In the last post, I’ve mostly focused on explaining what I consider a healthy diet and why, and what I don’t consider healthy. I also want to point out, that this is a guide for a healthy lifestyle, a healthy immune system and overall physical health, not for a ”healthy diet” in terms of losing weight. The meanings have become somewhat interchangeable in everyday use, but I’m not referring to ways to reduce, let’s say saturated fat intake. Rather I’m saying: exchange the canned whip cream for fresh, farmer’s market cream. Now to the guide.
It may be hard to realize in one’s everyday life how many things are processed or simply not natural – it definitely happens to me. Supermarkets don’t really make this any easier because they’re awesome at advertising “healthy” products. Everything from cinnamon-maple syrup flavored oat bran with added niacin to Gatorade. I’m not saying they’re bad, I’m simply saying there’s a better alternative.
The hardest part, for me personally, is finding the time and energy to go out of my way to stick with a more complicated alternative of something I could find in the supermarket prepacked, only having to add hot water and stir. Therefore, I like to plan my meals a bit – not precisely, because I’m not a big fan of prepping meals as I get bored of eating the same meal for days. But I do buy my veggies, proteins, and carbs for a couple days, splitting my weekly shopping in 2. Here, I make sure to get a bit of everything, from root veggies to greens, cover the color range, and look for seasonal vegs. I do eat meat, but consume red meat very rarely. I prefer fish (mainly salmon) maybe 1-2 a week & here and then chicken 1-2 times a week. On the remaining days I go for tofu alternatives, falafel, beans or ham (I just really like it). Unfortunately, when it comes to preparing those meals, there is no ‘quick fix’, it does take its time and energy. I’d also be lying if I’d say I stick to this plan a 100%, more like 70%.
2. Stick to natural foods
Generally, big supermarkets tend to be less ideal, aim for smaller weekend markets, or farmer’s markets. Ideally the food is not prepacked, and if it is, a quick look at the ingredients to check what’s added should be enough. A prime example is the adding of sugar to virtually everything, often in groceries where you would least expect it. Additionally, any compounds that don’t sound like English to you, but rather remind you of your high school chemistry class are better avoided. Until a couple years ago, it was easy to simply look out for the Es: E245, E450 etc. Nowadays, companies are smarter and increasingly write the chemical compound out. Avoiding processed foods is incredibly hard – it sounds easy enough in the post, but in reality, processed foods are unfortunately the norm. Of course, you cannot avoid all processed foods, particularly on a busy workday, on travels, or simply when you’re exhausted and can’t find the energy in the evening to stand at the stove for another hour. But one can start with a couple meals a week and work from there – cause slow and steady wins the race, right?
3. Lastly, Have fun
With all the discipline and energy required to stick to a natural diet, it can easily turn into another daily, exhausting task. To not get bored, I like to try spices out, try less common veggies or groceries that I simply wouldn’t think to pick up on a normal supermarket shop, and experiment a little. Balance is key here, a cheat meal – that triple cheeseburger I mentioned in the last post, can also happen now and then, cause after all, you gotta live – but again, balance is what’s important here.