Food… Do we eat to live? Do we live to eat? Do we eat for fun? Or do we eat out of necessity… survival? Pleasure? Some might argue we do all of the above. At the end of the day we must eat for survival… but what we eat determines how long we survive… and our quality of life while we are alive. The pleasure we get from food is just an added side effect... most call this taste. Imagine if you got that pleasure from how you felt, so you ate well, felt well and craved the taste of well being.
Knowing that you have the power to eat your way to optimum health should motivate you to want to do just that. Unfortunately, most of us have all been long tempted by the typical American diet. We see this diet in the majority of drive thru's in our towns, we see this diet in the grocery store, at the convenience store, on bill-boards, radio ad's, commercials... basically everywhere- processed, sweetened, "enriched" foods to tempt you with empty calories and yummy taste. Some of them even claim to be healthy when sadly they are anything but. We have all been tricked, time and time again- mostly by the big business of food, and of course by society.
If a food is processed- which means something good is taken out, or something bad is added it is not a whole food… therefore- as the barer of bad news allow me to explain- it is NOT good for you.
Listen, I am one in favor of moderation and balance. If you put yourself in a room with no way out-you will go crazy trying to escape… if you put yourself in a room with doors and windows you will enjoy being inside that room knowing that if you need to step out for a change of scenery you can. Moderation, people! What that means is it is perfectly acceptable to treat yourself here and there. Don’t put yourself through the misery of starting a "diet", put yourself on a lifestyle plan where your diet is your priority.
We are so focused on losing weight and counting calories we fail to see that if we were just eating the right things it would happen naturally… and with many added side effects… a longer life, more energy, no added bloating or inflammation; once you experience this way of life the other way isn’t appealing... at all. Those packaged foods don’t tempt you, adding spoon fulls of sugar or mountains of salt to things is unappealing… the way you feel outweighs the way it tastes. If you are like me, and LOVE food, it is a scary thought the idea of giving up on full taste or your favorites. However, rest assured your body catches on quick… when you stop adding salt to things you realize how delicious things like broccoli or potatoes taste just as they way they were meant to be. Your taste buds just need a little persuasion, and eventually they start to adapt, they crave all the good whole foods you need for optimum health.
Don’t think about giving up the “junk food cravings" instead, think about developing the “healthy food cravings”. Start craving brown, black or red rice… start craving red potatoes crisped up in the air fryer, start craving salad with homemade vinaigrette. Think of craving health, think of craving energy and most important start craving a longer life. Eating a diet filled with junk food and animal products is proven to cause many serious diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Eating a diet of plants, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts is proven to prevent and even reverse these diseases. It takes at least a couple of weeks enjoying a whole food plant based lifestyle for us to start to see those positive effects. Once you feel them, I can assure you that your body will want more, and your taste buds will be convinced.
If you are considering a taste bud refocus, and want to eat your way to optimum health here are some quick tips to getting started.
Do a pantry overhaul- remove processed foods and switch to whole foods, such as beans, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, chickpeas, and some nuts.
Rethink your grocery store trips- stay close to the perimeter of the store where you can get your fresh items… if your grocery store isn’t cutting it- you may even want to take a trip to your local farmers market (I can guarantee you won’t be tempted by junk food here and you will likely be inspired by all the fresh local produce)
Tell your friends and family about your lifestyle change- it is important to have people around you that can support you. What you don’t want to do is pressure anyone to do the same. Share with them the benefits of this change, and why you are so passionate about it, offer support and answer questions, but don’t expect them to want to change with you. Tell them you are hoping for support from them and need their help in encouraging you.
Forget about those labels- when you call yourself a vegan, pescatarian, vegetarian, fruititarian, paleo, carrot lover etc. you put yourself back into that room with no windows or doors, you won't allow yourself any leeway when you are out to eat or celebrating a special occasion. Give yourself grace, balance and love and if you need moderation take it (just not too often)
Get support- if you are concerned that you might need accountability or may have too many challenges to overcome than it would be highly beneficial for you to get outside support. Some examples of this are to reach out to a holistic nutritionist (such as myself), talk to a health coach, add yourself to a plant based lifestyle group on facebook or another social media avenue, or even talk to your doctor. It is so important to be able to have encouragement and accountability when making a lifestyle change.
Don’t over complicate it- make it tangible, start small, if there are healthy items you love that are easy for you to execute and taste delicious- eat those frequently. If there is something you are excited to try, try it- but don’t do it at the expense of your sanity and don’t over commit and under deliver. We have all heard of KISS- keep it simple stupid. (I am not calling you stupid but hopefully you get the point).
At the end of the day if this is something you really want, there is nothing stopping you from going out and getting it.
And remember… “Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight” – Bruce Cockburn