Did you know? Today’s generation is on track to being the first generation to not outlive our parents – meaning that our eating, exercise and lifestyle choices are cutting our lives decades shorter than they otherwise would be. Personally, I refuse to be a part of this scary statistic – What about you? My inspiration for this month’s blog came from hearing friends insist that it is either too hard, too expensive or too complicated to start eating healthier. Yes, it is true – fast food is very accessible and very affordable - and worse - many of us are pre-programmed from our youth to start salivating at the sight of the golden arches, or the smell of onions sizzling as you drive by an In & Out.
Yet, coming into my adulthood, I find it empowering and necessary to start closely examining my eating habits and re-programming myself towards healthier options. One thing that really jump-started this transition was my body noticeably fighting back to what I put in it. Like more than 95 million Americans, I started suffering from digestive problems like upset stomach, irritable bowel, heartburn and acid reflux – which manifested itself as skin irritation, bloating, weight gain and fatigue. My research and personal experience all boils down to this revelation about eating better: Simplify your meals. The less ingredients, the less complex, the less processed the food - the easier it is for your body to absorb and digest.
1) Increase your water intake to at least 10 glasses per day
When we are dehydrated, we crave salty, starchy foods – so keep hydrated to prevent those cravings. Carry around a nalgene bottle or 1liter Smart Water bottle and keep re-filling it all day long so you are hydrated even when on the go.
2) Enjoy a cup of hot green tea or lukewarm water with lemon each day
Green tea helps produce cancer-fighting cells and aids digestion & weight loss.
3) Plan your meals for the week out each Sunday
Organizing your meals helps you choose more nutritious options and saves money! (See #6 below)
4) Cut your meat intake in half
Wait - Don’t leave me just yet! I’m not advocating going fully vegetarian if you are not open to it. Just pick one meal per day - either lunch or dinner - and make it delicious and meat-free by substituting in any of the following: hearty portobello mushrooms, avocado, sautéed tofu, lentil and veggie stir-fry, etc. Salmon, shrimp and white fish are also good pescetarian options if you are not open to cutting out animal proteins just yet.
5) Eat Local & Seasonal
The easiest way to do this is by frequenting vendors that carry locally grown food, like farmer’s markets. With 49 weekly Farmer’s Markets and growing, San Diego has a nearby option for everyone. My favorites are: the Ocean Beach Farmers Market on Wednesdays, the Little Italy Mercato on Saturdays, the Hillcrest Open Air Bazaar on Sundays, and the La Jolla Open Aire Market on Sundays. All four have evolved into large bustling markets featuring live music, cooking demos and local artisans. Find your nearest market here: www.sdfarmbureau.org/BuyLocal/Farmers-Markets.php
6) Wednesdays at Sprouts!
My other favorite trick to eating locally and seasonally on a budget is shopping at Sprouts Markets on Wednesdays. During their mid-week sale, virtually everything in the store is reduced in price, so I stock up on all my fruits, veggies, seafood and poultry on this day. Some great specials they run almost every week: 49 cents avocados; 49 cents red peppers; 3 for $1 cucumbers; 89 romaine/red lettuce; $1.99/lb asaparagus and brussel sprouts and more!
And there you have it ~ some of my favorite go-to tips to help clean up your diet! :)
Springtime wildflowers in bloom at Windansea Beach, La Jolla.