For years…decades even…healthy eating to me pretty much meant lettuce and chicken breast. The whole idea of healthy eating being tasty and appealing wasn’t even on my radar.
Healthy eating to me also meant the total and complete absence of good stuff like pizza, cheese, cookies, cake, donuts, and fries FOORRRR-EEEVVVV-EERRRR. <– Think the movie Sandlot…and you’ll be able to hear me saying “forever”…all echo-y and drawn out and everything! 😉
It never occurred to me to incorporate things I love on an occasional basis. My thinking was on/off or allowed/not allowed or now/then. I went into every weight loss attempt thinking I would “just eat this way until I lost the weight”…then I could “go back to normal.”
I honestly thought all the skinny people of the world ate whatever they wanted, they just knew how to do it in a way that I didn’t. They had some sort of magic in them that allowed them to eat the “right” amount of chips or fries or cookies so that they didn’t get fat.
Nowadays, I’ve learned and know differently!
First, I’ve learned that there isn’t a now/then with your healthy eating. You don’t do things simply to lose weight, then stop doing them once you reach your goal weight. Ummm…hello…this would be called going back to the old days…not actually changing anything.
Second, skinny people work at it, too. Yes, there are invariably those folks that seem to be able to eat whatever whenever. I’m married to one of them! But even he can’t fight the march of time and as he ages, he is learning to be more and more aware of his choices.
Here’s the reality for everyone though: eventually, eating whatever whenever will catch up to anyone…either via their outward appearance OR via compromised health. Don’t think that being able to eat whatever you want is a good thing–it actually isn’t! Learning to eat in a healthy manner will provide you immeasurable benefits beyond your pants size. Knowing how food impacts you personally will lead you to weight loss, but it will also lead you to feeling a whole lot better.
In addition to those two biggies I just mentioned, I’ve learned so, so much over the last several years…some of which might surprise you! Here are some points you may not expect to hear about healthy eating:
Healthy eating is not rule based.
- There are not rules that have to be followed, punishable by death, in order to achieve a healthy lifestyle. All the crap you hear may OR may not pertain to you and your unique body. All these rules: you must eat breakfast every day, you must not eat fruit after 4 pm, you must eat protein and carbs together, you must not eat sugar, you must workout on an empty stomach, and on and on and on…. Honestly folks, start eating less crap and more whole food while paying attention to how YOUR body feels and you’ll be 90 percent there!
Healthy eating does not mean “clean” eating exclusively.
- I bought into this one for awhile. And I understand the premise and I do agree with it to a certain point. Clean is meant to signify real food that isn’t processed and doesn’t contain mystery chemical/ingredients. This endeavor is great…more “clean” food is a good thing to strive for. Problem is though, it can lead you to believe that any other food that does have chemicals or isn’t wonderfully made in your own kitchen is “dirty” and therefore bad. I spent a long time feeling guilty when I ate crap food…and I’m still working away at that mindset. You can eat great whole food…and the occasional crap food…and still be eating “clean” and still be healthy.
Healthy eating is not “good or bad” it’s what makes your body feel it’s best, allows you to reach your goals, and is sustainable in YOUR life.
- Our culture has labeled foods as good and bad…and depending upon what camp you follow it might depend whether a food is considered good or bad. Dairy is considered bad when you follow Whole30 religiously. Grain of any sort is considered bad if you are a Paleo follower. Sugar is considered bad just about everywhere. Good and bad is really dependent upon the person. Does grain make YOU feel crappy? Does dairy give YOU a stomach ache? Does sugar give YOU headaches or affect your sleep/complexion? The food isn’t good or bad. You aren’t good or bad for eating it. It’s the effect a food has on YOU that is good or bad.
Healthy eating can be quick.
- The pretty food you see on all the magazine covers and the various foodie blogs are yummy…and healthy! But I’m here to tell you that gourmet isn’t the only healthy way. Lots of days I have eggs for supper. Very often I have Greek yogurt with berries and a drizzle of honey. Cottage cheese with raisins, cinnamon, and maple syrup is another go-to of mine. I throw together tuna/chicken/egg salad probably every other week and nosh on fresh veggies. We eat lots of leftovers. All these things aren’t fancy, they don’t take much time, but they hit the mark in the way of health. Stop thinking you need to make a really well put-together meal nightly to be healthy. You don’t!
Healthy eating can be convenient
- For a long while, I thought healthy meant entirely from scratch. My apologies to my clients who I left feeling like homemade was the only way to eat. I was wrong! Get smart and start scouring your deli, grocery store, and wholesale store for healthy convenience foods. They exist and if they help keep you putting one foot in front of the other in terms of getting healthier, then USE THEM! Watch labels, watch sugar and sodium content, don’t use them for every single meal…but use them wisely to help you and don’t feel guilty about it.
Healthy eating doesn’t mean perfect every meal.
- For years, I also though healthy eating meant perfect eating. If I was going to consider myself healthy, than that meant eating 100% perfect healthy foods all the time. That thinking was probably a large reason why I never kept up with whatever I tried (rigid much??…sheesh) and for years simply gave up altogether. Health comes from being consistent, not perfect!! Make the best choice available in each instance and know that your choice was perfectly fine!
Healthy eating can be easy…it doesn’t have to involve all sorts of complicated thinking or counting or slotting foods into categories.
- Of everything I’ve outlined so far I think this is the most important and powerful takeaway: it doesn’t have to be so frickin’ hard!! Don’t mistake my words…changing your health and your habits is going to require work and effort…daily! But the mechanics of eating don’t have to be so frickin’ confusing and overwhelming. Start your meal by deciding on a protein, then decide on a veggie, add some fat for flavor and fullness, then add a starch or maybe a fruit. Have a treat now and then that satisfies you, but doesn’t cause a spin cycle in your eating. Pay attention to how your food makes you feel. Yep, there is work involved in LEARNING HOW to do this, but there is nothing crazy or complex or overwhelming about the information I just wrote in blue italics.
My mission is to help you navigate eating healthy in a way that works in your own life…in a way that WORKS FOR YOU! There are soooo many ways to be healthy–stop letting the gurus tell you what you HAVE to do. Invest the time and energy to learn yourself and create your healthy life! It’s entirely possible–I’ve done it and so can you!
I’ve got a FREE resource open for registration right now called Perfectly Fine Fare : The Drivethru Antidote. Beginning on August 11, I will be giving you a total of 15 quick prep recipes for a busy and on-the-go life. I’ll show you that healthy meals don’t have to be perfect, don’t have to take a long time to prepare, and can be made ahead or at your hotel room for traveling. In addition to the 15 recipe ideas, you’ll get a daily email with nutrition tips, access to a closed FB group where I’ll be answering questions and posting videos. Tons of great info for free to get your mind around the idea that healthy can be quick…and perfectly fine! Sign up here through August 10 and expect your first recipe on August 11.
And finally, at the end of August I’m introducing a new program called Hone Your Healthy Habits (#H3) which aims to simplify how you approach food and aid you in creating habits that truly compliment your life and personality. Get on my newsletter to be the first to hear when H3 opens AND get discounted access! Sign up here.