We fret. We’re fretters.
We worry and obsess about which diets to try, what kind of exercise to do, and which weapon is most powerful in the all-consuming War on Free Radicals.
Hey, it’s all important. But here’s a big secret about getting and staying healthy: the little things do count. That’s because health is cumulative. Make a few really simple switches, stick with them until they’re habits, and you’re well on your way. Eventually, the habits add up, and you’ll get into Total Health Overhaul Territory. But the belief that THOT happens overnight, with a single “I’m really, no, really gonna do it this time!” vow, is a myth. Stop pressuring yourself! It’s not that tough!
Start small – really small. As in, the two feet of refrigerator real estate we all have reserved for condiments. Also known as those “foods” that last longer than some relationships.
Ten condiments you really don’t want in your fridge – and what to replace them with:
10. Oh sodium, how I love thee.
You don’t want: soy sauce
At least it won’t kill you: light soy sauce
You do want: Bragg’s aminos
Aminos don’t make the world a better place, but they’re really good for you.
9. Mrs. Butterworth(less)
You don’t want: artificial maple syrup
At least it won’t kill you: whole-wheat pancakes with fresh fruit and honey
You do want: a sparing amount of real maple syrup + fresh fruit + nuts
Get the flavor of pancakes and syrup without giving your pancreas hives. (Sorry, Mrs. Butterworth.)
8. Yea, though I walk through the aisle of dressing…
You don’t want: Hidden Valley anything
At least it won’t kill you: raspberry vinaigrette
You do want: balsamic vinegar and olive oil
Try walnut and avocado oils for variety. It’s best to mix up your own vinegar/oil combos, because many vinaigrettes are high in sugar and come drenched in additives.
7. That thing about sugar and spice being nice? Yeah, they were wrong.
You don’t want: BBQ sauce
At least it won’t kill you: steak sauce (still loaded with weird things, but only a few calories and no sugar)
You do want: to whip up your own marinades using vinegars, oils, and fresh herbs
Spices: paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic, salt, pepper. Add those spices to equal parts tomato paste, dijon mustard, and olive oil. Give it a dash of apple cider vinegar. So easy, it doesn’t feel right (but it is).
6. Avoid pale things
You don’t want: mayonnaise
At least it won’t kill you: Omega-3 mayonnaise (still often uses canola and palm oil, but better)
You do want: European yogurt (admittedly pale, but that can’t be helped, can it?)
This plain, high-fat, sugar-free yogurt also goes by “Greek” or “Mediterranean” yogurt. It’s got that mayo tang, it’s dense and smooth, and it’s healthy.
5. No seriously, avoid pale things
You don’t want: cream cheese (contrary to popular belief, this is not protein)
At least it won’t kill you: cottage cheese
You do want: organic cottage cheese
I recommend the full-fat version (yeah, I know, I’m crazy). Full-fat means less processing, less sugar, and more satisfaction – so you’ll eat less of it.
4. Toast-tearing conspiracy?
You don’t want: peanut butter (full of oil, sugar and, oh yeah, bugs)
At least it won’t kill you: organic peanut butter
You do want: fresh, unsalted nuts, or a healthier nut butter like almond butter
Peanuts often contain aflatoxins. Clickativity: what Dr. Weil has to say about those. Isn’t it irritating trying to spread cold peanut butter on toast? Is it just me? This is why I don’t eat bread (O.K., not really).
3. With a name like Smuckers, it doesn’t have to be anything
You don’t want: jelly, jam, and any other high-sugar “fruit” spread
At least it won’t kill you: fruit preserves with no added sugar
You do want: fresh fruit
I like to chop up a few different fruits, toss ‘em in the blender for a few seconds, and promptly devour the entire thing (the fruit, not the blender). This “jam” tastes great on whole wheat products, but I prefer it on chicken breast and fresh fish.
2. No cause for alarm
You don’t want: chemical-laden, trendy spicy sauces that cost $4 for a tiny bottle
At least it won’t kill you: hoisin sauce
You do want: Tabasco or any other chili sauce
Never underestimate the power of heat for your health. Just make sure you’re ingesting real spices, not factory flavorings.
1. Dyed and gone to…
You don’t want: any of the plethora of colorful condiments aimed at kids (do we need purple anything?)
At least it won’t kill you: ketchup (it’s got a little sugar, and who knows where those tomatoes came from, but you’ll get a generous serving of antioxidants)
You do want: salsa!
A lot of people forget that salsa is a vegetable. Make your own or buy the fresh stuff for a sodium-free version of this veggie topping that goes on just about everything except cereal.
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