If you hate doctors, you’re not alone. Many people dislike going to the doctor and find the experience to be uncomfortable, and more yet simply cannot afford to see a doctor on a whim. Whatever your reason for avoiding the doctor is, it’s important to learn how to take care of yourself and stay healthy when you don’t have access to either a medical doctor or a professional nutritionist. To make this easier, here’s what you need to know so that you can stay healthy and nutritious on your own.
Detox Your Pantry
It’s hard to stave away the temptation to eat unhealthy food if you have a bunch looking at you every time you open your fridge or pantry. To remove this temptation, it’s crucial to spend time cleaning out and removing all the unhealthy food that you have in your kitchen. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to throw everything out, and you shouldn’t shy away from treating yourself every now and then, but it’s important to keep limited stock on hand.
When cleaning out your pantry, cupboards, fridge, and freezer, think critically about what is in each food item. Something that you may have thought was healthy may actually end up having an exuberant amount of sugar in it. Take the time to go through the ingredients carefully to ensure that you know exactly what is in the food that you’re putting into your body.
Additives to Avoid
When going through your pantry, there are some food additives that you may want to stay away from, and take care to remove food items that contain them. Some of the most common additives that you should avoid include:
- Artificial Food Coloring: Artificial food coloring is used in a lot of food items, and there have been concerns growing around it in recent years. Specific food dyes such as Blue 1, Yellow 5 and 6, and Red 40 have even been associated with allergic reactions in some people. While processed foods are the most likely to contain artificial colors, they should be consumed in moderation and phased out whenever possible in favor of healthier alternatives.
- Sodium Nitrite: Sodium nitrite is found in a lot of processed meats as a preservative that helps prevent bacterial growth. However, when exposed to amino acids and high heat, the nitrites can turn into nitrosamine, a compound that can negatively impact health. One study even found a link between high consumption of nitrites and an increased risk of stomach cancer. It’s advised that you avoid these nitrites whenever possible and substitute them for cheap nutritious vegetarian meals instead.
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup: This additive is one that many people have heard of, but may not fully understand. Created from corn and regularly found in juice, soda, cereals, snacks, and candy, high-fructose corn syrup can cause significant issues such as weight gain and diabetes when consumed in frequent quantities. When cleaning out your pantry, it’s a good idea to toss anything with this additive and instead look for healthier alternatives that can still provide a sweet kick.
- Artificial Sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners are commonly used in diet sodas and other beverages to increase sweetness without increasing calorie content. Some of the most common types include aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium. Some of these sweeteners, such as aspartame, have been linked to headaches in certain people and should be limited when possible.
- Sodium Benzoate: This additive is used in salad dressings, pickles, fruit juices, carbonated drinks, and condiments. Despite being found in so many foods and recognized as generally safe by the FDA, some studies have found links connecting it to increased ADHD symptoms, and, combined with vitamin C, it can convert to benzene, a compound that may also be associated with the development of some cancers. Be sure to carefully check your food labels for this additive, as it should rarely — if ever — be used to make cheap nutritious vegetarian meals.
- Trans Fat: Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat that has undergone hydrogenation to help increase shelf life and consistency. However, despite being common, studies have linked eating foods with high trans fat to an increase in heart disease risk. In addition to this, trans fats have also been linked to diabetes, especially in individuals with diets high in trans fat. Removing processed foods from your diet is one of the best ways to decrease your exposure to trans fat, and you can always find alternatives such as swapping out vegetable oils for coconut oils or margarine for butter.
- Artificial Flavoring: Many foods today include artificial flavors to make them taste a specific way without using whole ingredients. However, studies have found that these artificial flavors could have negative effects on individual health. One study even found that red blood cell production in rats was reduced significantly after they had been fed artificially flavored food for a week. Similarly, certain flavors like strawberry and chocolate were even found to have a toxic effect on the rat’s bone marrow cells. While more research does need to be done, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid artificial flavors when possible.
Fresh Is Best
Eating healthy and cooking cheap nutritious vegetarian meals is easier when you have access to fresh foods from local farms. During the summer and fall, you should look for local farmer’s markets in your area to stock up on fruits and vegetables that are locally grown. Not only does this help support local farmers, but the fruits and vegetables can be much more nutritious as they haven’t been transported a long distance in refrigerated trailers. If you don’t have access to farmer’s markets in your area, you may consider growing some of your own fruits and vegetables if you have space. This is a great way to incorporate fresh ingredients, and you’ll have much more control over how they are grown.
When shopping at your local grocer for fruits and vegetables, some will be better than others. When possible, try to only pick fruits and vegetables that are in season. This means that they will be fresher than those that are out of season. If you can’t find the fresh produce you need, frozen produce can be used to make cheap nutritious vegetarian meals, as frozen produce still has a lot of its nutritional value. However, canned fruits and vegetables lose a lot of their nutrition during the canning process, so it’s best to try and stay clear of those when possible.
Learn Your Sensitivities
When restocking your kitchen in preparation to start making cheap nutritious meals, it’s worth taking note of any sensitivities that you may have. For instance, if you feel unwell after eating gluten, you don’t need a gluten allergy doctor to tell you that you should probably avoid or limit your gluten consumption. Similarly, if you have gastrointestinal problems, a vegetarian low FODMAP diet may be something to consider and it involves limiting foods that could upset your stomach, such as some fruits and vegetables, lactose products, artificial sweeteners, and high-fructose corn syrup.
Learning your sensitivities now can help you plan better meals in the future so that you can feel better overall.
Balanced Meal Planning
When creating cheap nutritious vegetarian meals, it’s important to create a balanced and delicious meal plan that can help avoid the temptation that is pizza deliveries. Consider picking one day out of the week to cook a selection of meals that you can store or freeze to eat later in the week. Meal planning like this has gained popularity in recent years, and it is one creative way to ensure that you have a delicious meal every day of the week without needing to spend time cooking every day.
If you’re planning on preparing a lot of meals for your whole family, it may be worth investing in a separate freeze where you can store your frozen homemade meals with some bagged ice cubes. This will ensure that your meals will stay as frozen as possible, even in the event of a power outage. Nothing is worse than preparing a week’s worth of meals only to have them all lost to an unpreventable blackout.
When preparing cheap nutritious vegetarian meals, it’s important to not let yourself fall into monotony, as this is a sure-fire way to end up falling back into unhealthy habits. Be on the lookout for tasty recipes and consider joining online recipe groups where members can share their favorite meal ideas. This can ensure that you always have something new and tasty lined up to prevent yourself from getting into a rut by eating the same thing too many weeks in a row.
Staying healthy by taking advantage of cheap nutritious vegetarian meals is a huge step in the right direction, but it is only one fraction of the healthy living puzzle. It’s very easy to eat healthily but undo all of your hard work through other unhealthy habits such as smoking, lack of exercise, and lack of sleep. To make your nutritious meals count, it’s important to look critically at all of your habits so that you can keep the doctor at bay for as long as possible.
If you’re struggling with smoking, switching to low nicotine or nicotine-free electronic cigs may be something to consider. This can give you something to smoke, while gradually allowing you to ween off of your nicotine dependence. If you’re planning on buying vaping supplies, ask your local vape shop about how they can mix your vape juice with a custom level of nicotine so that you can gradually step down, so that the withdrawal won’t be as intense.
Similarly, while eating healthily, you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting enough exercise, especially if you have an underlying condition or a predisposition for specific conditions, such as diabetes. If you’re not a fan of heading to the gym, you may want to consider lower-intensity activities such as golf. Checking out your local golf courses is a great way to get out of your house and take advantage of some light exercise without worrying about pushing yourself too hard. That said, if you do wish to head to your local gym or invest in exercise equipment for your home, it’s worth taking the time to learn how to properly workout. Improper form or lifting too much is an easy way to end up needing immediate medical care, and some injuries could be quite debilitating. Regardless of the activities you choose, remember to start slowly and gradually work your way up to more strenuous activities.
Get Everyone Involved
Taking care of yourself is a great priority, but you should also consider getting the whole family involved. If you have children, getting them involved with cooking and prepping cheap nutritious vegetarian meals is one way to teach them the importance of healthy eating at a young age. You could even consider letting everyone pick a recipe for one week out of the month and having everyone vote for which one is their favorite and then adding that one to your own family cookbook. This is a great way to get everyone involved in a fun and competitive way and it can also allow you to be able to experience new cheap nutritious vegetarian meals every week.
If you hate the doctor and want to take control of staying healthy on your own, keep these tips in mind so that you can take better care of your body and your overall health. While there are a lot of unhealthy foods that are better suited to a cesspool than the human body, eating healthy, nutritious meals is possible when you learn what to avoid and how to take advantage of natural, fresh options.