Okay, let’s get to the truth of the matter, everyone wants to be healthier but no one wants to do any work to get there. Here is something that you can do today, and you’ll start getting health benefits instantly. Little effort for a big return, sounds like that is something that most of you can get behind! Here are a few tips that you can implement TODAY to start your journey towards a healthier life.
1. Margarine and any other Butter substitutes (from other oils) – If you’ve never googled how margarine is made, I dare you to do it (read here for a brief description). Margarine is highly processed, contains trans-fats and is really not fit for human consumption. I mean do you really want to put something in your body that is made from rancid industrial seed oils and is then bleached, deodorized, and dyed to make it look like butter? Toss your margarine in the trash immediately, and although the other butter substitutes may or may not be as bad as margarine toss those too. Instead use grass-fed butter or ghee in your cooking. It will add great flavor, provide healthy CLAs, makes your food taste better, is satiating (makes you feel full), and will help you absorb all of the fat soluble nutrients that are in those vegetables that you’re eating!
2. Canola Oil – Made from the rapeseed plant this oil has been touted a health food for the past two decades but is really a highly processed industrialized seed oil, high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and not much better than its industrialized seed oil counterparts from corn, soybean, safflower, and peanuts. This is another thing to get out of your cabinet and replace with olive oil and coconut oil. Both of these oils are healthier choices, have a better mixture of fats, and have nutrients that you actually want to put into your body.
3. Ketchup – While ketchup may be a deceiving condiment since it’s fat-free, this guy doesn’t get a pass at your fridge and pantry makeover since it’s very high in sugar, and most likely high fructose corn syrup. Even if you have one that is labeled natural or organic, this is still something to toss. Why are you adding sugar to your foods anyway? Instead of slathering ketchup on your food, get creative with spices, substitute salsa, or just let the flavors from your REAL food shine through and toss the ketchup. For those of you that are mustard lovers, double-check your label, but most mustards are sugar-free and can add a new flavor profile to your foods.
4. Pre-made spice packets (taco seasoning, etc) – Yeah, yeah I know these things are convenient but they are also loaded with sodium and preservatives; yes even the low sodium ones aren’t really that low in sodium. Instead of taking the shortcut and using these flavor pouches on your meals, invest some money in a few staple spices and add real flavor, versatility, and health benefits to your foods. If you’re gluten-free, double-check your spices. Frontier is a certified gluten-free brand, but not all spices are. All spices aren’t created equal, but you don’t need to go crazy and only buy things from Williams and Sonoma. Start out with a good base of spices that you can purchase anywhere and then experiment with different flavors. Need a replacement for that taco seasoning packet? Try Whole 9′s Mexi-Salad spice mixture, and I promise you’ll never go back to the seasoning packet again!
5. Diet Soda – Yes it’s missing the high fructose corn syrup, but that’s replaced with chemical sugar substitutes instead that confuse your body by packing a sweet taste and no calories, which is not a normal situation that exists in nature! You already know diet soda isn’t healthy, why are you drinking it? Distill the reasoning down, and then find a healthier way to meet that need. If you really like the bubbly stuff try switching to flavored seltzer water or mineral water for a healthier fizzy refreshment.
Laura Pappas is a health coach whose passion is achieving optimal health and fitness. Her health coaching approach helps busy people balance their lives, training, and food choices in a way that is easy and sustainable. She believes in the power of eating real, whole foods, avoiding processed sugar, and applying the principles of the Paleo Diet to modern living. Read more of her ideas on her blog Against the Grain.