So, what does it even mean to eat healthy? If you are my age and lived through the 90’s, you lived through the low fat craze, which got so ingrained in our brains that many people are still doing it. If, you are vegan, healthy means no meat and no dairy. If you are on the Paleo plan, it means no beans and no processed food. If you are on South Beach it means no carbs. And now, we are all convinced we are gluten intolerant so that means we can eat virtually nothing. If you get caught up in all of this, you will wake up one morning completely overwhelmed with no idea what you can and can’t eat.
When that happens, what do you do?
I’ll tell you what I did. I said, the heck with that and I ordered some chicken wings, cheese bread, and a beer, because it is too hard, way too confusing and time consuming and no one really knows what it means to eat healthy anyways!
I have tried every one of the little plans listed above. I have overwhelmed myself and wondered what to do. All of them have their merits and I am not poo pooing any of them or saying you can’t or shouldn’t try them. But after all of that, I have found a few guidelines that seem to be the most common. I don’t follow them 100% of the time. (That will send you to the crazy house.) Perfection is not the goal; just less of the bad and more of the good.
3 Simple Steps to Eat Healthy in 2017
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Easier said than done, I know. I can’t tell you how many people have told me “I just don’t like them.” Ok, well I get it, but I think you can learn to like them, slowly but surely. Eating more fruits and veggies is something virtually every dietician and every nutrition plan supports. Fruits and veggies are packed full of nutrients and fiber. We all need to eat them, we need to eat a lot of them, and we need to eat a wide variety. When my son tells me he just “doesn’t like” to brush his teeth, I tell him, “tough. Go do it anyway.” I guess, I am saying the same thing here. There are just some truths that we need to learn to embrace. This is one of them.
- Eat less processed foods. Generally, processed foods have stuff in them that I cannot pronounce, plus a lot of sugar, dyes, salt and calories, but very little nutrients. Nutrients nourish and heal our body. The sugars, dyes and calories in these foods just add weight, but no nourishment. Not a good combination. Here is an analogy for you. Over the summer, many of us work to grow great gardens and hanging pots. I have a beautiful red and blue pot that my hubby gave me for Mother’s Day. I nourish it by making sure it gets some sun and by watering it. Have you ever poured vinegar on your hanging plants? What about a little Windex? No? Me neither. I have no idea what they would do to the plant. But, that’s kind of what we do when we eat processed food that has ingredients in it that we are not familiar with. “I guess since it is available, I can eat it.” I’m not so sure.
- Eat less sugar. I am betting that most of us have no idea how much sugar is in the foods we eat. Obesity and diabetes are still running rampant and we are still struggling to figure out why. Well, it could be that virtually every cracker you pick up has sugar in it (yes a cracker). When you go out to eat and you decide to be “good” and get a salad, there is a 95% chance the dressing is full of sugar. And bars, don’t get me started on them. How many of us, my self-included, think that giving a “bar” to our kids is somehow better than a candy bar? Seriously, it is not. Most of them are packed full of sugar and processed rice or whatever even when they say they are a protein bar. Roasted peanuts, canned peas and corn (why oh why do you have to add sugar to my kids veggies?!), most peanut butters even the organic. It is everywhere.
That’s it. 3 easy steps to eat healthy in 2017.
It is a Little by Little Process
You become a better runner by showing up over and over again. Some runs are horrible, and some are good, but you just keep at it, day after day and year after year. You become closer to God by being in His presence over and over again. The same is true with adjusting the way you eat. To eat healthy, you show up day after day and realize how what you put into your body affects what comes out, your energy level, your attitude and your feelings about yourself.
I’m not perfect and I don’t even know what perfect looks like. But I do know that I feel better when I make healthier choices. And when I feel better, I am better in all areas of my life.
Don’t strive for perfection; just strive for a little better all the time…….little by little.
Make this week the week you decide to DO something. We all read a lot and often we know some simple steps, but it is the doing part that is hard. Commit to one small step today. What is one way that you can be healthier this week?