The colder months bring with them the holidays, which just so happen to revolve around a plethora of food. Having enjoyed my Thanksgiving feast just a few days ago, I feel that eating healthy for a while is in order.
One in three American children is overweight or obese, which is nearly triple the rate seen in 1963 (source). As for adults, over 35% are obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With obesity comes a gamut of health issues including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes, in addition to certain types of cancer (source). In the past, these weight-related issues were seen only in adults. Now, however, it is becoming common to see them in children; a huge red flag signalling that we need to do something about this.
The good news is that much of the obesity epidemic can be fought with a lifestyle change, and this means eating healthier. Food is the fuel of life, and what we choose to eat plays a significant role in our health.
While I don’t always post the healthiest of recipes here on Vegan Food Addict, I try to make it a habit of following the tips below in my personal life.
1. Cut the salt
Keep that blood pressure in check by watching your sodium intake. Too much sodium not only results in high blood pressure, it also contributes to kidney disease. Sodium is a vital nutrient, however, those age 50 and younger need less than 2,300mg per day, and those 51 and older need even less, approximately 1,500mg per day (source). When cooking, use a light hand when adding salt or soy sauce, and use products that are low sodium (i.e. soups and vegetable broth). Some of the worst high-sodium offenders are cheese, meat, prepared and processed foods. Add more flavor without salt by using fresh herbs, garlic, onion, citrus juice or white vinegar.
2. Choose unprocessed foods with fewer ingredients
Many of us have already made it a habit of reading nutrition labels. Whether it be to avoid products with specific ingredients, or to buy something with a particular vitamin or nutrient, we need to be aware of what, exactly, we are putting into our bodies. As a general rule, it is best to buy those products which are unprocessed and have the fewest ingredients; ingredients you can pronounce! That way, you should know exactly what you are eating.
3. Substitute wheat for white
Ditch those white products for wheat. Instead of all-purpose flour use whole wheat flour, and rather than white rice use brown rice. All-purpose flour and white rice are typically bleached and stripped of their nutrients, and as a result, really don’t offer much natural nutritional value. When compared to all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour provides more Potassium and Protein, in addition to more Vitamin B6 and Magnesium (source). When compared to white rice, brown rice provides more Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6 and Magnesium (source). Should you dislike the hearty taste and texture of whole wheat products, try using white whole wheat flour as it has both a lighter flavor and texture, and serves as an excellent stand-in for all-purpose and regular whole wheat flours. When making baked goods with whole wheat flour, the use of additional liquid may be necessary.
4. Sweeten naturally
Rather than using refined sugar and other chemical-laden sweeteners, try fruits such as apricots, bananas or dates. Not only are they excellent sweeteners, they also offer additional nutritional value including Vitamins A, C (source), Potassium (source), Magnesium and B6 (source). There are many fruits you can use — experiment and see what you like best!
5. Bake, don’t fry
Reduce your oil consumption. This includes oil of any type, in addition to butter and margarine. Nearly 100% fat, oil should only be consumed in small amounts. In fact, just one tablespoon olive oil provides about one-quarter of your daily recommended amount of fat (source). Rather than frying, prepare your food as you normally would, however, lightly coat with the oil of your choice and bake until crispy. If you prefer to cook without any added oil, wrap in foil and bake in the oven until cooked to your satisfaction.
Have additional tips? Comment below and let us know about them!