This month I will share ways to stay healthy. I’m sure you’ll be able to relate and find an idea or two to help you stay on track.
- Clear out your pantry, fridge, and freezer of food items you know aren’t good food choices. Give food away to family or friends or give non-perishable items to a local food bank. If you have vegetable oils like corn, soy, canola, and even margarine, go ahead and toss those! You would be horrified once you know how vegetable oils are processed. If you’re unsure what’s considered “healthy,” read the labels, and if packaged products have a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce, it needs to go.
- Speaking of reading labels, be sure you read the label for ingredients. Food companies are great at marketing. Marketers like to use words like healthy, natural, fat-free, keto or paleo-friendly, and gluten-free to get you to buy. Be an informed consumer and watch for added forms of sugar. Anything with an -ose at the end should be avoided. Many gluten- or fat-free products have a lot of added sweeteners to compensate for the loss of fat or gluten.
- Sugar is sugar, no matter how food companies label it. This may be controversial, but organic raw sugar is no better than regular table sugar. It still stimulates insulin production and raises blood sugar. I’m always reading nutrition labels, and it’s interesting to see how there are new terms for sugar. For example, pure cane sugar sounds better than sugar. Right? Wrong! Simple sugars are monosaccharides, including glucose (dextrose), fructose, and galactose. So no matter what you call sugar, it’s still the two molecules of fructose and glucose. Experts say sugar addiction is accurate and more addictive than cocaine. I believe it.
- Be prepared. While I knew being prepared was vital, I wasn’t sure how to “be prepared.” A good friend of mine is a personal chef, and she shared some ideas with me to keep me healthy while traveling. My new holy grail in the kitchen is the Instant Pot. I can easily make soups and stews when I’m on the road. I have a meal for a week with some fresh meat, fresh vegetables, herbs and spices, and some bone broth. Every day it gets a little tastier. I eat enough fat to keep me full throughout the day and typically intermittent fast from dinner to lunch the next day. When my husband and I go out to eat, I’ll look up the menu online, if available, to make better food choices. We don’t eat out that often, but when we do, I like to be prepared ahead of time.
- Don’t snack. This is my downfall, but I know it’s important to eat your meal and not snack. We weren’t told to eat six times a day or small meals every few hours when we were kids. When we eat ALL THE TIME, our blood sugar doesn’t normalize, and insulin production stays high. Never before in the history of mankind have we seen many people with a metabolic syndrome like high blood pressure, pre-diabetics and type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance. Metabolic syndrome is lifestyle related and can be reversed. Next time you want a snack, have a conversation with yourself and ask these questions. Am I hungry? Am I bored? Is this a habit? I’m guessing the answers may be no, yes, yes. Give your body a break after a meal. You’d probably be “hungry” within an hour if you ate a high-carb, highly processed meal. The old joke that you’re hungry an hour after eating Chinese food is due to the high carb load.
- Stay Hydrated with WATER. There’s a misconception that if you consume any liquid, you’ll stay hydrated. For example, you don’t need to drink as much water if you drink tea, coffee, sports drinks, or fruit juice. That’s not true, as these beverages have a diuretic effect; therefore, you need to replenish the water you lose through sweat and urination. On average, our bodies comprise 55-60% water. Our brain is made up of around 75% water. Water is essential for life. A human can live a long time without food but only a few days without water.
My magic bullet is being prepared. I don’t obsess but rather know how my day will go. The goal is to eat when hungry and not eat when not hungry. Voila!
Pat Garner is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP)