Healthy Eating…Highly Effective Secrets for Longevity and a Happy Life
Healthy eating leads to happiness from the inside out…
It seems nearly impossible to eat healthy and stay balanced in today’s world. Every one of us knows what we should be eating…whole, natural foods. We all get the same information about food and nutrition.
There is a reason stores like Whole Foods and meal delivery services like Hello Fresh quickly rise to the top of the healthy consumer food chain. It’s cool to be healthy! The images they use are fresh, beautiful, full of color, and seem to scream the promise of “eat me and you’ll be beautiful!”
When we eat food that lights up our eyes and our bodies, we feel great, right? It’s foodie eye candy…the ideal.
And yet, the actual food choices of the average American reflect the billions of dollars spent every year by food manufacturers on advertising and packaging which tempt us to choose high fat, high sugar, high salt, low nutrition, low quality foods.
It’s easier…so it seems…to open a box of processed convenience foods than it is to slice and dice something natural. Even when you try to get it right, packaging and labels get confusing.
Why label something “gluten free” when it is already, naturally, gluten free?
If you live in the United States…food is bountiful. We easily get whatever type of meal we want. In fact, eating great food is as simple as calling for delivery, stopping at the grocery store, or visiting the weekly neighborhood farmers market.
What does all this abundance get us? According to some surveys, we get less-than-stellar marks when it comes to eating healthy.
What to Eat and How to Eat…Who is Getting it Right?
The Global Health Index ranks the healthiest countries and you’ll find some surprises…
The Bloomberg Global Health Index for 2019 lists the healthiest countries in the world. Did you know the United States is nowhere to be found in the top 25?
In fact, Americans slipped a notch.
The top 10 healthiest countries include Spain and Italy (#1 and #2)…of course! Along with Iceland, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Singapore, Norway, and Israel.
The factors the study uses to determine the level of health include:
- Health risks (tobacco use, high blood pressure, obesity)
- Availability of clean water
- Life expectancy
- Causes of death
The United States ranked 35th which is lower than where we ranked a couple of years ago. The report suggests that eating habits provide a clue into where a country ranks. Also, life expectancy in the U.S. has been trending lower due to deaths from drug overdoses and suicides.
America is a nation of speed eaters, grazers, food nukers and efficiency hackers who try to get their nutrition in bits and pieces as we speed through our day.
How often do we take time to slow down and truly enjoy a meal?
We eat in our cars, on the run, in front of the television or the computer screen, or while multi-tasking with a phone in one hand and a fork in the other.
Walk around a European city, like somewhere in Italy and Spain, and what you may notice is what’s not there. People are not walking around with a big gulp and a bag of chips. They are not driving down the road with a burger in one hand and an eye on their phones.
Unless they are a tourist.
This may tell you something about what people from the healthiest countries are eating…and how they are eating. I love the idea of slowing down to celebrate your meals and the people you share them with.
In some of these healthy countries, life shuts down for a couple hours in the afternoon to enjoy the mid-day meal. Food is a celebration. The time is well-spent with friends in conversation or alone in contemplation. The food is alive…and so is the culture.
Is Home-Cooking Hard?
Many healthy meals can be made from scratch in 30 minutes or less…
Did you know that many healthy meals can be made from scratch in 30 minutes or less? That’s not much time, really, when you consider how long you spend in line at your favorite fast-food chain.
When I was growing up, maybe just like you, we ate dinner as a family at the kitchen table. The television was in the other room and it wasn’t turned on until the dishes were done. That’s not good or bad, it’s just how it was.
Most of the time dinner was home-made by yours truly. Although, my mom made a mean SPAM casserole and my dad was a great, creative home cook who introduced me to the art of the casserole and 101 creative ways to cook ground beef (which, at $0.99 a pound was a bargain for our family of six!). When we did fast food…it was a treat…not an expected stop on the way to our very full after-school calendar of events.
As an adult with my own family, we ditched the SPAM (and the fried liver…), the creamy casseroles have been upgraded to eggplant parmesan and the TV still stays off…most of the time…with exceptions being made during football season!
The secret for me has been preparation. Planning what to cook for dinner, having pantry staples on hand, and keeping meals simple with a protein and a veggie, makes eating home-made meals possible. I love that when you cook it, you control it (the ingredients, that is).
Food can be flavored with herbs and spices rather than salt. Baked items can be made with less sugar or alternatives other than the white, processed stuff. Vegetables can be lightly cooked rather than over-cooked and take center stage on the dinner plate.
It’s all up to you!
How to Start Eating Healthy…the Easy Way
The more we love ourselves, the more we embrace life, great food, great thoughts, gratitude, and healthy choices. …
There are many ways to make healthy eating easy. There are even more ways to “life hack” your way to good health.
We all have access to the same information. We will each decide what works best for our lifestyle at any stage of living. What we do today is most likely different from what we did yesterday and what we will do tomorrow. That’s okay.
It truly is a process! A process of learning, of habit, of desire, and of love.
I think the more we love ourselves, the more we embrace life, great food, great thoughts, gratitude, and healthy choices.
Healthy Living Tips: Keeping it Simple
Keep high quality foods on hand so eating healthy is easy…
Here are some things I do now to make living healthy easy and I am excited to hear about what you do as well.
- Keep high quality foods on hand so eating healthy is easy! (almonds, dried figs, sunflower seeds, fruit, cut-up vegetables, hummus, etc.)
- Get enough protein (it’s the building block of your body)
- Eat better, high quality, nutritious healthy snacks
- Learn a little bit each week about supplements and micro-nutrients then take action and add more to your weekly menus!
- Keep sugar intake to a minimum and explore alternatives
- Spice up your cooking with herbs and spices
- Eat food that is alive and raw…at every meal (add a small salad with that steak!)
- Experiment in the kitchen – the more you cook, the more you’ll want to cook
- Take care of your liver
- Take care of your gut (probiotics)
- Drink more water…cold brewing herbal tea adds flavor
- Learn a few “go-to” recipes you can quickly throw together…healthy eating and cooking don’t need to be a chore…stir-fry and grilling are your friends…so is a tossed salad with surprising ingredients
- Crunched for time? Think meal-prep and online grocery shopping
- Turn off the TV (I promise, the ‘must-watch’ show or news WILL be repeated…over and over and over again!)
- Love smoothies? Put all the dry ingredients in the same cabinet and pre-cut and freeze the fruits and veggies so you simply need to open and blend
- Ditto for breakfast…keep it all together: flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, honey, maple syrup, wheat germ, dried fruit, and nuts
- Bake your own treats – you can control the amount of sweetener and train your taste buds as you scale back on the sugar and amp up other flavors
- Stretch – this keeps everything flowing in the right direction
- Breathe – deeply and often
- Love – daily
- Laugh – life is silly and is meant to be fun…enjoy it!
What else? Your turn!
Healthy Eating Resources:
**As with all medical information you find online, you should consult with a medical professional about your full health profile and lifestyle before making health decisions. We are not doctors, and more importantly, we are not your doctor. The information provided, while based on studies and research conducted by professionals in their fields (and cited at the end of this article), is provided for your information only and should not be considered medical advice from any member of Vitabella Enterprises, Inc., or the independent authors and contributors to this site. Why is this important? While a “medicine” or “supplement” (traditional, natural, modern, or holistic) may be fine on its own, some substances don’t work well together. Some foods are not safe for children, pregnant women, or in combination with some prescription medicine. Please consult your doctor before making any health changes based on information you find online.