Before I realized that good health could be had simply and naturally through diet and quality natural remedies, I ate like … crap. How I was raised played a part – most food was beige and veggies were few. (Though I did get my fill of tasty Mexican food you couldn’t find replicated in a restaurant).
Still, though, when I became an adult and learned more about good nutrition, I chose “food” from a box over fresh fruits and veggies. Finally, after years of saying, “I don’t feel very well,” every single day, I wised up to the fact that what I was eating was affecting my health.
I was determined to make the changes I needed to to feed my family more nourishing food. But where to start?
As you may know, I’m quite fond of keeping things simple, and this was no exception. I started by replacing a few nutrient-deficient foods with more healthy, nourishing ones.
If you’re trying to make healthy changes in your home, these three ideas are a great place to start.
1. Replace Processed Foods with Meals Full of Fresh Produce
I was a fan of processed food. Boxed meals, frozen dinners, packaged mixes – nothing was off limits. (Except Hamburger Helper, but that’s a different story). I quickly realized that these foods were not only expensive, but they were full of harmful additives like MSG, high fructose corn syrup, unhealthy fats and excess sugar.
High in fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, fresh fruits and vegetables are a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Fresh produce also contains high amounts of phytochemicals, some of which act as antioxidants.
Antioxidants are those wonderful things you hear about all the time that protect us from free radicals (which cause cancer).
Fresh produce (preferably local) is the best source of these vitamins and minerals. Raw fruits and vegetables also contain live enzymes to aid with digestion. However, cooking vegetables that contain fat soluble vitamins in coconut oil, will actually help your body to digest and assimilate them into our bodies.
So how much should you aim for? Nine servings of fruit and veggies a day (heavy on the veggies, preferably) is ideal. If you’re just starting to incorporate produce, aim for five.
2. Replace Vegetable Oil with Coconut Oil
Many cooking oils have been heavily processed with added chemicals and come from genetically modified plants that were sprayed with pesticides. When these oils are heated to very high temperatures (like during processing – think vegetable and canola oil) they become oxidized.
Oxidation produces free-radicals (remember those?) that roam our bodies, causing irritation and breaking down tissues. People with diminished immune systems are more susceptible to the effects of free-radicals.
Staying Healthy with Nutrition cites inflammatory problems, allergies, cardiovascular disease, tissue damage and mutated cells as being free-radical side effects. Hello cancer.
Instead, we now use coconut oil for the majority of our cooking. Coconut oil is a heart-healthy food that is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It also increases thryoid function, increases digestion and aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. (Mmmm, stir fried veggies in coconut oil).
3. Replace White Table Sugar with Raw Honey
Sugar is devoid of any nutrients whatsoever. Typically, nourishing food contains vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that aid in the digestion of that food, helping your body to process it. Not so with sugar.
Because sugar has no nutrients, it pulls from your body’s own energy stores to be processed. This leaves your body temporarily depleted, compromising your immune system and leaving you prone to illness. Sugar also lowers your white blood cell count.
(Can you see how the combination of these types of food would make you feel awful all the time?)
Like coconut oil, it has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties (which is why you don’t want to use it to make kombucha – it will mess up your SCOBY). It’s also much sweeter than sugar, so you can use less of it.
If you need more ideas for switching things up in your kitchen and creating a healthier lifestyle, check out my book, Simple Natural Health. It’s my “what I wish I had when I got started” guide to natural health.
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