21 Simple Food Changes You Can Make Today to Feel Happier & Healthier

by Kendall Scott, CHHC

Guest Blog this week by Kendall Scott, CHHC, Health Coach, Co-Founder of TheKickingKitchen.com and Coauthor of Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend’s Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer

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One big reason why so many of us fall short of healthy eating habits is because we find less-nutritious (or just plain bad for you) options that are more convenient. That drive-thru window sure takes a few steps out of eating lunch. But at what cost? 

We grab food at fast food chains, convenience stores and the grocery store because we don’t want to take the time to prepare food, cook and sit down and savor it. That’s understandable. We’ve all been there. It’s 5 o’clock, you’re exhausted, the kids are hungry and you just can’t fathom cooking anything beyond a frozen pizza. And if you’re going through cancer or caring for someone who is, that can make meal time even more challenging.

Here’s the thing: at some point this kind of unhealthy eating on a regular basis will catch up with you. It may be when you can no longer button your jeans. It might be when you realize you’ve suffered cold after cold, followed by pneumonia and the flu and you just can’t seem to kick it. It could be when your doctor tells you your blood pressure is through the roof. Maybe it’s when you look in the mirror and realize you look like crap – tired, dark circles under the eyes, dull skin and hair. Or it could be when you find out you have some scary disease like cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.

Now, could you still have gotten sick, looked like crap, had high blood pressure or cancer even if you were eating well? Of course. And that’s because diet, as well as other lifestyle factors, environmental factors and genetics all play a role in your overall health. Still, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could really make a difference and increase your chances of being a healthy person for years to come? Well, you can! What you eat makes a big difference, and it may make all the difference. And this is your life we’re talking about! So if doing a little planning ahead with meals, eating a few more veggies, buying some organic produce and replacing that donut for breakfast with a whole grain bagel with almond butter or a green smoothie could make you feel energized, keep disease at bay and help you get you to a weight you are happy with, why wouldn’t you at least make an effort and give it a try?

I know making improvements in your diet is not always easy and can be downright frustrating. Start by making a couple small changes and add more as you go. Lasting change takes time. Here are some ways to get started. Pick a couple to try this week!

1. Plan out your meals for a week and plan your grocery shopping trip accordingly.
2. Make a pot of soup to enjoy for a couple days. Make a double-batch and freeze it for later.
3. Whether your pizza is homemade or it came in a box, add some veggies: spinach, kale, broccoli, mushrooms, peppers and zucchini.
4. Have a banana or some berries with your breakfast.
5. Drink more water.
6. Plan two meals without any meat – yes, that’s right, practice your vegetarian-cooking skills.
7. Replace soda with water. Add sliced lemon, lime or orange if you like some flavor.
8. Replace your pasta with brown rice.
9. Make a super salad – throw on a variety of veggies, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, beans and top with olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
10. Try a vegetable you’ve never had before.
11. Eat more leafy greens. Sauté kale with olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and some garlic.
12. Try avoiding dairy for a week and see how you feel.
13. Get as many colors on your plate as possible – a variety of color means a variety of nutrients. Yellow, green, red, orange, purple…
14. Make a smoothie for breakfast – non-dairy milk, banana, baby spinach, peanut or almond butter and ice.
15. Replace your second (or first) cup of coffee with green tea.
16. Buy some organic foods.
17. Visit a local farmer’s market.
18. Read the ingredients on packaged food. If you don’t know what something is, can’t pronounce it or if it’s full of sugar, dyes are artificial ingredients, put it back on the shelf.
19. Make a pot of brown rice to use for several days. Sauté some veggies to have with it.
20. Learn how to cook lentils and beans.
21. Snack on nuts, fruit and veggies if you’re hungry between meals.

Bio: Kendall was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 27. She quickly became her own health advocate to do all she could, alongside her doctors, to heal from cancer and adopted a “food as medicine” philosophy. She is a board certified health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP). She recently published Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend's Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer, which was named #3 of The Top 25 Cookbooks of 2012 by The Daily Meal. She is the cofounder of The Kicking Kitchen, helping women find their groove in cancer, life and the kitchen. You can find Kendall's home page on WhatNext Here

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