The Standard American Diet (SAD) consists largely of processed and packaged foods, red meat, fried foods, high fat dairy, refined grains, corn and high sugar drinks. Almost 70% of the food we eat is processed, about 25% of American adults eat fast food every day and they consume about 130 pounds of sugar per year. The result is that almost 75% of men and more than 60% of women are obese or overweight. Cardiovascular disease and diabetes, along with other lifestyle related illnesses are surging.
Once you start paying attention to the foods you’re eating, why you’re eating them and how they affect you physically and mentally as well as the environment, you are eating mindfully. If what you’re consuming is harmful, you shouldn’t put it in your mouth. This may seem like an almost impossible feat to accomplish, since there are so many foods and drinks that we enjoy even though they are not “healthy”. The good news is that it’s not an all-or-nothing-at-all proposition. Every small step you take towards eating mindfully is beneficial to your health.
As you travel the path of mindful eating, it’s up to you to determine which changes you want to make and how quickly to make them. Some simple steps you can take include the following:
- Reduce or eliminate processed food. If it has a label on it and a list of ingredients (the longer the list the more suspect it is), it has been processed. In many instances the food has been stripped of its nutritional value and has had chemicals and preservatives added to increase shelf life, shorten cooking time or to have more “flavor”.
- Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables like dark leafy greens, berries and other non-starchy or low sugar produce.
- Cut down on your meat consumption and look for alternate sources of proteins. Options include lentils, beans, nuts, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, chia and hemp seeds. Give meatless Mondays a try and gradually add more days.
- Cook more and eat out less often, especially avoiding fast food. You’ll find that you’re not only improving your health, you’re also saving money. Cooking your own meals allows you to control what goes into the food and to avoid the excess added sugar, sodium and trans fats.
- Drink water! Sodas, juice drinks and even fruit juice contain a great deal of sugar. You can also drink green tea, coconut water and herbal teas.
- Eat smaller portions, eat more slowly and only when you’re hungry. Once you are no longer hungry, stop and save the leftovers for another meal.
As your diet transitions from SAD to Mindful, the benefits to your health will continue to grow and your hunger for more knowledge about the food you eat will increase. Join us at the Know Food Diet as we bring you information that will empower you to choose the best foods for your health.