Before you get to discouraged about not being able to have high quality foods the majority of the time based on what’s going on with your life whether that be time or budget, try to think about one small step you can do to improve the quality of your diet. It can be anything from praying before you eat, taking a multivitamin or drinking an extra glass of water. Either of those things can make a huge difference! This blog post is to give you information for ideas of steps to take if you are able to.
IMPORTANT: As you venture into your journey to get healthy, take a step back and remember who your God is, and how big He is. Food itself is not the source of life or death. There is no reason to get too hung up every little thing you put in your mouth. We see in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we are stewards of our bodies, but our bodies are not to become an idol. We should not be making food an idol. Do not give food that high of a role in your life, that is territory for God and God alone! (Exodus 20:3)
Additional note: Food is not your comforter, God is. Turn to Him not any food. Binge eating food to feel comfort, even if you change from processed food to leafy greens, is not the life God has in mind for you. You need Him to help you break free from this habit (GIGAC can help, if you would like).
Look for minimally processed foods: There are a lot of nutrients in minimally processed or unprocessed foods. These nutrients help our body function properly. Think about the food God gave us. Adam and Eve were eating unprocessed food off the trees, not meals and snacks with a long list of ingredients. God designed us to eat a lot of unprocessed foods.
Examples: fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds.
While shopping think about how much of the original ingredients are left and if anything was added in the process fresh fruits and vegetables verse pre-made juice, raw nuts and seeds verse oil-roasted flavored ones.
Try to get a variety of produce, from a variety of sources. This should help you to get all the nutrients by trying to eat the rainbow, but additional from what I have read it should minimize the amount of just one pesticide and help make it less toxic to your body. Think about one farm using one pesticide to control there crops, if you constantly are eating theres you may potentially be putting yourself at risk. There is very limited hard science on this topic, but there seems to be a toxicity threshold. Overall, produce is a winner for health, please do not stress about minor details.
Look at ingredients: In general, more ingredients means more processed. Read the label and look to see if it contains whole raw food. Look out for chemical words, a lot of times they are disguising something unhealthy unfortunately. Some tricks to watch out for is for the ingredient itself being processed. For example peanut butters sometimes add roasted peanuts with oil, but they do not mention the ingredients used in the roasting process. Additionally ingredient lists tend to group ingredients together such as “natural flavoring” they do not even tell you the ingredients included and natural is such a broad term, it could be anything.
While shopping try to fill up your cart with minimal processed foods that do not even have a label. I know snacks are tough, on a day you have a little more time try to quickly compare ingredient lists between snack bars, yogurt, nuts, seeds and your other snack of choice. This little extra investment can really payoff!
Organic Food: Organic is definitely a booming market segment. I am going to focus on organic produce in this post, but when buying organic packaged foods, you still need to check the ingredients. You cannot just assume it is healthy. If you are not careful, you may just be wasting money without any health benefit. Back to organic produce: The difference between organic and conventional produce is how it is grown and processed. In the US Organic means it is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers (2). They have to use natural fertilizers and control weeds and pests naturally. This is a much harder means of controlling pests, making the produce more expensive and organic produce is more likely to have some pest damage. So please check it before you buy it, the seemingly small damage may go deeper and you may have lost the whole thing, and all the money you spend on it. Research on organic food is still in the beginning stages working mainly on animal models, but “studies showed a clear indication of a beneficial effect of organic food/extracts as compared to conventional ones. Thus, consumption of organic food seems to be positive from a public health point of view” (3)I They do not know the mechanisms at this point and there are not going to be able to really show any causal relationships, but they may notice trends. Exposure to produce higher in pesticides have been linked to health issues, which is why some people tell you to only eat organic. I understand that is is very tough depending on where you live and your budget. Organic food is not a magic cure that other people may stress. If you can afford it, yes spend the extra money on organic, but if you cannot do not stress. You have an All Powerful Father who loves you. Do the best with the resources you have, and that may mean buying conventional produce.
Other tips to improve the quality of food you are eating:
Rinse your fruit and vegetables- It is recommended to wash for 30 seconds to 1 minute, be thorough and scrub. Fancy washes are typically shown to be as effective as water so save your money. be thorough rinse and scrub your produce.
Peeling- can help reduce pesticides, but there are typically lots of nutrients that you are missing out on with this method, but if you are very sensitive you may want to see if this helps you.
If you have a limited budget, take a list of the current l”dirty dozen” list put together by the Environmental Working Group is: (4)
Eating local food grown in season: This typically tastes better and reduces the cost of food! YAY! Finally a win-win-win situation! Produce is typically fresher, and allowed to be harvested at the appropriate time. When food has to be shipped overseas it is typically harvested early to help it last. This early harvest can mean sub-par produce nutritionally speaking. Buying locally, in season can help minimize risks of preservatives, as it does not need to last for a lengthy shipping process the necessity of preservatives is decreased. The lower cost, higher quality, what is final win? The environmental toll is decreased, Win-win-win!
A final note:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[?” (Matthew 6:25-27) You do not need to worry or stress about this. God is bigger than food. He wants the best for you, and a big part of that is not stressing and worrying, instead pray, and worship. Shift your eyes from your mountain that seems huge and look at how amazing and big He is!
If you need more ideas please reach out, I love to connect and help people!
Thank you for reading, I hope you learned something!
1. Mozaffarian, D., et al., Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med, 2011. 364(25): p. 2392-404
2. Foerstel Design, 2017, organic.org (they have lots of articles to read if you have the time check them out!)
3. Johansson, E., Hussain, A., Kuktaite, R., Andersson, S. C., & Olsson, M. E. (2014). Contribution of organically grown crops to human health. International journal of environmental research and public health, 11(4), 3870-3893.
4. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php#.WizRNktrz4M (they come out with a new list every year so stay up to date)