Baby Steps to a Healthier You

Here are some baby steps that can make a huge difference in your health

1. Become aware.  Start reading labels and see for yourself how many chemicals are in our processed foods.  If I don’t recognize an ingredient, I google it.  Check out my list of additives in processed foods and also 7 gross ingredients you have probably eaten.

2. Cut out high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  You will be surprised at how much of it you may be eating.  Big food companies love to add HFCS to everything because it is a cheap filler.  Processed sugars are no better either.  A diet high in any sugar can lead to weight gain, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. You can check out my tips to quit processed sugar as well.

3. Cut out all sodas.  Did you know you can clean off battery acid with coke or pepsi?  Gross!  Diet sodas are no better either.  They are filled with artificial sweeteners.

4. Cut out all processed sugars and flours.  Processed sugars include: white sugar, evaporated cane syrup, HFCS, brown sugar, corn syrup and caramel.  We only use 100% pure maple syrup and raw honey.  Those two are the least processed.

5. Try to cut back on eating out.  Most restaurants put far too much sugar and salt in their foods.  Not to mention, GMOs.

6. Cut out sugar in your morning coffee.  (This is the first big change I did.  I really thought I would miss it, but I didn’t.

7. Try to buy organic and support your local farmers markets.  If you can’t afford all organic, try to stick to in season produce and those not on the dirty list.

8. Try a new vegetable every week.

9.  Eat more salad (dressing on the side) and drink more water.

10.  Try to incorporate some exercise into your daily routine.  If you don’t have time to exercise, try to take the stairs to work instead of the elevator.  Or, you could try to park your car further away from the store.  Remember, that no matter how slow you go, you will still be lapping those on the couch.  Even these small things can make a difference.

56 thoughts on “Baby Steps to a Healthier You

  1. I drink 2 cups of coffee a morning. I use honey to sweeten but what I would like to change is the creamer I use. I have begun buying organic and looked at whole foods for a creamer replacement. Prefer the powdery kind rather than liquid creamers. They cool my coffee off to much. Thanks for listening.

    1. I do not know much about the powdered creamers, I am sorry. I use almond milk in my coffee. I feel like it is a little thicker than milk. I make my own though. I have the recipe on the blog. Did you ever try to warm up the creamer before you add it to your coffee? My in laws taught me that trick and it helps.

      1. I bought a Nespresso Aerocinno Plus Milk Frother. I make my own coffee and this frother warms the milk and whips it in a matter of seconds. Easy clean up, just rinse it out. No more luke warm coffee, it also makes 1% milk creamy. Only drawback….$99.00

    2. I can get powdered rice milk at my eco-shop. I haven’t used it for a long time and don’t remember the label contents, though :(

    3. If you can figure out how much milk it takes for your coffee, place the milk in bottom of coffee cup and place in microwave for several seconds until the chill is knocked off. If no micro, place hot water in cup and let sit for 30 sec – 1 min to warm up the cup and prevent cooling of the coffee.

    4. Have you tried a little organic coconut oil with grass fed butter? Delicious! I know it sounds a little odd but it is actually amazing. I blend my coffee with those ingredients in my nutrabullet. Won’t drink coffee any other way now, I’m hooked!

    1. I think it is okay, but personally, I did not care for the taste. It tasted too much like Splenda to me. I heard the drops were a bit better, but they are expensive.

      1. I like the sweetleaf brand. The drops are about $11-12 at Super Supplements and they last a long time. They don’t have a bad aftertaste and there are many flavors. I like to use then in my plain yogurt and in my oatmeal. One of my faves is English Toffee. YUM!

    1. Yes. I mostly use maple syrup. Also, in recent recipes, I have been using coconut palm sugar. I have also found that you can cut the sugar in most recipes and it will still be sweet enough.

      1. I realize this is an old post but here is a perspective on coconut palm sugar that may change your mind about using it, especially if you enjoy other coconut products.

  2. Thanks so much for your website! I really appreciate all the information and am learning a lot. I am trying to migrate toward a more organic whole-food approach, and am wondering if you could give just one basic substitution to start with as far as each staple goes. I liked looking at your grocery list, but was thinking what would be your first steps as far as transitioning? You say you substitute maple syrup (and coconut sugar) for white and brown sugars…. then what would be your go-to for flour and butter, for example? I feel like we do a lot of the stuff you listed above, as far as cutting out highly-processed or sugary foods, but for people who cook a lot but are trying to improve their ingredients list, what would you recommend starting with?
    Sorry this is kind of rambling! :)

    1. Thanks for reading! I am glad that this is helping you. My flour choices vary depending on the food I am making. For baked goods, I love spelt or whole wheat pastry flour for baked goods. Those are not as dense as regular whole wheat can be. Regular whole wheat flour is great for making a hearty bread though. When I bake gluten free, I like to mix oat, coconut and brown rice flour. Brown rice flour is also good for thickening a sauce. I rarely use butter, but choose oils instead. I like coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and walnut oil for cooking and baking. Olive oil works well in cold dishes. Sometimes I substitute the fat in a recipe with yogurt or applesauce. Works great in baked goods. Hope all this helps! I am working on a post about flours that will hopefully be published sometime soon! :)

  3. We have been making consistent changes, and I so appreciate your advice. I was at the store earlier, and I bought ALL organic produce for the very first time. I usually kind of mix regular with organic. I bought some Bertolli organic pasta sauce-the ingredients looked ok to me-and I don’t have much homemade sauce left in my freezer. I ran into a roadblock at ketchup. I went ahead and bought my usual, because I didn’t know what was “ok” to buy. Any suggestions on ketchup?

    I’ve stopped drinking soda, and have vowed to cut out coffee in April. I’ve been trying hard to get my husband on board, and I thought he was doing well until he came home from the store with Lunchables and Girl Scout Cookies. I wanted to cry. I threw the Lunchables away and put the cookies in the freezer in the garage. I’d love to try some of the bars you posted recently, but I have no idea where to buy dates, and my hubby hates coconut.

    Sorry for the novel. Thank you so much for your awesome site!

    1. It’s great to hear you are making positive changes! I know soda is a hard thing to kick, so that is huge for you. I had trouble with the ketchup too. I bought a no sugar ketchup from Sprouts, but it was kind of gross. Just tasted like tomato paste. Ketchup was one of those things I just gave up on. Now I will opt for mustard or vegenaise. Even those are rare. You can buy dates pretty much anywhere. They will be with the dried fruit. My inlaws by me a huge box of them from Sams Club. I would just make sure you can get the medjool dates. I had a few people try my recipes with another kids that was smaller and it didn’t work out as well. You can sub out the coconut in some of my recipes. Just let me know which one you would like to try and I will give you a substitution. :)

    2. I was going to recommend Heinz Simply Ketchup, as I found that in my recent decision to keep corn syrup out of the house as much as possible – it has no sugar and is tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, spices and… the killer – natural flavorings.

      I found this site today via recommended pages on facebook, and have learned so much in all my reading today. I was so happy last week to find organic soup base at my local HFS without msg in the ingredient list, only to be bummed today to find that yeast extract is msg and in it. No wonder my headache got worse the other day after I had some broth made with it! Anyhow, before I get too long, I’ll just say that I now feel like I can’t eat any of the food in the house, despite having thrown away a whole bunch of junk (and “pantry staples” past-date or bug-infested – the reason for the purge in the first place), and am committed to even more changes to our family’s diet. Thank you.

  4. I looked at HEB for those dates and didn’t see them. Our store is a small one, so I’ll try a bigger store. I had planned to check out Sprouts last week, but my kiddo’s were sick. Maybe I’ll make it there Friday.

    I have all the ingredients to make the baked strawberry-banana oatmeal, except for the coconut and the coconut oil. I had to work the weekend that my produce co-op offered it as an add on. :/ I’ll definitely order it if they offer it again. Could I sub a bit of olive oil for the coconut oil until I can get some? And I have fresh strawberries-is that ok to use?

    I may have to give up on ketchup for now. I don’t care for it, but my kids like it. I figure if I make small, consistent changes that they will stick, and it won’t seem so drastic to my family. :-) I gave up pop a few months ago, and now I don’t like the taste of it. I’m hoping I’ll be the same when April rolls around and I give up coffee. We haven’t made a switch with our pasta yet, I tried whole wheat pasta and no one would eat it. I use to make my own years ago, so maybe I’ll look into that again.
    Thanks so much!

    1. You can sub the oil. If you use fresh strawberries, just slice them thin and use a little less than the recipe states. Just to make sure your batch isn’t too soupy. You are brave to give up coffee. That is the one vice I have left!

  5. I am new to your site – having just stumbled upon it yesterday – but am really impressed with your information and determined to make a good change in my family’s life! Thank you for such wonderful information!!!

  6. I’m wondering what if you have any suggestions on to what to give babies after they are weaned? My baby is 9 months old but will probably wean her around 1. Don’t want to use formula, soy or cows milk.. Any ideas?

    Thanks!

    1. I give my daughter oat milk. She is 21 months old. It is fortified with the same vitamins and calcium as cow’s milk and soy milk.

  7. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas and information. I was wondering if you had an opinion about soy? I am trying to avoid all soy products which is incredibly hard to do. I was under the impression that eating soy was not part of a clean diet. But I’ve been seeing more an more recipes saying they are clean recipes that are using soy milk and things like tofu. I would classify soy as a scary ingredient. Is there something I’m missing?

    1. I eat tofu, tempeh and soy sauce on occasion. I make sure that I buy organic and non GMO verified because 90% of the soy in the country has been genetically modified. Fermented soy products do have some health benefits. Non-fermented soy products like soy milk, soy protein and soybean oil contain none of those benefits so I avoid those.

  8. I recently found out how healthy coconut water and milk are. I have been using coconut milk in my smoothies. I just read the label ingredients and was a little disappointed in finding that the brand I bought (SO delicious) contains some unwanted ingredients and some I can’t even pronounce or know what they are. Do you have any suggestions as to what is a good brand? This one has organic dried cane syrup,carrageenan, , and guar gum and some other weird names. Love your blog and all your information. Have learned a lot from it! Thanks!

  9. Hello
    My eyes have just been opened to this world. I could cry learning all the chemicals in foods I Have eaten and fed my child. We have always eaten healthy veggies and fruits daily. I Have started buying mostly everything organic boy is is expensive, but I have already seen a major difference in my daughter’s hyperness/impulseness she is so much calmer. Thank you for all the information.

  10. Hi Melissa:
    Found you information to be very helpful. We are trying to incorporate new steps to a healthier diet in our lives. Working on weight loss and just trying to feel better. Do you have a book out? If not you sure should ……thanks again! :)

    1. Hi Barbara! I am glad you found me too. I hope I can be of help on your journey. :) No book out yet, but I would love to do one. :)

  11. Hello! Love your web site. I made your pumpkin breakfast cookies today and I can’t stop eating them! My kids don’t like it so much. It’s sooo hard to make foods for them that don’t have a ton of sugar. I have a question about coffee creamer. I am addicted to those flavored coffee creamers in the milk section of the store. I started reading the bottle are reading your article about dangerous additives in our foods. All the brands have them!! What am I going to do? I use stevia in the raw to sweeten it but I miss the flavored choices. Plain cream is boring, lol. I saw that Coffe Mate natural bliss wasn’t as bad as the others. I can’t give up coffe…yet. I don’t drink any soda. Thanks.

    1. Thank you! I am so glad you are enjoying the cookies! I just put almond milk and no sweetener in my coffee, but my husband hasn’t been able to give up his creamer. He has been getting Organic Valley’s soy vanilla creamer. There is no carrageenan in it, but it is soy. I figure if it’s the one thing he has as a vice, I am not going to make a huge deal out of it. I have heard that the blog, Deliciously Organic has a coffee creamer recipe that is very good. You may want to check hers.

      1. Thanks, I will check those things out. You said that your husbands creamer doesn’t have carrageenan in it, but it does have soy….is soy not a great thing to have either?

        1. Soy is fine as long as it’s organic. my husband’s soy creamer is organic. I mentioned that it is soy because some people avoid soy. I think it’s fine in moderation as long as it’s organic.

  12. Fantastic list!

    I would add, for anyone with kids of age to have conversations about what they are eating is TO HAVE THOSE CONVERSATIONS NOW. Don’t wait. Start early with telling them what’s healthy in each thing on their plate. Let them eventually make their own lunches (post a “must have” guideline on the fridge) so they are the ones making healthy choices. Teach THEM to read labels with you in the store as soon as they are old enough to spot certain ingredients (like HFC, for example). You’d be amazed at how quickly several pairs of eyes can spot the best choice when working together–and they are learning to do this for themselves, later. And never assume that “kids don’t like healthy foods like salads”. They will like it. Just don’t serve alternatives, and make sure they try whatever you are serving that meal. You’ll be surprised at how quickly their palates expand. (And how quickly their stubborn streaks disappear, especially when the conversation of why we eat particular foods for health happens.) :-)

  13. I am wondering if you get the same health benefit from whole flax seeds as you would from ground flax. Thanks.

    1. Actually, whole flax seeds cannot be digested by our bodies so they need to be ground up. I have learned that recently.

  14. Great blog! One question on the sweeteners… What are your thoughts on agave syrup vs. maple syrup & honey. I had been told agave is the way to go, but am interested in hearing what the top choice would be between the three.

  15. My hubby loves loves loves coffee! He doesn’t put anytthing in it, but still wants to know what a good number of cups to stick to without too much. Any advice??
    Thanks In Advance!!

    1. Interestingly, I had a lengthy discussion with my cardiologist about my coffee consumption. After my heart attack he asked me how much soda I drink, how much diet soda, how much coffee, what do I put in the coffee, sweeteners, etc. Cardiologist told me I could drink up to 33 cups of coffee per day. Why 33 cups, I asked Cardiologist. Because I’ve read articles which advise 34 cups may be fatal. Cardiologist has a dry and warped sense of humor. Further, he advised me to stop all consumption of soda, diet and regular.

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