I walked into a store yesterday- a premium store which was named synonymously to mean “natural foods”. As I looked around the store I was stunned to see that there was anything but natural foods at that store. It was the antithesis of anything natural. The store was lit up beautifully to display all the packaged goods most of which were imported. Packaged food is processed food which usually has a long shelf life because of preservatives and additives.  Even though they are incredibly convenient, relying on them could significantly reduce the nutritional quotient of your meals. Besides avoiding packaged foods, there are a few other things you can do to kick up the nutrient quotient of the meals in your house:1. Whole grainWherever possible make the switch to whole grains. I admit, this is not easy. We have gotten so used to eating refined grains all the time that even a switch to brown rice has become difficult. Slowly start substituting whole grains in your diet one small portion at a time. Switch to whole grain Atta- if you use Maida in your cooking, minimise it as much as possible- transition by doing a half and half and slowly get the Maida out of your house. The more discoloured and ugly and non-white your grains are, the better LOL.[bmi_calculator cmp_url="https://zenparent.in/parenting/4-best-weighing-scales-under-rs-1000" cmp_url_text="Find the Perfect Weighing Machine for You" pre_text="Start Getting Fit and Monitor Your Progress with a Weighing Machine"]2. Stock up on Beans Beans are a powerhouse of protein, minerals and vitamins. They can be boiled and used in salads or as a subzi. Slowly build a habit of soaking at least one bean a day. Grocery shop for a variety of beans like black eyed peas, Kabuli china, kala channa, rajma, dried peas, soya beans. Whole moong beans can be sprouted and used in a salad. 3. Weekend soup If you are buying ready to mix packaged soups, stop it now. It is nothing but salted water with a pretence of having nutritious ingredients. At the end of every week, you will invariably have some left over vegetables in your fridge. Throw them all together in the pressure cooker with some tomatoes. Pressure cook them and grind them up and make it into a weekly soup. Great for nutrition and cleans out your fridge too!


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4. Focus on sugar I once tried a 21-day sugar free diet. That diet made me aware of how much sugar I consume. Starting with the sugar in the morning coffee, the over processed cereal, the cookies, the post meal sweets, even the ketchup and the salad dressing! it was just all adding up. Read your labels- substitute honey wherever you can and just build the habit of thinking twice before adding white refined sugar to anything- milkshakes, cereal.etc.  Substitute it with fruits, raisins or dates.5. Go Desi! My family had gotten used to the bread, cereal routine. My kids loved the sugary cereals and I loved the convenience of eating toast or cereal. But off late, after reading the benefits of Indian breakfasts, I am trying to do Indian breakfasts like idli, dosa, poha, dahlia etc. alteast a few times a week if not all days. Sandwich bread or white bread especially is quite low on the nutrition scale! So try to go back to those roots of eating healthy breakfasts!