Have you decided to start eating healthier, but simply don’t know where to start? You’re not alone. Many of my clients have no idea how to incorporate healthy eating into their busy lifestyles. My job as a their practitioner, is to give them guidance on making this transition as easily as possible. Here are some of the tips that I give to my clients.
Focus on swapping one unhealthy food or habit with it’s healthy alternative at a time. You don’t become an Olympic swimmer overnight, nor can you just flick the switch in your head and completely change your eating habits over night. Many people are dealing with disordered microbiome, food cravings and addictions, a lack of time, high stress levels, insulin resistance etc. Focus on one thing at a time and look to replace rather than remove. Removing unhealthy foods and telling yourself that you can’t have it anymore, will simply leave you feeling deprived and craving that food. Deprivation tests our will power – which is something not many of us are good at. Science shows it is better to avoid temptation rather than resist it – it’s simply human nature. So rather than stock your fridge with Cadbury dairy milk chocolate, check out the health food aisle in your supermarket and replace your usual chocolate with a high antioxidant sugar free dark chocolate. The Well Naturally brand is available at most supermarkets these days. Your local health food store will also have a large variety of raw, organic and healthier chocolates that taste unbelievably amazing. If chocolate isn’t your poison, think outside the square – if you love jelly lollies, make some homemade gelatin lollies with stevia – your gut will love you for it. If bread is your weakness, try a variety of different paleo bread recipes until you find one you love. If you love hot chips, make some sweet potato chips or parsnip chips instead using a high quality fat or oil, rather than cheap toxic oils most restaurants use. If crisps are your craving of choice, sweet potato crisps or kale chips are delicious. Check out our local organic or health food shop if you’re time poor. There are so many great options available commercially.
Write a weekly meal planner and create a shopping list from this meal planner. Only buy what’s on the list. This can also save you a great deal of money and help you avoid temptation. If it’s in the fridge or pantry, you will be tempted by it!
Preparation is key! After you do your fruit and vegetable shopping, pre-wash your produce so it is ready to go when you need it. If you have time, you can even pre-cut your vegetables to make cooking when you get home from work late, quicker and easier. A little bit of preparation is key to long term success. Spend one day a week pre-preparing food for the week ahead. Bake paleo bread, make lunchbox snacks, make a healthy dip to snack on, cut up vegetable sticks, make chia puddings and pop in recycled jars in the fridge for a breakfast on the go, boil eggs and put them in the fridge for a quick snack on the run, make some breakfast granola for the week ahead (this is also a great snack), make some coconut yoghurt, bake some paleo biscuits for after school snacks for the kids, prepare salad jars for a few days of lunches.
Cook enough dinner at night to have leftovers the next day for lunch. This will cut down the amount of food preparation you need to do, as there is one unavoidable thing that you MUST do if you want to eat healthier, and that’s get in the kitchen and prepare your meals.
Have a friend join you on your health journey, so that you can motivate each other to be healthier, share the meal preparation, test different recipes out and give each other feedback. A friend will also make you feel accountable and be an exercise buddy. Most clients find that if they exercise, they make better food choices.
Alternatively, if your friends or family aren’t supportive of the changes you’re making to your diet or lifestyle, it is important to focus on why you are doing this. Educate them around these reasons. If they are still reluctant to support you, then try not to take their opinions on board. They are not the experts in this field, and some people have issues with change. There are plenty of health conscious meet-up groups in all capital cities. Join a group of like minded people and find your tribe.
Buy and use some healthy cookbooks. Any of the Pete Evans Paleo cookbooks are a great source of healthy recipes. Luke Hines Clean Eating. Any of the Lola Berry or Quirky Cooking books. Look at some Paleo baking books if you enjoy a sweet treat. Buy books containing salad and green smoothie recipes which will inspire you to eat more vegetables.
If you eat out a lot, choose a cafe or restaurant that has healthy menu options. Most places will be able to cater for your healthy eating. A steak/chicken/grilled fish dish with a side of vegetables is always a good option. For kids, grilled fish, salad and chips is generally one of the healthier options on the children’s menu. There are so many healthy and clean eating restaurants and cafes nowadays, so there really is no excuse. You can literally have your raw, vegan, paleo cake and eat it too.
Focus on the benefits – What’s the big picture for you? What will this change ultimately mean to you? Are you doing this to look better, feel better, be a better role model for your children? If it helps you stay focused, create a goal oriented collage – get creative and cut pictures and phrases out of magazines that represent where you want to be in your life and how you’re going to achieve this health goal. Put this collage somewhere that you will see it numerous times each day. If you’re focus is weight loss or healthy eating, placing the collage on the fridge or pantry where it will be a gentle reminder every time you eat, is a great idea. It will help you stay focused.
If you’re trying to lose weight and are finding it hard to stay on track, start using an online food tracker such as myfitnesspal. Sometimes we simply don’t realise how much we are eating!
If you have children who are resistant to the change in food, start with one thing at a time. If you want them to eat more vegetables, start by hiding vegetables in a food they love. For instance, if they love pasta, try grating carrot, celery or zucchini into the bolognaise sauce. If they love cake or muffins, bake cakes with hidden sweet potato, beetroot, carrot or zucchini in it. Make them a delicious green smoothie every morning with a handful on spinach, a celery stalk, a banana, a kiwi fruit, some nut milk or coconut water, a teaspoon of chia or ground flaxseeds and a tablespoon of honey in it – as they get used to the flavour, reduce the honey. It is also important to offer your children unhidden vegetables regularly too. Persist with this one as it will pay off in the end. Use a sticker chart or reward system with children. Every time they try a new food, they get a sticker. Once they have tried a new food every day for 10 days, they get an agreed upon reward. Unfortunately, it may take bribery with children, however in the end, you will have done your job as a parent and instilled healthy eating habits in your child and set them up for wellness, rather than disease.
Keep in mind that persistence in the key to making change. Children (and some adults) need to try a new food up to 18 times before they will start to tolerate it. Keep offering healthy options to your child, they will eventually try it. If your child wont try what you have cooked, it is important to not make a big deal out of their reluctance, otherwise this can easily disintegrate into a power struggle between you and your child, which benefits no one. Just pack the meal away and at the next meal time, offer another healthy meal. Hunger is a major driver to trying something new. If you or your child isn’t hungry often, or is fussy in spite of your persistence there may be an iron or zinc deficiency which needs Naturopathic support.
Yours in Health, Gloria.
Gloria can be found online at www.naturopathiclifecoach.com or on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/realfoodsforrealfamilies/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel