Most of us realize we should eat better. With all of the
conflicting information and fads, many of us wonder, “HOW?” The
simple tips below can lead you to healthier eating and a healthier
Skip the package!
You may have heard a lot of talk about “whole foods” versus
“processed foods”. What exactly is the difference?
- Generally speaking, processed foods are produced using
manufacturing methods to transform raw ingredients into neatly
packaged goods, which have a longer shelf life. Some of the
artificial ingredients used include monosodium glutamate (MSG),
flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated oil, fillers, high fructose
corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Usually, consumers can
prepare them quickly allowing immediate intake.
- Unfortunately, these artificial ingredients are not
good for you. And most packaged foods don’t offer much in
nutritional value either. Readymade, packaged, refined and
junk/fast foods all have preservatives, with more sodium, sugar
and fat than is necessary.
- To eat healthier, skip the package. Buy whole foods.
Whole foods are those that are unprocessed and unrefined. They
typically do not contain added ingredients, such as sugar, salt,
or fat. They do not need an intricate food label, because it is
obvious what they are: meat, beans, fruit, vegetables, cheese,
Eating for color!
Eat red, yellow, green, blue and purple!
- Plants have chemicals all their own called
phytochemicals. These good chemicals protect us from common
health threats: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, MS, birth
defects, and more!
- If you eat a variety of colors of fruits and
vegetables, you will be giving your body a wide variety of
benefits, as the coloring in plants is often provided by these
good chemicals. For example, the sulforpahne in broccoli
decreases the risk of colon cancer. The Vitamin K in dark, leafy
vegetables decreases our risk for osteoporosis, heart disease,
kidney stones, arthritis, and liver disease.
- Some of these good chemicals are also “antioxidants”
which clean bad chemicals out of our bodies. Berries abound in
Eat the wholesome goodness of whole
People often wonder what the big deal is about white bread versus
wheat bread. The answer can be “nothing” or “everything”.
- Buying just wheat bread does not get you whole grains,
and whole grain goodness is what your body needs. When grain is
processed or “refined” the bran (the fiber) and the “germ” (the
seed) are removed. The germ containing the most magnesium,
chromium, vitamin E and other nutrients is removed in
processing. Some of those nutrients help your body avoid
diabetes, heart disease, and some common neurologic problems.
- When the bran and germ are removed, you are left with
only the starchy inner core of the grain. Less bran means less
fiber, which also means you get less full when you eat white
rice versus brown or wild rice, white bread versus whole grain
- “Enriched” grain products do not replace all of the
nutrients stripped from whole grains.
- The best thing for your family is to switch to whole
- When purchasing breads and cereals, read the label.
The first ingredient should be “whole grain” or “whole wheat”.
If your family really cannot tolerate whole grain products, add
wheat germ and bran to other foods on a regular basis, to
supplement your diets.
Nuts, seeds, and beans! Good fats? Oh
Nuts, seeds, and dried beans are all nutrient rich foods. They
are simply the “germ” part of the plant.
- Beans are low in fat, high in fiber and contain good
- Nuts and seeds are also high in fiber, and they
contain “good for you” fats, called Omega-3.
- Like all fats, good fats have 9 calories per gram. So,
nuts and seeds need to be eaten with attention to the label, so
that we don’t eat more calories than we need.
- These foods are also high in magnesium, which is
especially beneficial to people at risk for developing diabetes.
People at higher risk include people who have family members who
have diabetes, are overweight, or are Native American.
- The best part of all, eating beans, seeds and nuts
makes you feel “full”. So, if your fruit or vegetable snack
leaves you feeling hungry, grab a handful of nuts!
Tips for cooking with whole foods
Plan all of your meals for the week, and go to the
grocer once to buy all of your ingredients in one trip. (You may
need to go once again in the middle of the week, to get fresh
fruits that spoil easily.)
- When you get home from the store, peel and chop your
vegetables, so they are ready for snacking and cooking. Store in
plastic containers or freezer bags. Make freezer bags full of
pre-cut vegetables that you can then defrost as needed during
- Some people like to cook some big meals on the
weekends; then they can be frozen for a quick meal during the
- Put a beef or pork roast, turkey breast, chicken, or
your favorite bean mix in a crock pot and add a few cups of
water, and/or tomato sauce. Add your favorite seasonings. Cook
in a crock pot or a large pot in the oven on 325° until the meat
or beans are done.
- Use your frozen vegetables with strips of beef,
chicken or pork for a stir fry. Or mix some vegetables together
and warm them up to eat with fish baked in the oven.
- Take advantage of savings on seasonal produce. Clean
and slice it and put it in containers or freezer bags for use
during winter when fresh food is more expensive.
County Public Health Dept./strong>
204 1st Street NW, Aitkin, MN 56431
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 am - 4:30 pm
218-927-7200 or 800-328-3744