While the calendar does not yet officially say it’s summer, it’s officially summer break around here. That means a lot of resting, a lot of relaxing, and a lot of fun! Now that my brain has had a few days to shift into summer break mode, I’ve realized we need to get back to being intentional about some things around here.
Thankfully, I’ve managed to keep my focus on the big things like Bible reading, prayer, and community, even in the midst of a crazy spring schedule and a book launch. (I’m not saying it was perfect, but those areas remained my focus when life got crazy!)
One area we definitely need to regain focus around here is being intentional with our food. I don’t know about you, but when schedules get crazy, we tend to default to quick and easy foods. And if I’ve learned anything in my food journey, it’s that quick and easy food doesn’t typically translate into healthy and nutritious.
This post is sponsored by De Nigris USA.
Although I still consider myself a novice when it comes to nutrition, I have learned a lot over the last year. Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learned is that if this girl–who used to live on Diet Pepsi and animal crackers–can make some healthy changes, anyone can!
If you’re wanting to make some simple changes for your health, here are 7 quick and easy steps to get you started and help you #BeIntentional with your food:
1. Read labels. This is the most important thing you can do for your health. Don’t stop at skimming the calorie and fat content, either. Pay special attention to the ingredients. Yes, this is tedious and time-consuming, but the only way to know what you’re eating is to, well, know what you’re eating. Profound, I know.
2. Choose food with the shortest ingredients list. As a general rule, the shortest list will be your best option. And always choose the list with the most ingredients you can recognize and pronounce.
Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. ~Michael Pollan
3. Take baby steps. Don’t try to change everything at one time, or you’ll end up frustrated. Start with one thing: Cut out sugar (that one will be big enough!). Or commit to avoiding unfamiliar ingredients (that one will save you from a lot of yucky stuff!). Maybe you can start by making your meals at home, from scratch, and choosing simple, whole foods as snacks. Determine your first step. When you’re comfortable with that one, move on to the next.
4. Make simple swaps. Here are a few easy ones you can make the next time you go shopping:
- Swap sugary, flavored yogurt for plain yogurt sweetened with honey and frozen fruit.Swap flavored chips (they have an abundance of additives and preservatives) for simple corn or potato chips seasoned with salt. (Yes, the oil isn’t great for you, but one step at a time….see #3).
- Swap salad dressing for some quality olive oil and vinegar, like DeNigris vinegars. Did you know vinegar has many health benefits and medicinal uses? It’s great for treating things like sinus infections, sore throats, and even acid reflux! Plus, it’s super high in cancer-fighting antioxidants. You can even clean with it! DeNigris has a selection of vinegars and other products, plus great recipes. Be sure to check them out!
- Swap sweetened applesauce for unsweetened. Do apples really need extra sugar?!
- Swap soda for sparkling mineral water flavored with a little fruit juice.
- Swap heavy veggie dips for salsa or guacamole.
- Swap sugary granola bars for homemade protein bars.
5. Make time for food. Being intentional with your food will take time. It will take time to read labels and find alternatives. It will take time to prepare food (oh, the time you’ll spend chopping veggies!). And it will take time to see a difference in the way you feel and look. But your health and your happiness are worth the investment, so don’t give up!
Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food. ~Hippocrates
6. Choose the best options available. Life isn’t perfect. Even with the best intentions, you’ll eventually find yourself at a dinner party or a potluck with no idea what’s in any given dish. Or you may have no other option for dinner one night than a fast food drive thru. Survey your options and make the best choice you can. Choose real food with the least ingredients (hint: focus on simple meat, veggies, and or fruit.) When in those situations, I try to remember this advice:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. ~Michael Pollan
7. Give yourself grace. So you caved and raided the cookie jar at midnight last night. Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t throw in the towel. Show yourself grace and move on. Focus on the things you are doing right and keep moving forward!
For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Luke 12:23
It won’t always be easy, but things that are truly worth it are rarely easy–and your health is definitely worth it! I will let you in on a little secret: the more you stick to it, and the more changes you make, the better you’ll feel. The better you feel, the less you will desire to go back to your old habits. You are creating new habits, a new lifestyle, and eventually a whole new you!
What can you do to #BeIntentional with your food this week? What additional resources do you recommend to someone wanting to #BeIntentional in their eating habits? Share your thoughts in the comments, or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.
More Great Reads to Help you #BeIntentional in Food:
What’s Wrong With Our Modern Diet?
Jumpstart Your Health with the Whole 30
Begin Your Journey to Whole Food
Understanding Your Food
30 Day Clean Eating Challenge
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
The Omni Diet by Tana Amen
The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey
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Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.