3 steps to a healthier life
change where you shop for food
Just the act of changing where you shop for groceries can dramatically improve how easy it is for you to eat healthy. Natural food grocery stores, like Whole Foods and Earth Fare, have a list of banned ingredients that they won’t even allow on the shelf. Ingredients like artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and other controversial preservatives can’t be found in these stores. This is helpful in choosing what food to put into your cart, because some foods in conventional grocery stores look healthy, but are full of questionable ingredients – including the Sickening 15 ingredients that I describe in detail in my book, The Food Babe Way.
While it’s true that some conventional grocery stores are making an effort to include more organic products, you still need to read labels more carefully and decipher the names of ingredients to make sure you’re not getting swindled. For instance, many packaged cereals, advertised as being healthy sources of whole grains and fiber, contain artificial colors, flavors, and the risky preservative BHT. Last year Slate magazine did an exposé comparing the foods in Walmart with those sold in Whole Foods, and what they found was astonishing. Since Walmart doesn’t ban any ingredients from their stores, 54% of the food sold there would be banned from Whole Foods. If someone did a sweep of Walmart’s grocery section to remove all foods containing those banned ingredients, more than half the shelves would be empty!
Ever since I made the switch and began to shop exclusively at stores where I could find organic and additive-free foods, I realized how much it could affect my temptation for other foods filled with additives. I recommend the following grocery stores because they’re committed to banning certain ingredients from their shelves: Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Sprouts, Wild Oats, Mother’s Market, Healthy Home Market, Trader Joes (with some exceptions) and Erewhon. Another great option is to shop at Farmers Markets or subscribe to a CSA.
add a green drink to your daily routine
A simple green drink, made mostly from kale, romaine lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens, is the best fast food available and a superb way to add more veggies to your diet. Calorie for calorie, greens hold the most concentrated nutrition of any food. Nutritionists say that we should eat six to eight servings of veggies and fruits a day for good health, but that’s tough to do. If you blend or juice your fruits and veggies, though, getting all you need is a cinch. Consider this: A 12-ounce glass of fresh vegetable juice supplies an entire day’s serving of fruits and vegetables.
There are three easy ways to incorporate a green drink into your daily routine. The simplest way is to knock back a shot of wheatgrass juice, but let me warn you, it’s going to be strong in taste, so it’s not for the faint of heart. Wheatgrass, however, is one of the best sources of living chlorophyll available. Having a mere ounce of wheatgrass is the nutritional equivalent of eating two pounds of dark green leafy vegetables!
The second way is to make a green smoothie. I like to blend greens into a smoothie because this preserves the beneficial fiber of the greens. I take a handful of kale and throw it right in my blender along with frozen fruit (usually berries) and some good fat and protein (like chia and hempseeds).
The third way is to juice your greens. When juice is separated from the fiber of fruits and vegetables, it is easier for your body to absorb all of the nutrients, giving you an instant boost of energy, like a natural version of Red Bull! If you’re trying to drop pounds but you’ve got hard-to-control food cravings, it might be because your body is deficient in some vitamins and minerals. Drinking juice replenishes those elements and zaps your cravings to help you lose weight. Since learning how to juice a few years ago, my body weight stabilized, and I’ve been able to fit easily into everything in my closet. To get started, all you need is a good juicer or blender (my recommendations here) and a batch of organically grown fruits and vegetables. You’ll find that once you start to pump your body with greens, you’ll actually start craving them!
enjoy more home cooked meals
One of the best ways to improve your diet is to eliminate ingredients that you don’t recognize. If it’s not something that you would cook with in your own kitchen, don’t eat it. There is an entire industry, the food chemical industry, who’s job it is to create an abundance of food additives to improve the bottom line of the food companies. These food-like substances are made from chemicals that are cheap and, most of the time, provide zero nutritional value. Fake foods do nothing for our health and, in some cases, could cause harm. Many of the food additives that the FDA deems safe, have not been studied long term and no one has studied the cumulative effect of all the food additives we are eating. The Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, Michael Taylor, recently admitted to the Washington Post, “We do not know the volume of particular chemicals that are going into the food supply so we can diagnose trends. We do not know what is going on post-market”.
To avoid questionable food additives, I eat at least 15-17 homemade meals a week and choose ingredients wisely. As a country, we have grown accustomed to outsourcing the majority of our meals. We are no longer eating from our own kitchens but instead are eating most of our meals outside of the home. We are eating in restaurants, on the go, and consuming food prepared by someone else with a list of ingredients chosen by someone else. People who eat more food prepared in their homes avoid thousands of unnecessary food additives that they would otherwise be exposed to. When I make food at my house it is far more nutritious and tastes way better than anything I can find at a restaurant. I created The Food Babe Eating Guide for this reason, to provide my friends and family with an easy plan to follow for making healthy food at home.