By Lonneke Engel for YouBeauty.com
The questions I get asked the most are: "I want to eat healthy. I want to get in shape. How do I do that? What should I eat? I am confused!"
I have to admit, eating healthy is confusing. The grocery aisles have become a marketing maze that's nearly impossible to navigate. For instance, some foods labeled "low-fat," contain such a large amount of sugar it can make you fat! (The excess energy from calorie-laden sugar is converted to fat in your body.) Also, a lot of foods you thought were great for you many contain so many artificial ingredients, or are so processed that they are not good for you at all.
Whenever possible, I prefer to cook for myself. Then you really know what is in your food. My experience is that the simpler the ingredients, and the fresher those ingredients, the better tasting dish they will create. Of course putting a little love into your dish makes it taste even better! I also make a lot of food at once, so I can save it and have healthy dishes for the coming days. More from YouBeauty.com: Are Low-Fat Foods Making You Fat? GALLERY: 15 Ways to Eat Healthily On a Budget QUIZ: See What Nutrients You're Getting In Your Diet
I like to go to the farmer's market, and speak to the people who grow the vegetables, or raised the chicken that lays the fresh brown eggs. This way you know where your food comes from, and how it was grown! And of course the food is way fresher, since it's grown locally. Farm-raised foods are not processed in a factory, so they usually won't contain artificial ingredients. They are simple, delicious, nature ripened vegetables, fruits and fresh animal products. A lot of things at the farmer's market are also organic, so that is even better of course! Ask the person you buy products from, how it was grown, or what is the best way to prepare it. They are the experts of their own products.
When you buy food in a grocery store, the less processed, the better. If you can't pronounce the words on the ingredients list, I don't know if you really want to eat it? I know I don't! The longer you can store it, or if it is opened and it does not go bad, it is very likely it contains preservatives. Also, if you have seen lots of advertising for a certain product, it's more likely the product is not so healthy -- it's no secret that the most advertised foods in America are fast foods.
You might like meat, but if you do, you'll satisfy your protein intake by eating it two times per week. Eating less meat will also help you decrease your carbon footprint. Most meat takes so much energy to produce, that skipping it for just one day per week will have a dramatic impact on your footprint! Veggies are packed with so many essential vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy.
Eat healthy whole snacks like nuts, dried fruits, fruits and fresh cut veggies. Again, the simpler the better. The candy bars you love contain lots of sweeteners. Try to stay away from junk food. I think it is just filling for your stomach and does not do anything for your body or mind.
Organic might be a bit more expensive than the regular choices, but in the long-term it will be cheaper. Why? Because you're getting the real thing, no artificial ingredients, no hormones, no antibiotics. There's evidence that antibiotics in animals can be transferred to humans. Microbiologist Glen Morris, Ph.D., told PBS that if a person ingests antibiotic-resistant bacteria via improperly cooked meat and becomes ill, he or she may not respond to future antibiotic treatment. So choose restaurants that are organic, or ones where you know how your food is prepared. More from YouBeauty.com: Are Low-Fat Foods Making You Fat? GALLERY: 15 Ways to Eat Healthily On a Budget QUIZ: See What Nutrients You're Getting In Your Diet
The Bottom Line
Educate yourself. Know what you eat at every meal. Eat what you love, but eat in moderation and take in the real deal -- real veggies and fruits -- there is no substitute for that!
I love the books Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen wrote, the "You" books. For instance "You: The Owner's Manual," is full of great tips to keep your body healthy, with some useful recipes as well. And of course Dr. Oz speaks about healthy foods all the time on The Doctor Oz Show and on his radio show.
If you want to learn what's best for you, just read, listen and watch anything that is giving you the right information about your food. I take in all information on food that I can!