My morning stroll to the train leads me by a number of fast food restaurants and bodegas. Each one, brimming over with sights and aromas, entices my senses with colors and smells that are hard to resist.
They beckon for me to buy and eat to my heart's content. Convenient, inexpensive, and delicious; this is American food at it's finest. Triple decker cheeseburgers and French fries. America, the land of milkshakes and Bit-O-Honey. These foods taste good, smell good, and look good, but all that glitters ain't gold, lady.
The Standard American Diet is indeed very sad. The results of following such a diet have undoubtedly been behind many a shed tear. Typical western meals are full of health shattering amounts of added sugar, salt, trans fats, and food additives. To add insult to injury, they are woefully devoid of the nutrients our bodies really crave, like naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats.
It's no surprise such a diet raises the risk of just about every imaginable chronic disease and can reduce fertility.
Fortunately, you and I get to choose what we put into our bodies. We can choose a different eating pattern. Sure, advertising and our food landscape make it more difficult to stick to our best intentions to eat a healthier diet. I won't pretend eating well is not an uphill battle. It is. Often we have to fight against social norms, our surroundings, and the media. While not easy, at least not at first, it is certainly worth it.
When deciding to change a behavior, starting small is usually the way to go. A complete overhaul does not need to occur overnight. Small changes and victories snowball; giving you the confidence to take on the next challenge. As time goes on, eating more healthfully (not perfectly; it's unrealistic and unnecessary) becomes easier. It can become automatic, even. Stick with it. Your heart, mind, and body will thank you with better health, better focus, and a better chance of conceiving.
Small changes can lead to big results. Need some help coming up with small, achievable goals? The ones below are a good place to start.
- Trade in your juice, soda, and other flavored beverages for water.
- Snack on fruit when a craving for sugary treats hits.
- Double your portion of colorful vegetables and cut the amount of starchy grains or vegetables in half at lunch and/or dinner.
- Make one day of the week meatless. Load up on protein, iron, and fiber from beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
- Switch from refined grains (like white rice and white bread) to whole grains (like brown rice and whole wheat bread.)
- Prepare a grocery list before grocery shopping and stick to it. It will help you stay away from impulse buys. Make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, calcium rich foods, and healthy fats.
- Regularly have breakfast. Short on time in the morning? Try overnight oats or a make a smoothie the night before.