I feel like I've been away from the nutrition game just a wee bit. The beginning of 2020 had me distanced from blogs and social media altogether, and even since I jumped back online to what has felt like an exciting return, I've been in a "business building" mindset.
As confident as I am in my habits to put nutrition on the back burner, my excitement for vegetables and good food never reaaaaally goes away, which is why I'm bringing back the three nutrition micro-swaps.
Without further adieu:
1. REDUCE THE PURCHASE OF SHELF-STABLE DRESSINGS
WELCOME YOUR OWN CREATIONS TO THE MIX - OR AT LEAST LOOK AT THE INGREDIENTS
Like I've mentioned before, vegetable oils (like soybean, corn or canola) sound healthy, but the truth is they are cheaper to buy, attain more damage through processing and therefore can negatively affect our health, all while quite potentially profiting the companies that utilize these oils for their shelf-stable, non-refrigerated dressings. Instead, find some extra dollars to put into brands that use olive or avocado oil as their base (despite not being local), or better yet, create your own. Trust, it's not complicated. Make a vinaigrette by whisking together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper or various spices and boom, you're done - orrrrr make something unique with a creamy base of quality yogurt, tahini or avocado. If you're struggling to get creative, look up a recipe online and sub the recommended vegetable oil for something of higher quality.
2. SAY AU REVOIR TO YOUR DRIVE-THROUGH SPECIALTY DRINKS
WELCOME THE SIMPLE OR THE HOMEMADE DRINK INSTEAD.
Besides saving a routine $5-6 every time you hit up Starbucks for a fancy drink, you will also give yourself some health upgrades...and besides saving on the obvious sugar and poor quality fats, the ingredients used are surely lacking in nutrient density. If you're looking to prioritize your health, simple syrups and additional corn syrup are not your friend.
Instead, look to order simple beverages like coffee, tea or basic lattes where you have better control of the ingredients that exist in your cup. Fancy it up at places that are intentional about quality sourcing. (Hint: most places with a drive-thru focus on quantity served over quality served)
If you want to take it a step further, utilize a blender, a frother and the world wide web. Put some time and effort into learning to make some fun at-home drinks using ingredients you and your children can actually pronounce.
3. THINK TWICE ABOUT CONVENTIONAL MEATS
WELCOME LOCAL AND REGENERATIVE FARMERS.
I know the plant-based trend is on the rise, which means less animal products (that can be a discussion for another day), but if you are among those still welcoming animal proteins into your daily diet (like me), do yourself and our local economy a favour and start supporting local and regenerative farmers. I get it, it can be more expensive, but instead of avoiding the thought, we should probably begin to question why the other production methods can actually afford to be so much cheaper.
If you're not as concerned about cost, but are trying to weigh the health benefits instead, just know that conventionally raised chickens are meant to get up to a certain profitable size in a limited amount of time, are likely fed cheap grain and have more space in the oven used to cook them than they did when they were alive. (Imagine living your entire life at the mall on Christmas Eve or Black Friday. Tell me how that's beneficial for your mental and physical health.) In such tight quarters, sickness can also spread quickly which then increases use of antibiotics.
Like I said, regenerative farming is certainly more expensive, but if you have the means to prioritize it, give it a go. If you can't afford the best of the best, that's okay - just do your due diligence in better understanding who you're supporting and where your food comes from. Ignorance isn't bliss for everyone.
I provide these tips not to add more fear or stress to your life, or to make you feel like you're not doing enough, but instead, to give you ideas for small health upgrades when it comes to certain areas of your pantry, your fridge or your food consumption. Physical health isn't everything, but it does overlap into many other areas of our lives.
You may not be in a place in your life where you can manage to change them all (nor would I recommend major shifts) but maybe you can look into improving one for the sake of your nutrition and health.
Personally, I don't have a family to support or a mortgage to pay, but I have been a student trying to find a balance between paying student loans and eating better quality food. It's not impossible. Prioritize what's best for you.
Cheers to a brighter future,