I get so many questions about what we eat, how we eat, and where to even begin for someone who wants to start a healthier lifestyle.
I want to start by saying this took me years. Not years to transition, but years of saying "I want to eat healthier" and not actually doing it. Changing what you eat regularly is 100% an act of the will, I can't convince you to do that, only you can set your mind to it, and choose to stick with it.
I know how hard it is, It was hard for me to kick fast food, processed food, and refined sugar out of my life. I have also seen countless patients who would rather take a pill or some extra insulin than change how they eat. I know from enough experience that I can't make you want it, that part is up to you.
I also want to say we are not 100% perfectly healthy, nor do I want to be. I am not going to live and never eat pizza, or a cookie, but for the most part I will consider what I am putting in my body to be fuel, and think consciously about what I am using to fuel my body. My body that is a total gift from God.
When I think that way, and never about counting calories, loosing weight, or some fad diet, I am able to stick to it. I am SO happy when I know I am putting good things in, to allow me to live my life in a healthy, strong, and happy way.
So first of all, here's how you can enjoy those indulgences that you can't imagine giving up: find options that are made out of real ingredients! Meaning not processed, or refined, or completely synthetic garbage for your body to filter. For instance, I had pizza last weekend while I was in Las Vegas. When I travel, I find myself eating things that I normally wouldn't at home. My brother and husband found a pizza place with the coolest menu. All of the ingredients were real, the tomato sauce was just that, Italian tomatoes and some seasoning... my body still didn't love me for eating gluten and dairy (that's another story) but with this non processed, thin crust Italian style pizza, I was able to enjoy the moment and know I am not eating all of the pesticides and chemicals that use to be in my every day life. If I am craving sweets, I have a piece of dark chocolate, fruit, or I'll make a paleo version of lemon bars, or brownies. Yes, this will still spike your blood sugar, but with ingredients like almond flour, coconut sugar, eggs, cacao, there is some type of benefit, actual nutrients, and your body will feel something like, hey I know what to do with this ;) My favorite account on Instagram for ideas and recipes when I need something sweet is @bakeritablog. She is so creative with real food ingredients and I don't think you could ever get sick of those recipes!
The most shocking thing about making huge dietary changes was realizing the food was better on the other side. If you can't eat a pile of cookies, or fill your belly with bread before the entree even shows up (my old ways) you're going to be more creative with what you do eat. We make sure our meals are delicious, flavorful, and packed with nutrition.
Cutting out processed food is an amazing place to start. I will list some things that we totally threw out of our home, and never bought again. It feels weird at first, like how will I get by without these ingredients but I promise you'll use your creativity, and the real food ingredients here on earth for us, and you will thrive! I sleep better, am in better moods, and I am never bloated ..even during that time of the month. Cramps are also a breeze too, requiring no Motrin. I don't get heartburn anymore, something I use to take tums or Zantac for. Sometimes we are suffering and not getting to the root cause, rather covering it up with a pill. If you have health complaints, and have not looked into changing your diet (completely different from going on a diet), I really encourage you to do some research.
We are not trapped, although it may seem like a dark alley of fast food options everywhere you turn in the beginning.. we have SO many options these days. Thrive market (online) is a great place to get real food, organic ingredients and products shipped right to your doorstep. Shopping on the perimeter of the grocery store will give you all of the produce and none of the processed junk. Farmers markets are a wonderful place to shop for fresh food, more recently harvested than your grocery store produce which means more nutrients! And obviously, growing your own food would be the best possible scenario. I DREAM of owning a home and having a garden some day. I want to get back to the good stuff, the way it use to be. If you need fast food, because we are all busy and on the go, chipotle is a decent option offering non GMO ingredients. You just have to order wisely at any place that you go to ;) Panera bread is another decent-ish stop as long as you're not getting cheddar broccoli soup in a bread bowl and a diet coke (seriously, my old order, every time I went there. No wonder I had digestive issues).
Ok here is the list I promised, before I write a book because I could talk about this all day. Bottom line, ask yourself is this real? Will it benefit my body? And go from there.
Thrown out, and never bought again. This list is an awesome place to start! We are going on over a year of this lifestyle and I absolutely love it! First is what we have thrown out, and next is what we use instead.
- Refined sugar//Coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup
- Flour//coconut flour & almond flour (there are others but these are our favorites)
- Pop (midwest talk for "soda")// La croix, kombucha
- Juice// freshly juiced veggies & fruit with no additives ever
- Processed food especially snacks, cereal, and energy bar type things// coconut oil potato chips, chips and salsa or guac for a "junk food" fix, gf granola, Lara bars, we love to snack on veggies and hummus or carrot dip!
- Those jugs of country fresh milk that I (sadly) drank my entire life// coconut milk, almond milk, hemp milk, there are so many options, with a lot of calcium and benefits for your body
- canola oil// olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil are our go to oils. We also use ghee as well.
- Processed meats// rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breasts as "lunchmeat," find words like grass fed, free range, organic etc. If they were fed hormones/antibiotics/GMO grains, then you will be too when you eat meat.
I hope this list is helpful for you. I don't feel like there has been much sacrifice involved. It is the new normal and I love eating like this. It really, truly makes me happy and allows me to live well and be the best version of myself. My list is a great place for you to start, if you are feeling like you want to change your health habits. Another thing I would encourage you to do is become a good label reader. I won't buy something if it has any of these ingredients hiding in it. I was shopping for hummus the other day and there were loads of options, plenty of organic ones. I read the labels and one had only veggies, sea salt, and olive oil in it. The other, sugar and canola oil were added. There are often unnecessary hidden ingredients that we have to be aware of. I feel empowered when I know exactly what is going into my body and will be used as fuel for a great life!
I do also believe that everyone is different. This isn't set in stone, not everyone can feel great eating the same, you have to tailor your list to you and how you feel! Always listen to your body!
And just know that you never, ever have to suffer. We love what we cook, and thoroughly enjoy our meals. Cooking and creating beautiful, nutrient packed food is something that I know you can enjoy too.
I wish you wellness!