Sometimes the thought of switching over to a healthier lifestyle can seem… overwhelming to say the least.
There is so much conflicting information out there, it can get easy to get lost in the midst of it all.
Let’s try to take a step back for a moment, and get back to the heart of things.
Maybe healthy eating doesn’t have to be so overwhelming.
I feel like our society tends to promote this idea that, especially in the case of food, the more things you don’t eat, the better. I hear it all the time when people are talking about dieting or trying to loose weight.
“I can’t eat this… I’m on a diet.” or “I can’t eat that, my diet won’t allow it.” All the while longingly staring at the very thing they are denying themselves. Why do we like to torture ourselves so much? If we really want to be able to maintain a healthier lifestyle let’s first and foremost undo all this “I can’t” business.
When you tell yourself you can’t have something, you are setting the stage to feel deprived. If you are anything like me, I can only deprive myself of something for so long until I finally give in. Usually whenever this “giving in” occurs, I feel the need to make up for any amount of deprivation by over-eating whatever it is that I had been trying to cut out. This over-eating often causes me to feel really guilty, so I start all over again with trying to deprive myself.
So, let’s try and change this language here. What if, rather than setting these deprivation-based cycles with an “I can’t” mindset, we start our healthier lifestyle by recognizing that we are in control, deciding in each moment what we eat. Once we have a basic understanding of what is good for us, and what is not so good, we can begin to look at things and say, “I care about myself so much that I CHOOSE not to eat that.” Or, even better, “I care about myself, my body, and how I feel so much that rather than eating this thing that tends to make me feel bad and has no health benefits, I will eat this super nutritious thing that will both fuel and nourish my body and allow me to feel amazing.” I think we all deserve to feel amazing!
While there are certainly things in the Standard American Diet (SAD) that are not necessary, and may even be disease and inflammation promoting, we forget to talk about the myriad of amazing foods that are incredibly beneficial and that we actually SHOULD be eating!
So, what should we eat?
Let’s start with eating REAL, whole foods. Buying foods that look similar to how they would have if that had just been picked from the ground.
Adding in more vegetables into your diet.
Switching your meals to more plant-based. You can visit the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine for more information. Your plate should look something like this:
Keeping a variety of color on your plate.
Drinking lots and lots of water.
Allowing yourself to eat STARCH. See this video from Dr. McDougall for more information on starch. Starch can be simply based on whole foods, as in potatoes, sweet potatoes, quinoa, vegetables, rice, oats. Go for unprocessed forms when possible.
And, above all, ALLOW yourself to eat without feeling guilty or deprived. Being healthy is about recognizing that you are a beautiful and amazing individual who deserves to feel your absolute best. You don’t deserve to feel deprived and constantly in a state of lack, you should instead feel nourished, and in control of the choices you are making.
Obviously, there is plenty more to be said on how to start a healthier lifestyle. Some additional insight:
The book: Keep it Simple, Keep it Whole by Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman, MD
The film: Forks Over Knifes
Recommendations for Cancer Prevention
This salad looks amazing
This website has great recipes as well.
Let’s keep this conversation going. How do you make healthier lifestyle changes?