Sometimes our busy lives keep us from slowing down enough to fix and eat as healthy as we know we should. It’s too easy to drive through a fast food joint, fix a boxed meal, or order delivery when life is hectic even though we are aware these types of foods have way too much sugar, trans-fats, and simple carbs to be part of healthy eating. Too many of these type of meals on a regular basis can cause inflammation in our bodies and contribute to heart disease and diabetes. Eating healthy fuels the body with the nutrients it needs to provide us with energy and keep all the parts in good working order. The good news is that there are simple ways to get a nutritional boost that won’t add a lot of time to an already busy schedule.
What Are You Eating Now?
First take a good look at what you eat now and start adding veggies, fruits, lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grains to your diet wherever you can. Prepare meals and snacks ahead when you have some down time to make it easier to grab something healthy when you are on the run. Also take a look at how much you eat and make sure that you have a way to burn off the amount of calories you need to according to how many calories you eat to avoid excessive weight gain. The older we get, the more of a problem this can become since the metabolism slows down with age. Cutting down on the amount you eat doesn’t have to be difficult and time consuming like counting calories can be. It can be as simple as using smaller plates or bowls that hold less food to give you smaller portions and keeping the food in the kitchen instead of right in front of you on the table to avoid loading up with second portions. If you end up with leftovers, great! That just gives you a healthy meal to take for lunch the next day all ready and waiting for you. Another tip for cutting down on the amount you eat is to initially measure the amount of a certain food you should be eating and then think of something that same size to help you remember the size in the future. For instance if you measure out or weigh the amount of tuna that is the right amount for you for a meal, scoop it together on your plate and see that it is about the size of your pincushion, then you can remember that association in the future and know how much to serve yourself. If you are not sure how many calories a day are the right amount for you or how big your servings of certain foods should be, then check with a nutritionist or your healthcare provider since this amount can be different for various ages, sexes, and activity levels or lifestyle types.
Substituting Healthier Foods
Just being more aware of what you are eating, especially when you are rushed for time, can start you towards healthier eating. Each time you reach for something you know is not in the healthy food category, take a few seconds and see if you can find a healthier option to choose. For example, if you are working at your desk and start to crave a bag of salty potato chips, see if you can substitute air popped popcorn with a little salt or herb seasoning. That way you stay away from the trans-fats and preservatives in the chips, but still satisfy your craving for something crunchy and salty. Even better, go for some crunchy veggies like celery or carrot sticks or fruit like a crunchy apple. If you are craving something sweet, then fresh or dried fruit might help curb your sweet tooth or some dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa that has antioxidants. Too many of us in the U.S. fill up our allotted calorie intake for the day with sugars and solid fats. If you start being aware of the types of foods you are eating now, you can make changes by taking away one unhealthy food at a time from your diet to make lasting healthy eating changes. If you find yourself starting to drag in the afternoon and going for a soda or candy bar to get a quick energy boost, try drinking green tea or get some of these algae and sprout based snack bars that are loaded with nutrients and taste great. When preparing meals, check the recipe and substitute healthier ingredients for flour, salt, sugar and fats. For example, use canola or olive oil, herbs for seasoning, whole wheat flour instead of white flour, and natural sweeteners. And if you just really don’t have time to cook or prepare a healthy meal, look for healthier alternatives at the drive through fast food place or restaurants or grocery store deli. If you have a health food type store near you that has a take-out section with already prepared meals, go for that instead. Or get some of the leftovers you’ve frozen from a meal you prepared at an earlier time. Start thinking a little more about what you are eating and see if there isn’t a healthier option for you.
Getting the Most Nutrition From What You Eat
The better your digestion system is working, the more nutrients you will get from the foods you eat since it is the system responsible for breaking food down into the form of nutrients the body uses for energy production and to keep all the body organs and systems functioning well. Digestive enzymes found in the body are key in this function. If you eat a lot of processed or refined foods, sugar filled foods, or foods that are heavily cooked, then you are probably not getting enough food enzymes for proper digestion to take place. Add to that the environmental toxins and chlorinated water many of us are exposed to and we have even less digestive enzymes to help. For good digestion, we need lipase to break down fats, protease to break down protein into amino acids the body can use, cellulase to break down the cellulose in fruits and vegetables, amylase to break down starches, glucoamylase or maltase or sucrose to breakdown sugars, and lactase for dairy. To get more enzymes from foods, make sure you chew your food completely and add more raw or lightly cooked fruits and vegetables to your diet. You can also supplement your diet with a quality enzyme supplement that has the various types of enzymes mentioned above.
Keeping the friendly bacteria or probiotics in your intestines healthy is another way to keep your digestive system in good working order to get the most nutrition from foods. Probiotics not only help keep your digestive system working well, but also produce the B vitamins you need and helps in absorption of minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium. These friendly bacteria also make up part of the immune system and fight the bad bacteria that can invade and make us sick. You can get extra probiotics from some foods such as yogurt, kefir and other fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, or sour pickles, but if you need an easy probiotic boost, consider supplementation such as acidophilus, bifidus, and a full spectrum probiotic supplement. When buying foods with probiotics make sure you read the label and get a type that list live active cultures. Mary Ellen Sanders, PhD, executive director of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics warns though that making these fermented foods yourself or finding a source that is labeled as raw fermented is the only way to insure the bacteria in them are live. Processing of fermented foods will kill the live cultures just as exposing them to high heat does. When buying probiotic supplements make sure you read the label for at least a billion colony forming units or CFUs on the label, and that they contain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Look at expiration dates too and for best results store them in a cool location. A good probiotic supplement also will have a prebiotic which feeds the probiotic in the form of an insoluble fiber. If you see ingredients listed on the label such as inulin, FOS, GOS, or polydextrose then that product has prebiotics. You can also get prebiotics by eating foods such as asparagus, artichokes, wheat, oats, soybeans, bananas, onions and garlic.
Adding Whole Food Supplements to Your Diet
One of the problems with getting all the nutrition we need from foods is that our food sources are often lacking in all the nutrients we need. If you grow your own foods or shop at local farmer’s markets, then you may be getting more than a lot of people. If not, then whole food supplements can help you get a nutritional boost. AFA or aphanizomenon flos aquae bluegreen algae, for example, is a whole food source with the exact ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that we need, has all 20 amino acids, provides a complete source of protein in an amino acid profile nearly identical to human breast milk, has 75% usable high quality protein compared to the 18% red meat delivers, provides the mental activator PEA (phenylethylamine), gives you powerful antioxidants, such as chlorophyll, superoxide dismutase, glutathione, and phycocyanin which protect cells from oxidative damage, helps with cellular repair, replaces lipids in the membranes that have been damaged and act as cleansers or scavengers for free radicals, offers dozens of essential vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, and has an ideal balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, complex sugars, and fiber. To make your life just a little easier, you can get convenient daily packets with 2 forms of AFA bluegreen algae, acidophilus, bifidus and a digestive enzyme.
Eating healthier doesn’t have to be that hard. Start looking at how you eat now, find substitutions you can make for unhealthy foods you are eating, look for healthier ingredient options to use in recipes, learn how much food is the right amount for you and let wholefood supplements help you get the extra nutrients you need and boost your digestion. Sounds simple enough when you put it that way and the benefits for your health will make it all worth it.
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