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Talk of healthy food and unprocessed food is everywhere you look nowadays. Knowing what eating healthy is, and then trying to create a habit of eating healthy, can sometimes seem overwhelming. Quite the contrary, it is rather simple.
I had been diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, 26. You can read more about that here. It made me take a long look at my lifestyle and diet. When I got a little older and I started having to deal with “preventative” testing, I was a little miffed. I know that preventative testing is a good thing but, I did this already; I felt I should be “good to go”. That doesn’t change the fact that as you age, these are the things we all have to worry about.
Taking control of the situations that make me feel out of control is important to keep me relaxed and less stressed. Preventative testing hit a bit too close to home for me. Let’s be honest, who wants to go through this again? After fighting so hard to make it to where I was in life I had to face the realization that cancer, disease or something like it, could still be part of my future. My only option was to take action.
I began to research how I could tip the wellness odds in my favor. That is how Consult Colleen, helping busy people make sense of healthy eating, was born. To be clear, a healthy lifestyle does not guarantee, unfortunately, that you or I will never have to face disease in our lifetime. But it can’t hurt.
So How Do You Eat Healthy?
So how do you eat healthy? That is a great place to start. Eating healthy is not a diet. It is a lifestyle change. The benefits of healthy eating occur over time, with changes that you can make a habit and be consistent with. Eating real food, and avoiding ultra-processed foods, was a positive change in my lifestyle. It was also a change that I felt I could be consistent with.
To start eating healthy consistently, above all, increase your consumption of unprocessed food. It’s easier than you think. Many years ago I began watching what I ate and made sure that my calorie count was within the current guidelines for my size and shape. As well as exercising at least three times a week. I honestly thought I had this “healthy” thing down to a science, and I had no worries. Well, sort of.
Eating Healthy Breakdown
Real food, unprocessed food, processed food; there are so many categories that it can seem all consuming. It goes without saying that anything that sucks up too much of my time I just don’t have a great deal of time to give. I found the easiest way to get started was to break it down into three categories. Those are real food, ultra- processed foods and minimally processed foods.
- Real food is just that, real. It often has no packaging because it is what it is. A banana for example requires no description of what it contains because, it contains banana.
- Ultra-processed foods are at the opposite end of the spectrum. They are packaged and maintain some resemblance to food. The difference is many chemical ingredients that you don’t recognize and they are made in factories. Think about a Pringles Potato Chips for example.
- Minimally processed foods are often altered from the original state for convenience. Notice that it has little, if any impact on the nutritional state of the food. Think about canned tuna in water or pre-cut butternut squash.
Start With a Real Food List
I made a list of what I needed and shopped the perimeter of the supermarket first. I filled my cart with items from the produce section, meat and poultry, dairy and frozen foods. If I needed anything else, I would venture down individual aisles. Get only those foods that are needed, like spaghetti sauce and pastas for example.
Study these definitions and you will likely begin to alter what you are buying. You have no choice to consume what you buy. Choose wisely. I made some simple switches immediately. Get your Grab and Go Breakfast Cheat Sheet here.
Convenience items, as long as they were under the minimally processed definitions that I had researched, were not off the table. I did my best to avoid those items that I knew would fall under the ultra-processed label. I did not, however, begin with the idea that I would immediately cut out all ultra-processed foods.
When starting out with a new habit that you want to form, I suggest that you start slow. Just try and be as consistent as possible. Adding a few new ways to be healthy over time is an effective way to create a new habit. If you feel ready to add a bit more structure to your process? Check out meal planning basics in 5 easy steps here.
Ready to Give Eating Healthy a Try?
Want to give cutting down on processed foods a try? Grab my free e-book of 7 Super Simple Meals to get you started. If you try any of the recipes I’d love to hear about it!
Changing your lifestyle and how you choose to eat is no easy task. Know that it is possible and it doesn’t have to take up all your time. Processed foods are typically full of high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, additives and preservatives. They are easier and often more convenient, but not healthier.
Try a slow transition to eliminating processed foods in your diet. Eating healthy foods has so many benefits to your overall health. Real foods are typically full of nutrients, and high in protein and fiber. Real food recipes can be quick and easy and take a smaller amount fill you up.