salt, sugar, or fat that is in that meal. That control has been handed over to the chef and by doing so, you usually introduce more salt, sugar and fat to your system than you probably want to. The same goes for pre-prepared frozen meals. The news media never fails to intrigue us with the many under-cover stings where they take the food to some lab where scientist study the food and reveal much to our surprise how many calories, grams of fat, sugars and sodium present in our favorite frozen, take-out or restaurant meals. I really don’t know why are surprised anyway. It is the chef’s job to make the food so appealing and appetizing that we keep coming back for more and more. So strive to live a life of moderation and limit the dependence on take out. Instead, prepare your own meals at home.  The only way to do so successfully is to plan.

Plan a menu for the week ahead: breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks for each day. You will be surprised how much information and recipes you can find by doing a quick Internet search or hanging out in your local bookstore and reading cookbooks. Once your meals are planned make a detailed shopping list and finally before you go shopping quickly check your pantry to ensure you have not placed an item on your list that you already have. Believe me that last step would have saved me so much money in the past. Sticking to a list also keeps us from making the impulsive buys-things that we usually don’t “need” anyway!

Start with fruits and vegetables. The best approach is to use in season fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Find the regional market in your area. It is typically filled with local farmers selling their own produce. Finding your local market is like finding a buried treasure. You get the opportunity to buy fruits and vegetables often from the growers giving you the chance to ask questions and get information from them, such as, are these fruits and vegetables organic? Do you use pesticides? Typically fruits and vegetables sold at the Regional markets are cheaper than you local supermarket and without realizing it by buying food there you have played your part in conservation by reducing the carbon footprint of the food.

While you are at the Regional market, look into meat and seafood. I can’t tell you how surprised I was to find, grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free meat and chicken as well as fresh seafood at there. Most importantly it was also cheaper than the local supermarket.

So for those on a budget not only are the farmers market more economical, it can be healthier while reducing your carbon footprint.

Finally try to buy you staples in bulk as much as possible ensuring that you try not to sacrifice quality in order to reduce cost. Remember your goals: high fiber, high protein, low cholesterol, good fats, low sugar, low sodium with reduced or no processed foods, preservatives, hormones, antibiotic and chemicals.

READ the labels please. One rule of thumb is to substitute brown with white (like in breads, rice, pastas & cereals), multigrain with whole grain and increased fiber. Try to find brown rice and brown bread with more than 3gm of fiber per serving. Switch to healthier oils like extra virgin olive oil, use sea salt instead of ionized salt and find natural sugar substitutes like honey. Find healthy snacks such as raw unprocessed nuts and fruits.

Once the shopping is done, set aside the time to do your preparation and cooking for the week, it will be well worth it and don’t be surprised if you start losing weight. 

 

Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The medical and/or nutritional information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.”

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