If you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle, it all starts with what you put in your mouth. Unfortunately, with today’s prevalence of heavily processed and packaged convenience foods, eating healthier can almost seem like a chore. Being mindful of what you eat is certainly less convenient than opting for processed convenience foods, but the health payoff is absolutely worth it. Curious about what you can do to start being more mindful about the food you consume? Take a look below for a few helpful tips.
Check the Ingredients Label
When you head to the supermarket to pick up groceries for the week, pay close attention to what you place in your cart. Rather than mindlessly tossing in packaged and processed foods, take a moment to read the ingredient labels before making your decision about what you will purchase. You may be surprised to learn that foods you once thought were healthy actually contain several ingredients that have no place in your body. It’s important to not only check the nutrition facts, but also read the ingredients list. Try not to buy food that has several ingredients and try to stay away from food with ingredients you can't pronounce. Ideally, you should stick to the outer perimeter of your local supermarket as that tends to be the area where the most healthful food items are displayed.
Buy Locally or Grow Yourself
When you consume conventionally grown produce, you also consume health-harming pesticides and other chemicals. Plus, conventional produce often travels halfway around the world before it reaches your local supermarket, meaning your food might be weeks old by the time you eat it. Rather than buying mass-produced fruits and vegetables, purchasing locally grown food or growing your own produce allows you to discern the origins and age of the food you consume. Farmer’s markets are a great option if you’re looking for fresh produce, but if you don’t have a farmer’s market nearby, try growing fresh produce in your own backyard! Many vegetables are exceedingly easy to grow and have relatively short maturation times, so don’t let gardening intimidate you. If you’re short on yard space, you can even grow nutrient-dense microgreens indoors.
Limit Restaurant Food
When you eat out, it is very difficult to control the ingredients in your food. Often, restaurant dishes contain several ingredients you may not even be aware of. Many restaurant meals are doused in oil, so if you’re trying to eat healthier, these types of meals are not your best option. If you must eat out, try to select meals that contain healthy ingredients and request that your meal be cooked with minimal oil. Often, restaurants are very willing to accommodate special requests, so don’t be afraid to ask for exactly what you want. Keep in mind, though, when you cook your own healthy meals at home, you have full control over what ends up on your plate. If you’re really on a mission to be more mindful about what you eat, eating whole, natural foods at home is your best bet.
Being mindful of what you put in your body is perhaps the single most important factor in a healthy lifestyle. Paying close attention to everything you eat will take some diligence, but once you become accustomed to eating better, your new habits will seem like second nature. When you take the time to feed your body the foods it needs to thrive, you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel and function.
For some good healthy food options, browse our healthy snacks!