Practicing sustainable health

Have you given much thought to what it takes to create and sustain the delicate ecosystem of a healthy diet and lifestyle?

Chances are you think about your family’s health quite a lot and have some sort of system down, but there are still areas that don’t really work.

Maybe you eat pretty healthy, but you’re spending way more than you’d like at the store.

Or maybe you’re trying to do “all the right things,” but find yourself totally overwhelmed and consumed with the myriad of conflicting information on television, newsstands, and the internet.

Or maybe just the mere thought of what it would take to improve your family’s eating habits has you running for the hills!

I’ve become really interested in looking at all of the moving pieces of what it takes to get healthy and keep this lifestyle alive year after year. I coined the term “sustainable health” to define a way of eating that supports you, that you enjoy, that you can live with.

Sustainable health: A set of tools and practices adapted to a modern lifestyle that supports freedom from disease and illness.

To break it down, the word sustainable means “able to be maintained or kept going, as an action or process” and health means “soundness of body or mind; freedom from disease or ailment.”

By this definition, for an eating plan to be considered sustainable, it needs to cover these bases:

Quick & Easy:

Most people don’t have hours to cook each night or the skills to craft a fussy meal, so without quick and easy recipes and a clean, easy system, most people won’t eat meals at home, no matter how healthy. Eating out multiple times each week is not typically healthy or financially viable for most people, so having simple, healthy, tasty meal options is key.


No matter how healthy, if it tastes like cardboard, most people simply won’t eat it. There are so many healthy foods out there that taste awesome – it’s just a matter of finding them and learning to prepare them!


You can eat healthy, delicious food on a budget, despite much evidence to the contrary – you just need a strategy.

Healthy for you:

There is a unique set of foods that support the health of an individual. To the extent that you’re eating more of the foods that work for you and less of the ones that don’t, your diet will contribute to your long term health and well-being and reduce the risk of disease. This was covered in detail in my last Simple Mom post: “Is your ‘healthy’ diet making you sick, tired or fat?”

Here is a quick guide to support you on your journey towards sustainable health.

I hope this gives you a simple strategy to begin incorporating new sustainable health practices into your life. I’m in the process of writing “10 Steps to Sustainable Health,” which will go into detail on each of the topics mentioned above with additional resources and tools. Sign-up here to get your free copy as soon as it’s released.

What sustainable health practices have you taken on in your home?


Camille Macres is the founder of Recipe Rx, which creates recipes and meal plans perfectly customized to unique health profiles. Her latest projects include a new cookbook, Paleogasm, and a podcast, Food, Love & Transformation. Connect with her at Paleo Living on Facebook for daily recipes, inspiration, and trustworthy health information. Harnessing 10 years of experience as a professional chef for the Southern California elite and a deep understanding of the healing properties of food, Camille is committed to transforming the lives of 100 million people in her lifetime by shifting healthcare from the medicine cabinet to the pantry, the doctor's office to the garden.

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  1. Wonderful post! Our family could really use taking our healthy eating to the next step. We started with grass-fed meats and have continued from there.
    I think that the “scare tactic” worked well to get us eating better. After watching different documentaries and reading informational books we were sold. We went from a family looking for the cheap or easy way to feed us, to looking for the healthy way.
    I still find it humorous when people gawk at our spending more money on healthy food, and yet they spend obscene amounts on clothing, hobbies, etc. I have come to feel that if we “fuel” our bodies with proper nutrients, we will reap the benefits.

  2. Even making small changes one at a time really has helped us create a much healthier and frugal lifestyle overall. Of course there is always room for improvement and more changes we’d like to make in the future.

  3. Love this! We’ve been working on it (albeit slowly) but I do see a difference! We get in a rut when I get tired, then we eat whatever, which makes me more tired, and the cycle begins. I do find I have a hard time finding breakfast and lunch ideas so we don’t eat the same thing everyday. There are tons of dinner plans out there, but not much for the other two meals. Any suggestions? I’d pay for a meal plan for breakfast and dinner! It sounds lazy, but I’m preggo with our 3rd child right now and the hubby works long hours, so sitting down to figure all that out isn’t at the top of my to do list these days. I do subscribe to an excellent dinner plan over at Nourished Kitchen which I love; just need to find something like that for the rest of the day!

  4. I’m looking forward to your ebook or posts on the above topics. The handle on my frypan broke off and I was going to replace it with a cast iron one. It will be great to have more information about the different types of cookware before I spend money.

  5. I like most of your suggestions. Don’t get the cookware one, though. Also, coffee has health benefits (like dark chocolate and red wine), obviously in limited quantities. I roast my own coffee and really, really enjoy my daily two cups of cappuccino. The store bought stuff tastes like dishwater, if you once tasted freshly roasted coffee from a single origin. I think it is important to ENJOY food (like e.g. the French or Italian do), because then you will want to eat good quality food and won’t need to stuff yourself with junk. The French and Italian have no obesity problem either, even though they eat lots of high calorie foods.

  6. These are great ways to stay healthy on a budget. Thanks! 🙂

  7. All great reminders. We try to stick to these things ‘in theory’ and yet I know our family gets off track at times or in ruts of eating the same kinds of meals. I hate going to the grocery store. Am glad for our new friends since we moved – they’re organic farmers – and the fresh food is heavenly. They’ve been so generous and I don’t take any of it for granted!

  8. This is really great. I especially like all the simple suggestions. Definitely something I can do! Thanks, I really needed this today.

  9. Camille,
    Love your term “sustainable health”. The problem so many folks face is feeling that there’s an onerous prescription for good health. Yes, it takes some time and effort to transition from bad habits and patterns – as with any bad habit. But the beautiful thing about real healthy living and eating is that it’s what your body really craves – you just need to reconnect with the good feeling a good meal brings and the energy exercise gives you. Once you’re there, it’s a joy to live this way – not a burden. And to get there – the ONLY and best way is step by step, small incremental changes like the ones you suggest. Great post.

  10. I definitely agree with the whole fat dairy and getting rid of the man-made health foods like fat free goods. Fat free is really gross and why not just have the good stuff, feel fuller, and eat less?

  11. Hey there! What is this titanium cookware? This is the first I’ve heard of it. What brand? Where do you get it? How much? Keep up the good work!

  12. Heidi Jenkins says:

    For a person who has a crazy day schedule like me, I really needed this article to give me some guidance. I rarely have many hours to spend on cooking and therefore the idea of a quick and easy meal will help me a great deal.

  13. Yes, sustainable is the key word for us. We’re taking baby steps toward eating healthier but it’s easy to get off track. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts in more detail.

  14. Theresa says:

    I wanted to sign up for your 10 steps to Sustainable Health but when I clicked the link it took me to a page with a pop up advertisement and then after I closed that I’m still not sure where to sign up. Can you sign me up or direct me? Thanks!

  15. My journey has been baby steps since 2007. I’m very happy with where we are now even though we aren’t perfect. I am totally blessed to be a stay-at-home mom so I can devote a lot of time to teaching myself how to do all of these healthy recipes. Sadly, I had to teach myself from books (I know, “boo hoo”) because there aren’t any real foodies who are actually teaching people how to cook, at least not in my area. I am fixin’ to change that. I am gearing up to start teaching whole foods cooking lessons in my area, in my kitchen. What I hear from friends is that they just do not know how to cook — period.

    Anyway, I hope that this comment will inspire other experienced read food cooks (not even professional cooks) to reach out and help other people in their area learn to cook by offering in-home cooking lessons.

  16. does “whole foods vitamin supplement” refer to the Whole Food store’s brand?

    • No. It means the vitamins come from real food instead of being manmade if you will… I use the brand RAW one a day multivitamin and I believe it fits the bill 🙂

  17. I have lots of friends doing “cleanses”. Can someone please tell me the true purpose of it? Doesn’t our liver serve that function? I’m looking for a reason other than drop 5 pounds in 2 days. Thanks for your help!

  18. This term really gets at what has recently become my goal: “Sustainable Health.” I have struggled with injury and low energy for a while now, and I’ve realized that my focus has been wrong. I am totally on board with this focus and love how you’ve summed it up. Looking forward to more!

  19. i am doing a lot of that chart but it seems like my budget and location prevent going all out. There are not any csa programs here and i know there must be a way to fit the meat thing and a couple other areas into our budget but i need help! 🙂

  20. Dear Camille,
    What a positive message and helpful strategy! I try to cook for my family following these guidelines and had to retrain my thinking a bit! I used to think home-cooked healthy meals would take a lot more time, but with a little prep immediately following my trip to the grocery store (washing greens, cutting up veggies), I can choose healthy options for my family as quickly as I can reach for a granola bar from the cupboard! Thank you! Sincerely, Elizabeth Lane

  21. Great post. Thanks

  22. Maybe you eat pretty healthy, but you’re spending way more than you’d like at the store.

  23. Do you have suggestions for planning out dinner for the week, or for what the best simultaneously cheap and healthy foods to buy at the store are? These are really good starting tips, but a few more specific examples would be helpful. Thanks for the read, the chart is great.

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