How to Improve Your Eating Habits Without Losing Your Sanity!

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Diets! I hate them, you hate them...
we all hate them! Yet, it's a multi-billion dollar industry.
That's a very profitable bottom line for goods and services that make people cringe with disgust at the very idea of suffering through them.
In my opinion, the only reason anyone would empty their wallets just to suffer the deprivation of a diet is because they don't know how to eat properly.
I'm going to guide you through some easy steps that will make improving your unhealthy eating habits more tolerable and enjoyable! Step #1 - Change Your Mind The most important step of all and this is how it works.
In order to not feel the guilt and dread when it comes to meal time, it's helpful to gain an understanding and appreciation for what food is meant to do.
Food exists to fuel us.
It's purpose is to give us the right amount of energy to get us through our daily grind and nourish our systems.
When on a "diet", the mentality is all about restriction.
What does restriction do? It creates an even more intense desire to want what we can't have.
It leads to feelings of resentment, insecurity, lack and of course rebellion.
Unfortunately...
the ones we end up rebelling against are ourselves and the cycle starts again.
Feeling the lack then leads to binge eating and creates the guilt and feelings of failure.
Instead, try this.
Do a little research to see what healthy foods do for you.
Explore the facts behind how salmon gives us omega 3 fatty acids, which is essential for our hearts, how broccoli contains just about every vitamin and mineral out there, how blueberries provide us with antioxidants to help alleviate stress and inflammation to our DNA, and so on.
When we feel a sense of pride about the helpful nature of the foods we eat and make the effort to incorporate them into our menus, we replace the guilt of eating with good thoughts about how we're healing our bodies and fueling ourselves with everything right! Step #2 - Experiment With Different Healthy Foods I'm speaking from experience here.
I used to hate many of the foods I now absolutely love! Mushrooms, onions, salmon, bell peppers, and so many other healthy foods weren't welcome in my life.
It was only after the epiphany I had (explained in step 1) that I realized it was time to experiment.
I figured the worst case scenario would result in a certainty of what I really didn't like and as far as I was concerned, this was OK because it would be an educated conclusion.
What ended up happening was a pleasant surprise.
It turned out that I LOVED so many of the healthy foods I eat now yet rejected back then.
It began a whole new mindset and this literally took weight off of my shoulders.
I began to prepare foods that were both healthy AND pleasing.
The guilt in eating was gone and the pride I felt in how I took care of myself took over.
My suggestion is to begin finding out what healthy foods you like and slowly begin incorporating them into every meal.
By gradually adding more and more of the right foods, you won't have as much room for the useless ones.
(Notice I said useless instead of bad.
It gives the idea a whole new meaning).
As you practice this more often, it will become a normal way to eat.
If you love pasta, consider trying whole grain or gluten free pasta instead and allow time to appreciate the slight change in flavor.
If portion size is an issue, steam some vegetables and add them to any meal.
Get some friends together and try out some new recipes.
Hold a pot luck function and make it a party.
Since society has become aware of the weight issues plaguing so many of us, there is an abundance of techniques and recipes out there to be learned.
Just do an online search for healthy recipes and you'll see plenty of options! Step #3 - Eat Every 3 Hours or So We have enough energy (blood sugar) in our systems to last about 2 1/2-3 hours at a time depending on our activities.
When we go longer than 3 hours without food, our blood sugar levels drop and we can become irritable, lightheaded and tired.
Haven't you noticed how if it's been several hours since you've eaten that you're suddenly craving carbs? This is because sweets and breads provide instant energy and when the blood sugar drops, this is what we need.
The cravings almost feel as though they're out of our control because they are.
There is no rational thinking involved by this point because getting sugar becomes a matter of survival for our nervous system.
To alleviate this, blood sugar needs to remain stable.
We accomplish this by eating every 3 hours or so.
The best way to go about this is to combine some complex carbohydrates (high fiber foods) with lean proteins and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, olive and/or coconut oil, etc).
This slows down digestion and keeps us full for longer period of time while releasing energy in a more controlled manner.
Some examples of the right foods would be low sugar, high fiber oatmeal, vegetables with hummus, fruit with low fat cottage cheese, a handful of nuts (unsalted) and other similar snacks.
By choosing more living whole foods instead of processed snacks, you'll gain more of the natural digestive enzymes which makes your "gut" function with ease.
Keeping a steady stream of food in your system also improves metabolism.
When too much time elapses between meals, the body goes into starvation mode and holds on to fat for survival.
Our bodies were made to do this, so there is no use in trying to ignore it by starving.
The nervous system relies on blood sugar (glucose) and if it isn't available, muscle tissue will be broken down to create the energy not being supplied by food.
This slows metabolism since muscle burns more calories than fat at rest.
Some of you may find it a little difficult at first since it will seem like a lot of food during the day.
If you are used to skipping breakfast and eating only 2-3 times a day otherwise, you may feel skeptical as to whether you could eat this often.
Since the body adapts to habits and behavior, I'll remind you that you have a choice here.
Either get out of your own way and try this strategy which may end up solving a huge food problem for you OR just keep doing what you've been doing and you'll continue to get what you've been getting.
Step #4 - Sometimes, Eat the "Bad" Food It isn't realistic to never indulge in your favorite foods again.
Who would do this? If someone told me that ice cream was bad and I should never have it again, I would spend a lot of time looking for ways to prove them wrong then I would probably hate them too! I believe that all foods can be enjoyed in moderation.
If you have somewhat mastered the art of eating properly and find that you no longer dread meal time and you now really enjoy your veggies, then by all means cut yourself some slack.
Eat right most of the time so you can experience the freedom of having some pizza when watching football or eating the food at the next party you go to.
Throughout this last holiday season, I went to a staff party and visited my in-laws.
Both scenarios provided a lot of fattening foods.
Since I follow the steps I just shared with you, I enjoyed what I wanted with an understanding that it was temporary and that I don't usually eat this way.
The surrounding days and weeks were filled with my normal eating patterns of smart foods in a timely manner.
This approach around tempting foods alleviates guilt and can keep one from binging.
The truth is that there are no shortages of sugary snacks and other fattening and processed foods around, so if you refrain from indulging most of the time for no reason, you'll be able to enjoy them at the right times under the right circumstances and in the right amounts.
As always, consult with your physician or a licensed registered dietitian before making any severe changes to your eating habits.
It's always best to know what your system may or may not agree with.
The tools and techniques I mentioned in this article are for inspiration, guidance and direction.
I believe there is enough doom and gloom featured in the news, in our jobs and society in general.
Food shouldn't represent misery.
By taking the time to learn to think differently, you could set yourself up for a pleasant and loving relationship with nutrition while kicking the unnecessary guilt to the curb!
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