FUNDAMENTALS OF HEALTHY EATING PART VII: HOW TO CROWD OUT PROCESSED FOOD & DRINK
If you've missed parts 1-6 of my Fundamentals of Healthy Eating series, check out previous posts here, or review this summary before jumping in below:
Part 1 encourages you to identify a health-focused motivation for mixing up your eating habits, to have patience and compassion for yourself, and to let this be a slow evolution towards a sustainable way of eating.
Part 2 is all about increasing awareness around food and its impact on your overall wellbeing.
In part 3, you pick up your fork and dig into some dietary changes by filling your plate and your belly with more vegetables throughout the day.
In Part 4 I challenge you to examine and reduce the amount of added sugar you're eating daily.
Part 5 explains the importance of whole, real foods in your diet.
Part 6 is loaded with ideas around how to integrate those whole, real foods easily.
If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you’re among the many people ready to make the transition to eating more health-promoting foods, and less of the highly processed and fast foods that we now know are detrimental to both our mental and physical health. But ready, willing and able don’t always translate to action. In my experience, most people are confused about where to start and how to put meals together after years of choosing packaged convenience foods. So, I’ve come up with this handy little guide for integrating whole, real foods into your meals, your routine and your kitchen and crowding out the junk.
If you want this to be fun, easy and sustainable, I recommend making a plan of attack that will allow you to make small, manageable changes over time. Maybe this month you tackle snacking, next month breakfast, lunch the month after, and so-on. This approach will give you time to explore what foods are most enjoyable to you, experiment in the kitchen, and create space for compassion and patience along the way. Change is challenging no matter how you slice it, so don’t make it harder on yourself by beating yourself up or setting yourself up for failure with extreme measures. Do the best you can, take your time and have fun!
SWAPS, MEAL IDEAS AND STAPLES
Instead of processed cereal, oatmeal packets loaded with sugar, conventional yogurts with high-fructose corn syrup or muffins from the coffee shop, try:
Smoothie: unsweetened liquid base + protein + fiber + healthy fat + greens. Start with these easy recipes and remember you can make these the night before if you’re pressed for time in the morning!
Mexican Omelette: 2 eggs + 1-2 cups sautéed non starchy veggies (peppers, onion, zucchini, spinach for example) topped with up to 1/2 an avocado + salsa.
Asian Scramble: 2 eggs scrambled with 1 cup cooked greens, topped with up to 1/2 an avocado + 2 tablespoons kimchi.
Breakfast Hash: ½ cup diced squash or yam + 1 cup chopped leafy greens + 1 diced chicken sausage (I like Applegate Farms Italian or any organic, additive free sausage). Top with an egg for a heartier meal.
Yogurt Parfait: 1 serving unsweetened full fat greek yogurt or non-dairy yogurt topped with blueberries or raspberries + a small handful of chopped nuts and seeds (look for raw or dry-roasted, unsalted nuts).
Power Oats (or quinoa): 1 serving cooked steel cut oats with 1 tablespoon chia or flax seeds and (optional) scoop Further Food Collagen (use MISFITWELLNESS10 at checkout for a discount) mixed in, topped with 1 tablespoon unsweetened nut or seed butter + fresh fruit.
Instead of a sandwich on white bread with chips, fast-food burger and fries, a gut-bomb burrito or frozen tv-dinner style meal, try:
Big Beautiful Salad: 2-4 cups salad green of choice + handful chopped or sliced sweet veggie or fruit of choice (carrot, apple, cooked squash) + 1 handful chopped or sliced non-starchy veggie (radish, onion, broccoli) + healthy fat (avocado, nuts, seeds) + protein (lentils, chick peas, salmon, chicken) + drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil, your favorite homemade salad dressing or this amazing dressing
Buddha Bowl: cooked or raw greens or up to 1 cup of quinoa or rice as a base + leftover roasted squash or sweet potato + leftover roasted cauliflower or broccoli + dollop of guacamole or this hummus or bean dip + protein of choice (see above ideas), OR this Spicy Mexican Buddha Bowl
Stacked Sandwich: additive-free turkey breast or leftover chicken + leafy lettuce + sauerkraut + whole grain mustard + sliced avocado or clean mayo (look for a mayo that is just eggs, olive or avocado oil, vinegar and spices) on sprouted wheat bread or sourdough. (Look for breads with only the grain(s), water and salt on the ingredient list. Additional whole food ingredients like nuts, seeds or herbs are fine too!)
Instead of a boxed rice mix with canned-soup based casserole, fast-food or fried chicken and mashed potatoes, try any of the meals in the lunch category or:
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner: grilled or baked chicken breast seasoned with your favorite additive-free herb/spice bend + 1 small baked sweet potato or roasted sweet potato wedges seasoned with salt and pepper + roasted Brussels Sprouts sprinkled with garlic powder, salt and pepper
Salvation Salmon: broiled salmon + steamed or sautéed broccoli sprinkled with your favorite additive-free seasoning blend + roasted butternut squash
NOTE: instead of using canola, vegetable blend or seed oils, use olive oil to sauté and bake at low or medium heat, and a heat stable choice like avocado oil for pan-frying, grilling or roasting.
SNACKS & DESSERTS
Instead of highly processed crackers, cookies, cakes and bars, try whole foods or minimally processed alternatives like any of the ones listed in this post.
PANTRY & FRIDGE STAPLES
Instead of sugar-laden condiments, dressings loaded with funky oils and spice blends full of mystifying ingredients, stock up on items like the below. Instead of ditching everything in your fridge or pantry, I suggest replacing items with healthier versions as you run out of the old stuff. It’s less wasteful, more affordable and less of a shock to your tastebuds!
Dressings are best made at home using olive oil, vinegar and simple flavorings like garlic, mustard or shallots, (it’s much easier than you think). I recommend doubling batches and freezing extra to save time. If you’re not quite there yet, Primal Kitchen, The New Primal and Tessa Mae’s are good choices from the store (or online).
Condiments can be tricky, but thankfully there are some brands putting out better options. Avoid high-fructose corn syrup, excessive added sugars, ingredients you can’t pronounce and look for things like simple pestos, mustards, organic ketchup with lower sugar, and options with limited ingredients you’re familiar with. I love Seggiano’s Basil Pesto (dairy free, available at Whole Foods) and Siete hot sauces.
Spice Blends free of preservatives, added sugars and excess sodium are the way to go. Look for ones that are just herbs and spices. Morton and Basset, Simply Organics, Frontier Co-op, 365, Primal Palate, Trader Joe’s brand and Spicely are great choices. I love Thai Kitchen Curry Paste above all!
Grains that are just whole grains, like quinoa, rice, bulgar, farro are ideal, instead of boxed rice mixes loaded with things no one needs in their body. Bulk bins or brands like Bob’s Red mill are great sources of the single ingredient alternatives.
Canned Goods are great pantry staples when they’re full of single ingredient foods like tomatoes, black beans, lentils, or even pumpkin for smoothies. Avoid canned soups with additives and preservatives and canned fruits with added sugars. Across the board, look for BPA free cans.