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Here's a quick and simple way to get started eating healthy by learning how to read labels and make good food choices. I hope to inspire people to eat better and spark a desire to get better informed about food.

If you're already on a special diet please continue to follow your diet.

I chose to take pictures at Wal-Mart. This is NOT an endorsement of Wal-Mart. I chose Wal-Mart because nearly everyone has access to a Wal-Mart and they carry both organic and conventional food. My health food store doesn't carry conventional food so I couldn't take pictures there.

I no longer moniter this Instructable.

Step 1: Do not eat hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils

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Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils are oils that have hydrogen atoms added to give it a higher melting point and longer shelf life. The process makes liquid fats into solid or semi-solid fats. It’s the processing of good oils into hydrogenated fats that produces the trans fatty acids. The human body has no way of handling trans fats making them act like a poison in our bodies. Trans fats cause all kinds of problems such as heart disease and diabetes to name just two. The body stores trans fats because it can’t process it. This leads to weight gain and a whole other list of problems.

The food industry uses hydrogenated oil because it’s a cheap way to add texture and taste to processed foods.

If you’ve seen a can of Crisco you’ve seen a lump of hydrogenated oil. Do not use Crisco or most margarines.

murf733 years ago
By the way, if you are a vegan and are worried about vitamin B12 deficiencies, a really good source of all your vitamin B's is nutritional yeast (brewer's yeast). Just throw a spoonful into soup, sprinkle some on a salad, sprinkle some on your sandwich, and voila! You are set! Besides, your body only needs about 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12, so if you have some nutritional yeast once in a while you should be fine.
murf733 years ago
Despite what people may think, protein isn't really as big of a deal as people make it. Almost every food you eat has protein, so as long as you consume enough calories then you should be fine. Seriously, has anyone actually known someone with a "protein deficiency"? You might hear about it in poor, developing countries, but those people aren't getting enough calories in general! As long as you eat a variety of foods (whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables and nuts) then it would be virtually impossible to NOT get sufficient protein.
Also, it isn't necessary to combine proteins. Your body is going to break down the protein you eat into amino acids and again, it you eat a varied diet then you are naturally going to get all the amino acids that you need.
But other than that, this article is great! It's always nice to see other people trying to spread some common sense. Keep it up!
Goodhart4 years ago
Um, although carrots ARE healty, the remark about rabbits is inaccurate. Rabbits "prefer" the leaves, and rarely dig up roots and tubers.
bclinton4 years ago
So is your cow's name moo or did you just say that 'cause he's a cow?
scotdancer4 years ago
I'm enjoying your posts, but chickens are not vegetarian, they eat insects, and each other when kept in cages : (, so to be fed a totally vegetarian diet, they must be kept in batteries, in the same poor conditions as the large chicken farms.
I live in Dominican Republic and there are not many organic food producers here, so if I want to eat organic I need to buy imported food, which I do but it makes my choice of life quite expensive :s
kiffakitty5 years ago
 You have to watch out though, sometimes at Farmers Markets theres a lot of people selling non-organic food that you can get at the grocery store. I live in Southern California and you can definitely tell that some of the food they are selling they either bought from the supermarket and then marketed up the price or they actually work for the large corporations that sell fruit to super markets and that it is actually the same product. Try to see what things are in season in your area, If one stand is selling peaches in the winter when everyone else is selling parsnips or whatever, then save your money and just buy the peaches from the super market. Farmers Markets are expensive because it is supposed to be home grown, but there are a lot of scams too. Also when shopping for meat or milk realize that although they are feeding the animals organic corn and may not use antibiotics, the animals still live in the same horrible conditions as non-organic livestock. 
oh alot of people got scammed like that the omish were just buying like a can of green beans for 2.43 and were selling it for 3.56.
tspeas5 years ago
A great alternative to sugar is the Blue Agave nectar. It can be found on the web. It's a low glycemic sweetener made from a plant nectar. It doesn't give the sugar rush and it taste great. It 25% sweeter than sugar. I use it in drinks as well on yogurts and waffles.
Veganlady5 years ago
It isn't necessary to combine whole grains and legumes in the same meal to form a complete protein.  You can, for example, eat whole wheat toast in the morning, then eat lentil soup for dinner and still create a full protein.  Pretty cool eh.
A note on organic meat or chicken: It's frightfully expensive compared to conventional products. But look, just look at the way animals are treated when raised conventionally, and compare that to the way they're treated on organic farms. Seriously, if you have to eat meat (and I do because I love it), do so in a responsible way: Not too much or often, but with a good conscience. Plus, supermarket-bought meat often shrinks because a lot of its weight is made up of water which is injected into the meat (true!) - so on that account, a good piece of meat might be a bit more expensive, but it doesn't evaporate in your pan...
Also, the CO2-footprint of meat is very, very large, even for organic meat. It takes a lot of energy, water and other resources to raise those animals and proceed the meat until it turns up in the supermarket. One more reason to cut down on your meat-eating...
Your local (organic?) farmer might be another good source for quality meat, and you know where it came from, what he does or doesn't do to the animals, and it's not transported long ways to you. It also strengthens your community if you buy locally.
I'll second your hint to avoid eating out. This doesn't only count for fast food joints, but also for other very cheap eateries: When you pay (an example that would hold true for most European cities) 4 Euros for a chicken curry dish, guess at the quality of the ingredients.
If you do want (or need) to eat out, check for restaurants with (the following are all and/or options) regional, home-grown, organic, fresh produce and a fair value-for-money-relation. A small menu with only up to 10 items or a "dish of the day" tableau usually hints at an owner / chef who likes to buy good produce in small amounts rather than have tons of freezer bag food in his attic. A good chef also won't mind telling you where the produce comes from or what's in it. 
Most of the times you won't find these restaurants down the big shopping streets. A good place to ask for hints might be local farmer's markets or even organic food stores.
Good dining out normally starts at about 8-10 Euros for vegetarian or 12-15 Euros for meat dishes (in Germany), any lower for a normal sized 1-course dinner plate and you can be almost sure that the produce is not good. Rather eat out less and then spend a decent amount on decent food!
kfr1sby5 years ago
Thanks for this...the rabbit wearing glasses annotation on the carrot photo reminded me of my grandma. She used to say exactly that to me all the time.
mason01905 years ago
What kind of butter is that?
ultrabob6 years ago
acheide6 years ago
If it has a label listing ingredients, it means it has been processed, which means it has reduced value. A simple rule we follow is to use unprocessed food as much as possible. It feels good! Thanks for encouraging healthy living.
Great photos--your Moo cow is so cute!
MacLean6 years ago
Dont eat sugar substitutes or really anything with aspartame Aspartame, when heated to your body temperature becomes a poison which is used to preserve bombs or something like that, Who would say 11 calories and put poison in their body instead?
flio1916 years ago
That type of Organic Valley milk isn't exactly the best for you, although they don't use pesticides or herbicides, its "Ultra-Pasteurized," which means it's heated to a high temperature for a long period of time. This takes out a LOT of minerals and vitamins that you want from milk.

Go with the milk that's the least homogenized (pasteurized is fine: it kills the bacteria that makes the milk safe to drink. but, if you're buying locally, which everyone should do: then don't get it pasteurized). It might go bad faster, but once you get used to the real taste of milk (nd this IS the real taste of milk) it's quite healthy for you.

There is Organic Valley NON-HOMOGENIZED, Cream on top milk, but I haven't seen that much around. Strauss has a cream on top milk, and so does Stonyfield, which is the type I get.

Buy locally! And read the book Animal Vegetable Miracle: It'll change your life!
minerug6 years ago
Sugar is also a poison, as it dehydrates you when consumed excessively
julibelle6 years ago
Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants. eat slowly, try not to eat alone. Avoid food products containing ingredients that are unfamiliar, unpronounceable or more than five in number. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. Pay more. Eat less. Cook. these are few entries in Michael Pollan's "Eater's Manifesto". If one uses it as a guide one doesn't need to have these oddly charged/righteous/heated exchanges on chemicals & nutrients...read Marion Nestle or M Pollan on the politics/ecomonics of food as it relates to we first worlders.... Enjoy what you eat & with who you eat. Remember who works hardest to get this food to you. Be grateful for your plate...
dizzytired7 years ago
Very interesting guide. Just for fun if anyone is interested there was a great documentary film a few years back called "The Real Dirt on Farmer John". Really fun. With a handle like punkrockfarmer, I think I'd definitely recommend it to ya.
punkrockfarmer (author)  dizzytired7 years ago
I saw The Real Dirt on Farmer John and you're absolutely right it's really fun to watch. I loved it.
basicdesign7 years ago
This is good info, more or less what I found myself.
Add two things:
vegs have important role in mechanical functions of the digestion process; it bulks up the digestive bowl with fibers. That's especially important with intestinal digestion problems (excretions that are too hard or too liquid often get brought back to normal just by eating more vegs).
Second, there's a big problem with eating complete grain (= with its envelop) that's not grown organically, b/c most of the chemicals are stored in the envelop of the grain. But yes, white flour is really not good either.
Hence the importance of getting organized with even only a couple of neighbours to order organic food in bulks at cost price if there's no organic shop at decent prices around you.
The places to order from are easily found on the net, but try to source your orders as locally as possible.
Good luck.
punkrockfarmer (author)  basicdesign7 years ago
Thanks for the great information. I hope it helps people see the great advantage to eating healthy. Organic is so important to our health and the health of our planet.
Also, bulk order's less shocking quantities of packaging :-)
surfreak7 years ago
"Our bodies need grains. A big part of our diets should include grains and legumes."


We need macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals for survival. There is absolutely no reason that grains and legumes MUST be in our diets.



We evolved on, and lived for thousands of years on, diets containing no grains or legumes.

While yes, whole grains are "better" than processed or bleached flours, breads and such, they are definitely not a vital part of our diets.
punkrockfarmer (author)  surfreak7 years ago
According to one of the footnotes (#146) on the Wikipedia article: “The Paleolithic diet is not primarily a weight-loss programme. Rather, it is part of a theoretical (THEORETICAL!!) template for health promotion (1, 25). It has not been proven to prolong life…” The Paleolithic people had a high infant mortality which could have been lowered if they had access to more whole grains and legumes, which have many of the vitamins and minerals that infants need for good health and brain development. Maybe if the Paleolithic people had access to more grains and legumes they would have had good brain development and could have been smart enough to eat more whole grains and legumes. Whole grains and legumes contain antioxidants, omega fatty acids, calcium, zinc, protein, and B vitamins. These are just a few of the beneficial nutrients they provide us for optimum health. There’s the one line from the same article: “However, seeds, such as grains and beans, were rarely eaten and never in large quantities on a daily basis. BUT according to that article: “Large seeded legumes were part of the human diet long before the Neolithic agricultural revolution as evident from archaeobotanical finds from the Mousterian layers of Kebara Cave, in Israel.[137] Moreover, recent evidence indicates that humans processed and consumed wild cereal grains as far back as 23,000 years ago in the Upper Paleolithic.[138]” So did they or did they not eat grains and legumes?? Eating few or no grains and legumes doesn’t necessarily mean that they were healthy because they ate few grains and legumes. They could have had less diseases because they were very active. The more active a person is, generally speaking, the healthier a person is, except maybe Jim Fixx (an attempt at dark humor). I would encourage everyone to research food and find what’s best for them. I wrote my How to Eat Healthy because this is what I’ve found after years of study. I haven’t been sick in 6 years and I feel great. Same goes for my family.
"Lower Paleolithic (c. 2.6 Ma - 100,000 ka) (genus Homo) Olduwan (2.6 - 1.8 Ma) earliest stone tools Acheulean (1.7 - 0.1 Ma) Controlled fire, earliest large game hunting Clactonian (0.3 - 0.2 Ma) Middle Paleolithic (300,000 - 30,000 ka) (Neanderthal, H. sapiens) earliest evidence of behavioral modernity (art and intentional burials) earliest undisputed evidence of cooking food migration beyond Africa). Mousterian (300 - 30 ka) Aterian (82 ka) Upper Paleolithic(50,000 - 10,000 ka) (behavioral modernity: abundant artwork, fully developed language) Baradostian (36 ka) Châtelperronian (35 - 29 ka) Aurignacian (32 - 26 ka) Gravettian (28 - 22 ka) Solutrean (21 - 17 ka) Magdalenian (18 - 10 ka) Hamburg (14 ka) Ahrensberg (13 ka) Swiderian (10 ka) " The Upper Paleolithic denotes the last 40,000 years or so of the 2 million year+ long Paleolithic period. Our ancestors didn't begin consuming grains and legumes on any scale until 23,000 years ago, a relatively short time in an evolutionary context. I'm going to spare you the argument for the Paleo diet ;). Look up lectins in grains and legumes if you're interested. My point was merely to note that grains and legumes are not a necessity in a healthy diet. It is entirely possible to obtain all of the necessary nutrients without consuming grains or legumes.
Babyshoes7 years ago
This is definitely the best of the 'eat healthy' instructables that I have seen so far and is pretty comprehensive. Well done!
Hoopajoo7 years ago
>>The best way to eat local is to grow it yourself, you have more control over the food you eat if you grow it yourself. Amen to that! I've grown my own in the spring and summer the past 5 years and the supermarkets can not beat the flavor of home-grown. You eat better, eat cheaper, save trips to the grocer and get exercise.