2.07 How to Achieve Healthy Eating Habits
In this HeartStrong.com video/article, we will discuss how to achieve healthy eating habits. Knowing the right healthy things to eat is one thing, but actually doing it is completely different. Some people will have the strength to just immediately dive into healthy eating and even dive right into a whole foods plant based diet. Be careful though…this can lead to short term gains but not long term success.
Learn The Skill: Eating healthy needs to be a slow transition as you build a new skill set that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Just like learning how to play an instrument such as the guitar, you can’t expect to be great at it day 1. It will take months or years of practice to be good like we said previously. Avoiding gimmicks and quick fixes is key. Taking a short cut to losing weight or getting healthy does not teach you the life skills of a healthy lifestyle. Using a fad diet, taking a weight loss pill or buying food from a weight loss company is just like letting someone play the guitar for you. You listen to the music they are playing and will lose weight and get healthier short term. Then once you’re done, now you are holding the guitar, but never learned how to play it yourself! You will not only gain all the weight back that you lost again, but frequently even more. Learn the skill of having a healthy lifestyle yourself. It will be not only quite successful keeping you healthy long term, but you will feel proud of your accomplishments. Nobody is proud of themselves if they lose weight with a drug or fad diet.
Many people dread the thought of “healthy eating” since they think you will need to limit or completely eliminate the foods they love. This is not the case. Eating healthy is about improving yourself, feeling great, getting more energy, balancing your mood and most importantly, prevent that heart attack, stroke or cancer while at the same time enjoying what you eat tremendously. Little if any sacrifices need to be made in most cases.
Dietary advice everywhere is quite confusing for people. You have the USDA Guidelines which have their own bias influenced heavily by the food industry and politics. Dietary guidelines from the AHA and other large health organizations are largely the same. Then you have weird money making diets such as the Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet and Paleo diet which are not based on sound scientific research, but have generated millions of dollars for their authors.
HeartStrong.com advocates a whole foods plant based diet which is accumulating more and more evidence to support it as a heart disease and cancer fighting way of eating. This diet is the ONLY diet that has been proven on more than one occasion to actually REVERSE heart disease. Once you learn about it, everything will make sense.
Get Support: If you have a bad eating habit that is shared by other members of your family such as eating cookies, drinking milk or soda, it will be VERY hard to stop if the cookies and milk/soda are sitting in your house in front of your face everyday! You need the help and support of the other members of your household. Experts say to tell the 5 closest people to you about your new healthy journey and ASK THEM for their help and support. Tell them what they can do that will help you…like please don’t buy cookies anymore for their own health as well.
Create a Healthy Environment: If you live by yourself or your entire household is changing to healthy eating habits, then creating a healthy environment at home should be easy. Get rid of unhealthy foods and get the healthy stuff! Most people will have the reality that unhealthy food choices will be in your house or at your workplace right in front of your face: the cookies or donuts a coworker brings in, the leftover pizza someone put in the fridge.
Try your best to not even have unhealthy food in the house or near you at work. When its there keep it where you are not exposed to it at all. They say “Out of sight, out of mind” which is very true. Imagine an alcoholic who is finally clean and sober going home to find alcohol on the table and in the refrigerator…it would be tough to not touch it. It would be better if it were simply just not there.
On the flip side, keep healthy foods out in sight and available. Buy fruits at the store and ALWAYS keep some out on the table. This is what you will grab for a snack or when some extra hunger hits you.
Have a Plan: This is what HeartStrong.com preaches. Know the healthy food options that you like, write them down and make a schedule. Not enough on your list? Explore new healthy recipes and check out the sites that HeartStrong.com gives you.
Prepare Your Own Meals: Part of having a plan can include making the food yourself. If you love to cook this can be a whole new culinary journey for you! There are more than 400,000 edible plant foods for you to discover! If you have looked at the recipe sites that HeartStrong.com has recommended, you will see a whole new menu to consider. Part of preparing your own meals can involve packing yourself lunches for the week or even preparing the whole weeks worth of food on one day. If you make 7 days worth of healthy food on Sunday, you will be much more motivated to eat it throughout the week!
Busy? Alright…PlantPure Nation rules. Never hurts to have some frozen whole food plant based meals on hand.
Simplify – But Don’t Eat Boring Food: This can be a hard balance. If you have all the time in the world and like to cook complex meals, go for it. But most of us need to focus on making things simple. At the same time, if what you make is SO simple and the same every time, you will suffer from food boredom and may abandon more healthy options. Don’t let this happen. Really work hard at your plan to find simple AND exciting meals to prepare and eat. They are out there even on a whole foods plant based diet!
Say “I don’t” instead of “I can’t”: If you see an unhealthy food item and think to yourself “I can’t have that” then you are admitting that you want it but you must stick to your “diet” plan. This will lead to failure. You have to have the mindset of “I don’t want that” food item since it will make me unhealthy and lead to all the problems that I am trying to get rid of. Having this mindset is key.
Forget Calorie Counting: Seriously calories do not need to be counted if you stick completely to a whole foods plant based diet. When you eat more meat, eggs, dairy, seafood, oil and sugar, they are so calorie dense that you can easily over eat. When you are eating fruits and vegetables it is nearly impossible to overeat due to their low calorie density and high fiber content. As long as you do not try to overeat, like eating 20 apples per day, eating a pound of nuts or eating 5 bowls of whole grain oatmeal per day, you do not need to count calories on a whole food plant based diet.
If you eat junk food or other calorie dense foods, the only way you will be able to lose weight is to count the calories to be sure that you do not go over. This takes will power to dramatically restrict portions and extra work that you just do not need.
Read Labels: This can open your eyes to what you have been eating. Look to see how sugar in its many forms is added to everything. See how oils such as sunflower oil, soybean oil and palm oil are added to a large number of foods. This increases their calorie density tremendously and need to be avoided. Look at all the weird unnatural additives that are in these products. What health impacts may they have? Who knows…just avoid them. There is no label or ingredient list to read on fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts/seeds and grains.
Eat to Live…Do Not Live to Eat: Eating has naturally become a large part of our culture and many people are so focused on food it is challenging to understand this concept. We eat to give us energy and nutrition for us to survive and our bodies to function optimally. The rest of living is about friends, family, your work and other passions that drive you. When you “live to eat” the focus is on food and not all the other important things. Let food be your energy and your medicine, do not let it be your life and lead you to a path of poor health.
Realize you are eating “Real Food”: When you are eating healthy, you are eating real food, not a processed, unnatural food look-alike product. That can be a powerful thought. Our ancestors did not evolve their metabolism and digestion to tolerate cookies, ice cream and concentrated oils and sugars. That is just not natural. Fruits, vegetable, beans, nuts/seeds and grains are the food of our ancestors, so go back to that concept.
Share Your Journey: Just like getting a strong support system, what can be more helpful than sharing your healthy journey with another person close to you. Bounce ideas off each other. Exercise together. Prepare healthy meals together. This will ultimately lead to success.
Think About How You Feel After Eating: Ever feel tired and fatigued 1-2 hours after eating a large fatty meal? Now eat a large meal on a whole foods plant based diet and lets see how you feel. You will notice the energy level is still there. There is no such thing as “food coma” on a whole foods plant based diet. As you notice your energy level staying high throughout the day you will be quite happy with this change.