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Growing up, my brother and I were on very strict, healthy diets. My mother has always been a bit of a “health freak”, and her children’s health was no exception.
We weren’t allowed soda or juice. We were to drink milk very, very sparingly. Our fat intake was very low, and our meals consisted of only vegetables, lean protein, and grains.
Perhaps it was plain old rebellion, but when I grew into a teenager, I went crazy. I would eat the fattiest “foods”, containing the most sugar and salt you could possibly find. Sure, I still liked certain vegetables and fruits, but my main focus was the stuff of that causes obesity epidemics.
As I age, I find myself putting a heavier priority on eating well and keeping my body nourished properly. I have found it difficult in the past to get all of my nutrients in the limited number of calories I’m supposed to be eating per day, especially when I’d rather not eat a spinach salad if it’s in front of me.
I’ve come across some great methods to incorporate healthy foods into my diet without hardly noticing. It keeps me feeling energized and looking healthy.
Smoothies are my favorite way to pack nutrients into my diet. They’re delicious! I start with coconut or almond milk as a base, some ice, and a fruit. Fruit can be very high in sugars (natural, but sugars nonetheless), so I tend to choose one fruit to add to my smoothie. I add a healthy seed, such as flax, hemp, or chia seed.
Then, I pack my smoothie with vegetables! My regular rotation includes spinach, kale, carrot, even beets. You don’t taste them in the smoothie but it adds a lot of great vitamins and minerals to your diet. My favorite combination right now is a carrot, mango, and hemp seed combo. It’s delicious, nutty, and super healthy.
Many people aren’t very keen on salads. They aren’t the most exciting food, unless they are loaded with a fatty dressing which makes it feel like you are undoing the good.
Instead of eating salads, I add vegetables, seeds, and nuts wherever I can in my meals. When I’m making pasta, I cut up spinach really small and add it to my sauce. I sprinkle walnuts on my cereal in the morning, and I’d recommend doing the same with hemp or almonds. Macaroni and cheese gets a generous load of broccoli or cauliflower.
It’s not hard to hide healthy food in your meals if you are creative.
For those of us who love savoury snacks, like chips, Cheetos, and nachos, you’ll know what I mean when I say that when you start snacking on these things, it’s difficult to stop.
Instead of snacking on guilt (and bloat) inducing salty snacks, I try to substitute. Popcorn is full of fibre and iron, low in calories, and absolutely delicious. Try air popping some popcorn and lightly salting it next time you find yourself fighting a chip craving.
You can also substitute almond milk for traditional dairy milk (which is generally full of hormones), and you will likely find little variance in taste. Substitute white pasta for whole grain pasta next time you’re making spaghetti. Bake a sweet potato instead of eating french fries.
There’s substitutes for almost everything.
Healthy food can be delicious and satisfying, but we live in a nation that is so addicted to unhealthy foods and empty calories that it’s hard to make the transition. Starting with baby steps by discreetly incorporating more healthy foods into your diet can help with a larger transition.