As a nutrition professional, I often hear comments such as “don’t look at what I’m eating,” and “I bet you wouldn’t approve of this.” And when dining at friends’ houses, I sometimes hear “just a heads up, this isn’t healthy.”
I don’t take it personally. But it is frustrating at times. Because it tells me most people have no idea what I consider healthy. And I can tell you my dinners NEVER consist of baked chicken breasts and steamed broccoli. Yuck!
I don’t eat perfectly. But I’ve never been more confident in my eating habits and food choices. I LOVE food! And I no longer feel guilty if I indulge.
It all started by swapping out heavily processed foods with a variety of nutrient-rich (and delicious) whole foods. That’s it. I started choosing nuts over chips. Sweet potatoes over pasta. Butter over margarine. And eggs over cereal.
When you eat more whole foods, naturally you’ll eat less nutrient-deficient and highly processed foods. The latter gets crowded out with minimal effort.
Let me walk you through an example… Say you typically have an afternoon snack. A store-bought granola bar. If you swapped out this bar with a piece of fruit and a handful of fresh nuts, you’d consume many more nutrients and less potentially harmful ingredients. Just this one change makes a difference. And if you do it regularly, it will become a habit that sticks.
Healthy eating is NOT about dieting, deprivation, counting calories or perfection. I don’t advise doing any of these things. They add stress (which wreaks havoc on your health). And, they’re not sustainable. Period.
The main goal is to slowly start adding in more whole foods and the rest will come naturally. And you don’t have to give up your indulgences completely. You’ll still catch me and my family at the pizza parlor or ice cream shop occasionally. And we all enjoy it without guilt. Because we know we’re still getting plenty of goodness from whole foods most of the time.
And please don’t gauge your success on a scale. The truth is if you eat more whole foods and begin to move your body, you might actually gain weight as you put on more lean muscle.
Gauge your success on how good you feel instead. I guarantee your energy, mood, sleep, and physical symptoms among other things will start to improve. Your body will be getting the nutrients it needs to function at top speed.
And when your body is well nourished, you’ll start to feel satiated after eating. You’ll begin to hear the signals your body sends. You’ll eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.
Eating becomes intuitive and eventually, you may even discover how specific foods make you feel or affect your health. Somewhere along my journey, I learned too much dairy triggers my eczema.
Now let’s get back to the idea that healthy food is boring and bland. It’s just not true! Period.
There are many whole foods to choose from and herbs and spices to liven things up. I even recommend using healthy fats to add flavor, such as ghee, butter, olive oil and coconut oil. Most of the meals I make are dripping with delicious sauces, such as lamb curry and honey garlic chicken.
There are literally countless meals, snacks and even desserts you can make with whole foods that are super nutritious AND delicious. It’s all about using more from nature and less from a package.
And please remember it’s never all or nothing. Every bit counts! Swapping out one granola bar for an apple with nut butter once a week is still better than nothing