Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Please see your GP if you are confused about any part of your health. This is simply tips taken from my own experience.
It will add years to your life. It will insure your body for the future and help you recover from illness. It’s something we should have been doing our whole lives, but succumbing to convenience can enable us to fall off the wagon. It’s healthy eating!
If you’re starting from the very beginning, it’s hard. It may take years to retrain your brain to tell it that this is what you’re eating now. This is not a blog post about losing weight. This is about pure health. If your aim is to lose weight, food comes first! The best exercise cannot work off a bad diet. I know you’ve heard it before. But it really is the most important thing.
Getting your eating patterns into order is a commitment to the future health of you and your family. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way, after struggling with my own healthy eating for many years:
- You’ll fall off the wagon at the start. A lot. So many times you won’t even be able to count on both hands. Get Back On! Don’t let a small failure become a big one, even if it does become a big one, you can still get back on, at any time, the sooner the better.
- At the very start, don’t have cheat days, give yourself a few weeks to let your body become accustomed to eating healthy. Also I wouldn’t even advocate cheat ‘days’ – you are not The Rock. We do not spend our entire lives in the gym. Have a cheat meal. Also try to make it a food you know you can easily just have one of, for example don’t make your cheat meal ice cream if you’re a sugar addict, and I’d advise against hitting those chips hard if you’re a savoury girl.
- Start small, cut out stuff you know you can live without. Cut down on sugar in coffee and tea, soft drinks – they are so bad for you whether full sugar or no sugar, kick them out and try creating your own flavoured waters instead.
- KICK THE SUGAR OUT. Oh my god please. I beg you. Stop putting extra sugar on things or buying food full of sugar. The natural taste of food without sugar will start becoming more appealing and you’ll find yourself disliking stuff that is overtly sweet, even if you used to love it.However, I DO NOT MEAN FRUIT. ‘Health’ bloggers who advise you to cut out fruit are charletons who are probably plugging some kind of sketchy ‘diet plan’ they want you to pay $70 for an ebook copy. Don’t do it! You can find all their shitty ‘information’ for free on the internet! My rule at the start was ‘unlimited fruits and vegetables’ – this keeps you from feeling like you’re restricting yourself at all.
Hey girl, fruit is your friend
- Keep yourself full – if you are anything like me, hunger will lead to binging. You can do little low-calorie things to keep your tummy happy like fruits, roasted vegetables, a chia pudding, quinoa, or a basic protein smoothie. These are so, so easy to make and you’ll feel nice and full. You will get to know what your body can and can’t handle for fullness. As you get more used to healthy food this amount generally will reduce. I also read a tip that was very informative, that was to ‘have a glass of almond milk with your meal’ – almond milk is very low calorie and can help fill up that gap in your stomach if your meal didn’t quite get there. If almond milk’s not your thing, try soy or a chai tea.
- You have to try. For more than one week. For more than one month. For more than one year. It has taken me over 10 years to figure out how to consistently eat healthy and kick my binging habits out the door.Think about how this is a permanent lifestyle change.
- Do not diet!!! I cannot stress this enough. Your aim is to change your habits for life. This means that the changes you make are permanent. No I do not want sugar in my coffee anymore, no I do not eat an entire family pack of crisps on my own anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I could, but I won’t.
- If you don’t work on your relationship with food, it can really turn out badly. You may have an eating disorder and not even know it as you’re so used to abusing your poor body with food that has no nutrition in it at all, or not eating enough. Think about how experiences in your life may have led you to turn to food, and how you can fix your mind as well as your body. Harmony between mind and body will enhance the experience.
- Your brain will take a long time to catch up to all this and you may experience bizarre symptoms coming off a high sugar or high fat diet, such as irritability, fatigue, and a light-head, however, push on, as these symptoms do not usually last long. If they do go on for an unexpectedly long time please see your doctor.
- You will get cravings. Insatiable, INSANE cravings. Get used to looking for substitutes. If you want chocolate, find some dairy and sugar free low calorie chocolate (like Pumpy Jackson – a quick search for ‘vegan sugar free chocolate’ in your country or area should bring up some good results. That said, work on the cravings too, the more you can push past them, the less they will occur (although logic and thought’s off the table when we’re on our period, am I right ladies?)
- Get rid of the food guilt, as I mentioned, you will fall off the wagon, a lot. Best thing to do is to move on immediately. “Ok, that happened, the next meal or snack I have will be healthy”. Be determined about it. When I first started I would keep it in my mind as a mantra ‘next meal healthy next meal healthy’ until I proved it to myself. I still sometimes do that to make sure I really stick to it. It doesn’t matter if you have a burger or a chocolate, your life is not over, just start again. You will start again so many times until you won’t need to, and believe me, as in my case, it could absolutely take years. Accept that, don’t try to look to the beyond, just focus on the here and now.
- Healthy food is not just salads and soups! There’s so much creativity out there. Search pinterest, tumblr, instagram, youtube for incredible inspiration on how to make your old favourites healthy. There are amazing recipes full of goodness with very low or no sugar.
- CUT DOWN ON MEAT AND DAIRY. The studies are all out there. The articles you see that say ‘cheese is good for you!’ IS BIASED. They are often sponsored by the dairy industry. Dairy has no redeeming qualities and is terrible for the gut and intestinal health. Do not believe the soy myth that it is ‘high in hormones’ – chicken has much higher hormones.
Do your research and truly, truly consider cutting down on these products and injecting more whole food and delicious vegetables and legumes into your diet instead.
- There are tools that are useful for you in the 21st century. Such as My Fitness Pal or other food tracking apps. However, I am from the old school and love a food diary.
I take a cute looking notepad and write down:
This keeps me accountable and it has worked for me for many years. So I’m sticking with it! You don’t need a fancy $20 pad, just a $2 one from KMart will do!
- Don’t feel compelled to have ‘3 meals a day’. If you’re a shift worker and 2 is enough plus a few snacks, have that. Listen to your body on what it actually needs. If it gets to 4pm and you haven’t had lunch, have a quick snack and just have an early dinner instead. Your body, your schedule, will all determine how you wish to eat and what works best for you. Play around with it if you feel your current system isn’t working.
- Get enough sleep! When you are sleep deprived you are infinitely more likely to reach for the bad food. Make the decision on what your bedtime is, put your phone on the other side of the room, turn the light off and go to sleep. If you’re an insomniac the reset may take months, but keep with it. Coming down off technology is very difficult at night so try reaching for a book instead.
- Reduce stress. A clouded mind makes day-to-day decision making so difficult. Let alone when you’re starting a new lifestyle. Couple your awesome new healthy life with meditation, yoga or listening to relaxing music. Try not to think about work or school after you’ve finished (difficult for Uni students). Try to work a bit on that project and then put it away for the night. You’ll relax much easier.
- SEE IT AS FUN. It really is SO much fun discovering new fruits, new veggies, new ways of creating healthy food. Food IS fun. Healthy food is so colourful (instead of just being yellow all the time) and there are so many amazing combinations to enjoy. Such as: acai bowls, buddha bowls, hi-fibre spaghetti, loaded sandwiches, smoothies, and even yes, the humble salad can even be made fun!
- Start now. Not tomorrow. Not the next meal. Right now. Start changing your mindset for your health, for your families health and for your future. It’s so incredibly important. You’ll have even more reasons to brag that when the next office party comes around you can say no to that pizza with enough gusto and feel much better afterwards than everyone who gorged themselves!