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The Junk Food Junkie’s Guide to Making Healthier Choices

How to be healthy: tips from a former junk food fanatic

Hi, my name is Amanda and I am addicted to junk food.

Transitioning from junk food to a healthy lifestyle is hard! I get it, and I’ve been there. My whole adult life, until recently, consisted of poor choices. I went out of my way to avoid anything that resembled exercise. And I don’t even want to admit how many times I counted a giant helping of chips and dip as dinner.

It tasted good, it was easy, I was busy, I was young, I didn’t care. But once I reached my late 20s, my once-fast metabolism screeched to a halt and on came the pounds. I wanted to stop overeating unhealthy foods.

I always knew I should take better care of my body, but the truth is I was lazy. Once I got married, I suddenly felt a new responsibility to take care of myself. I wanted to set a good example for future children and provide better meals for my husband.

When I started a new job here at Swanson Health Products, I was forced to become familiar with the supplement industry. I was exposed to information, brands and products every single day, and I couldn’t ignore it any longer.

But where in the world would I even start this change of lifestyle? I found that small, positive steps in the right direction was key.

Six Steps to Transitioning to a Healthier Lifestyle

Here are a few tips to help you stay motivated to achieve your health goals.

6 Steps to transitioning to a healthier lifestyle

Making Meaningful Changes

To start, I dusted off my pilates mat that hadn’t been used since college and gave exercise another go. Granted it took me literally penciling it into my schedule to make it happen, but I did it, and it felt great. I was so invigorated by the physical activity that before I knew it, I found myself actually wanting to keep it up.

I started putting some healthier snacks on my employee order. Turns out, it’s a total myth that healthy food tastes bad. I found some delicious alternatives that both my husband and I really love.

I started meal planning, which forced me to make better food choices, and also saves money and time. Instead of following a specific “diet,” I tried my hand at clean eating (which, pretty much means eating whole, fresh foods and cutting out overly processed items). Wouldn’t you know, this was actually pretty easy!

Starting Supplements

Adding supplements to my diet was a little more challenging. I had no clue where to begin. I talked to my co-workers and poked around on the Internet. I had to identify my own unique needs, deficiencies and lifestyle. Things such as gender, weight, stress and activity level, diet, and even location play a role in what you might need in a supplement regimen.

If you’re at a loss, a great place to start is the Swanson Health Library, where you can find information on different supplements (for instance: 7 Basic Supplements for Good Health, Choosing a Women’s Health Supplement, Choosing a Multivitamin & Mineral Complex) and our health concern pages to identify specific supplements to help reach your health goals.

To make things easier on myself, I opted for a multivitamin gummy (my favorite is the Nordic Naturals Nordic Berries, but there are so many options out there!) and took half the recommended dose. I also added one more supplement at the recommendation of my doctor.

Be an Informed Consumer

My biggest advice when it comes to supplementing is to become an informed consumer.

Get this: “According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are the leading causes of death in the United States today – a staggering 310,000 to 580,000 deaths per year,” Linda Bartholomay, the Sanford Health Diabetes Center and Nutrition Manager, told us. “The American diet is too low in fruits & vegetables, whole grains, beans/legumes and too high in sugar, salt and fat (especially saturated and trans fats). The benefits of improving the quality of our nation’s diet are great, as are the benefits of increasing activity.”

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But that doesn’t mean you need to completely overhaul your diet. Start small. Add one extra serving of veggies for a while. Even just walking 30 minutes a few days a week can significantly improve your health. 

Take it a step further and get to know product labels and ingredients. Read up on fillers and additives, identify harmful and helpful ingredients, know possible side effects and recommended dosages, look up company profiles and product reviews. You can never know too much about what you’re putting in your body, so dive in and empower yourself with knowledge.

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Food Preparation is Key

“My number one tip when it comes to eating healthier during the week is food prep," Lindsay Livingston, registered dietitian and blogger at The Lean Green Bean told us. "If you can spend even just one hour on the weekend chopping some vegetables, cooking a batch of quinoa or rice, hard boiling some eggs and cooking some chicken, it will make it a lot easier to throw together healthy meals during the week when you’re busy and tired.”

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Thanks to some of these small steps, now I can finally say with confidence: My name is Amanda, and I am a recovering junk food addict. But I’m glad to report that the other side is not so bad. Actually, it’s pretty awesome. 

Seven Resources to Help Get You Started

-Clean Eating 101

-Understanding Ingredients on Food Labels

-Food Label or Warning Label: Top 10 Worst Processed Foods

-USDA announces crack-down on companies deceptively using 'organic' in brand names

-25 Things Fast Food Restaurants Don’t Want You To Know

-12 Disgusting and Dangerous Ingredients You’re Eating

-Hungry Girl

Swanson also has several product specialists on staff that would be happy to find some recommendations for you. Call or chat with us any time you have questions!

 

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