How to Eat Better Now

Angela Braden has researched and reported on wellness and lifestyle for a decade. She has been published hundreds of times in national and international magazines. Angela serves as a speaker for Alive! Expo (health convention) and as the Editor and Founder of web magazine, where you’ll find more indulgent health tips and articles updated monthly.

How to Eat Better Now:
We all know that we should eat healthier food, but why doesn’t that knowledge translate into a real change in choices at the table? Or, more importantly, the in school lunchroom?

The typical American diet is directly leading to some serious health problems, especially for our precious youth. So let’s tackles some of the main obstacles with delicious solutions! One obstacle is the attitude that because what we’re eating is “normal” or “typical”, it can’t be that bad. So the question becomes: do we want to be “typical”?

Here's what Typical looks like: Now over 9 million children are classified as overweight. Another result of Typical eating is Diabetes: Of Children diagnosed with Type II diabetes, 85% are obese.

It's time to throw away “typical” and embrace diets of real, whole, fresh food. And the good news is, it can be simple and tasty. Once we know what to eat (organic whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy and nuts, fish, and limited grass-fed beef and pastured, no hormone, no antibiotic poultry), and what to avoid (processed, packaged foods, refined flour and sugar, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and anything with chemical preservatives), we can change our strategy from reading labels to preparing high-quality, real food for ourselves. Learn more. Here’s two top keys to eating healthier now:
    1. To eat better, we have to cook (much of the time). Don’t let this intimidate you. We’re not talking hours of toil in the kitchen with fancy gadgets and complicated techniques. Simple, quick, and flavorful food is easy to prepare and almost always actually tastes better than what you buy eating out or prepackaged. Why? Because, unless you’re dropping big bucks at upscale, farm-to-table fine-dining establishments, most of the food you get at restaurants has lost its flavor through shipping, freezing, and storage and was likely comprised from ingredients that had little flavor to begin with—commercial, out-of-season, mass-produced vegetables and fruits, even. In order to make this food taste good, a lot of fat, sugar, and often, ill-conceived chemical concoctions must be added back in. Ditto for the packaged stuff in the grocery. These health-sabotaging additives are so unnecessary! Simply starting with fresh, local, organic ingredients will go far in creating good-tasting, healthy food at home.
    2. To eat better, we have to access traditionally or home-gardened food (or support a Community Supported Agriculture program). Frequenting farmer’s markets is another option to get naturally-tasty, food that nourishes body and mind. Fresh, local, in-season, organic (or pesticide free) food is what makes our home-cooked meals fuel our bodies the way they are meant to be. If you think you don’t like a certain vegetable or fruit, chances are you haven’t had one naturally ripened and straight from the garden. It’s a completely different experience and it’s an experience that can literally save us from our over-processed food and from the flavorless food that makes us think we need a lot of sugar, salt and fat. Gardening can be relaxing and fun, even if it’s some herbs and tomatoes from the 14th floor balcony of an apartment. Do just enough to supplement the organic grocery and farmer’s market shopping. Or do as much as you can make time for.
Gardening and cooking the fruits of your labor is one of the purest and most pleasurable ways to get healthier. In her book, The Art of Simple Food, Alice Waters is a passionate voice in bringing fresh, wholesome, healthy foods into all schools, and sees "democratizing healthy eating" in schools across America as goal number one in the battle to end childhood obesity.

Another active advocate of these ideas, which are culminating into an important movement for public schools, is the British chef, Jamie Oliver, whose Food Revolution aims to gather petition signatures to demonstrate to the White House the great demand for healthier school lunch programs and healthy cooking classes across America. Having just toured our neighborhood elementary school, I was thrilled to see their organic garden and learn that all graders spend time weekly growing, cooking, learning about and enjoying, real, whole, food. I, along with Jamie and many nutrition activists, long to see programs like this in every elementary school across the country. This exposure to real food is an investment in our future that will pay dividends. You can help this movement by signing the petition.

The economic costs of the obesity epidemic are real and programs like the ones the Food Revolution advocates can offset much of this cost. In the twenty years from 1979-1991 the hospital costs for children and youth have risen from 35 million in 1979-1981 to 127 million from 1997-1991 (Preventing childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, 2005, Institute of Medicine). Organic schoolyard gardens and healthy food lunches may cost a bit more, but does it make sense to feed our kids non-food just to save money, as they increasingly spend more time sick and more are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases? Our children are sicker than ever and to quote another adamant voice on the subject, comedian, Bill Mahar, “It’s the food,” simply put.

We can change this and embark upon fantastic cooking and gardening adventures with our kids in the process. For more ideas on how to cook simple, healthy food, visit Jamie’s recipes. And for more ways to live well while indulging in health visit my web magazine.

Stay well,


*Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer

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