How to Eat Healthy

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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.
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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.

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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!
Goodhart3 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.
tspeas4 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.
UltraMagnus6 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
punkrockfarmer (author)  UltraMagnus6 years ago
Saccharin is a byproduct of the coal industry. It is made from coal tar. In the late 1970s the Canadian Health Department did a study on the effects of saccharin. It fed lab mice high doses of saccharin, 5% of body weight. The food industry started a media blitz claiming people would have to consume 800 diet sodas a day to equal the amount given to the lab mice. That’s true but not the whole truth. The effects of saccharin are accumulative. According to the FDA 1 in 2500 people will develop cancer of the bladder if they drink just one 12 ounce can of diet soda a day. That’s a lot of people. How can people choose if they aren’t given the facts? How many people would quit drinking saccharin if it was widely known that it’s made from coal tar? And how many more would cut saccharin out of their diets if they knew it’s effects were accumulative? A study done at Purdue University shows that eating foods with artificial sweetener causes weight gain. It seems that the taste buds signal the brain that high calories are coming when the artificial sweetener is eaten. The calories never arrive and that fouls brain functioning. The brain then signals for more food. The findings at Purdue are supported by the findings published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, which found that not only did people who drank diet soft drinks have a higher risk for obesity they also had a higher risk for metabolic syndrome when compared to those that used natural sweeteners. Metabolic syndrome causes abnormal fat, high blood pressure and resistance to insulin all of which lead to heart disease. These were the finds at a study done at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, as well. These findings are good enough for me. As for the quality and goodness of organics, don’t even get me started!!!
Little clarification here:  I'm a saccharine and aspartame hater myself, but when you state false information such as "How many people would quit drinking saccharin if it was widely known that it’s made from coal tar?" it makes you sound like a conspiracy theorist, and people will stop listening to you.

True that saccharine was accidentally "invented" by a guy attempting to work with some coal tar derivatives, but that isn't how it's made.  Producers use anthranilic acid (AKA Vitamin L) combined with sulfur dioxide, chlorine, ammonia, and nitrous acid to create saccharine.  No coal tar.

Naturally, consuming this combination of chemicals is less than healthy for you, and has been proven to cause cancer.  I won't even get into the health problems caused by aspartame, or the fact that even the Nutra-Sweet company will admit that it breaks down to formaldehyde, ethyl alcohol, and a couple other nasties when heated to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (might I point out that the body is 98.6 degrees?).

Not flaming, just informing.
I'll meekly put my hand up here and state that most artificial sweeteners (at least in the UK, not sure about USA so pardon me there) are sweetened with aspartame. Also consider that the damage is lower than the damage from the consumption of sugar the sweetener replaces.
I've read horrendous things about aspartame. I'd rather eat sugar, i think.
ahh a breath of fresh air. most people fail to understand that all of the artificial sweeteners are made by multi-million dollar mega corporations. money makes right in this age, cigarettes are still legal, think about it.
you do realise that sugar is also a multi million dollar industry? right? a lot of the "research" on how "bad" artificial sweeteners are is sponsored by big sugar.
sugar makes some money, but what is sugar but a few dollars a pound while aspartame is much more per pound, I think 4x as much. Sodium chloride is a molecular compond, hence "chloride". Pool water is "chlorinated" being that there are chlorine molecules mix with water molecules in a physical solution. splenda is a sugar alcohol chloride, the chlorine in splenda is part of a molecule, changing the physical properties of chlorine. People make the same mistake when the measure the sodium content of food by the salt content.
baneat sypher6 years ago
But remember that sweeteners can be 1000x more potent than sugar, so you wouldn't be selling it in the same quantity.
sypher sypher6 years ago

a link to the failed image, the image is of the splenda molecule, and to clear thing up more, my previous comment was for educational purposes.
I highly doubt any person is going to eat 5% of their body weight in saccharin, and rat's biology is quite different, and far more simplistic than a humans. not to mention, since the out of date study you quoted, quite a few studies have been done that produced varying results, but no study has ever shown a clear causal relationship in humans between consumption at normal levels and any health risks. the only studies that showed any evidence were procedurally flawed animal studies using unfathomably high dosages. and your quotes of the FDA are totally out of date, In 1991 they withdrew their proposal to ban it, and in 2000 the U.S. National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences recommended it be removed from the list of suspected human carcinogens. As for studies linking artificial sweeteners to eating more, animal studies are intrinsically flawed, because the human brain is far more complex. As for any studies in humans, it is quite conceivable that the correlation only exists simply because the people that drink diet soda have obviously already noticed that they are putting on weight before they switch from normal soda, but don't modify all the other high calorie food they eat. You know the sort of people that order 3 big macs for themselves and a diet soda..... lol
punkrockfarmer (author)  UltraMagnus6 years ago
These studies are recent studies and it doesn’t take a f***ing genius to know that eating by products of the coal industry is not a healthy thing to do. A multitude of products on the shelves of American stores and most medicines in our pharmacies have been tested on animals. This is cruel but animals have proven that many products are safe enough for the FDA standards (idiots that they are). You can’t have it both ways either animal testing is fairly accurate or deeply flawed. Obviously, none of this makes any sense to you and I really don’t care if it does. Go eat all the coal tar you please LOL. BTW Splenda is made with chlorine maybe you’d like to just swig that from your laundry room because it’s not made with the same chlorine that naturally occurs in food. LOL Like I said it doesn’t take a f***ing genius…..
Sodium chloride, with out it we would be dead, understand some chemistry first please. Hype is a very dangerous force.
punkrockfarmer (author)  sypher6 years ago
Hyperbole!!! And inaccurate!! Sodium Chloride is not the same as chlorine and sodium as separate molecules. We’d all be dead without H2O, as well but hydrogen and oxygen as separate chemicals is not the same as H2O. Chlorine isn't table salt anymore than hydrogen is water. When writing about Splenda I didn’t mean that chlorine is a different chemical when derived from different sources. I simply meant that it isn’t a natural product. Johnson and Johnson has marketed Splenda as coming from sugar. J&J would like the consumer to believe sucralose is a sugar but it’s not, it’s a patented product produced from chlorine molecules. Sugar doesn’t contain chlorine molecules. I know that it doesn’t mean much to some people but when a product is derived from natural sources it usually includes trace elements that are beneficial to humans. A good example is table salt (sodium chloride). It can be produced in a lab by combining sodium and chlorine molecules. That’s all it would have in it and would add a salty flavor to food. It would work in the body in the same way as a counterpart to potassium. What it wouldn’t have is the 80 trace elements that are found in sea salt. The trace elements in sea salt help maintain a healthy body. If a person is interested in simply flavoring food eat regular table salt but if a person is interested in eating a healthier diet then sea salt would be a better choice. The same is true for sweeteners. A naturally dehydrated cane sugar is better than chemically processed cane sugar. Grain sweeteners are an even better choice. Agave is still a better choice but eating fruit is the best way to ingest sugar. Artificial sweeteners are the worst way to sweeten food but they will add a sweet flavor.
Nice response. :)
Thanks, Dude!! And stay cool!!
k_o UltraMagnus6 years ago
i agree completely and side with punkrockfarmer against you ultramagnus. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOURE TALKING ABOUT
The canning process itself requires cooking the crap out of food - which is why canned meat is pretty unpalatable. You lose a lot of nutrients in canning. Go frozen before canned.
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?
ultrabob5 years ago
acheide5 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 & 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...
dizzytired6 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.
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