This article is from The Swaddle.
Nowadays, there's an increased level of awareness about toxins in the food we consume each day. Everywhere you look, there's a new study telling you that an ordinary item from your kitchen contains traces of substances that can lead to a serious illness over time. And the next day, there's another new study telling you how that same ordinary item can extend your life by 20 years. The only fool-proof way to a healthy diet seems to be buying a piece of land, growing our own vegetables and dedicating our lives to eating well. Most of us have other goals, but that doesn't mean we're not concerned with a healthy diet for our families. We know that the deluge of information can be daunting, so we've compiled a handy list of five changes you can make today toward a healthy diet.
Do away with packaged fruit juice. You might have banned the aerated drinks, but the fruit juice you buy off the shelf often contains just as much sugar as a fizzy cola. The amount of vitamins and antioxidants are negligible, and the juices are also highly processed and loaded with preservatives. Instead, get your fruit fix from fresh fruits, and make your own juice when you have time on your hands. You can also buy tender coconut water - it contains no preservatives or added sugar and spares you the trouble of squeezing dozens of oranges.
Cut down on store bought condiments. Commercially prepared ketchup is primarily made of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) with a few overcooked tomatoes thrown in for flavour. And when there's a bottle on the table it's easy to consume a large amount, adding to your daily intake of sugar and sodium. Instead, try making ketchup at home or substituting it with a spicy coriander chutney. Store bought mayonnaise and salad dressing is no better either. The good news is mayonnaise is easily whipped up at home.
Ditch the chocolate milk. All the different brands of chocolate powder that make the milk yummy enough for your child to consume have one thing in common: They're loaded with sugar. It's not worth the small amounts of calcium contained in that glass; not to mention experts are starting to question the real health benefits of milk.
Stay away from sausages and processed meats. It might seem like an easy fix for a weeknight: stir fry a piece of salami and throw it on a slice of bread, or fry up a batch of nuggets. But would you feel the same way about these hassle-free meals if we told you they are laden with various unhealthy substances from sodium to artificial colouring, flavour enhancers to nitrites (which are highly carcinogenic)? The extra effort of making something fresh, or convincing your kids to eat a less-exciting meal, is probably worth it.
Avoid the fries, pizza and all their fast food cousins. If you're a family that orders in or goes out for a meal on weekends, don't encourage fast food and pizza as "treat" food. Yes, it's convenient, comes in a pre-portioned box and your kid will wolf it down without complaint, but that doesn't mean he or she is incapable of enjoying a healthier sit-down meal. This recent Huffington Post piece reveals how kids' food habits are closely connected to how meal times are treated, and that 3-year-olds needn't eat with plastic cutlery.
If you follow these quick and easy fixes for your family's diet, you'll be cutting out a lot of unhealthy foods without completely overhauling your habits. We'll leave urban farming for another time...