In a world of chaos and rushing, it is easy to find yourself in the convenient foods section when doing your grocery shopping. We find ourselves reaching for ready made meals, instant sauces and packet mixes. While I am really not bashing anyone who buys these things – I used to have a cupboard filled with these things – I encourage you to make a few changes that are just as easy but healthier for you and your littles.
I recently went out to buy a few grocery items that I needed and thought it was the perfect opportunity for a blog post. Before I educated myself on a wide variety of healthy living subjects, I too would simply grab what I needed off the shelves, looking for the easiest meals and not caring too much what went into them. As time went on I have researched and read many articles and studies on living a natural healthy life, which I would love to share with you. I am by no means a professional or nutritionist, nor do I claim to be, I am simply sharing my real life tips on what works for my family.
I am not going to go in-depth into healthy living, instead I will focus on foods and share with you a few simple tips that you can incorporate into your weekly shopping trips that will help you to make healthy food choices for your family.
My number one tip is to ALWAYS read the labels. I have become really obsessive over this (I am sure it can be quite painful at times), but I am extremely picky as to what goes in my grocery basket. Check the ingredients – if you don’t know what it is, put it down. There are so many added ingredients into foods these days and we tend to take for granted that everything is safe to eat. If you want to live a clean healthy life, don’t eat chemical based foods that are processed. Choose items that have real natural ingredients. It is ok to buy tin, bottle and packet ingredients, but choose the ones that have real natural ingredients instead of things that you don’t even know how to pronounce.
Stay away from added sugars and preservatives. Of course there are some exceptions, not all preservatives are bad for you. Faithful to Nature have a free pocket guide to safe shopping which you can add to your basket for free with any purchase from them. Sugars are hidden in almost every single shelf product these days. Some baby food brands even have added sugar to them. It is not necessary to have so much refined sugar in our diet, it has no benefit to our bodies. Educate yourself on the different names and forms of sugars, as well as sugar substitutes. Be aware that if a product says sugar free, most of the time it means they have substituted the sugar with an alternative which is usually not good for you. Asapartame is one of these and is found in everything from chewing gum, to soda and yoghurt. Healthy sugar substitutes like Stevia, Xylitol and coconut sugar are ok, but I try stick to natural sugars like honey and fruit where possible. Click here if you are looking for a list of healthy sugar alternatives that have health benefits too.
Fat free is not better for you. Most items that claim to be fat free are items that actually have good fats that your body needs. Dairy products are the biggest fat free sellers, they replace those fats with sugars and other flavours to make the product taste good. Natural fats such as full fat/cream milk and yoghurt are good for our bodies and fuel it with much needed energy, plus they naturally taste good.
Choose organic where possible. I know that in South Africa organic is expensive and not readily available at all stores. If you can afford a few extra rands, rather make the organic choice. If organic is too pricey for your home then make clever choices. Buy organic fruits and vegetables which you eat the whole thing, e.g apples and spinach don’t have a skin or outer layer that can be peeled away. Choose non-organic foods that have skins that can be peeled away, such as butternut and bananas. If you practice this, you can avoid consuming pesticides and chemicals on your fresh produce.
Choose free range, hormone free, non GMO and farm fresh. There are so many synthetic chemicals found in our fresh foods and meat that are toxic to our bodies. Ask questions, find out where your meat is coming from and how the animal has been treated. Look for farm fresh and free range labels. Find out where your fruits and vegetables are coming from, have they been treated with pesticides? Are they grown in healthy soil? These products are available, you just have to do a little digging to find them.
Add colour and variety to your meals by choosing fresh produce and herbs. Add natural healthy fats to your cooking such as coconut and olive oil, real butter and avocado, they ar good for us and taste good which minimises the need for added spices and flavours. Always choose fresh ingredients where possible. If you are cooking with fresh, natural ingredients that have been grown in the ground or on a tree, there is no need to check labels and ingredients.
Choose whole grain where you can. Not all grains and pastas are bad for you. Look for brands that are organic or that have natural ingredients with no unnecessary added ingredients. Whole grain and brown options add extra fiber to your diet which is good for your digestive system.
I don’t believe in diets and restrictions, everything in moderation. If you feel like a chocolate, I am by no means suggesting you shouldn’t have one. It’s all about balance and making healthy decisions for yourself and your family. Instead of choosing a commercial chocolate bar that has 20 ingredients in it, choose a quality chocolate with a high cocoa percentage and ingredients that are more natural. For every unhealthy, processed item on the shelves, there is a healthy alternative that is just as tasty and good for your body. Listen to your body, eat what makes you feel good long term – not what tastes good in the moment.
You are what you eat, what you put in is what you get out. If you want to be healthy then choose foods that fuel your body, yes a Mac Donalds burger may taste good (for some) but how do you feel after eating it? My guess is lethargic and bloated. If you are eating fresh foods from the earth, you can have as much of it as you like, your body can use the nutrients and process the foods a whole lot easier than eating processed foods full of fake ingredients.
Ashy Bines, ladies fitness figure said “just because you aren’t sick, doesn’t mean that you are healthy”. Make informed, healthy food choices that will benefit you long term and live a happy healthy life.
If you need some healthy inspiration, have a look at who I am following on Instagram and be inspired to live the best life you can live.