Health and Fitness By Claire Henderson / October 21, 2014 We are constantly bombarded with food choices from ads and commercials of products vying for our attention to miles and miles of products displayed along grocery aisles. With so many choices available, it can be quite confusing for many women. How can we manage to stay healthy and maintain healthy eating habits? Below are some easy things you can do to get you started: 1. Read labels While eating packaged and processed foods is not encouraged, for times when you really have to, it would benefit you to learn the art of reading labels. If you find that too many of the ingredients on the label are things you can barely pronounce, it’s a sure sign not to buy those items. You want to be ingesting food, not chemicals and flavorings. In our digital age, there are many apps available that allow you to scan barcodes on common items on grocery shelves that can tell you if a product is genetically modified or full of sugar. Use them as a guide. 2. Go local While not possible for all times, do try to have a preference for food grown locally. Not only does it help local farmers and economy, but buying goods produced from your location also means it didn’t use up fuel to travel continents and means using produce picked ripe when harvested as compared to buying bananas shipped all the way from the Caribbean knowing they were picked while they were still green. You can enjoy the fruits from your area; for example, apples grow plenty in England, mangoes and coconuts in Asia, kiwis in Greece and Italy, and oranges in Florida. 3. Have an eating routine It helps if your body knows when to expect the next time it will have food. Our bodies, when we starve them, go into a ‘survival’ mode and hang onto to the fat rather than burn and expel it, which is why it’s harder to lose any extra weight. That’s why starving yourself and eating irregularly is not the best option and certainly not the healthiest. Go with a routine that suits you and is kind to your body. When you go without food for long periods of time, your blood sugar will drop and can cause you to experience dizziness associated with hypoglycemia. 4. Go for color The Japanese have it so right when it comes to serving up a healthy meal. If you notice their plates, they are full of color. Compared to the Standard American Diet’s typical meal of potatoes and steak, where you will probably find 2-3 colors, the Japanese easily have 5-6 different colors, sometimes more, in a typical meal. Their ‘bento’ boxes illustrate this. They understand that visual imagery plays an important role in one’s appetite, and they make sure each plate is as colorful as possible. Having carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, and corn means the plate is not only colorful but also balanced and healthy. 5. Liquids are important too Make sure you are drinking the recommended daily intake of fluids, and in most cases, nothing beats water. Unless you are drinking fresh coconut water or 100% pineapple juice, few drinks can compare to the benefits of plain water. Make an effort to stay away from sodas or any fizzy drink. The same goes for juices that are packed with sugar and artificial color and flavorings. Drinks that are on grocery shelves have chemicals in them to ensure a longer shelf life; it’s best to keep it simple by going with plain water. Stay hydrated by drinking often. 6. Mind the size and frequency Gone are the days where most people eat 3 big meals a day. Most health and fitness practitioners now recommend eating 5-6 small meals a day instead. Having a small snack between those main meals means that you won’t have to eat as much at any given period and is more ideal for your stomach, which is not in danger of getting too big in order to accommodate big, heavy meals. 7. Go for quality Yes, organic, unprocessed, and whole foods do tend to be pricier than their unhealthy counterparts, but if you know that the price you pay for saving on food is your health, then you know it’s a price too high to pay. All the diseases brought on by unhealthy food, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (the list goes on) is just not worth it. Invest in your health. You won’t regret it. Staying healthy involves keeping your constantly in check. They say it takes 21 days to turn an action into a habit. Print and paste this list on your fridge and keep it there for at least 21 days. Good luck and stay healthy!