This week we’re talking about fall cleaning…not just our homes, but other area of our lives as well.
I don’t know about you, but we tend to develop some bad eating habits during the summer. Although we work hard to avoid high fructose corn syrup and other questionable ingredients, we do end up eating more processed and convenience foods because we’re on the go so much.
Fall brings its own type of busy, but the school year also adds a steady rhythm to our lives that makes it a little easier to stay on top of what we’re eating, and I’m working to get back to a place where I feel good about all of the food choices we’re making.
If you’re in a similar place, here are some steps you can take to reevaluate your eating habits:
Make a List of Ingredients to Avoid
High fructose corn syrup, food dyes and articifical sweeteners are at the top of the list of ingredients we avoid in our food, but bleached and enriched flours have been showing up more often than I care to admit. As we head into cold & flu season, I also want to be sure that we’re consuming as little sugar as possible since sugar is known to depress the immune system.
Your list may not be the exact same as mine, but knowing which ingredients you want to avoid at all costs and which you want to eat in moderation is a good place to start so that you can make decisions based on that list when you’re menu planning and grocery shopping.
Supplements to Add
Similarly, now may be a good time to reevaluate your eating habits and fill in any gaps. Since our blender broke mid-summer, we haven’t been making green smoothies, and leafy greens are definitely something I want to increase in our diet. Although it’s often found in desserts, pumpkin is actually really good for you too — as are all winter squashes — and eating seasonally is a good way to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs for each season.
Cook More from Scratch
If, like us, you’ve fallen into the trap of eating processed or convenience foods, now is a great time to resolve to cook more from scratch. Start small and try something new each week — rather than trying to jump in with both feet from the start — and you’ll be more likely to stick with the changes and discover some great new recipes along the way.
It never ceases to amaze me how many things we buy from the store without a second thought when they can be made so simply at home without preservatives or questionable ingredients (and often for much less!).
Finally, if you’re not currently menu planning, now is a great time to give it a try. When you’re cooking from scratch and avoiding convenience foods, menu planning is especially helpful because it allows you to create an actual plan for those busy days rather than just hoping you’ll figure something out on the fly.
My favorite tool for menu planning is Plan to Eat because it holds my recipe book and menu plan on one place and automatically creates my shopping list for me. When you sign up for a free 30-day trial, you get instant access to more than 6,000 recipes from Life Your Way readers to help you avoid a meal planning rut as well!
I think the most important thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be worth doing. Small incremental changes add up over time, and are much, much easier to tackle than a complete lifestyle overhaul, so don’t let yourself succumb to “perfection paralysis,” no matter where you are on the journey!
What changes are you making to your eating habits this month?