As a recent college graduate, my eating habits haven’t always been the best. It wasn’t too long ago that late night snacks, excessive amounts of sugar and caffeine, and daily takeout were staples in my diet. Despite my tendencies toward greasy comfort foods, I always had the desire to eat better. I’ve dabbled with being a vegetarian in the past, tried more plant-based foods, upped my vegetable intake, and I’ve even made a conscious effort to cook more at home, but nothing ever seemed to stick. I always seemed to fall back onto the heavy, meat-centric meals that left me feeling lethargic and overfull.
When I got the opportunity to work on our new Nourish to Thrive program, something about the new Food Microsteps really started to click for me. I used to think that eating well meant throwing out everything in your pantry and starting from scratch, but these Microsteps felt so achievable that I was encouraged to try.
I started by eating at least one fermented food a day. I started drinking kombucha almost daily, switched to sourdough toast for breakfast, and added yogurt with probiotics to my smoothies or to marinate chicken for dinner. Then I added a prebiotic to one meal a day. This Microstep felt so simple because I was already eating prebiotics without realizing it. Foods like beans, berries, onions, garlic, and cabbage are really easy to add into your diet. I have a few blackberries with my breakfast and I always cook with onion and garlic at dinnertime. Between the influx of probiotics and prebiotics, my gut health has improved dramatically.
I’ve also become a huge fan of anti-inflammatories. Sugar is in almost everything we eat and anti-inflammatories are essential for limiting your body’s negative response to them. My family has a history of cancer and my partner’s family has a history of diabetes, so I’ve started to realize the value of cutting down on unnecessary sugars for our long-term health. And it’s easier than you’d think to find anti-inflammatories. When cooking I add spices like turmeric, ginger, and cumin to almost everything. I love to top my lunch or dinner with sesame seeds or avocado, or add a side of nuts to stabilize any sugar intake.
After making these changes, I feel more energized and satisfied by my meals and I don’t feel the need to snack as often. Better yet, after seeing improvements to my well-being so quickly, I feel more empowered to take control of my own nutrition moving forward.