Today we continue with our Top Ten Health Tips for Everyone. Today's tip is yet another one regarding what we put into our bodies:
Health Tip #3. Limit the amount of processed foods as much as possible, and eat organic produce whenever possible.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where convenience is king. Most of us are too busy with work, family, and life in general to prepare fresh, home cooked meals three times a day. As a result, we often end up relying on frozen meals, to-go food at the grocery store or (sigh) fast food restaurants, or we just forego meals at all in favor of little junky pick me ups like nutrition bars and Starbucks.
Why is this such a bad habit? Well, if you ever stop to read through the ingredients of what you are eating, you can see why… the general rule is that if the ingredient is not a standard kitchen ingredient (eg, cheese flavor, xanthan gum, carrageenan, etc) then it’s probably not a good idea to put it in your body. Stay away from ANYTHING that contains high fructose corn syrup (which your body is not able to process.)
The best option, of course, would be to have organic whole food ingredients (a mix of veggies +/- fruits, a protein [meat or bean or tofu], and a whole grain) that are cooked (baked, steamed, lightly sautéed) for each meal. One tip is to prepare a double sized serving at dinner one night and use the leftovers for lunch the next day. For snacks, we love to recommend nuts or trail mix with a higher proportion of nuts to fruit. If you aren’t a nut fan, or you have an allergy, try whole grain pita bread or fresh veggies with hummus, or a yummy sharp cheddar cheese with apple slices. If you aren't someone who likes to cook, see if you can take a cooking class at a local community center or health food store...you'll probably find that the food you cook yourself nourishes you more on every level than food you buy shrink-wrapped in a store.
If you aren’t able to prepare healthy meals and snacks but are looking for the next best option, try the hot food bar at your local supermarket (we are partial to Whole Foods because of their use of organic foods) and grab a meal consisting of brown rice, steamed veggies (kale, sweet potatoes, broccoli, beets, carrots), and a protein (chicken, tofu, beef, beans). Or look for what soups are available.
Frozen meal junkies can try some healthier alternatives like Amy’s Kitchen products. But even Amy’s meals aren’t ideal because of the processing required to eat them. They must be frozen for transport and storage (in TCM terms, this can significantly damage a food’s nutritive value) and then heated in a microwave to eat (further damaging the nutrients).
If all else fails and you are stuck in nutrition bar land – read the ingredients. Stay away from bars that have over 15 gms of sugar (you may as well be eating a candy bar) and look on the label for for simple, healthy ingredients. Lara bars are a great example of healthy nutrition bars. Clif bars are a great example of sugar-laden candy bars masquerading as nutritional alternatives.