1. EAT REAL (NON PROCESSED) FOOD
Eating real food simply means eating food that was created by nature. To better understand this, we will use the term “traffic light eating.” Traffic light eating divides foods by the colour of a traffic light: green for low-calorie foods that can be eaten freely; yellow for moderate-calorie foods that can be eaten in moderation; and red for high-calorie foods that should be eaten rarely.
Green Light Foods in their natural state are nutrient dense. All fruits and vegetables are Green Light Foods. They have high amounts of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and phytonutrients. These foods don’t usually require any cooking.
Yellow Light Foods are grown, farmed and/or raised, but require additional processing before we can eat it. Rice, for example, usually has to be cooked for us to enjoy it.
- They are a necessary part of a healthy diet.
- They provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients than green light foods.
- They include: whole grain pasta, rice, and noodles, beans, lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and other dairy products.
Red Light Foods are not nutrient dense, but rather calorie dense. You want to avoid these foods as best as possible. These are:
- High in calories, fat and sugar
- Often fried like potato chips, French fries, fried chicken
- Low in vitamins, minerals and fiber
- Fast foods Often prepackaged and/or processed
- Often include trans fat
I know that fried food especially fried chicken is loved around the world so this may be a difficult habit to break. But small steps are the order of the day. Maybe you can limit eating fried foods to two times per week until you are in a comfortable state where you can eat it once per week or not at all.
2. KNOW YOUR FATS – THEY WERE NOT ALL CREATED EQUALLY
Fats can be found in every cell of our bodies and supplies energy and essential fatty acids. According to the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, you need fat to help absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Though some fats are good, there are some kinds of fat (saturated fats and trans fat) that increase the risk for coronary heart disease by raising the blood cholesterol.
Foods high in Saturated Fats will raise your blood cholesterol. These foods include cheese, whole milk, cream, butter, and regular ice cream, processed meats, the skin and fat of poultry, lard, and palm oil. Keep your intake of these foods low.
Foods high in Trans Fatty Acids also raises blood cholesterol. These foods include those high in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, such as margarine and shortenings. Commercially fried foods and some bakery goods are high in this type of fat as well.
Unsaturated fats (good fats) do not raise blood cholesterol. You will find unsaturated fats in vegetable oils, most nuts, olives, avocados, and fatty fish like salmon. There are two kinds of unsaturated oils. These are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, and peanut oil are some of the oils high in monounsaturated fats. While vegetable oils such as soybean oil, corn oil, and cottonseed oil and many kinds of nuts are good sources of polyunsaturated fats ( Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.)
3. SMART GROCERY SHOPPING
Shopping smart could be the key to you and good health. But this can be a hard task when you think about all the food choices available. But to make it a little less stressful, here are a few things you can do.
SHOP THE PERIMETER OF YOUR SUPERMARKET
Supermarkets are set up so the healthy products are located to the right left and in front of you (the perimeter.) This is where you will find the freshest produce such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish and meat. But most of us tend to shop in the middle aisles where the less healthy food items are. Shopping the perimeter gives you more control over what you are putting in your trolley as these foods usually fall into the Green or Yellow Light Foods mentioned above.
CHECK FOR NUTRITION FACTS – READ THE LABELS
The nutritional label will help you to choose more wisely by comparing an item that is similar to another.
You want to look for a short ingredient list. Look for words such as whole grain and organic. Ensure the words in the list are easy for you to pronounce and avoid any products with hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated oils, and trans fat.
Though the Caribbean suffers from a great number of lifestyle diseases, good nutrition and wellness are still within our reach. It is just about making smart choices.
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