Q & A: What do you buy when you are starting to make healthy changes to your diet?

Posted August 6, 2014 in healthy living, weight loss, nutrition, health, healthy eating, healthy food, diet

I got a great question from a reader recently. I thought I would share her question and my answer with you because I thought you might be interested in this one!

Q - How do you change how you shop for food?

I grew up (probably like you) on typical midwestern meat and potatoes with corn as the vegetable and sometimes a can of green beans or peas here and there and my husband's diet was worse growing up, if you can imagine.

What are some easy ways to overhaul the pantry/fridge and go about changing your tastebuds?

What are your top five ingredients that can begin to change a person's fridge and pantry? I also feel like there's a hurdle to be cleared for those of us who aren't used to investing moo-lah in groceries other than the occasional steak or hard cheese--a reminder as to why healthier, high-quality whole foods are worth the cost would also be welcome (even though the answer is pretty much in the question...)

Thanks for considering! Know that your blog is loved and inspires me on a daily basis!

-Meg

A - This is a great question, Meg! (And thanks for the nice words about the blog!)

I definitely grew up with a pretty typical Midwestern diet (corn or canned green beans all the time!). I also grew up during the late 80's and 90's when the low-fat/fat-free craze was happening. Who remembers Snackwell's cookies? I probably ate about 2,000 of those growing up. My parents also relied on a lots of packaged food to keep my brother and I fed - mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, Toaster Strudels and Pop-Tarts.

Changing your palette from a diet rich in processed food or a meat and potatoes diet will take some time. But it is possible!

But first, I want to talk about investing in food. Spending money on high-quality, nutrient-rich food now is more cost-effective than having to pay for the medical bills associated with diabetes, heart disease or other weight-related illnesses. Trust me! You will spend less on healthy food than you will on a lifetime of illness.

So how do you start making changes? Here are a few of my tips...

  • To begin changing your diet, you have to keep one thing in mind - it's not a diet. I use the term "diet" as a reference to what you eat on a daily basis, not a temporary way of eating to help you lose weight.
  • Think of this as a journey. You don't have to overhaul your diet overnight. Make small changes each week, and you will see physical changes.
  • Try a new type of produce each week. Never had kale before? Look up some kale recipes online, buy some kale and experiment. If you don't like it, don't buy it again. Try something else. Keep trying until you find the types of fruits and vegetables that you like.
  • Don't force yourself to eat food you don't like. Yes, Brussels sprouts are good for you. But if you don't like them, don't make yourself eat them. There are plenty of other vegetables out there to eat.
  • Don't be afraid to fail. You made a recipe and it sucked. Who cares? The more you cook, the better you will become.
  • Just Google it! If you're not sure how to prepare something (like fish), just look it up. You'll find tons of helpful tips to get you through any cooking adventure!

Top 5 foods to buy to change your diet

  1. Whole Grains - Start with the basics - whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta and brown rice. Once those become staples in your diet, start experimenting with new grains like bulgur, quinoa, whole wheat couscous, millet and amaranth. Also pick up some whole wheat flour for baking.
  2. Fresh Produce - Buy some things you know you like! If canned green beans are a staple, try fresh! Add a vegetable to your lunch and dinner. Don't forget to use my tip above and try something new each week! Add more veggies to each meal once you start finding more things you like. Add fresh fruit to your usual breakfast and snack on fruit throughout the day. Or throw some fruit in a smoothie.
  3. Frozen Produce - Buying produce frozen will save you some money and could add a bit of convenience to your cooking. Buy a bag of mixed vegetables and make an easy stir fry with brown rice, chicken and low sodium soy sauce. Or buy frozen fruit for your smoothies or to throw on top of yogurt.
  4. Lean Protein - If you've been sustaining on burgers and steaks, change it up a bit. Buy ground turkey and make turkey burgers or use ground turkey in any recipe you would normally use ground beef. Buy a whole chicken and make roast chicken or pick up some salmon and try fish.
  5. Water. OK, you don't need to buy water. Just buy a water filter pitcher like this one, and drink more water! This is one of the most important things you can do for your body. You may be mistaking thirst for hunger, so make sure you're drinking enough water throughout the day. Drink half your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds, drink at least 75 ounces of water a day (more if you workout).

It's all pretty simple when you boil it down. Everything I mentioned above is whole food (not processed).

I hope this helps, Meg!! Let me know how things go!

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