For most of us, this Winter has had some crazy weather. Massive amounts of snow, flooding, damaging winds and heavy rains. Now that Spring has arrived, we can start recovering and repairing from the bizarre weather. We may also start realizing that being indoors so much has resulted in weight gain of 5 pounds or more. Staying active can be more difficult in the Winter, especially when getting to the gym or going outside is a challenge.
Spring is a time of renewal for the earth and a time to renew our commitment to living a healthy life. Eating healthy is just one part of living a healthy life. Did you know how you eat can actually help prevent disease and illness? This may seem like an unusual concept, especially when we think that most disease and illness comes from our genes. In reality, most chronic diseases are caused by our environment and how we live. Eating healthy is part of preventing disease.
The CDC estimates that eating healthy, exercising and not smoking could eliminate 80% of heart disease and stroke, 80% of diabetes and 40% of cancer. Eating healthy means not eating processed foods, sugar and reducing meat consumption. Also, eating organic food helps your body fight disease. When you eat organic food, you are avoiding harmful chemicals that get stored in your body. When chemicals are stored in your body, the body tries to fight them and becomes tired. When the body is tired of fighting chemicals, disease sets in.
Eating healthy this Spring isn't hard to do if you follow a few easy guidelines:
As I mentioned earlier, eating organic helps the body avoid chemicals. Chemicals stored in the body contribute to weight gain because the chemicals look for body fat to live in. Body fat is necessary for us to live a healthy life but if that fat is tainted with chemicals, it can cause cancer, weight-gain and neurological disorders. One study found that by eating organic food for one week resulted in a drop of 60% to 95% of chemicals in the body, depending on the chemical. (Source: Science Direct)
Organic food is easier to buy as we understand more of the science behind why conventionally grown foods are damaging to our bodies. Worried about the cost? Don't be. Most organic food is only $0.50 - $1.00 more compared to conventionally grown food. That is a small price to pay every week when a round of chemotherapy can cost $30,000 for one week.
BUY IN BULK
When looking for healthy food, stores like Costco and Amazon have significantly increased the amount of USDA certified organic food to buy. Buying in larger quantities helps reduce costs on staples like pasta, rice, quinoa, soups, canned beans and canned vegetables.
BUY IN SEASON
Just like conventional fruits and vegetables, when organic versions are in season, the cost is less. Buying in season helps reduce any grocery bill substantially. Plus, the taste is so much better when buying produce in season.
BUY FROZEN AND CANNED ORGANIC FOOD
When fruits and vegetables are not in season, I always look for frozen options. Plus, frozen vegetables are a healthy and quick way to make dinner on busy weeknights. Be careful about BPA in canned vegetables. I always look for options that have BPA free lining on the label.
EAT LESS MEAT
When you eat less meat, your grocery bill will automatically reduce. Try to limit meat consumption to only dinner time. If that is impossible, try one day a week to have a vegetarian breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not only will it help you save money on grocery bills but it will have a positive effect on your health. If you simply cannot go without meat, then reduce the portion size. Instead of making meat the focal point of the meal, add more vegetables and grains. There is protein in vegetables and grains so you won't be in danger of not getting enough.
Did you know our average plate size is 12 - 14 inches? This is an 4 inch or more increase from 8.5 inches in the 1960's. Why is this important? Because we are consuming additional calories when we load up a large plate with food. Even if we are exercising regularly, it is harder to lose weight if we are eating large portions.
The solution to this is to buy smaller plates. At least once a week I serve dinner on a smaller plate. It means I put less food on the plate and let others decide if they want a second serving. This helps reduce the amount of calories eaten in a single sitting. Look at how filling the Spicy Tuna Guacamole bowl looks. We don't need to pile food high on a single plate to be satisfied.
By following the above steps, you can make any recipe healthier. An added benefit is that organic food contains higher nutrients, which means you will be fuller faster. I've complied a list of healthy recipes below to help you eat healthier this Spring.
Slow Cooker Barley & Chickpea Risotto from Foxes Love Lemons
Slow Cooker Lentil Quinoa Taco Filling from Healthy Slow Cooking
Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Pasta from Two Healthy Kitchens
Falafel-Spiced Chickpea Flatbreads from Big Flavors Tiny Kitchen
If you try any of the recipes, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram as @heather_lee_donahue and use the #heathershealthhabits hashtag. I love seeing your takes on the recipes I share!
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