The 3 most common mistakes when buying “natural” food are:
- Buying food because of what it says on the front of the package. Marketers are savvy; they know the trigger words that are most likely to get you to buy. Be Aware: Just because the label says Gluten, Fat, Dairy, or Sugar "Free" or includes “antioxidants” “omega 3’s” or “fiber” it does NOT automatically mean “healthy.” In fact these products are quite often just as bad, if not worse, than the items they are trying to replace
- Buying anything processed. This includes all of the vegan/vegetarian meat replacement burgers, sausages, etc… that are on the market. (One side note on this, I’m a big believer in not labeling any food as either good or bad, it’s simply promoting your health and energy or detracting from it; and it’s also important to have a few fast meal options around. I think these products can help as a lateral move for someone who wants a healthier diet and needs to have a few familiar replacements to get them started [which is what I did.] Just be aware that they are best used as an occasional choice not a daily one).
- Buying supplements to fix an issue without also cleaning up the diet and getting informed advice on whether the supplement is actually needed. To be clear, supplements are awesome and can be amazing catalysts for health. However, I’ve seen many people throw money away on the newest supplement or superfood without looking at the bigger picture. (For instance sun and sugar cause the most damage to skin so if you sunbathe, drink alcohol, and eat donuts every day I can almost guarantee that no amount of antioxidants or vitamins will make a difference.)
Stick with whole foods whenever possible. A whole food is something that has not been processed or manufactured in any way. Check out the kale chip recipe below for a great, easy-to-make, incredibly healthy snack that is even popular with many kids!
| Become Label Savvy
The best strategy to have for label reading is to remember to check these 3 things: sugar content, quality, and number of ingredients.
Why these are important…
- Sugar causes the most health damage of any single ingredient, the less of it you eat the better you will feel.
- Quality of food is often more important than quantity. For instance the type of fat used in the food will have a more direct impact on your health than the amount of fat used. And, if you’re someone who is on a gluten-free diet, a higher quality product will be made with gluten-free whole grains and not just white rice flour and potato starches.
- The fewer ingredients a product has the less likely it will have lots of extra health compromising additives and chemicals.
| Slow Down
When you slow down enough to listen to what your body is telling you, you will quickly learn what is giving you the most vital health and energy. This allows you to become your own nutrition expert without having to rely on external information.
I'd love to hear about any frustrations you have when trying to choose healthy food. Add your comments below and I'll help to demystify it for you!
Super Simple Kale Chips
- Preheat oven to about 375°
- Use about 1 OXO salad spinner’s worth of kale (which is a stuffed grocery store veggie bag). Tear the leaves off the thick stems into bite size pieces. Spread out on cookie sheets.
- Drizzle with about 2 tsp. of olive oil
- Optional: Sprinkle with garlic powder or seasonings of choice (chili powder and/or nutritional yeast are 2 of my favorites) plus a sprinkle of sea salt.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, watching closely, until edges are brown and kale is crispy when moved in pan.
- Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
You can experiment with different temperatures, anywhere from 200-400° and times to find the one that works best for you.
If you have a dehydrator you can also use that instead of the oven.