Eat Real Food, Part II - How to Eat Better

A lot of people have asked me over the years about what I eat, why I'm so weird about my meat, what they should eat, etc. Truth be told, I do eat differently from a lot of people, but it's really not very weird. 

Back in the day, I ate like a typical American. I bought low-fat margarine and diet bread and drank Diet Coke. Then I watched Food, Inc and read some books (OK, a lot of books) and slowly started changing how I view food. Read about that journey, and lots of facts, here

When I first started learning about the food system I was so frustrated. So frustrated that I would cry a little in the grocery store (yeah, cry, I know) wondering what the hell to buy that wasn't crazy expensive, that didn't harm the environment, and that would taste OK.

I decided the best thing to do was to start slow. I wasn't going to change my lifestyle overnight and I couldn't keep crying in the grocery store aisles. Not cool, Stina. So here are a few of the things that I did then and that I still do today. 

Eat real food.

  • Eat a lot of vegetables, fruits and legumes
  • Don't eat processed food
  • Don't eat things your great-great-grandma wouldn't recognize
  • Focus on things from the earth 
  • Buy food from a local farmer
  • Eat what's in season 

Avoid junk food.

  • Eat less refined carbohydrates (like white bread, cookies, white rice, pretzels, etc)
  • Eat way less soda, chips, snacks, candy, etc.

Eat less animal products.

  • Cut back on your meat and other animal products
  • Beyond making a huge change in the way you view meals and the calories you choose to eat, you will help the environment. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.

Eat a reasonable amount of food.

  • Eat throughout the day, but not a lot at any one time. I like to eat 3 small meals and 3 snacks throughout a normal day. Some people think that's crazy. Find what works for you. 
  • Please don't count your calories. It's sad and shitty and makes eating a chore. Focus on real food and avoid junk food and you'll be OK.

Shop the outside of the grocery store (or skip it and head to the farmer's market).

  • To help you eat real food, avoid the middle part of the grocery store unless you're going in for  things like beans, quinoa, pickles, etc. 
  • Stick to the perimeters where you get produce, dairy, and meat

Cook your own food.

  • Cook for yourself whenever possible
  • You can control the ingredients, including the sugar and salt added, and the portion size
  • If you do eat out, go to places that make eco- and health-friendly decisions (the two go hand-in-hand) like Chipotle and farm-to-table restaurants

Keep it simple.

  • Making the change to a more healthy lifestyle can be overwhelming, so know that it's OK to learn as you go and make small improvements.
  • Simply move in the right direction.
  • Eat exactly what you want, but only sometimes. My life wouldn't be the same without pizza, beer and ice cream. So, duh, I eat it. But not everyday or even every other day. Eat healthy most days. 

Get Started and Learn More

It can be a tough journey, but embracing a healthier lifestyle is one of the best things I've ever done. And bringing other people along with me makes the journey that much sweeter.

Here are some ways to get started:

Watch:

Read:

Shop:

  • Your local farmer's market 
  • Local Pig or Broadway Butcher
  • Whole Foods, Sprouts, Green Acres Market, Hy-Vee Health Market, Aldi (look for organic)

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What tips do you have for maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle?