What’s a person to do? So much (mis)information and so much conflicting information. What vitamins and minerals do I really need? Do I drink bottled water or not? Is breathing the air toxic? And if so, what do I do? What about GMO’s? Are they safe? How do I know if they are in the food I’m eating? I’m seeing more and more controversy surrounding soybean oil and soy products. I’ve heard conflicting information about Aspartame. What should I do about that? I thought I was done with MSG but now I find out they are hiding it with creative labeling. I’m reading labels now and realize there are many chemicals in and on my food? I can’t find anything in the grocery store that doesn’t have a list of ingredients a mile long with lots of things I cannot pronounce. High fructose corn syrup is in everything. How healthy is that?
I could go on but I think you get the picture.
The answer to this dilemma has many pieces, parts and solutions. There are as many solutions as there are people. Here are a few ideas that worked for me.
- Shop locally from farmers you know and trust. Ask how they raise or grow their food. (Which means you will probably need to educate yourself on what questions to ask. See #3.)
- Learn to cook using basic ingredients as close to their original form as you can find. You will avoid the chemicals, additives and preservatives in packaged/processed food.
- Continue to educate yourself.
- Perhaps you can begin to grow some of your own food. Even the dweller in the smallest apartment may be able to grow herbs in pots and a few tomatoes and peppers.
“Wow,” you say. “That’s a lot and very overwhelming. Where do I start? How will I ever be able to do any of that?” The method I used, and am still using, is taking small, manageable steps. It’s just like how a baby learns to walk. First they take tentative steps, holding tables and furniture. Then they will toddle across the floor into your arms. The next thing you know you are sprinting through the mall to catch them. Through baby steps and attaining small goals I have been able to greatly accelerate my journey toward a healthy lifestyle. I can’t say that I enjoy or look forward to the falling down and getting up when trying new and improved healthy lifestyle choices, but the walking and running sure is fun. And to be honest, in hindsight, some of my mistakes really are quite funny too. But those are stories for another time.
Personally, I started with #2 and learned to cook more food from scratch. It is amazing to me how many things we buy pre-prepared that can be assembled in 5-10 minutes. For example, if you purchase frozen waffles or other toaster pastries you might replace them with homemade pancakes. (You may not eat these but the principle is the same no matter the packaged product.)
The recipe for pancakes starts with flour, baking powder and salt. Add a little sugar, if desired, and that completes the dry ingredients for pancakes. Then add an egg, oil and milk and you have pancake batter made with ingredients you can pronounce. If you’ve heated up your griddle while mixing, it is now hot enough for the batter. Cooking time is about the same as heating up a waffle in the toaster. You do have to flip the pancakes over with a spatula. For some that might be a learning experience. Kids have fun with it. Total time: an extra 5 – 10 minutes more than opening that frozen package of waffles.
By adding 5 – 10 minutes to a morning routine you can make something with significantly less additives, preservatives and undesirable ingredients for yourself and/or family. Start with one item that you now buy in a box and find out how you can make it yourself.
Another simple example is pre-packaged hamburger patties. Aren’t they convenient? But they may have lost their glamour if you’ve read about the “pink slime” now in the ground beef purchased at many supermarkets and grocery stores. If you’re not familiar with pink slime, you may want to educate yourself about it. Education gives you the ability to make fully informed decisions about your food. Pre-packaged ground beef will also contain other added ingredients. Some are “flavorings”, water, salt, and preservatives that you may not be able to pronounce. If you decide you don’t want those things in your ground beef, there are farmers all over the country that raise wholesome grass-fed beef. Ask the questions (yes, you still need to ask) and you will find those that have no additives, hormones, antibiotics, or other things you cannot pronounce. They would love to have your business Visit localharvest.com to find someone in your area.
After purchasing your grass-fed ground beef with no additives, all that is required to make wonderful hamburgers for yourself, friends and family is to roll and flatten it into round patties. Season it as you wish. Come on, really, how long does that take? You will have to thaw the meat properly. There is that pesky little thing called “planning” that may trip you up. I’m sure you can work it out. You will also spend some times washing your hands before and after. Personally, the payoff for me is the satisfaction of knowing what is in my food, where it comes from and how it was raised or grown.
These two examples are small and can get you started thinking in a different way. Have fun. There is nothing more creative and personally fulfilling for me than taking care of myself and my family. Perhaps you will find that to be true for you as well.
If you need help with making the transition, a good health and wellness coach may be the answer for you. That’s a shameless plug for my services and I won’t apologize. It is amazing what I have been able to accomplish by personally using a health coach. Whether you are stuck in the planning stage, experiencing gremlin-like limitations and blocks, or simply needing a sounding board, a health and wellness coach can get you on your chosen path to success.
Professional Wellness Coach