Us health bloggers always be talking about making condiments, brewing probiotics at home, and buying expensive things like raw milk and healthy sources of meat.
In the last year and a half, we feel like we’ve learned a bachelor’s degree-worth of information about eating real food and eliminating toxins from our diet.
So… what if you don’t have the time to “go back to college” and learn all there is about a truly healthy diet? What if it’s too expensive, too time-consuming, and too difficult to persuade your family? Or what if you just don’t want to?
Here’s the thing.
You’ll probably never again see me “promote” the stuff on this list again – but I get the reality is not everyone can switch to completely all-natural eating.
BUT, of course I realize that small changes can make a difference. Do I wish you could give up your white bread for homemade sourdough? Sure. But if you can make the change to whole wheat bread, you’ll be a bit healthier.
I see it as a scale – there’s a “bad” option, a “decent” option, and a “good” option.
Bad = white bread
Decent = 100% whole wheat bread
Good = Sprouted, soaked, or sourdough bread
Most of these fall under decent – they aren’t normally what I’d prescribe, but I know that change is hard. If you have an unwilling husband and 4 children who’d rather eat boogers than food, these are changes you can do now.
This list shows the 21 easiest health changes that you can possibly make. Most of these won’t force you to
- Overhaul the way you cook
- Break the bank
- Persuade picky eaters to change
- Shop at weirdo stores with people who don’t wash their hair
Odds are, you can make these changes and no one will be the wiser.
Then, when your family’s ok with these changes and they’ve become a natural part of your life, kick it up a notch and check out the BEST: section at the end of each point, or see our Real Food Rules.
Luckily some businesses are listening to consumers – and realizing that HFCS shocks your body’s insulin response, becoming a huge cause of diabetes. It also damages your immune system, increases risk of heart disease, and causes obesity.
The simplest solution is to grab Heinz’s Natural brand ketchup – it’s not much more expensive and it’s right next to the regular ketchup at the store.
- Buy tomato sauce without High Fructose Corn Syrup
HFCS has become a plague because it’s found in sooooooo many processed foods. Americans eat over 35 pounds of the stuff per year… so it’s not far-fetched to believe it’s also in our tomato sauce.
BEST: We grab organic tomato sauce from Costco by the case – it’s not much more expensive than regular ‘mater sauce.
You can check out everything we have to say about milk, but the short story reads that companies often replace the fat with stuff your body doesn’t approve of. Did you know that farmers feed skim milk to pigs to fatten them up? What’s it doing to us then?
Full-fat milk provides healthy saturated fats and cholesterol. In fact, the U.S government is poised to reverse its stance on cholesterol – and saturated fat might be next.
Drinking full-fat milk just doesn’t make people fat (and the government is finally figuring that out).
But, maybe most importantly, our milk supply has been tainted. Did you know cows are shot up with hormones to help them grow faster and produce more milk? Ok, you probably did.
But what about the mounting evidence that these hormones produce food allergies and sensitivities, causing everything from anaphylactic shock, eczema, asthma, sleeplessness, ADD, sleeplessness, and chronic runny noses?
Best read for this year was “The Unhealthy Truth” that’s all about where our food is coming from. No it’s not some wacko conspiracy theorists who wrote it. It was written by a mom who wanted to know why her kids were developing so many food allergies. Warning: You might not want to eat anything after reading it! That’s why we have our blog to show you how to eat right.
Anyway, stick to the hormone-free stuff.
BEST: While organic milk improves on hormone-free milk, I wouldn’t waste my money on it. A complete switch to nutrient-rich raw milk from grass-fed cows will pay the most health dividends.
- Buy butter without hormones
Check out the point about hormone-free milk (#2) to see why hormones are ruining your health.
Finding milk from cows not treated with rBST is pretty easy to find nowadays – it’s just in the butter section with the regular stuff. Like my mother-in-law says, “I buy the butter with the big antlers on it like you told me to.” (AKA Challenge Butter)
And please tell me you’re past buying margarine. Seriously, dude.
BEST: Completely grass-fed butter, like Kerrygold, provides the most nutrition. Our local Walmart and Costco have it now! Or, make your own from grass-fed cream.
- Use arrowroot as a thickener instead of flour or corn starch
Arrowroot comes from the root of a plant and it’s a much healthier alternative. If you haven’t read about the horrors of flour, go read any Paleo blog. That’s what the kids do these days.
About 90% of corn is genetically modified – which causes tumors and organ failure in rats. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are illegal or heavily regulated in 50 countries.
WARNING: DO NOT use it with milk! It turns slimy and gross. Eeeeew!
BEST: Um, well arrowroot.
This might be the most important switch on this list – going from arguably the worst thing we regularly eat (vegetable oil) to a superfood (coconut oil)!
Veggie oils, especially the hydrogenated ones, cause inflammation inside our bodies. That directly leads to heart attacks and cancer, as well as most other chronic illnesses. These nasty oils include: canola oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, and corn oil to name a few. I know, the list of oils can be confusing! It’s all about how the oil is processed and extracted. If it has to be processed, deodorized, and extracted with a bunch of chemicals, the oil is NOT good for you!
Veggie oils are in A LOT of stuff! Pretty much all your chips, salad dressings, mayo, shortening, and even in low quality olive oil. I can’t say how important it is to read your ingredient labels!
It’s true that sometimes your food can taste a little coconutty, but I don’t notice this in most recipes. If that’s the case then try using ghee or tallow!
BEST: Well, coconut oil is probably the best cooking fat, which is great because it’s so easy to use. We also use butter, ghee, lard, and tallow – from healthy sources.
- Buy organic produce if on Dirty Dozen list
Despite FDA shenanigans, we can at least trust them on what the label “organic” means.
No GMO and no pesticides. (Well the no pesticides is debatable now sadly, which is why it’s important to know your source!)
Pretty cool, considering both of those things can lead to long-term serious illness.
The Dirty Dozen list shows us the most pesticide-riddled produce from the year. Everything on that list we purchase organic. It’s an incredibly easy way to lower the toxin intake in our family. Make sure you buy in season too so you don’t break the bank!
BEST: Obviously, buying everything organic would be amazing, but it’s expensive and sometimes hard to find. So… grow your own! There is A TON of information about how to grow your own garden even if you live in a little apartment with no yard.
- Use sour cream with one ingredient: cream
Reading labels is probably the easiest, quickest change you can make to your health, and it doesn’t require much know-how. If your food has ingredients you recognize, great. If there’s an ingredient you don’t, it was probably created in a lab.
Lab foods aren’t things normally found in nature and our bodies don’t know how to handle them, leading to mega health problems.
An easy one is sour cream. Pick up the cheapest brand, and then pick up a more natural brand, like Daisy. The ingredient list will shock you – the cheap one usually will be full of chemicals, additives, and preservatives, while the natural brand will have only cream listed.
Why can’t we just have our foods be just that… food? Probably one of my biggest pet peeves! No wonder people get so overwhelmed with this real food stuff. I mean if you’re buying sour cream you expect to have JUST sour cream right?
BEST: Organic sour cream is available at health food stores, or you can even make your own!
- Buy full-fat
I’ve said this many times on our blog – when a company takes out something that tastes good, like fat, they have to replace it with something else.
Have you seen the medical professionals recanting their low-fat diet recommendations lately? It’s awesome!
BEST: The fattier the better! Well, if it’s healthy fat of course! Grass-fed and pastured fat is the bestest.
- Buy full-sugar
Yep. I’m recommending you buy sugar-filled stuff… but ONLY as an alternative to buying products with chemical sweeteners.
White sugar makes you fat, obvs, but it’s also usually GMO, highly processed, added chemicals, and contains no nutrients.
Clearly it’s terrible for you, but even worse is something like Aspartame, which is what’s often used as a sugar replacement. It’s most commonly seen in diet soda.
It’s a proven neurotoxin (brain poison) and known to cause headaches, mood alterations, insomnia, and fatigue… and linked to serious neurological disorders. Here’s a handy page with several studies on aspartame in one place.
In other words, they’re both evil for your body, but the chemically-created one is actually worse for you.
BEST: Ummm… throw away all your soda, sugar-free or otherwise. Try making kombucha! It’s a tasty probiotic drink that you can make fizzy just like soda. Learn about natural sugars and how to use them like real maple syrup, organic cane sugar, and sucanat.
- Purchase fruit juices without added sugar
This is a super-easy switch that only requires about 10 seconds for you to read the labels.
Check the ingredient list – do they list sugar or a sugar replacement (like the satanic HFCS)? Don’t buy it. Find the ones where the only ingredients are “oranges” or “apples.”
BEST: There’s still some evidence that even store-bought juices that only contain fruit may be dangerous. Even though it’s a natural sugar, it’s still sugar and will spike your blood sugar. Purchase your own organic fruit and use your juicer if you’re craving some apple juice! This is the juicer we use. Best of the best is kombucha, which is a tasty probiotic drink that you can make to taste like fruit juice.
- Find chicken and beef broth without MSG
MSG is a chemical preservative – just another additive to many of your processed foods that interferes with how your body operates. The words “natural flavors” and “spices” are big fat red flags because MSG is usually hidden in those words along with other nasty chemicals.
BEST: Homemade! It’s duper easy – here’s how! Ideally, you’ll use grass-fed, but we’ve bought rotisserie chickens from Costco and used those, too.
- Don’t buy lean ground beef
People have been freaking out about fat and cholesterol since the beginning of… well, actually it hasn’t been that long, oddly enough.
People have been healthy for thousands of years consuming much more fat than we do today. Your grandparents ate butter and drank whole (probably raw) milk as a dietary staple and yet didn’t have heart disease issues like today.
Saturated fat and cholesterol both help maintain our bodies. Both saturated fat and cholesterol improve brain function, fix or provide cell structure, and cholesterol improves memory and builds sex hormones. There’s a reason babies drink cholesterol-laden milk – they need it for brain development and to support their growth.
If you want extra nutrients and beneficial fats in your diet, skip the lean and buy full-fat ground beef!
BEST: 100% grass-fed beef’s the way to go and it’s TASTY!
Well, I don’t like either white or wheat bread, but at least the whole wheat bread is a bit less processed and retains some of its natural nutrients.
For us, it’s a super easy change to make because it’s delish… and you can use it the same way you use white bread.
BEST: We make our own sourdough bread… and it costs like 35 cents a loaf. It doesn’t have to have the traditional sourdough bite to it either.
- Grab the 100% whole wheat pasta
Same deal. It’s cheap, easy to find, and a smidge healthier than white pasta.
BEST: Grab einkorn pasta! Einkorn is the oldest and purest form of wheat there is because it hasn’t been hybridized. Making your own pasta is A LOT of work… and it didn’t turn out very good either.
- 100% whole wheat tortillas
BEST: At our Sprouts or local health food stores, we’ve been able to find sprouted flour tortillas – albeit a bit expensive.
- Buy organic tomato sauce, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes
Jump in your car, run to Costco, buy cases of these things organic, avoid their pizza (or not), and enjoy! It’s actually pretty comparable pricing to buying non-organic at other stores. Certain kinds of tomatoes are on the dirty dozen list like cherry tomatoes. But if one kind of tomatoes are on there it makes me think twice about the other kind of tomatoes.
BEST: If we can dice up our own organic tomatoes, even better! If not, we just go with the organic stuff.
- Purchase wild-caught fish, especially salmon
Farm-raised fish is junk. The fish are nutritionally inferior and generally contain artificial dyes, toxins, and antibiotics. Good times!
Obviously the fish caught naturally are allowed to eat their normal diet and aren’t poisoned. They’re much higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and much lower in toxins.
BEST: I dunno, catch it yourself? We buy frozen salmon filets from the store for about $3/lb. I’ve read that Alaskan salmon is best because it has the cleanest water?? Don’t quote me on that one.
- Cook with distilled water
Even the New York Times is telling us that tap water carries numerous health risks. It carries contaminants not regulated by any agency, and there’s evidence that the chlorine and fluoride causes more harm than good.
Seriously government, stop trying to ruin a good thing! Hey let’s add fluorine into the water cause it will help people’s teeth. How about stop eating crap, brush and floss, and go to the dentist?!
Distilled water is a much healthier and safer option, and costs less than a buck a gallon. Start using it with your cooking for an easy and quick way to lower the overall tap water consumption of your family.
BEST: If we were all millionaires, we could install a filtration system for your entire house that only pumps out clean water. Can’t wait for that day! In the meantime, you could buy a Berkey and use it for all water that you consume and make sure you get the fluorine filter.
- Uncured bacon
The standard curing process involves adding nitrites or nitrates to your bacon – which are both chemicals. If you’ve been following along, you’re seeing that chemicals aren’t your friend. It’s widely considered that these chemicals are carcinogenic.
Plus, it’s only about a buck more per pound at our Walmart with no difference in flavor.
BEST: Naturally cured bacon from pastured pigs is the best, but it runs around $9/lb in our area… if you can find it.
- Store leftovers in glass containers
You can read about the dangers of plastics here, but the short version is that plastics disrupt your endocrine system, leading to most major internal functions in your body going haywire. And, there’s evidence (found in that same post) that BPA-free (the supposed good guy in plastic) plastics cause the same problems as BPA plastic.
BEST: Glass, yo. We love these snap glass containers! Or stainless steel.
Yeah that’s a lot of changes, and there’s lots more, but these all pretty dern easy.
You don’t have to spend much more, and you can get all this stuff at the normal store you already shop at (or in one or two exceptions, find on Amazon).
Plus, most of this stuff will go undetected by your picky eaters. I suppose the whole-wheat stuff might cause some knock-down drag-outs, but hormone free stuff or slightly healthier versions of products won’t be distinguishable.
All of these changes will cause slight health improvements. They’re not the perfect, hippie-friendly foods that produce ideal health, but incorporating a number of these from the list will absolutely make a difference!
Have you tried any of these changes? Have any more to add to the list?