When I was first starting out on my journey to healthier eating, I was very overwhelmed. Just trying to figure out what “healthy” really meant was tricky. When I finally had some kind of idea what I felt was healthy, the thought of giving up most of the food that I had been eating for years was even more overwhelming. I knew I would feel better, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not walk away from these foods. I felt so WEAK! Why could I not just walk away? Afterall, it was just food. If I had known then what I know now, I would not have felt that way.
A large percentage of food that sits in our grocery stores is NOT food, but more of a food-like product.
These foods are made in labs and packed with refined sugar, bad fats, salt, food dyes and other additives. These ingredients are not like anything we would encounter in a human diet found in nature. It is important to realize that these ingredients make these food addictive.
Check out this blog from the Organic Authority about being addicted to processed foods:
Another important thing to understand, is that it will take your taste buds a little time to adjust to your new way of eating, so things won’t necessarily taste fantastic right away. When I finally gave up Dr. Pepper it took a few weeks, but one day I remember drinking some cold ice water and for the first time, maybe in my entire life, it tasted good! I mean, there were always those times during softball or when I was out in the summer heat, that water was nice and refreshing. This was different though. I wasn’t in the heat, I was in the air conditioning. Even though I still mix up a smoothie or some lemonade from time to time, I truly enjoy water as a refreshment option, where I used to only find it boring and tasteless.
Check out this blog from The Nourishing Gourmet about adjusting your taste buds:
So remember, many foods you are currently eating are unhealthy and addictive, but it can take your taste buds several days to adjust to a new way of eating.
Eating healthier when you have been eating a SAD (standard American diet) most, or maybe all, of your life is like pulling off a bandaid. Some people need to pull it off quickly, because pulling it off slowly is too painful to them. Other people want to pull it off very very slowly, knowing this will draw out the length of discomfort, however the pain level will never be as high. In the end, it does not matter HOW you went about it, the bandaid is still gone. So here are 20 examples of fairly simple changes you can start making today for those of you that pull your bandaids off slowly. You can do one a day, one a week, one every two weeks. Whatever works for YOU.
- Buy Some Fresh Free Range Farm Eggs Eggs from chicken that have been allowed to eat grass and bugs and roam free are much healthier for you than conventional store eggs. Find someone local or hit up the farmer’s market. Some grocery stores carry local eggs, but beware of impostors from big corporation made to look like farm eggs.
- Buy Local Buying local not only supports your community, but can also add health benefits when it comes to local food. The food is much fresher, because it did not have to travel long distances. Plus it tastes amazing!
- Try New Herbs & Spices If variety is the spice of life, then you better have a wide selection in your kitchen cabinet. Be bold and try a new spice or herb every few grocery trips or so. You should be able to find fresh herbs & spices at your local farmer’s market.
- Drink Some H20 Already drink water? Great! Drink some more. If you are a big time soda pop drinker, try drinking one glass of water for ever soda you have. As most of you probably know, adding squeezing some fresh lemon or orange juice into your water can get it a refreshing taste as well as give you some extra vitamin C.
- Swap a serving of candy for a serving of fruit. This one seems easy to me now that I haven’t had candy in so long. Fruit tastes so amazing now. It is so sweet! It is my candy. Start small, work your way bigger.
- Cook one more meal than normal at home. Again whatever you can make work for you, one more a day, one more a week, one every two week. It can be simple. Just cook more, because you will never learn to cook if you do not practice. And as always, the more you practice, the better you WILL get! Remember the less of your food that comes from a box, the better.
- Eat More Wild Caught Fish Fish is crazy good for you and tastes fantastic, so why not eat some more?! Fish is an excellent source of omega-3’s and if you are on a low budget you can take up fishing to keep costs low. Even one extra serving a week or even a month would be more than you are getting now. (Unless, of course, you suffer from an allergy.)
- Pay attention to your thoughts and mindframe. Really! If you are trying to lose weight, and you are always saying, or even just thinking, that you are fat, then you probably will be. However, if you think instead that you are a healthy person who has a few pounds to lose, then you will be much more likely to keep the weight off when you do lose it, as well as being able to be happy once you reach a healthy weight. If you want to stop drinking soda, but are always saying that you can’t quit soda, then you are right and you probably can’t….
- Cook Extra Even if you only cook once a week, if you double your recipe, then you will have 2 meals instead of one. Cooking extra saves time not only because you don’t have to cook another meal, but also because you do not have to clean up afterwards.
- Swap out your industrially raised beef for some grass-fed, or better yet, grass-finished beef. Yes, it is more expensive, but if you can not afford it all the time, you will still receive health benefits from eating it once a week or even once a month.If this is the first time you have heard the term “grass-finished” beef, please check out the link below for an explanation from Altai Meadows, a local farm that I get most of my beef from:
- Add another vegetable to your meal. If you do not eat any vegetables, then try adding one a day to your plate. If you eat some make sure you have one each meal. Or try for two each plate. Whatever your goal, just get more veggies! Keep in mind that corn is a grain, not a vegetable, and white potatoes are awesome, but don’t let that be the only “veggie” you are eating.
- Try a new veggie or fruit. With so many different fruits and vegetables to try from, why are you eating the same ones over and over? Parsnips, Kiwi, Brussel Sprouts, Star Fruit, Cherries, Asparagus, Mangoes, Bok Choy, Peaches, Kohlrabi, Blueberries, Leeks, the list goes on and on….
- Pick a recipe and perfect it. If you lack cooking skills like I use to, all you need is some practice. Pick one recipe you want to know how to cook. Make sure and cook it at least once a week until you feel like you could cook it in your sleep. Then move onto a new recipe. Before you know it you will have mastered an entire week’s worth of meals!
- Swap your industrial seed oils for coconut oil, animal fat, and grass-fed butter. Not all fat is created equal. Instead of using vegetable and seed oils, try using extra-virgin coconut oil, some grass-fed butter, or some animal fat for your cooking. It will leave you much more satisfied and is much healthier than the industrial seed oils that are used in the Standard American Diet.
- Add avocados to your regular diet. Avocados are an excellent source of good fat, plus they taste amazing! You can use them in place of mayonnaise in many recipes, add them to smoothies, eat them plain, make guacamole, make salad dressing, and lots of other ways. You do need to limit them if you are trying to lose weight, but that does not mean avoid completely. Remember, the fat in them will leave you feel full longer.
- Start reading labels. Even if you are not ready to make any changes to your diet, this is something that is pretty easy to start doing today. It does, of course, require a little bit of time, but it will help make you more aware of what you are actually putting into your body. You might be surprised at how many times you see certain ingredients, such as milk and wheat. The huge selection of supermarket items are actually made up of mainly just milk, corn, wheat, and soy. If you do not know what an ingredient is then a quick google search will tell you.
- Add cod liver oil to your regular diet. There are many sources that will confirm just how great cod liver oil is for you, probably including your grandma (or great-grandma depending on your age). It is not only an awesome source of long chain omega-3 fats EPA & DHA, but it is one of the highest dietary sources of vitamin A. It also has more vitamin D per unit weight than any other food. For generations, it was considered a sacred fertility and pregnancy food. If you like lemon, there is a kind we get from our local health food store Clover’s, which tastes just like lemon. I mix it into a coconut milk smoothie for my toddler and he loves it!
- Swap out your table salt for unrefined sea salt. Ditch that iodized salt and get some unrefined sea salt. The correct salt is not only good for you but necessary. Don’t be afraid of salt! I prefer the pink sea salt myself, but only for taste.
- Clean out your fridge often. If you currently cook at all, cleaning out your fridge often will help to ensure that you are eating your leftovers before they need to be thrown out.
- Read, research, educate, and experiment. Never take anyone’s word for anything (even mine!). Always continue trying to learn and educate yourself about what is a healthy diet. Experiment for yourself, but just keep in mind that some foods, such as gluten, take up to 15 days to get out of your system. Until then it may be hard to tell how they are truly affecting your body. Have an educated conversation with other people about it. Keep an open mind and be willing to step outside of your comfort zone!
Please remember, these are just ideas to get you going. These are only meant to be examples, and this is in no way the complete list of things you can start changing. There are tons of other things you could do as well. It is not necessary to do everything on the list at once, (although the more you change the quicker you should see results). The point of this blog post is simply to show you that it does not have to be all or nothing.
Just take it one bite at a time….