Did you know food can be your medicine? Food can actually help prevent illness and disease. Most of us think that illness and disease comes from our genes and family history. This is simply not true. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that 80% of heart disease and stroke, 80% of type 2 diabetes and 40% of cancer can be prevented by eating a better diet, exercising and stop smoking. (Source: Fight Chronic Disease) That's a pretty staggering fact!
By making simple changes in how we eat, we can lead a healthier life, prevent disease and avoid taking prescription medications. Don't get me wrong, prescription medications have their role. They are great for solving an immediate medical issue. Unfortunately, our society has become dependent on taking medications daily in order to live.
Eating organic food is one of the best ways to start helping your body achieve optimal health. Why? Because you are not ingesting harmful chemicals that cause disruptions in your body processes. A chemical that is ingested is considered a pathogen to your body. The body simply doesn't know what to do with it. Once you've eaten the chemical, the body starts to fight it. When the body is fighting chemicals, it becomes tired and illness can set in.
How do you know if you've ingested harmful chemicals? Your body will let you know, if you pay attention to it. Your digestive tract will give you clues if you have been exposed to chemicals. If you experience constipation, diarrhea, excess gas, bloating and foul smelling stools, you have chemicals in your body. (Source: Body Health) Switching to organic food helps reduce chemical exposure and helps your body get healthier. It doesn't take long either.
A study published this year showed that when people switched to eating organic food, there was a 60% reduction in the amount of chemicals in their bodies in just 6 days! (Source: Civil Eats) Would you be willing to be healthier in 6 days just by changing the type of food you buy? Especially if there are children in the house, this seems like an easy change to make. Organic options are more prevalent. My local Costco has increased the amount of organic foods significantly this year. Also, brands like Doritos have organic options, which shows even snack food companies can make the effort to supply organic foods.
When we think of organic foods, we typically think that the cost is much higher. But the price of organic is starting to come down. It is usually only $0.50 cents to $1.00 higher to buy organic, if the food is not on sale. I often find really great deals at the grocery store on organic food, which often results in it being priced lower than conventionally grown food. Another reason organic food is not that much more expensive is the higher nutrient content. Once you get used to eating organic food, you will notice that you eat less of it. Since organic food is much higher in nutrients, it fills you up faster. This is not only great for the waistline but also for the wallet. Finally, there are plenty of frozen options which also keeps costs down. I always have organic frozen broccoli, cauliflower and spinach available for quick lunch and dinner additions.
After going organic, another way to achieve optimal health is to reduce meat consumption. You don't have to go vegetarian and totally eliminate meat. But trying to have one day a week where meat is not served will significantly help your health. Meat, even if it is farm-raised and organic, contains saturated fats. While farm-raised meat will have added benefits such as omega-3 content, eating at least one meatless day per week will help reduce the amount of saturated fats in your diet.
Portion sizes should also be taken into consideration to achieve optimal health. Quite honestly, we simply don't need to eat a lot of calories daily. Our perspective on portion sizes is skewed. Back in the 1960's, dinner plates were 8.5 inches. Today's dinner plates are 12 - 14 inches. That means we are eating excess calories because our plates are filled at dinner time.
One way to overcome eating excess calories is to use smaller plates. I've started doing this once a week. Usually on a meatless weeknight meal. I will use the smaller plates and serve dinner. Do you know my husband doesn't feel hungry afterwards and does not go for seconds? The power of the small plate! I encourage you to try this in your household. Don't say anything just serve a meal this way and see if anyone notices. I bet you they don't! By switching to smaller plates, you will save calories and avoid over-eating.
Those are the three easiest ways to eat and results in optimal health. Eat organic, reduce meat consumption and smaller portions. While it seems simple, I know overcoming established habits are hard. We struggle with it in my house. When you start to make these changes, do it slowly. I strive to have 80% of ingredients per meal to be organic. Some meals are easier than others. Also, don't restrict foods you may not be able to find organic. Life happens and by making changes where you can, you will help you and your family achieve optimal health.
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