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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Getting Back to Healthy Eating

Feb 28, 2018 08:43PM
by gLou Stevens

In the early 1800s, most Americans ate what they grew or hunted locally. Corn and beans were common, along with pork. In northern states, cows provided milk, butter and beef, while in the south, where cattle were less common, venison and other game provided meat. Preserving food in 1815, before the era of refrigeration, required smoking, drying or salting meat. Vegetables were kept in a root cellar or pickled. Canning, which started in the early 1800s, lost favor for many years, then came back into vogue in the early 1900s.

By the beginning of the 20th century, American diets varied based on ethnicity and location. Porridge, flapjacks, mutton or a heart-stopping amount of home-cured bacon was the norm, along with vegetables grown in a backyard garden. Cornbread, biscuits and loaves of bread were also the staples, but again, it depended upon what part of the country you lived in. Fish, more so than any other meat, was a staple for those who lived near lakes, rivers and streams. Canned foods became the norm for urban dwellers, while suburbanites, country folks, still enjoyed fresh foods from their gardens.

America is a food mecca—a melting pot for culinary and ethnic foods from every corner of the globe. However, with this large assortment of goodies, it is important to learn what foods help to promote health and increase one’s ability to live longer. We’ve gone from growing our own crops in small backyard gardens, with little to no pesticides, to mass production of chemically treated foods. We see an increase in fast food restaurants, unhealthy snacks and a generation of obese children and young adults, who are prone to have poor eating habits and who don’t exercise.

To combat this physical epidemic, the scientific community researched and discovered that the way our ancestors ate was really healthier. So, let’s take a look at the list of the foods they deem as healthier and more nutritional. A heart-healthy diet is one that includes:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat dairy products like yogurt and cheese
  • Skinless poultry
  • Lots of fish
  • Nuts and beans
  • Non-tropical vegetable oils, such as olive, corn, peanut and safflower oils
Salmon and other fish, like trout and herring, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower the chances of heart disease and may help with high blood pressure. Organic foods are taking center stage in helping us “get back to basics” by eating foods that are grown without harmful chemicals and pesticides.

If you’ve chosen to eat healthier, but not necessarily gone vegan, it is important to learn how to be a better shopper by choosing fresh vegetables, healthier recipes and replacing red meat with chicken or fish. Of course, this includes adding a variety of beans and legumes to weekly meal planning while reducing white sugar and white bread. Then, it is important to be diligent to stay on this right track and continue to eat healthy, even when dining out or visiting family.

Only you can create a healthy lifestyle by eating the foods to increase your longevity.

gLou Stevens is the founder of Optimum Health & Wellness Complimentary Alternative Therapies. For more information, visit


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