We are living at a great time to get inspired to live a sustainable, whole foods lifestyle. The fattening, artery clogging, environmentally poisonous nature of fast food chains is a revelation of the last decade. Perhaps we, or our parents, filled our homes with white bread, cookies, soda, sliced “cheese” and lunch meat – without thinking twice. Some of us might still rely on certain processed foods, since they usually offer a cheap, easy, fast alternative to preparing more healthy meals.
However, we are now living in the midst of a cultural tidal wave. Awareness about nutrition is at an all time high and people are shifting away from processed foods, in the face of shocking statistics about mortality and disease (diabetes, heart disease, etc.).
If you are starting out on the processed-free, whole foods journey, take advantage of these tips that will help you out:
1. Baby Steps
Is almost everything in your fridge and pantry in a bag or box? Don’t be overwhelmed. While it’s possible to clean out your entire kitchen in one fell swoop, you can start small and slow. Take baby steps on your clean-food revolution: during the first week remove boxed, commercial cereal from your life and incorporate whole grain oatmeal, for example. Alternatively, you can stop buying processed lunches everyday and instead, make yourself a clean sandwich or salad. Trade cookies and candy for homemade options or delicious fruit. Every week can be the start of gradual, stacking changes as part of your whole-food evolution.
2. Reduce and Replace
The name of the game when changing over to a whole-food lifestyle is REPLACEMENT. Focus your attention on an unhealthy part of your diet, one by one, and replace it with something nutritious and plant-based. Soda gets replaced for fresh fruit-infused seltzer, for instance. In this fashion, continue to replace every unhealthy habit with a healthy one.
3. Get to Know Real Food
Real foods are foods which come from nature and remain in their natural state until we eat them. They contain no additional ingredients and have not undergone processing that changes them or strips them of nutrients. Vegetables, herbs, spices, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are all great! Any foods made with these as ingredients. Start doing your homework at the supermarket and look at all of the ingredients in any product. Any long list with chemical-sounding names is not okay. Remember, you can always make homemade items like salad dressing, instead of buying synthetic options.
4. Make Time
Don’t use a busy schedule or work/family obligations as an excuse for poor diet and health. A whole-food lifestyle can work for you. If, for example, you don’t have time to chop vegetables, you can spend a few more dollars and buy pre-cut fresh vegetables. Or spend an hour each weekend chopping and prepping food for the coming week. If you live in a big city, there are most likely some vegan and whole-prepared food options available. The point is: make the lifestyle work for you.
5. Reward Yourself
Give yourself a deserved pat on the back! If you’ve made progress on your journey, celebrate it. Even if you’ve fallen off the bandwagon once or twice (sneaking a hamburger, for example) you still deserve recognition for your progress. You can splurge for a high-speed blender or a steamer to enhance your new diet. Alternatively, you could celebrate by hosting a whole-foods dinner at your home and share the good news of the whole-food lifestyle with friends and family.