Eating healthy is difficult these days, mainly because it’s hard to know what “healthy food” is. There are so many fad diets and theories on the “best” diet for optimum health that it’s hard to know where to start. Add this to the fact that many “nutritional” labels can be misleading, and it’s really difficult to know whether your efforts are even effective or not. Below are some tips on making healthy food decisions for your family.
Realize That There isn’t One Magical Diet
Part of the reason that there are so many health theories out there is because everybody’s body is different. We all process and react to food in our own way. So just because a Paleo diet worked miracles for your best friend doesn’t mean it will work for you. In fact, restricted diets can have hidden risks like not getting the nutrients you need to support all your organs.
This isn’t to say that a particular diet won’t be perfect for you. It might. Just listen to your body, and listen to what your family is telling you about theirs. If you’re reacting negatively to a specific food or diet, find other ways to get the nutrition you need.
Take Labels with a Grain of Salt
There’s no question that food labels affect our perception of health in foods. Nutritional labels can be extremely useful in tracking your intake of both healthy and unhealthy ingredients. If you need to regulate your sugar or salt intake, you probably spend a lot of time looking at labels.
But there are also labels designating food as “organic”, “all-natural”, “Non-GMO”, and even simply “healthy.” Some of these terms are regulated and some aren’t. Even the regulated terms may not always mean exactly what you think they mean. It’s important to know whether the labels you choose to listen to are standardized and if so, what the criteria for that label are.
DIY Your Healthy Food Decisions
Of course, the best way to really know what’s in your food is to grow or raise it yourself. When you plant produce, you get to vet your seed or starter sources and make sure they meet any criteria you may have as far as coming from pesticide free sources or the presence or lack of GMOs. An easy way to get started growing your own food is to create an indoor herb container garden.
You can choose as many or as few herbs as you want, and keep it by your kitchen window so you remember to water them when you do dishes.
Choose herbs your family eats on a regular basis. You’ll probably end up using them more once you have a regular supply, and incorporating more plants into your diet is never a bad thing! If you grow too much for your typical use, you can always dry the herbs or put them in oil and freeze them in ice cube trays for future use. These make great flavor starters for soups, sautes, and other meals.
When you plant your own produce, you get to control every aspect of the process. You even choose the soil, which has the most potential for affecting the nutrient level of your food. You can even start a worm compost so that your food waste sustains your future consumption. Growing your own food can be time consuming, but you can customize your process to suit your needs. Learning how to keep plants alive indoors can help you provide your family with healthy food year-round.
These are just a few things to consider when making healthy food decisions for your family. Have more suggestions? Share in the comments!