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I grew up in a strict and healthy home. We ground our own flour, had karo syrup on our pancakes and about one piece of candy a week. So by the time I was old enough to get a job and buy my own food, I think I had all the Taco Bell locations in a 10 mile radius memorized and didn’t feel the need to eat healthy. Fast forward to being married, we spent our first summer living off pop tarts, pasta salad and Chinese food every Friday night.
So it would be ironic to tell you that the next part of this story involves my first pregnancy where I gained over 50 pounds and became a mom. And that is where I found myself throwing out pasta boxes and feeding my son plain gluten free waffles and losing said 50 pounds. My husband and I stopped eating fast food and started our own healthy lifestyle. It happened over time and we continue to learn new ways in this healthy life daily. BUT I have learned moderation is key. While we strive for health routinely we also believe in cookies and wine sometimes.
I wanted to break it down and share 5 simple ways to eat healthy as a family. I have learned that there are so many facets to a healthy lifestyle from things you eat, working out, cleaning products, skin products etc. Over the next couple posts I will be sharing with you ways that we changed our family’s lifestyle and how you can to. Today we will focus on some simple eating healthy tips.
Part 1: 5 Simple Ways to Eat Healthy as a Family
1.Buy organic fruits/vegetables. Thankfully when you head to the supermarket, you can just search the label for “organic” listed on it. It will be stated boldly on the packaging as companies are realizing this is a pull to many consumers. The downside to organic food is it costs more than the regular food. And if you’re like me and have a budget you’re tediously go through monthly, this can be hard.
I use the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen lists to help me pick and choose. The Dirty Dozen list shares the 12 worst fruits/vegetables with pesticide contamination while the Clean Fifteen fruits/veggies are your best bets to cleaner foods that are not considered organic. Why should you care about this? Environmental Working Group states that pesticides in high concentration may end up leading to health issues and this is very true for kids! I know we all care about our kids and want them to eat healthy in a GOOD way. Also, side note that you won’t find bananas on either of these lists, but they’re one of the cheapest fruits to buy organic, so I always do!
2. Limit your gluten intake. OK, before you label me as one off those gluten haters, hear me out. No one is my family (thankfully) has Celiac Disease. We have encountered, however, gluten sensitivities in our children which has led us to research gluten more. I think gluten has changed over the years. What you and I eat here in America has changed drastically from the gluten back in biblical days. This article explains in depth what is wrong with our gluten way better than I can ever summarize!
I will be totally honest: we eat gluten but we strive to limit how much and when possible what kind. It is hard to go to a party or a social gathering and not eat it. And in our home there are meals where I really want a sandwich or we want chocolate chip cookies on the weekend. I know some people are way more strict and I admire that but it’s not for our family yet. We just choose to buy sprouted grain bread or organic bread (not as good as sprouted from my understanding) and all-purpose unbleached, unenriched flour. (please note this is a pack of 6. I have also found this at Costco very reasonable priced!)
3. Use unrefined sugar. There are 2 kinds of sugar: refined and unrefined. Refined sugar is the regular white sugar you see at coffee shops and the baking aisle of your local super market that has gone through a process to remove the molasses found in it naturally. Unrefined sugar is honey, coconut sugar, maple sugar, etc. (Here is a list of eight!) It retains more of sugar’s natural nutrients and is a healthier substitute. I put coconut sugar in with my cream for my coffee in the morning, honey with gluten free granola, etc. You can use unrefined sugars in recipes too and it still makes desserts sweet! It doesn’t mean go crazy with this and eat tons of it (we still want to lower the sugar intake while we strive to eat healthy)–it just is a safer, healthier and better option. Hint: buy your honey locally!
4. Buy farm fresh eggs. Depending where you live, this might be a piece of cake and you are doing it already because your neighbor down the road has a side stand. For people like me, it would mean scouring back roads until I found said sign and gravel driveway. We would have a chicken coop if it weren’t for the laws in our area that state you need 3 acres of land to have one. So we are dependent on the stores.
I have learned that just because it says “cage free” or “free range” on the packaging doesn’t guarantee anything. You ideally want to get your eggs from chickens that have a “normal life.” This means chickens that have access to being outside, grass and bugs. You know, what they look like in kids’ story books. But if you are like me and end up at the grocery store, pick out the eggs that have the most Omega-3s and DHAs in them. Food Renegade as an awesome article for picking out ideal eggs.
5.Look at your meats! This is probably the part of the post where you think “oh shoot, my budget is spent now.” Well good news. If you are near an ALDI or a Costco it does not have to be THAT expensive. And again, it goes to picking and choosing. Things to look for: raised without antibiotics, no added growth hormones, humanely raised, and organic.
Chicken is my no compromise. I get the Never Any Brand from ALDI that contains no antibiotics, vegetarian fed and no added hormones or steroids. My ground beef is another almost no compromise and Costco has a great option with their organic Kirkland brand. Ground turkey I also buy at Costco. I do the middle grade for ground turkey because I have to draw the line somewhere budget wise. We are still working towards allocating more money towards all organic foods but until then when I am searching for deli meats, I try to avoid anything that says “mechanically separated” or is adding nitrates. This can be a learning curve but the taste and nutritious content you are getting is worth it.
Where to Buy Food
I mention ALDI and farmer’s markets. But what if that isn’t an option for you? I ran across Thrive Market not too long ago. Thrive Market is an online store that sells top organic and healthy products at wholesale prices and is shipped to you (sadly this won’t help you with eggs or meats though). If ALDI or Trader Joe’s isn’t an option, this is a really good place to begin helping you eat healthy. They have everything from gluten free pancake mixes and plaintain chips to Smartypants kids’ vitamins and Acure sheet masks. They have a special that gives you 25% off your first order of $49+.
Need Extra Convincing?
Not convinced yet? Let me leave you with a documentary to change your mind about a healthy lifestyle 😉
The Magic Pill (available on Netflix or Amazon for only $3.99)
I hope these points can help you with some options for your family if you are trying to eat healthy while still maintaining a budget! As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions! What part of the journey are you at?