Health · Making + Baking · Paleo

How to eat healthy 101

I have no idea where my interest in healthy eating began. In high school, eating was more of a self-conscious feat, when I’d do anything to be skinny and fabulous. But now, it’s different. Now it’s about the nutrition. It’s about nourishing my body instead of making it toxic. And staying “thin” or losing weight is just a by-product, not a motivator.

Pears, Apples, Tomatoes, oh my!
Pears, apples, tomatoes, oh my!

I suppose I can trace my first encounters with crispy kale chips back to college, when my dear roommate, Anna would throw a handful into the cast iron skillet with a small square of butter and flash of salt. It was in that same house where I learned from Kelsey the art of smoothies and learned to store homemade pesto in ice cube trays. It was where Whitney shared her secret to fresh, hand-chopped (and meal-worthy) salsa, and where I regularly witnessed Amanda spooning ingredients into a thermos for her weekly yogurt supply.

Yes, I’m sure it was these lovely women who taught me the basics to eating healthy. All of that chopping and prepping paid off. Never did I eat better tasting food than that which was prepared in love. Not out of a jar or a box, but made from fresh produce from the Missoula Farmers’ Market or the expensive-but-worth-it Good Food Store, filled with natural and organic groceries across the board. It was there I learned to “eat local” and to “support local,” meaning monthly treats included a run to French boulangerieLe Petit Outre, where I would pick up a fresh loaf of New York Rye and savor it all week.

Missoula Farmers’ Market asks: Why Shop at the Farmers’ Market?

  • Enjoy locally grown goods that have not been shipped across the country
  • Enjoy eating foods at the peak of their flavor, ripeness and nutrition
  • Enjoy buying plants that are raised by the people who sell them
  • Enjoy supporting your local economy

Lesson #1: Eating healthy requires a budget

It’s unfortunate that “eating healthy” has to come at such a high cost. You will pay extra for organic, local, and specialty items that don’t contain high fructose corn syrup, MSG, gluten, or whatever intolerance ails you. Adversely, the costs to your body are worse. Aren’t they? Think about it.

If money is an issue, just buy organic with “The Dirty Dozen,” a list released that features the 12 fruits and vegetables found to have the highest pesticide count. Also note the “Clean list” on that page link, with the least contaminated produce that you can feel safe buying non-organic.

No matter what your income, you can always budget accordingly. At our house, we don’t frequently replace clothes or camping gear. We don’t splurge for cable or even go out to eat much. But we do value eating well. In order to do that, we need to prioritize it in our budget, and we need to make time for it.

Lesson 2: Eating healthy takes time, and intentionality

Even though I am super budget conscious and obnoxiously thrifty, I’ve realized my biggest opponent is time. My most common failures come when I get home from work, tired and cranky, and don’t want to put in the extra effort to chop and cook. So I reach for the frozen pizza or whatever is convenient. The best thing I can do to stop this from happening: plan in advance. Plan your meals and/or plan for snacks. If I have to, I’ll grab a few pre-chopped carrot sticks, a handful of walnuts, and an orange before settling into dinner-making mode. It’s always worth it. I just have to remind myself to take the time to stock my fridge for snack time.

That’s it for “How to eat healthy 101”! Very basic stuff here. But so important! If you can make small changes in these two areas, you are off to a great start! Most importantly, don’t get upset at yourself for “failures”. Take your eating seriously, but allow yourself some breathing room. There is nothing wrong with a little pizza from time to time!

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