Simple Health | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Simple Health

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Fresh, real foods are the key to a healthy diet.

It's been a while since we made our resolutions for 2011. Good health and wholesome eating habits are goals that many of us share, but, no doubt, some of our early enthusiasm disappeared throughout January and February, when freezing weather taunted us, and the couch and comfort eating were more attractive alternatives to exercising and proper nutrition.

With spring's arrival and summer's approach, it's a good opportunity to resume those healthy eating habits. Our bodies, minds and spirits are thankful when we eat well.

Healthy eating can be fairly simple if you follow this one principle: Eat real food. What is real food? There is little mystery to it. It's food that is mostly unprocessed, with pronounceable and understandable ingredients. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Shop the outer edge of the grocery store. For the most part, you'll find the healthiest, least-processed foods around the perimeter of the grocery store, not in the aisles. This is where you'll find the fresh veggies, fresh meat, dairy products and fresh bread.

Cook for yourself whenever possible. Even if cooking isn't your forte, learning a few simple recipes that you can manage will make a world of difference for your eating habits. For example, a simple pasta dish with a basic homemade cheese or tomato sauce and a few veggies and spices thrown in is far better for you than that sodium-laced frozen fettuccine alfredo TV dinner.

Choose simple foods with ingredients you can identify. I don't fully understand the ingredients list of Doritos, but I do know that potato slices fried in a mix of butter and olive oil are delicious, easy to make and much less hazardous to my health.

Know your farmers. Consider shopping at your local farmers' market. By actually talking to the farmers who grow your food, you can be sure that what you are eating is fresh, homegrown and healthy.

Enjoy what you eat. Attitude makes a significant difference when it comes to health. In our meals, fruits and vegetables have become a great treat, and we much prefer them as snacks to processed fare. Even when I make dessert, I make it with the freshest ingredients possible, not with fake or processed ones.

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