Reading an article about eating a healthy, alkaline diet is one thing; actually making the switch to eating alkaline is another matter entirely. Many people who resolve to correct their body’s pH through an alkaline diet start feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or deprived when they begin.
But is it really all that difficult to start eating healthy? Beginners should take heart: the best way to achieve long-term success is to start slowly and make small, simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. Remember: your objective is to reach a better acid/alkaline balance, and experience the long-term health benefits that come when you can maintain a more alkaline body pH.
It’s best to begin your new alkaline lifestyle by keeping in mind a few key principles, and following them one “baby step” at a time, day by day. So read on and discover five easy steps you can put into action now—at your own pace!
1. Focus on Adding Good Foods
At the beginning, don’t think too much about the acidic foods you will need to limit or avoid. (You probably still have quite of few of them in your pantry and refrigerator.) Instead, stay focused on the good foods you are adding.
Look through the lists of alkaline foods in Give Yourself a Boost with Alkaline Foods that Heal and The Detailed List of Alkaline Foods, and pick out several to add to your shopping list. Concentrate mainly on veggies you could use in salads, smoothies, soups, stir-fries or snacks. You don’t even need a new alkaline diet recipe book to get started, although there are some really good ones.
To begin eating more alkaline, just think about adding alkaline foods to balance out the acid foods you eat. If you want to eat pizza, for example, have one with lots of veggie toppings and eat a super-sized salad with it. Or, if you really want dessert, add some extra servings of non-starchy veggies to your meal.
Of course, you may be wondering if you will have room in your stomach for all those extra vegetables. You will, because you will eat the veggies first, and you will naturally have less room for the acid-forming foods. Just let the good foods crowd out the bad ones! It’s a very simple concept, and easy to put into practice.
2. Remember to Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water is crucial for your digestive and detoxification systems. Drink a minimum of two liters per day; the standard recommendation for optimal health is to drink half your body weight in ounces. Since two liters is approximately 70 ounces, that would be the recommended intake of water for someone who weighed 140 pounds.
Water quality is important, and there are differing opinions among health experts regarding whether or not drinking high alkaline water is beneficial. Because water with a pH above 8.0 is almost never found in nature, filtered tap water is probably the best way to go to ensure a fair amount of purification, without much expense. A good place to start would be with a water-filter pitcher that is designed to remove harmful chemicals from tap water. Since bottled waters are usually either acidic, or full of toxins absorbed from their disposable plastic containers, they are often not the best choice.
For flavor, adding fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice to filtered tap water is always alkalizing and refreshing. In the morning, or any time you feel like something hot, you could enjoy a cup of herbal tea, such as peppermint, Rooibos, or a caffeine-free chai blend. Most herbal teas are both alkalizing and hydrating.
3. Get Acquainted with More Greens
If you take a look at the At-A-Glance Acid/Alkaline Food List, you’ll notice that the ‘Highly Alkaline’ and ‘Moderately Alkaline’ columns are largely made up of leafy greens. Green foods are extremely important to maintaining a correct body pH because of their high vitamin and mineral content.
In fact, a 2014 study conducted by William Paterson University, and published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, concluded that the top 15 “powerhouse” foods–out of 47 fruits and vegetables analyzed–were leafy greens! (Watercress, my personal favorite, was #1!)
Forty-one fruits and vegetables made the WPU “powerhouse” list, and 38 of the 41 were alkaline foods. (The only three acid-forming foods to make the list were strawberries, blackberries and oranges.)
These fruits and vegetables were awarded their “powerhouse” status because they provide, on average, at least 10% of the recommended daily intake of 17 nutrients proven to prevent and reverse chronic disease.
In case you’re curious, here are those top 15 “powerhouse” leafy greens, in order of their nutrient density:
- Watercress – 100%
- Chinese cabbage – 91.99%
- Chard – 89.27%
- Beet greens – 87.08%
- Spinach – 86.43%
- Chicory – 73.36%
- Leaf lettuce – 70.73%
- Parsley – 65.59%
- Romaine lettuce – 63.48%
- Collard greens – 62.49%
- Turnip greens – 62.12%
- Mustard greens – 61.39%
- Endive – 60.44%
- Chive – 54.80%
- Kale – 49.07%
(View source for a complete list of all 41 “powerhouse” fruits and veggies.)
There are several great ways to get more of these greens into your meals, but try to have at least one good-sized salad every day, and a green smoothie several times a week. You could also add baby spinach leaves, for example, to pasta sauces, soups or omelets. Just be sure to keep thinking “leafy green.”
4. Plan Ahead for the Week
Perhaps the most common cause of failing to stick with the alkaline diet is a lack of preparation. The best of good intentions can be derailed when you haven’t planned ahead and stocked up on alkaline foods.
I’m sure you won’t have any trouble imagining how quickly you’d revert to eating a plateful of acid-forming foods if you were tired and hungry and that’s all you seemed to have left in your kitchen. But if you’d taken the time over the weekend to plan meals and stock up on the right staples, you wouldn’t have to face that situation.
So spend a little time each week deciding on your week’s menus. Make out your shopping list and then lay in your supply of alkaline groceries so that you won’t be waylaid by hunger and/or fatigue.
Another good idea when you’re planning is to remember to include some of your favorite healthy snacks on the list. Some great standbys are celery sticks with almond butter, or mini sweet peppers with hummus. Alkaline snack bars are also a good option to keep with you when you’re on-the-go or at work.
5. Supplement Wisely
For most people who are changing from an acidic to an alkaline diet, it’s a good idea to add a few dietary supplements to help speed up the process. Some commonly recommended ones are:
- Organic Green Drinks – These powdered drink mixes contain organically-grown grasses and vegetables that are super alkalizing. They are chock full of easily absorbed vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, and are a rich source of enzymes, fiber, phytonutrients, and chlorophyll.
- Coconut Oil – Besides using it for cooking, it’s great to make it a point to consume at least a couple of teaspoons of this amazing Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil daily. MCT oils are vital for your liver, brain, skin and metabolism, plus they have been linked to improvements in cardiovascular health. The best types of coconut oil are those labeled as “virgin.”
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – In our western culture, it’s nearly impossible to consume anywhere near the amount of omega-3 fatty acids required by the body, even if you ate fatty fish every single day! A daily omega-3 supplement, plus the use of flax oil in your diet, can help to offset fatty acid imbalances in your body.
Keep in mind, always, that supplements do not “fix” a bad diet—they can only “supplement” or enhance what you are eating—so making good alkaline food choices is top priority.
Take Your First Steps
OK, what are you waiting for? Go ahead: choose your menus and make your shopping list for at least the next few days. Make sure you have access to good, filtered drinking water. Look for alkaline recipes that appeal to you, and focus on adding lots of greens to your meals. Work some coconut oil into your diet.
As you get started, please leave any comments or questions about alkaline eating below. Don’t let excuses or “unknowns” keep you from taking action. Move ahead with the confidence that as you start eating healthy, beginners’ baby steps will turn into a sure-footed, rewarding journey to a more energized you.
Sources for this article include:
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.