Since I started Semi-Sweet, people have asked me "do you really eat like that all the time?" "How on earth do you manage to avoid junk?" The answers are "no" and "I don't!" I'm just like you, people. Have you not seen the Cheeto banner that comes up sometimes when you visit the site? I like junk food just as much as the next gal - it tastes good, right? Why wouldn't it? It's filled with salt and sugar and fat - all those ingredients make food tasty. But here's my "secret," I limit the quantity I eat. I practice little healthy habits that overall lead to a far healthier diet than the average American. If you're looking for specifics, I'd say I eat crap once a week, usually on the weekend. I swear to you, if you start, slowly even, to incorporate more healthful, whole foods into your diet, you will notice a difference in the way your body feels. You will certainly be doing yourself a favor in the long run.
But for right now, say you're not committed like I am to this whole foods lifestyle. Maybe you don't like to cook so much. Yet you still want to amp up your nutrition and clean up your act in small ways? Here are some easy tips - try one a day if you can:
- Brew a pitcher of green tea and put it on ice for the week. You've heard the buzz about how good green tea can be for you - its catechins are purported to fight off some cancers and to speed up metabolism (although, I should be a skinny b*&tch for all the green tea I drink - so I'm not sure of this one).
- Buy some pre-shredded cabbage slaw mix and whip up a mayo-less slaw. Try my Asian Slaw, or one of the Cabbage recipes I posted earlier in the week. Research has linked a cabbage-rich diet (also other veggies in the brassica family like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards and kale) to a lower risk of breast and other cancers.
- Try starting your meal with soup, or an apple. Researchers have shown that if you start out with a low-cal soup or an apple, you will feel fuller so you consume fewer calories. There are some nice veggie soups that are sold in aseptic packs - practice BPA-avoidance when you can. And I often eat an apple while I'm making dinner so I don't "pre-eat" all the other stuff while I'm cooking.
- If you're having trouble getting enough veggies into your diet, try drinking low-sodium vegetable juice. I don't usually endorse juice as a fruit or vegetable replacement (and I don't drink it myself) because you don't get all the good fiber you would from eating whole food, but desperate times, people . . . . V-8 could be your ticket to 5-a-day.
- Serve fruits for dessert. They're sweet, vitamin-rich and fiber-full. Once you start eating fewer Oreos and other processed sugary-stuff, you really will taste the sweetness in fruits. Trust me on this.
- Steer clear of candy with dried fruit. While dried fruit does have a lot of calories and sugar, it does at least have some food value and fiber.
- When you eat grains (breads, cereals, pastas), make them whole grains - a recent study reported that people who consumed whole grains, and bran in particular, as part of their regular diet were significantly less likely to develop hypertension.
Go easy on yourself. It takes a while to establish new habits. A few weeks - 21 days. Can you commit to trying some new things for 3 weeks? We all know how quickly that time can fly by . . . remember, you don't have to cut junk out of your life wholesale, just make some incremental changes, and see if you don't feel better.