How to Eat Healthy




About: I'm a mom and a wife. I'm an old L.A. punk rocker. I quit the city life Sept '06 to start a hobby farm in rural Missouri. I love rummage and yard sales. My latest hobby is making alternative rag dolls.

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

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.

Step 2: Don't Cut Out Fat Just Choose Good Fats

To avoid hydrogenated oils read the label. Even if the product has 0 trans fats on the front, read the list of ingredients. Even if you think a product couldn’t have oils in it READ THE LABEL. Even ice cream has hydrogenated oil. Another way to cut hydrogenated oils out of your diet is to avoid eating out, especially fast food. Fast food has large amounts of trans fats. If you have to eat out avoid breads and fried foods. I prefer to buy food at a grocery store and eat in the park or my car, but that’s not possible for some people.

Do not cut fat out of your diet. Fats are necessary for good health. There are a lot of bodily functions that need fat to work properly. Your brain can’t function without fat. A child five years old and under should have plenty of good fats in their diet so that they have good brain growth and development. Ice cream and cookies do NOT have good fats.

Look for good fats.

Expeller pressed oils are good for you. They generally need to be refrigerated after opening. Don’t put olive oil in the refrigerator because it’ll get solid. Ask me how I know this!!

Fats from fish are good for you. They contain omega fatty acids which are very good for you.

Raw nuts have good fat.

Avocados are very fatty but luckily for us they also contain an appetite suppressant, so you get the fat but not too much of it.

Butter’s a better choice than most margarines but only eat small amounts of butter. If you eat pancakes with fresh fruit butter isn’t necessary. Potatoes can be whipped with some fat free broth and then butter isn’t needed. Some people think eating butter at all is bad for you. I’m just saying it’s a better choice than most margarines. Your body can digest butter but it can’t digest the hydrogenated fats in most margarines.

There is a lot that can and has been written about processed oils. I only hope I gave enough information to inspire people to stop eating hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oil.

Step 3: Eat Whole Grains and Unprocessed Legumes (beans, Peanut, Lentils, Etc):

Our bodies need grains. A big part of our diets should include grains and legumes.

Avoid eating white flour, white rice. They have been stripped of all the good stuff.

White flour doesn’t give the body the nutrients it needs to be healthy, in the digestive track it turns to goo because a lot of the fiber has been stripped away.

Whole grain flours have, well…. the whole grain, that’s redundant but it makes the point. Whole grains have the food value and fiber bodies need to stay healthy and working well.

It’s hard to talk about nutrition without mentioning the intestines because the intestines are a big part of getting nutrients into the body. I’ll be as delicate as possible while writing about intestines.

Whole grains help keep the intestines working well. Whole grain has fiber that clean the intestinal walls and keep people regular. Clean intestines extract more nutrients from food. Clean intestines help move food through better and eliminate everything better. With white flours things get gunked up in the intestines. White flour can get stuck to the lining and hinder the intestines ability to work well.

Why do we even have white flour? White flour is easy to work with and produces fluffy bread products. In it’s defense white flour makes baking with whole grains easier. It’s difficult to make yeast breads with only whole grain flour. Bakers add white flour to the whole grain flour to get enough gluten to get a good dough. So, white flour has it’s purpose but shouldn’t be eaten as the sole choice.

White rice was the cause of a beriberi outbreak in Asia many moons ago. Only the rich had contracted beriberi. The poor seemed immune to it. The poor couldn’t afford processed white rice and were stuck eating brown rice, but it was the B vitamins in the brown rice that prevented them from getting beriberi. Eat whole grain brown rice and stay healthy.

Processed beans , lentils, peanuts and the like are found in cans and jars. The high heat needed to can food destroys nutrients. Can food can also contain large amounts of salt, sugar and preservatives.

Choose steel cut oats over rolled oats because steel cut oats are the whole oat grain. It takes longer to cook but it’s has more nutrients. A large batch of steel cut oats can be cooked at one time and frozen in single serving portions. This makes eating a healthy breakfast possible on busy mornings.

Eat whole food and be healthy.

Step 4: Drastically Cut Down on Sugar

Sugars can be found on the list of ingredients. Look for sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, fructose… (look for the suffix -ose).

I don’t suggest cutting sugar out of your diet completely because sugar is in so many foods it‘s almost impossible to cut it out completely. Look for alternatives to white sugar such as rice, malt or barley syrups, evaporated cane juice, molasses, or honey. These are not great for your health but they’re a better choice.

There are no forms of refined sugar that are healthy to eat.

Sugar has empty calories. Don’t eat ice cream, candy, soda, sugar cereal, etc. Once you get away from sugar your palette will adjust to eating healthy and you won’t like the flavor of sugary food. That’s what happened to my family and me.

Sugar has a terrible effect on the body. Sugar is linked to heart disease, diabetes and kidney problems. It suppresses the immune system. It causes both hyperactivity and lethargy depending on the person. Sugar feeds the yeast in the intestines causing an overgrowth. This overgrowth leads to yeast infects, athletes foot, jock itch, and nail fungus just to name a few. Some breads need sugar to feed the yeast but your body doesn’t.

Do yourself a favor and kick the sugar habit. You’ll feel better and you’ll look better.

Do not substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar. Artificial sweeteners are really really bad for you and should never be consumed.

Life shouldn’t be a drudgery. Cut down on sugar but when your at a birthday party EAT SOME CAKE. Don’t drink the soda though it contains way too much sugar and phosphorus (which will leach out your calcium) and can cause cancer!!

Don’t avoid fruits and vegetable because they have fructose (fruit sugar).

Step 5: Eat Fruits and Vegetables!!!

Fruits and veggies are very healthy to eat. Most fruits and veggies contain good amounts of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps stop sugar cravings. Look for organic fruits and vegetables. They have more nutrients and are raise without artificial fertilizer or pesticides. They taste much better than their conventional counter part and when bought in season are a great value. Have at least one or two servings of fruits or veggies with every meal and as snacks to make sure your getting enough in your diet.

Juicing has become a popular way to get the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Both vegetable and fruit juices pack all the nutrients and none of the fiber so it’s possible to get a large dose of vitamins and minerals. I juice occasionally and I know there are people out there that juice medicinally. I know some but I don’t know enough about it to do juicing justice but I thought it would be a good idea to let people know that it’s available and anyone interested in knowing more could research it for themselves.

Step 6: Get Enough Protein

A body needs protein to be healthy.

Most Americans get more they need. The same is true for the British.

The average person needs about .37 grams per pound or .8 grams per kilogram of body weight.

It’s important to get enough protein but eating to much can be toxic.

To get protein from plants it’s important to eat complimentary foods to get a complete protein. Beans and rice together are a complete protein. Peanut butter on whole wheat bread is a complete protein. Peanuts are heavily sprayed with pesticides so choose only organic peanut products.

All animal products have protein but not all are healthy. Conventionally raise animal products should be avoided. Those animals are raised in horrible conditions and have all kinds of growth hormones and antibiotics administered to them. It’s bad for the animal and you don’t want that stuff inside you.

Most jerky, bacon, ham, lunch meats and sausages have sodium nitrite, which is a preservative and very bad for you. Most pickles also have sodium nitrite so avoid them, too.

Look for pasture raised or organic meat. Grass fed beef has more available protein than conventionally raised beef.

Free range chickens are better for you than conventionally raised chicken. Conventional chicken is mushy and has no flavor.

Eggs are a great source of protein. Look for hens fed a vegetarian diet. Free ranges eggs are great. Fertilized eggs have vitamin E. A healthy egg has an orange yolk and a sturdy shell.

Alternatively raised animals are treated well and the ranchers practice humane animal husbandry. Hopefully alternative farms will become the norm and conventional farms and the mean way they raise animals will be history.

Anyone choosing to cut meat products out of their diet needs to add B12 either by adding B12 fortified foods or taking supplements. A B12 deficiency can take years to rear it’s head. The effects of a B12 deficiency are anemia and nerve disorders including blindness. If you choose to be a vegan please get plenty of information about balancing your diet so you can stay healthy.

Step 7: Choose Organic When Possible

Eat as much organic food as your budget will allow. You will be cutting out a lot of pesticides and preservatives from your diet. You will be supporting healthy farming practices and supporting alternative farms. Don’t buy just any old organic foods. Look for the real deal. Look for labels that tell you the company believes in the whole philosophy of good stewardship toward Mother Earth and not just trying to make a buck. Don’t buy Ragu organic pasta sauce. Don’t buy organic Rice Krispies. Don’t buy into the myth that organic food isn’t any better. Google organic food and find out. It’s also a myth that organic foods are expensive. On top of being a good value for your dollar organic food fills you up sooner so you eat less food. Get in the habit of preparing as much of your own food as possible. Homemade bread is cheaper and delicious. Home cooked beans are cheap and can be made in large batches and frozen for later. Make your own hot cereal. Buy in bulk if it’s available. Only buy bulk foods from a store that sells lots of bulk food. You’ll get fresher food.

Step 8: Buy Local

The food you buy locally can be picked closer to being ripe so it’s got more food value. It hasn’t taken gallons of fuel to get it to you and it’s nice to support your own community.

Shop at your local farmer’s market. While at the grocers look for signs on produce that state it’s grown locally. Buy from local farmers. These farms can be found by searching or The best way to eat local is to grow it youself, you have more control over the food you eat if you grow it yourself.

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      48 Discussions


      7 years ago on Step 6

      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.


      7 years ago on Step 6

      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!


      8 years ago on Introduction

      Um, although carrots ARE healty, the remark about rabbits is inaccurate. Rabbits "prefer" the leaves, and rarely dig up roots and tubers.


      8 years ago on Introduction

      So is your cow's name moo or did you just say that 'cause he's a cow?


      8 years ago on Step 6

      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.


      9 years ago on Step 8

      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


      9 years ago on Step 8

       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. 

      1 reply

      Reply 9 years ago on Step 8

      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.


      9 years ago on Introduction

      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.


      9 years ago on Step 6

      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.


      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!!!

      9 replies

      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.


      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      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.


      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      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.


      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      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.


      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      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.


      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      But remember that sweeteners can be 1000x more potent than sugar, so you wouldn't be selling it in the same quantity.

      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