Create sustainable health by taking it back to the basics.
We’ve all heard our elders begin a story with “When I was young…” followed by a list of ways that life has drastically changed over the years. From advancements in technology to modifying our livestock and produce to grow bigger quicker, life is vastly different than it was 50 years ago.
Today, everything is about wanting more with less effort. More often than not, we greet our grandparents’ tales of “picking fresh berries in the field” and “walking more than a mile to school” with a yawn. But, could all these changes be contributing to new allergies and chronic illnesses (think diabetes, heart disease, etc.) that are now running rampant?
Maybe our grandparents and their generation were doing things right. Let’s see if we can uncover some truth as we dive in a little deeper.
Don’t overthink how to be healthy.
I (Kalie) spent years watching my grandmother impart healthy wisdom to her family. In fact, it’s what inspired the creation of FULLforLife in the first place.
In trying to make life more convenient, the simple approach our previous generations strived to live by has fallen by the wayside. We’re now bombarded by mixed messages from companies claiming to have the biggest and best, all while trying to figure out what’s healthy and the best option for YOU.
It’s overwhelming, especially when it comes to what we should eat. So, here’s my suggestion, and it’s something I feel so strongly and passionate about: Don’t overthink it! Keep it simple and go back to the basics.
Simple Ways to Take it Back to the Basics and Create a Healthy, Thriving Lifestyle
Habit 1. Shop for real food (or as we like to call them, S.L.O.W. foods).
For thousands of years, (healthy) people strived to eat S.L.O.W: Seasonal, Local, Organic (or sustainable), Whole foods. They’re the only foods that our grandmother’s grandmother would have eaten (and recognized).
When finding local produce isn’t possible, be intentional while grocery shopping at large chain stores. Stick to the perimeter of the store as much as possible to find the simplest forms of all your favorite foods. Think about it: All the highly processed foods in boxes, cans and jars are in the middle aisles of EVERY grocery store.
If buying organic isn’t always financially feasible, check out EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists to learn when organic matters most.
Habit 2. Make meals from scratch.
If we’re going to “get back to the basics,” we cannot remove cooking from the real food equation. That’s why you’ll find so many simple recipes here on the blog. Our goal is to teach you how to cook with simple ingredients (like our ancestors did) and show you just how enjoyable real food is.
If the idea of finding time to head into the kitchen and cook is overwhelming, we completely understand. However, when you make your own meals, you have control over what goes into them and how they’re prepared (hello, less salt, less butter, real ingredients and better health!).
Keep it SIMPLE throughout the week. We’re talking 30-minute meals with limited ingredients. This allows you to quickly prepare food so you can nourish your body with simple ingredients.
Habit 3. Food prep doesn’t have to be complicated or only for the weekends.
This is probably one of the most helpful pieces of advice I’ve ever received. Create a menu for the week using foods that pair well together and can be used in a variety of ways. Whenever you see an opportunity to bulk prep, take it! Then, so you don’t get tired of eating the same meal day in and day out, come up with new and exciting ways to give your leftovers a meal makeover.
What foods can you prepare and use multiple times throughout the week in other dishes? Some examples:
Is grilled chicken on the menu for Monday? Make an extra pound for salads, wraps or as a quick dinner later in the week.
If you’re spontaneously cooking rice, could you make a bigger batch and serve some with eggs tomorrow morning?
Making jambalaya? Create an entirely different dinner tomorrow by stuffing peppers with the leftovers.
If you’re roasting veggies for dinner, could you make extra and then toss them on top of salads, in eggs or as a side in a pinch?
If you’ve checked out the FULLforLife recipes, you’ve probably already noticed that most of them include different ways to reinvent your leftovers so you’re not stuck eating the same thing two or three nights in row. Take advantage of this anytime you’re planning and preparing meals!
Habit 5. Use your kitchen as a hub for health and happiness.
Mealtime was once used as an opportunity to bond, so why don’t we take advantage of that now? Over the last 50 years, mealtime has changed dramatically. The idea of preparing and eating each meal as a family has slowly morphed into eating whatever and whenever it’s most convenient. However, inviting your family into the kitchen has so many benefits:
Empower them to feel comfortable cooking with whole foods.
Encourage them to be more adventurous with food (sayonara complaints and picky eaters).
Ease the stress of you having to do it all on your own.
Spend more time with your family.
But, one of the biggest benefits is that your family’s support plays a HUGE role in your healthy success. Bring your family into the kitchen and have a little whole food fun!
Habit 6. Place importance on moving (every minute counts!).
A walk, 5 minutes of fitness or a few squats in the kitchen count. Simply put, move whenever possible and then celebrate it! Make a conscious effort to not be sedentary. Movement and exercise have countless benefits, including promoting better blood flow, burning fat and calories, and stimulating proper digestion. Simply put, movement promotes full body health. The best part is, we can all keep moving in our own ways, regardless of age. My grandmother used to stay active by walking a few blocks to the post office every day, rather than driving.
Habit 7. If you want positivity in your life, start by showing some gratitude.
I never quite understood how my grandmother maintained such a positive outlook on life until we found her journal (after her passing), which she faithfully wrote in every day. As I began reading, I noticed a common theme – gratitude. Each entry was surrounded by one of life’s greatest lessons:
When you’re thankful for what you have, rather than sulking and wishing for something bigger and better, a cycle of endless gratitude and well-being ensues. It can take you to a whole new level of awareness and launch you toward becoming more mindful of everything you have going for you. When you look at each day with an “attitude of gratitude,” your glass won’t just be full, it’ll overflow!
Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be complicated.
Adopting a more traditional way of eating (and living) is the most simple, yet significant, way to nurture you and your family’s health and well-being, as well as that of our precious planet.
Bring it back to the basics (the way our grandmother’s grandmother did!). Eat S.L.O.W. foods, get the people around you on board and look at food as a chance to fuel your body. Move a few minutes a day and focus on creating a positive mindset.
You don’t need to aim for perfection, pick one thing to tweak and when that change sticks, add another. Before you know it, your new habits will become a lifestyle that transforms your mindset, health and without a doubt, your happiness.