One group says that sugar is fine and fats are bad. Another group says that fats are fine and sugar is the enemy.
Some nutritionists say that 70% of your diet should be carbs. Others say that you should try to cut out as many carbs as you can.
Some say that you have to eat everything organic to really be eating “healthy”. Then another group cites a study that says that organic is just a sham and not something to spend extra on.
For many years, eating “healthy” seemed difficult, confusing, and pretty impossible.
I had heard all of the buzz phrases that so many use… you know the ones:
“Everything in moderation.”
“Don’t consume more than you can burn.”
“Eat right and exercise.”
I don’t know about you guys… but none of these phrases helped me AT ALL.
What did help?
Learning about how our bodies were created to use food.
Do we need sugar? What’s the purpose of it? Are all sugars created equal?
Do we need to eat fat? Which types of fats are good for us? What about protein?
Why do I sometimes feel hungry an hour or two after eating a big meal?
I started to dig into all of these questions (although not all at once) and you guys… that knowledge has been THE MOST powerful thing in helping me to actually accomplish all of those buzz phrases that I had been hearing for years.
For as long as I can remember I’ve needed to know the “whys” about how something works before I just blindly followed instructions.
Once I learned the whys and hows, it was much easier to make the changes that needed to be made.
Here are six easy food changes that have helped *us* move towards a healthier lifestyle AND that don’t have to break the bank!
I’m certainly NOT an expert in nutrition, so take my ideas below as purely ideas and definitely do your own research! As with almost anything, there are experts that will disagree with whatever side you take in “healthy eating” (statistics can be manipulated to say just about anything) so read and learn as much as you can on your own! At the end of the day, we just have to make our own decisions on what makes the most sense to us.
If you’re wanting to make the same changes that we made, I definitely don’t recommend making all of these changes at once! Just take one at a time and keep adding to it once you get each step down. (BTW, you should always talk to your doctor before making any big dietary changes.) 🙂
1. Cut out soft drinks.
This might be an easy first step, and might seem like the most impossible thing in the world. But soft drinks are one of the most important things, if not THE most important thing, to cut out of your diet!
I got a lot of responses on the giveaway form (which is still going on for the next 3 weeks so be sure to enter) from people who said that JUST cutting out soft drinks made any extra weight easier to come off.
“I have been soda free for nearly a year now. I can’t live without my latte but giving up sugar and sugar substitutes has gotten rid of my heart burn and made weight loss much easier.” – Surviving The Stores reader Lori
2. Drink water.
Lots of water! Especially if you are losing fat. Your body needs the water to flush out the toxins that are being stored in the fat cells (more on that in a few weeks.)
3. Work towards minimal sugar consumption.
Sugar can contribute to depression, cause our bodies to hold on to fat if we eat/drink more than our bodies can process, make us tired, weaken our immune systems, and a whole host of other issues!
Now, I don’t recommend completely cutting out sugar overnight! Our typical American bodies are pretty addicted to it and cutting it out completely over a very short amount of time can make us have withdrawal symptoms. Sarah over at The Healthy Home Economist (a must-read blog, by the way!) has put together 4 doable steps to beat the sugar monster!
Ryan and I did these steps without knowing it over the course of a few years, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a little time to move from one step to the next. Remember, fitness and health are long-term goals, and while it’s great to get a lot fixed in the short-term, sometimes we need to take some time for our bodies to adjust to the changes.
4. Switch to 100% whole grains.
“As far as your blood sugar is concerned, your body doesn’t know the difference between a teaspoon of sugar and a slice of white bread! So that innocent plate of pasta can leave you feeling tired and depressed–and also unable to lose weight!” – from Replacing White Flour With Whole Grains In Four Simple Steps
There’s way too much to go into to explain here the reasons why switching to whole grain flours are better for us, but there are some great articles already written that explain it all! 🙂 It might take a little time to get used to the 100% whole grain taste, but you do get used to it (and now we definitely prefer the taste over white)
Be careful not to fall for the marketing gimmicks! If it doesn’t say 100% whole grain, or 100% whole wheat then chances are that it’s not. Stay away from products that just say “stone-ground”, “multi-grain”, “100% wheat” (that one always makes me laugh), or “bran”.
And if you’re already eating 100% whole grains and want to try something new, check out why Ann Marie over at Cheeseslave has switched over to Sprouted Bread (maybe one day I’ll get there!)
5. Buy fruit and veggies locally.
Do you have a Farmer’s Market near you? What about a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)? Both of these are great places to get your produce, especially pesticide-free produce, at a much better price (and quality) than at the supermarket.
Since we don’t have the grocery budget to eat all organic, we go off of the dirty dozen and clean 15 lists to decide which veggies and fruits to buy organic and which ones not to.
6. Cut out “low-fat” and “fat-free” foods.
Have you looked at the sugar content of most of the foods that are labeled “low-fat” and “fat-free”? It’s typically through the roof! They have to do something to make up for the lack of taste without the fat and they usually make up for it by using a lot of extra sugar and extra salt.
“I used to think that it was lack of willpower that was preventing me from succeeding in getting my sugar cravings under control. As it turned out, it wasn’t a lack of willpower at all. It was my lowfat diet that was the primary problem.” – from Sarah at The Healthy Home Economist
What about you? Where are you guys in this process to eat healthier? Do you have any other tips for frugally beating the sugar monster, or making healthier changes in your diet?
Oh, AND we have our giveaway winners for week one! Each of the following Surviving The Stores readers will get a $25 Amazon gift card!
Shannon H. (ethans…@aol)
Linda M. (lcm…@)
Be sure to check your spam folders in case the email to claim your prize went there! Winners have 48 hours to confirm their email address before a new winner is chosen.
Do you want to enter to win for next week? Fill out the form to enter! (And if you’ve already filled it out and didn’t win this week then you’re already in for the future drawings) 🙂
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