For a Healthier Pantry…

Many of my friends still think that to lose weight and be healthy they need to “diet” – and by that they mean making temporary changes in what they eat and when.  After they have reached a certain goal, they believe they can go back to the way they were eating again while somehow, magically, their weight and health remains intact.

It is my personal experience that losing weight and being healthier starts when you make lasting lifestyle changes.  These changes don’t have to mean you deprive yourself of what you love, they mean you can start loving new things that you probably didn’t know existed.  It means you’re going to make slight modifications to the things you enjoy.  It’s about consciously making better choices for yourself and your family.

Better diets start at the grocery store.  You need to think and inform yourself about modifying the way you purchase food.  This way, when you’re at the grocery store you will know which product is better for your health and spirit.

Buy Whole Grain Baked Goods, Pastas and Rice

Whole grain ingredients are much more nutritious than refined ones.   The hull of cereals is where the fiber and nutrients exist.  Insoluble fibers in whole grain products is very necessary to help our intestines properly clean our bodies.  Refined products need to be enriched artificially because the polishing takes away most of the natural nutrition that was there originally.  There are several benefits to transitioning from white-refined goods to whole grains:

• Whole-grain products contain more nutrients.

• Whole-grain products have more flavor.

• Whole-grain products contain fiber to help our digestive system.

• Fiber has complex carbohydrates, which help you feel satisfied long after eating.

Breads, cookies, pancakes, pastas… you can easily find them all ,are from whole grains and whole wheat flours.  It’s just a matter of picking one brand over another.   It’s important to read the labels because the first and only main ingredient should be “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain flour”.  Many brands say they are “whole grain” and are really a mixture of refined and whole.  Try to avoid these “impostors”.

Whole Grain or Brown Rice comes in a variety of formats – basmati, short grain, long grain…

just like white rice.  Again, it’s just a matter of which bag to choose at the store.  You prepare it basically the same way you make white rice – just add a bit more water until you get it right.

Whole Grain or Brown Rice comes in a variety of formats – basmati, short grain, long grain… just like white rice.  Again, it’s just a matter of which bag to choose at the store.  You prepare it basically the same way you make white rice – just add a bit more water until you get it right.

Avoid Artificial Ingredients and Colorings

The food industry modifies foods in such a way to make them comply with the latest fad out there – carb-free, sugar-free, fat-free, etc.  To do this, they don’t mind filling foods with chemical additives, preservatives or colorings to make us believe we’re eating the original… and in the end, these modified products are not even a shadow of their original counterparts. wwThis is my philosophy: I read labels and I try not to buy anything that contains ingredients I can’t understand or even pronounce.  Basically, I only buy products with the least ingredients and try to buy fresh ingredients without any labels as often as possible.

By choosing the more natural and least-processed products with the least ingredients, you also avoid:

• Chemicals.

• Artificial colorants such as FD Red #5, FD Yellow #10, etc.

• Products containing sulfite – which is a preservative and known carcinogen added to food to preserve a vibrant color.

I know it’s a challenge, but you just get used to reading the labels and being more conscious of the ingredients that go into the food you eat.  And even though you might get familiar with the brands you prefer, you need to periodically read the labels because companies change formulas, and a product that used to be perfectly fine might now have something it didn’t have before.

Avoid Canned Goods

Try to avoid cans as much as possible.

• Usually, canned products contain more chemicals to help preserve the contents when compared to the same product in a different package format.  Our approach to this is very in line with the section above on avoiding chemicals and additives.

• Canned products were cooked previously a long time ago and,  by the time you open them,  they’re there are no more nutrients left in them.

• Cans can’t be recycled the way plastic or glass containers can be.

I understand how convenient it is to buy canned goods.  How they’re economical, they’re always there in your pantry when you need them…and, hey, they give you comfort in times of need, like when preparing for a hurricane.  But, instead of purchasing what you typically buy in cans, start buying them in another packaging format, still getting the convenient pantry shelf life.

Your New Grocery List

Having a healthy pantry is the key to having a great, healthy diet.  When you make the choices at the grocwery store, not when you’re hungry at home, you will have smart alternatives available and you will not cave into unhealthy temptations.  Here you’ll find an easy list to follow on how to substitute what you currently buy at the store.

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