In the article Why Sugar Is The Enemy & How I Stopped Eating It, I received a question from a reader who felt completely overwhelmed with beginning a healthier lifestyle with food. This is exactly how I felt when I left the world of fast and convenience foods well over ten years ago. I had just starting learning more about healthy eating and was reading as many books as I could get my hands on. Even with all of this information, I was completely uncomfortable with my decision to eat differently than family and friends, and especially with how to go about this new eating lifestyle.
In order to understand a new journey you plan to embark upon, the best thing to do is continue educating yourself. I’ve observed family members who decided that they were going to become vegetarian. They never learned more about eating a whole foods diet, and they only omitted meat while never incorporating more organic vegetables and fruits. Instead they were what I will call “cute vegetarians” whose diet consists of soda and pizza. Although they were meat-free, they never began eating nutrient rich foods.
One of the best documentaries that I have seen so far on eating a whole organic foods diet and why it is important is Hungry For Change which is on Netflix. I love this film because it does not emphasis a specific style of eating, and the focus is solely about eating a whole foods diet and the issues with dieting. Although I have been a vegetarian since 2002, I don’t feel as if one way of eating works for everybody or heals every imbalanced body. We are all so unique, so believing that one way of eating fits all is kind of ludicrous. No one’s curly hair is even the same, nor can all curly girls follow the exact same hair regimen.
I admire the effort you put into living a healthy and natural lifestyle. I really want to eat healthy and adopt a more natural lifestyle, but I find myself being overwhelmed with a lot of information, and I don’t know what steps to take per say or where to begin.
Here are my thoughts below on the best way to begin eating healthy. I hope that it is helpful to you. I am wishing you the best on this new journey!
1. Eliminate Processed Foods
In Hungry For Change you get a glimpse of how processed foods are created, what they do to the body, and why you want to avoid them. In general any food that is prepackaged, especially with lab created ingredients, is questionable. It is better to prepare your own organic meals from scratch at home. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, and although it may feel time consuming at first, your body will thank you a million times over and over. You will in essence feel so much better, save money avoiding future medical bills, and look even better than you can imagine. True beauty begins from the inside out!
2. Pinpoint Your “Cute Foods” & Replace Them
“Cute foods” are anything that looks pretty and/or gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside, but does absolutely nothing for your health. My weakness has always been sweets. I am highly addictive to refined sugar and eating it in moderation as they say means nothing. Once I start I can’t stop until it’s gone.
One reason that I used to crave refined sugar so much was because I was not eating a highly dense nutrient rich diet. My starving body was in desperate need for energy and refined sugar was the perfect quick fix as well as an endorphins booster. Once I started incorporating tons and tons of organic whole foods into my diet, my body was finally satiated no longer looking for quick fixes.
Dessert is now a special occasions indulgence which is usually a raw dessert that I make myself and know exactly what’s in it. I have learned to make my own desserts that are sweetened with only fruit, no agave, honey, etc. which are surprisingly very good. I plan to share another raw dessert recipe very soon. For now you can see the delicious raw pumpkin pie I made for the holidays.
3. Make Breakfast A Smoothie or Fruit Meal
I rarely eat out and make most of my meals at home. In order to simplify meal preparation, I usually make breakfast a 1000+ calorie fruit/leafy greens smoothie. If I don’t make a smoothie I will eat a ton of fruit in the morning. Eating fruit for breakfast is a wonderful start to your day on top of tons of pure natural energy. Fruit truly is nature’s fast foods. You can find great smoothie recipes here!
On occasion I may make oatmeal for breakfast. I will soak the oats overnight before cooking for better digestion. In general fruit or a huge smoothie is my preference.
4. Become Your Own Nutrionist
Using Cron-O-Meter taught me how to plan my meals in a way in which my body receives enough fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals each day. It did feel a bit tedious plugging in everything I ate for the day in the beginning. But I have learned so much and now don’t feel like I need to use it daily anymore unless I choose.
For example I used to be a big fan of this organic quinoa/corn pasta awhile back. What I learned from using Cron-O-Meter is that this pasta only provided my body with calories and no nutrient value whatsoever. I was better off just making organic quinoa in its pure grain form than making the processed organic pasta. The pasta was the “cute” food while the organic quinoa provided my body with abundant protein, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates.
I also learned that fruits and vegetables actually contain protein. You can see an example of how a simple fruit smoothie can add up to 10+ grams of protein here. Adding hemp protein to my smoothie isn’t always necessary.
5. What’s Your Food Style?
If you have ever looked in the bookstore where there are books on diets and eating styles, they all claim to be the best. That in itself is overwhelming! My best advice is to eat what makes you feel absolutely amazing. It can be a bit of trial and error, but most of life is!
Learning to pay attention to how you feel after you eat something is extremely important. I have come to a place now where I am very aware if my body likes something that I eat or not. If I feel sluggish, my skin has a bad reaction, or I have a bad taste in my mouth when I wake up in the morning, I probably could have made better food choices. But if I feel energized, refreshed, and my skin is bright and glowing, I did good. This may be a bit TMI, but I use my moon cycle as a report card of sorts. If it is cramp-free and almost unnoticeable, I know I ate well the month prior.
Like any new change in life, it can feel uncomfortable in the beginning. But once you get used to the change it becomes the new norm. Eating whole organic foods is the beginning of feeling and looking your best. Beauty products are just the icing on the cake!
Any additional thoughts?
(Image by Dawn Michelle)