I have had numerous friends, clients, and family members ask me about what they should be eating. I usually don’t know what to say. Where do you even start? Everyone’s dietary needs are different depending on their health issues and personal tastes. It boils down to two very basic concepts. 1. Get out of your own way and come to terms with your food mentality. 2. Listen to your body and find out which foods are healthy for you in particular.
Step One: Wrapping your brain around healthy eating.
Do you want to eat healthier but have some self-limiting beliefs holding you back? These beliefs might be:
Eating healthily is expensive and inconvenient. Healthy foods don’t taste good. I don’t have time. My family will never change their diet. My kids and husband are too picky.
As long as you believe and repeat these statements to yourself and others, then you are making your goal of healthier eating much harder, if not impossible than it needs to be and you are depriving yourself of the simplest route to health and wellness.
You are worth it! No one else is going to take care of you as you can! If you are waiting for someone to give you the permission to make yourself a priority, you could be waiting your whole life. Lots of people, mostly women, internalize the idea that they have to put themselves last to be a good wife, mother, friend, etc. If you are attached to the idea of being a martyr for your whole life, I would suggest doing some introspective thinking and journaling on this concept. If it is truly who you want to be, then go for it.
One thing you might want to consider is the empty cup concept. To pour into another’s cup, you have to keep refilling your own cup. As a caregiver, lover, worker you have to give of yourself a lot. When you start to feel emptied out this becomes more and more difficult. Most martyr types that I have known (including myself) become bitter, angry and walk around with a victim mentality. They are victims of themselves!
My kids are such slobs! My boss takes me for granted.
If we stop and think about these statements, we realize that our kids are slobs because we clean up after them instead of teaching and then insisting that they clean up after themselves. Our boss takes us for granted because we didn’t even ask for the raise or say no when requested to work late hours. The truth is your kids will be grateful later that you took the time to teach them to take care of themselves and their environment. Your boss will respect you for having boundaries and guts for asking for compensation for what your services are worth. Being your own advocate will take some effort and maybe even some bravery initially but is totally worth it in the long run.
Yes, kids are messy and bosses can be jerks but remember you have the power to teach people how to treat you. It starts with how you treat yourself.
What does this have to do with healthy eating? Everything! When we take complete responsibility for our choices, it eliminates the feelings of powerlessness. If I choose to eat chocolate cake, it is not because I went to a birthday party and had to. It was because I made the choice to eat that cake and I made sure I enjoyed every bite! The sugar/gluten induced stomach ache I will probably get later is a consequence that I accept because that was my choice. Sometimes that choice is fast-food or deep dish pizza, and I am ok with that. I then usually follow up with healthier choices to try to counter-act my indulgences. Life is a constant stream of risk/reward analysis.
Fiscally healthy food is less expensive. You can get a lot more carrots and celery for your dollar than you can Fruit Loops. Enough said.
When my husband suggests a quick detour through the fast-food drive-through I often simply say, “I am making my health a priority.” We then grab some sushi or a quick fresh juice at Juice It instead. If he insists that he wants a burger and fries, I suggest that we go to both places. After all, he is free to make his own food choices as well. If my kids, husband or friends are less than gracious about my choices, I try not to take it personally and stick to my convictions. Sometimes those convictions are fries.
Affirmations to adopt:
I am making my health a priority.
Food nourishes my body and soul.
I enjoy preparing health-giving meals.
Real food tastes better than junk food.
Step Two: What to eat.
Most people skip the first step and go straight to, “What should I be eating?” Of course, there are a million different answers to that and the “experts” change their minds on a yearly basis of what we should all be eating. I am going to keep this very simple.