As we approach the holidays, I am sure that food and trying to eat balanced has crossed your mind a time or two. It can be difficult to stay healthy and balanced this time of year. My advice is to do your best!  A more important issue is eating healthier as a lifestyle choice. You know the obvious food choices to make, but others aren’t as obvious. Those are the healthier eating tips I want to share with you today.

CHOOSE ORGANIC AND LOOK FOR THE USDA ORGANIC DESIGNATION

1. When shopping for your family, choose organic whenever possible.

This is a practice my family incorporated after my cancer diagnosis and one we still continue today. What’s nice is that it has gotten easier to buy organic foods with most stores incorporating organics into their overall selection. Be sure to look for the USDA Organic, Certified Organic, or 100% Certified Organic designations. Why? Organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. (Yuck, who wants to eat that stuff?) Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.

SELECT NON-GMO FOODS

2. Select non-GMO produce and other foods whenever possible.

Choosing organics is usually the easiest way to be sure you are getting non-GMO foods. Be aware that USDA certification requires at least 95% of content to be organic, and a GMO ingredient can’t be included in that 5%. Depending on the product, sometimes there are tiny loopholes that allow non-organic ingredients like cornstarch and soy lecithin into the product. This happens when an organic option is not readily available. For help, there are many shopping guides online that provide additional information.

ANIMAL PRODUCTS

3. Look for Certified Designations when purchasing Animal Products.

I get many of my animal products from Butcher Box and delivered to my door. These products are also readily available in stores and on-line and they taste great! Look for a certification of:

  • American grass-fed certifed
  • USDA organic
  • Animal Welfare Approved

SEAFOOD

4. When it comes to purchasing fish and seafood, be on the lookout for genetic modification here as well.

Believe it or not, genetically modified salmon is approved by the FDA. Some guidelines to follow:

  • Always avoid farm raised frish
  • Always look for “wild caught” on the label
  • Buy from local fisherman when possible
  • Limit your intake of fish known to have high mercury content like king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (big eye and ahi). 

FRESH PRODUCE

5. Grow your own food. If you have a place to raise your own produce, try your hand at it!

You can dry, freeze and can many vegetables helping them last throughout the winter into the next growing season. If you have never done this before, start small with a window box, or herb garden. It’s important to purchase heirloom seeds to be sure they are non-GMO contaminated. Again, you can find seeds online, through seed coops or throughout your community.

If growing your own food is not possible, research and locate area farmers or farmers markets who are committed to bringing quality produce to you. I searched Google for farmers markets in my area and was surprised to find several. Websites even gave me a list of Certified Organic vendors with their contact information. It was pretty easy to connect. You can ask vendors or farmers a few simple questions to determine what practices a local farmer adheres to.

  • Do you grow produce using non-GMO seeds?
  • Do you use toxic pesticides or herbicides?
  • Are you certified organic?
  • Are your animal American Grass-Fed certified and pasture raised?

It’s amazing that with the internet and a little research, you truly can eat healthier foods helping you to stay healthy and nourish your body! Bon appetite!