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Discrete Changes

A few suggestions for your diet just to make you think…the little things do make a difference.

Are you consuming those fancy waters?
Fortified waters, although tasty, can come with big doses of calories. And if you’re really running low on your recommended intake of vitamins, a multi might work better. If you’re tempted by fancy waters because you hate plain H2O, try this trick from Jessica Ganzer, a registered dietitian in Arlington, Va. Fill a pitcher with water, throw in some lemon, lime, and orange slices, and refrigerate for a tasty, cheap drink. Just can’t resist flavored or vitamin water? Choose calorie-free.

Only buying organic foods?

 
If you’re tossing organic produce into your grocery cart with wild abandon, the final bill might be wince-worthy—you’ll typically spend 30% to 50% more than you would on the conventional type. But there’s a real difference: About three-quarters of traditionally grown produce show traces of pesticides, while only one in four organic fruits and veggies do, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Splurge on organic produce with soft skin or that you eat skin and all (like apples, peaches, bell peppers, strawberries, pears, and lettuce), but save on foods that are fairly pesticide-free thanks to their tougher outer layers (like bananas, kiwifruit, onions, mangoes, pineapples, and broccoli). Wash all items well with soap, water, and a brush, but skip the fancy veggie and fruit washes; the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) don’t recommend them.

Your best bet for the environment and your health? Shop at your local farmers market for close-to-home foods that require less shipping, which means fewer greenhouse gases and lower costs—even for organics.

Organic choices in the meat and diary aisles are less straightforward. Beef, poultry, eggs, and milk rarely cop to pesticides, but conventional producers sometimes use antibiotics and hormones on their animals. Although less than 1% of meat shows traces of antibiotics later, there’s some evidence that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are more common in conventionally produced cuts than in organic products. You’ll pay as much as 100% more for organic meat and dairy, but if you’re a big meat eater or milk drinker it may be worth the investment.

Here’s how to decode the stickers on your food: A five-digit number starting with nine means it’s organic; a four-digit number means it’s conventionally grown.

 

-Trainer Cat Heitz