The day you realize how much you dislike how you look or feel, and say “Oh crap, I need to start eating better”, you’ll probably want to dive into your phone and find healthy recipes on Pinterest or something. After searching and deciding which dishes you’d actually like to make that are healthy, you realize it’s now too late to go get the ingredients because your kid needs a bath and you’re starving, like right now, and there’s nothing but junk food in the house.
Though the amazing dinners you see on those pins look delicious and fun to try, remember, going out and making extravagant healthy meals isn’t where you set your bar at the starting point. If you’re eating a lot of unhealthy foods there are likely a few reasons why, and they won’t be fixed in one healthy grocery shopping trip.
Reason #1. No time:
This means either you don’t actually have any time, or you don’t FEEL like you have any time. I genuinely have no idea whether you do have some spare moments and spend it on social media, watching shows, or cleaning the house, or if you work nonstop or have an insane schedule with literally no time left in your day after taking care of necessities like your kids needs and running errands.
The Easy Fix:
Rather than stress over making a new dinner and special lunches, focus on first switching out certain types of the same things you buy anyway. For instance, switching from white/wheat bread to whole grain bread will help you sustain energy, as it’s a “good-carb”. It’s also packed full of fiber and nutrients that are not in the average, cheap breads. Wheat flour (the main ingredient in average bread) isn’t a healthy carb, and the fiber and other healthy things in the grains are processed out, however breads with whole grains, seeds and nuts are satisfying and healthier by far. Something to be conscious about when it comes to regular breads, is corn syrup is used as a sweetener in many of them, and it’s awful for your health, plus it’s likely made from GMO corn, so if you’re an organic mom, that’s another reason to consider avoiding them and start looking for better options. Other carb alternatives you can buy are 100% whole wheat or veggie pastas (boxed like regular pasta), they may still be overall unhealthy, but they’re as easy and fast as “regular” noodles, have slightly more nutrients, plus they’re usually lower in calories which can help with weight loss. Changing cereal, brands of oatmeal, eating more sweet potatoes, and opting for low sugar and fat dressings (made without soy, dairy, or corn syrup) will be a less drastic change but you’ll notice the difference in your daily life. Little swaps like your condiments can also make a huge difference in both calorie and sugar intake, which will help you feel less sluggish.
2. Eating healthier requires more money:
Though there some health food fads that can be soooo expensive, many are not. Truthfully, a lot of people will spend $3.50 on a box of Captain Crunch but not that same amount or less on a healthy cereal made with organic/fresh ingredients (and some of these healthy alternatives even make their own version of “Cheerios” and “cinnamon toast crunch” that are really, really good), due to thinking it’s more expensive, or think the healthier cereal has less in it because the box is smaller. Be sure to check the ounces, compare the price tags, and look for sales. It will really open your eyes to how effective marketing from higher-profiting companies is, they can make you think they’re cheaper just because they are the “normal brands” people buy. I’ve noticed when buying organic and grass-fed beef, that it’s usually only a few cents more than the cheap beef (same weight), and the organic usually has more frequent sales, making them the exact same price most times of the year. Meat in general has gone up in price significantly in the last decade, making alternatives more appealing than in years before. Whether you’re buying tofu or meat, double check the price difference between organic and non organic, usually it’s not by more than a dollar or two, if not the same price.
The Easy Fix:
Frozen fruit makes a terrific snack by itself and in smoothies, you’re paying approximately $2.50-5 depending on bag size. That’s equal to the prices of chips or candies. If smoothies aren’t filling and you’re going through frozen fruit too fast, fill them with more bananas, chia seeds, flax meal (which aren’t pricey for how long it lasts), and even hemp or unflavored plant protein powder if you can afford it. It is like a whole meal with the fiber and protein added. You’ll notice the more healthy you eat, the less hungry you’ll feel throughout the day, because what you’re eating is satiating the body’s needs and doing its job.
3. Junk food is addictive:
There’s no easy way to keep off weight if you’re eating unhealthy snacks throughout the day. Exercise is so important for health, but it only accounts for 20% of weight loss. The other 80% is dependent on what you eat. So if giving up junk isn’t something you can do the majority of the time, looking at alternative “healthy” snacks will be your friend!
Snacks that are healthier and inexpensive are freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, (sugar/corn syrup free) cinnamon applesauce, bananas, whole carrots, organic blue corn chips (Simple Truth ones are CHEAP), dried dates/plums/prunes, seeds, nuts, and salads with seeds and dried fruit.
Here are some amazing brands of alternative foods that I personally eat and enjoy.
(I’m not being paid to advertise these, I wish I was though)
Great Carb Alternatives
Cereal: Cascadian Farm ~$2.99 & Nature’s Path ~$3.50.
Bread: Alpine Valley ~$2.99, Eureka ~3.99, & Dave’s Killer Bread ~4.99.
Simple Truth Or Annie’s Cheddar Squares ~$2.50- 3, Cascadian Farm granola bars ~2.50, and Jovy fruit rolls ~$0.50 each, or Annie’s fruit snacks ~$3- 3.50.
Ice Creams, Cookies, Yogurts and Milks:
Soy and dairy milk are high in estrogen, if your estrogen becomes imbalanced, it can lead to weight gain, bloating, irritability, fatigue, painful period cramps and infertility, and cause inflammation. To help avoid and relieve these issues, switching to dairy and soy free ice creams and milks are a great option. Both huge businesses like Ben and Jerry’s and off brands like Simple Truth make ice cream in delicious flavors using almond, coconut, and cashew milk which are free of estrogen and taste amazing. Using almond or cashew milk in cereal or with your (organic) cookies helps keep your hormones balanced too. 😉 If you can’t live without yogurt, there are coconut and almond yogurts, but I won’t lie, those are expensive. If you can’t afford dairy free, try to get Greek Yogurt because it has less sugar, more healthy fat, and it’s cheap.
Other Healthier Junk Food:
Switch from Reese’s peanut butter cups to Justin’s dark chocolate cups, or swap butter for avocado on toast. Little efforts like that can make an impact long term, and the taste differences are subtle, but they start tasting better the more you avoid junk food. The cereal you used to like will start to taste too sweet, the candy you bought a month ago will be suddenly overwhelming. That’s thanks to your stomach, since it will have enough good bacteria from healthy foods than bad bacteria, plus your taste buds become accustomed to the healthier options.
Good luck and remember to get coupons from your local store’s newspapers!