This was published as my Holistic Outlook column in The Times Herald Record.
So you’ve decided to eat healthier. Good decision!
Nothing – truly nothing – is more important to the quality of the rest of your life.
But it’s daunting to give up what you’re used to, and eat fresh food mostly prepared at home. Who has time to cook three meals a day?
Here’s my 5 step how-to. Remember: it’s the transition that’s difficult, not the doing itself. Once you master the learning curve, it’s not hard, and you’ll feel so much better.
1. Keep it simple Good food simply prepared is delicious and nourishing. You don’t need fancy recipes, special equipment, or loads of time.
Here’s what you do need:
- Protein: We’re fortunate to have many sources of grass fed, pasture raised animals in the Hudson Valley, with more all the time. Find a farm or farm market that offers meat, poultry, and eggs from healthy animals.
- Organic vegetables: These should provide the bulk of your meals, literally and figuratively. I recommend 2 cups of cooked vegetables twice daily – not just salads. If you can’t afford organic, at least get fresh. (Farm markets open soon.) Don’t just steam. Go ahead and sautee in some…
- Healthy fats: Pastured butter (find KerryGold at many local supermarkets). Coconut oil. Avocados. Nuts and seeds. Studies consistently show healthy fat is GOOD for us. And no, it doesn’t make you fat or raise cholesterol (that’s refined carbohydrates and sugar in all forms.).
2. Batch Cook When you cook, cook in quantity: enough to grab a portion daily for a few days. Do this with both protein and veggies, then mix and match. Don’t cook for one meal. Make enough for a few days.
3. Protein Shakes My goals is teaching people to eat real food in any situation. But shakes can be nutrient-dense, delicious, convenient, and take the thinking out of one meal daily. My favorites: beef protein (nope – doesn’t taste like burger) and non-GMO pea protein. Blend with unsweetened coconut milk, berries, raw pumpkin seeds, chia seeds or almond butter, coconut or MCT oil. Made right, a shake will keep you focused and full for 4-6 hours. Don’t use more than once a day. Don’t use shakes containing soy protein, artificial sweeteners (Nutrasweet, Splenda, Acesulfame, aspartame, sucralose, etc), fructose, or over 5 grams of sugars.
4. “But I’m Bored” Don’t expect your food to entertain you! Food is nourishment. Eating for anxiety, fatigue, excitement, disappointment, frustration, boredom, habit, etc….? Identify what you’re feeling. If it’s not hunger, consider finding another way to address it. Take pleasure in meals. But separate the issues. Note: This is a huge topic and often takes time, effort and support to resolve.
5. Meal “Templates” When you’re tired and hungry you need to throw something together quickly. Here are some basics I use in my own cooking:
- Cook in: bone broth, coconut milk, coconut oil or butter. Fats enhance flavor.
- Add: natural salt; onions, garlic; fresh ginger and/or turmeric
- Spice mixes: Thai, Mexican, Indian, Mediterranean. Pastes or dried herbs, these can be flavor explosions! Read labels: avoid additives and sugars.
- Fresh herbs: basil, oregano, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, sage… I don’t keep a vegetable garden any more, and am happy to let the pros deal with weeds, critters and weather, but I won’t give up fresh herbs.
Of course you have to have the right ingredients on hand in order to be successful. Fail to plan? Plan to fail! Prepared? Health and success are yours!
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