Your Family’s Guide to Hassle-Free Healthy Eating

Photo Credit: Pixabay

By Karen Weeks

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Elderwellness.net and contact her via karen@elderwellness.net

These days, we’re surrounded by sodas, ice cream, and fast food restaurants. Those things can be fun and convenient. However, it’s also good to get into the habit of eating healthy foods, especially if you’re a budding entrepreneur and dealing with the potential for burnout of managing your business and employees. So if you want to help your kids and yourself eat better and feel better, here are some tips from Dr. Stacey Naito to help.

What Is Healthy, Whole Food?

You may be wondering what “healthy” really means when it comes to your family’s food choices. Most health professionals agree that the healthiest foods contain adequate micronutrients and are unprocessed. A better way to think about this is to aim to choose whole foods or natural foods that have not been processed.

For example, chicken breast, spinach, quinoa, yams, and nuts are all whole foods because they have not been processed. On the other hand, cereal, white bread and french fries are not whole foods. Try to incorporate more whole foods into your family’s diet and try to get more gut-healthy probiotics from surprising sources like garlic and onions in order to boost your family’s digestive and mental health, as well as their immune system. Also, make sure to fuel your family for the day with a nutritious breakfast.

Why Eat Whole Foods?

By eating foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy fats, your family will be getting the energy they need to survive and thrive. By avoiding processed food that is high in sodium, sugar, trans fat, and saturated fats, your family will also be protecting themselves from the dangers of obesity, heart disease, and even tooth decay. In addition to the physical ramifications of a poor diet, eating highly processed foods can impact your family’s mental health and make them feel more stressed, depressed and anxious. 

In essence, what we eat affects brain function, biochemical pathways and even the size of certain areas of the brain that regulate mood and emotion. Foods high in unhealthy fats and sugars are also highly addictive; the more we eat, the more we want. If you want your family to be healthy (both physically and mentally), you can counteract these effects by encouraging a diet that is rich in whole foods. 

In addition to health benefits, eating foods in their natural or whole state cuts down on the environmental impact of plastic food packaging. When you eat a banana, there is no waste. The peel decomposes, leaving no trace behind. Adversely, the plastic bag carrying banana chips adds to the problem of packaging waste pollution.

How Can Families Get Started? 

One of the easiest ways to ensure your family is getting enough healthy whole foods is to prepare food at home. Get your entire family involved in cooking – not only is there an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables in season, but you likely also have more time to spend preparing meals. Plus, kids who cook tend to eat healthier as adults. 

Another way to ease your family into healthier habits is to add veggies to your favorite comfort foods. Avoid trying to trick your children into eating veggies and take the time to explain to your children why having zucchini with macaroni or spinach on pizza is good for them. Smoothies can also be an easy way to get kids into eating more fruits and veggies. Blend up bananas with leafy greens or even pineapple with cabbage. 

If you plan on taking a road trip, you have an extra chance to get your kids to eat healthy. Instead of stopping for fast food, try bringing some healthy snack options, like dried fruit, popcorn or low-sugar cereals. 

Finally, be patient as your kids pick up new healthy food habits. You may need to serve veggies alongside old favorites for a while, and don’t get discouraged if your loved ones go after the occasional indulgence. The process may be gradual but eventually, your entire family will begin to see the benefits of eating those healthy foods. 

Dr. Stacey Naito is a board-certified family practice physician, artist, and fitness model. Check out her blog for fitness and wellness tips, inspirational stories, and product reviews. 

Review of Guy Gone Keto

Guy Gone Keto by Thom King is an excellent book and a must read for anyone who is seriously considering adopting the keto lifestyle. Whether you are interested in losing weight or just want to optimize your daily food intake, the keto lifestyle is a viable option, and Thom definitely breaks down the science behind keto into easily understood terms. Thom is the founder and CEO of Steviva Brands, and is well-versed in natural foods and has an extensive background in food science and “bio-hacking”, so he knows what he’s talking about.

I was able to read this book in one sitting on a weekend afternoon and found it amusing and well-written. I love how Thom adds his personal experiences to really underscore the fact that a keto lifestyle can transform your body and your life if you commit to it. He also includes a whole collection of keto recipes so that you can infuse variety into your new keto regimen. He includes recommendations on what supplements to purchase so you aren’t in the dark about what to get.

Thom King also has an expansive line of Guy Gone Keto products, including MCT Oil, Steak Sauce, BBQ Sauce, Ketchup, Teriyaki Sauce, Thai Chili Sauce, and KetoseSweet+. You can check out the line here:

https://shop.guygoneketo.com/

You Truly ARE What You Eat (Updated Post)

you-are-what-you-eatIt’s no secret that fast foods are unhealthy and artery-clogging, but there are impostors which sit on grocery shelves and have people believe they are healthy due to phrases like “Low Fat”, “Good for you”, “Fit ____”, and the list goes on. I encourage my patients to read EVERY label on food containers while perusing the grocery store shelves and aisles and to become aware of preservatives, sugar, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and artificial colorings.

A good general rule to follow is if there are more than five ingredients on a food label, or if there are a bunch of big terms which seem alien and strange to you, chances are that the item has questionable nutritional value and should be avoided. Over the last few years I have developed such an aversion to packaged foods that as soon as I see a food item in a bag, box or can, I tend to avoid it.

An interesting thing begins happening to people when they completely eliminate sugars and processed foods from their diets. They experience increased energy, clearer skin, fewer aches and pains, and lower body fat. If someone has been eating clean for a while and decides to have a sinful treat like pizza, a fast food burger, chips, cake or cookies, he or she will notice a detrimental effect on energy, aches and pains may return, and stubborn pockets of body fat will become more noticeable. I have seen this in myself and cannot stand it. What always occurs with me after I have had a couple of glasses of wine, a piece of cake, or greasy foods is that my digestion is completely thrown off whack and I feel sluggish and achy. In other words, these heavier foods make me feel heavy and tired, while clean, light, fresh foods make me feel energized.

I know some of you are thinking, “Wow, that would be so hard to stay away from processed food all the time!”, but in actuality, it isn’t difficult at all. The first thing you need to do is to clear out your pantry and refrigerator of any processed foods, thus wiping the slate clean. What do you replace those items with? You replace them with wholesome foods, fill up your crisper with fresh, organic vegetables and fruits, and favor single ingredients over packages which have ingredient lists which look like essays. Some of you might complain that you are so busy that it would be a waste to buy fresh fruits and vegetables because they would just rot. For you folks, I recommend purchasing frozen (NOT canned) produce which you can easily thaw out and cook whenever you need to.

And if you think it’s tough to cook clean meals, it really isn’t. A chicken breast can easily be marinated in simple marinades while you are at work (a favorite of mine has Bragg’s Amino Acids, apple cider vinegar, and sesame oil…yummy!), then placed in your broiler to cook. Add some steamed vegetables, and maybe a small serving of quinoa, and you have a healthy, nutritious meal which is a snap to make!

I understand that it can be challenging to find the time to eat whole foods each day, but I am telling you that it is well worth it if you intend to take control of poor eating habits and possibly even reverse disease processes in your body. Give it a try…you will probably love it.

YouTube Review Of Spry Sugarfree Gum

Many people who know me well know that I won’t touch any products which contain aspartame, and I am also not a huge fan of sucralose. It is such a relief to know that great natural products like Spry Sugarfree Gum are available to consumers. Spry is sweetened with xylitol and is all natural, plus the flavors are very tasty and long-lasting. You can watch my unbiased review of Spry Gum here:

How To Shop For Healthy Foods

From Sports Nutrition Supplement Guide Article I wrote which was posted on their site.

From Sports Nutrition Supplement Guide Article I wrote which was posted on their site.

Grocery stores in the U.S. can be nutritional traps for uneducated shoppers, because processed foods are placed prominently in the center aisles, while nutrient-dense whole foods are pushed to the periphery. It’s a smart marketing ploy, since many shoppers are easily lured by the colorful and appealing packaging which processed foods feature. There’s even a whole science devoted to the psychology behind food labeling! Because of this, I always advise patients and clients to do the majority of their shopping around the perimeter of a grocery store, even in places like Whole Foods, in order to maximize chances of making the healthiest food choices.

Think about it. If a food item can be stored in a box, bag or can at room temperature, it means that it probably has preservatives which keep it from spoiling. Start reading ingredient labels and you might be shocked at what you find. If ingredient labels are excessively long or have long names which you can’t pronounce, you probably should steer clear. Remember that the least processed foods will be assimilated by your body the most readily.
Grocery store junk

Supermarkets and grocery stores are designed to lure you in like a rat in a maze, but instead of getting a reward at the end of the maze, you might be signing up for health issues if you are distracted by all the colorful advertising found on the most popular food items. Keep in mind that these stores are designed to tempt shoppers to make impulse purchases. Such impulse buys can be especially tempting if you are ravenous with hunger when you shop.

Here are some guidelines which will help you to make healthy food choices when perusing a grocery store.

1. Shop around the perimeter of the store – Most processed foods are found in the aisles of a grocery store, while whole foods like fresh produce and meats are found around the perimeter.

2. Read food labels – Be aware of hidden sugar, sodium, artificial flavors and colors, and preservatives.

3. Keep purchases of packaged foods to a minimum – Beware of foods which are packaged in boxes, bags, or cans, as these foods tend to be filled with preservatives.

4. Prepare a shopping list and stick to it – Making a list will ensure that you do not forget any necessary items and will also help prevent impulse purchases if you adhere strictly to the items which are on your list.

5. Eat a meal before you shop – If you shop for groceries when you are satiated, you will be less likely to make impulsive purchases or buy more than what you need.

6. Fill your cart with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish, poultry, nuts and beans.

7. Try a new fruit or vegetable each week – This will add variety to your meal plan.

8. Spend the most time during your shopping trip in the produce section.

9. When choosing whole grain cereals, aim for at least 4 grams of fiber per serving– Make sure the sugar content is minimal.

10. Choose lean cuts of meat – Good beef cuts are round, top sirloin and tenderloin. When buying poultry, purchase the skinless variety.

11. If you can’t purchase fresh fruit, choose frozen fruits and vegetables over the canned variety.

12. Avoid food items that contain more than five ingredients, artificial ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.

13. Be careful when choosing bread – Many refined breads are dark from added molasses, caramel or other coloring. Look for breads which contain 100% whole wheat or other grain as their first ingredient. Try to avoid enriched wheat flour as it is actually made with processed white flour. Make sure the bread you select has at least 2 grams of fiber per slice.

14. Select fish which is high in omega-3 fatty acids – Best selections are salmon, rainbow trout, lake trout, and tuna. (Below is a list of seafood lowest in Mercury)
low mercury foods
15. Choose strong-flavor chesses – Sharp cheddar, feta and Parmesan have strong flavors which means you will need to use less to flavor your foods.

16. Purchase Greek yogurt – Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than other varieties, and the protein content is much higher. My favorite is Fage Total 0-Percent Greek Yogurt.

17. If you must buy frozen entrees, make sure they contain less than 400 calories, 4 grams of saturated fat, and 600 milligrams of sodium, with at least 14 grams of protein and 2 grams of carbohydrate.

18. Add vegetables and/or cooked brown rice or quinoa to your frozen entrée to increase the size and nutrition level of the meal.

19. Add fresh or frozen fruit to cooked oatmeal to provide sweetness without added sugar.

20. Eat oatmeal – Make sure to buy regular oatmeal, not the instant variety.

Here’s to happy and healthy shopping!

Healthy Grocery Shopping

Regular grocery stores in the United States are notorious for putting processed foods in alluring packages and displaying them prominently on grocery shelves. If you are in the habit of reading ingredient labels like I am, you probably know that the most processed foods are located along the aisles in the center of the store, while whole foods are found at the perimeter. As a result of this, I advise patients and clients to do the majority of their shopping around the perimeter in order to maximize the chances of making the healthiest food choices.

Grocery store junkThink about it. If a food item can be stored in a box, bag or can at room temperature, it means that it probably has preservatives which keep it from spoiling. Start reading ingredient labels and you might be shocked at what you find. If ingredient labels are excessively long or have long names which you can’t pronounce, you probably should steer clear. Remember that the least processed foods will be assimilated by your body the most readily.

Grocery stores are designed to lure you in like a rat in a maze, but instead of getting a reward at the end of the maze, you might be signing up for health issues if you are distracted by all the colorful advertising found on the most popular food items. You are far better off avoiding the maze and selecting fresh meats, produce, nuts and whole grains. Happy shopping!