A lot of people say that it's just "too difficult" to eat healthy, especially those juggling hectic lives. However there are a few simple rules that once learned, can guide you to healthier choices in any scenario.
1. Fat doesn't make you fat
While you may have heard this before, many people still do not understand the reasoning behind it. Fat is perfectly healthy when it comes from nature (for example: avocados and nuts). Fat only becomes unhealthy when we consume too much omega 6 fatty acids. These are often highest in vegetable oils, salad dressings, and mayonnaise. An overwhelming amount of packaged food contains soybean old, so you will need to go out of your way to avoid it. Olive oil is always the better choice. Fried food and fatty cuts of meat also raise the risk of high cholesterol. So to simplify, fat is fine, as long as it’s from a natural source.
2. Don't load up on protein
A lot of people- especially men who want to build muscle- think that overdosing on protein is a good idea. However too much of the wrong protein can raise your risk of various diseases. Protein powders, bars, and meats like pork and bacon provide protein, however they are mostly junk food beyond that. Some protein supplements are so packed with chemical additives that the risks far outweigh the benefits. So don't fool yourself into thinking it’s healthy. You can pick up natural protein supplements online, and these are far more nutritious options than the commercial stuff.
Moderate amounts of fish and nuts work fine for protein sources. Even vegetables have small amounts of protein, so you don't need to constantly “dose up” like some trainers would have you think.
3. Carbs are not the enemy!
Our brains run on glucose…Let that sink in for a second. Natural sugars like fruit sugar or honey are not going to hurt you and contrary to what some “experts” say, there's no reason to avoid them. The problem arises when carbohydrates are combined with lots of fat (for example: a brownie). The fat makes it more difficult for the sugar to leave your bloodstream, contributing to high blood sugar levels.
Carbohydrates are perfectly healthy, as long as they are not refined. Most junk food is a refined carbohydrate, so stick to fruit and whole grain snacks as much as possible.
4. Aim for the least ingredients
If you're stuck grabbing food at a convenience store, this is the best way to narrow down your options. For snacks like granola or energy bars, choose the bar with the least ingredients. You should also be able to recognise most of the ingredients. So even if the bar says "healthy" or "sugar free," pay no attention. Look at the ingredients. If the list is huge and full of odd chemicals, it's bad for your body- no matter what the label claims.
Another good indicator that something is awful is if the first few ingredients include soybean oil, sugar, or refined white flour. This means that the snack is 90% useless to your body.
5. Not all junk is created equal
Just because you have a sweet tooth doesn't mean you have to disregard your health completely. If you can't afford to shop at places like Whole Foods or you don't live near any health food stores, remembering a few brand names can simplify shopping. Brands like Nature Valley and Bob's Red Mill are often available in regular supermarkets. You can look for organic cookies, gluten free breads, or nondairy ice cream for snacks. While they may not be the epitome of health food, avoiding the chemicals in regular cookies, bread, and ice cream will help you immensely.
For work, consider ordering healthy snacks online and stock up on healthy foods that you already know you like. This eliminates the stress of choosing every day at lunch. You can also go online and look up the food options near your work location. Places like Salad Works and Chipoltle are far better than McDonalds or Chik Fillet, so make the best choice you can.
We're not all cut out to be mega health nuts, but that's no excuse to deprive your body of nutrients that are easy to find. Use these 5 basic rules and you will find yourself with fewer digestive problems and a clean conscience.