For some 45% of Americans, weight loss was one of their top resolutions for 2014. For those with the same goal in 2013, a total 8% actually stuck to their efforts to eat better and workout. While eating healthier can be a rather daunting goal, the way you approach it will determine just how long it will stick.
I’ve spent my 20’s waffling back and forth in my view of food. Physical goals, taste buds, and self-identifiable labels (gluten-free, vegetarian, pescetarian) have perplexed and frustrated me about as much as guys who don’t know how to ask a girl out. Do I succumb to veganism for both the obvious svelte and economic benefits? Or do I turn to our “true roots” and become Paleo? How about attempting every promising Pinterest-fad? Well, thank God - coming to end of my 20’s I’ve reached some clear and simple truths about healthy eating, though not always in the most graceful, effortless ways. Truth be told: it’s all about balance and moderation. Though this is easier said than done, when you’ve grown up in decade where you get Pizza Hut points for reading books and Laura Hutton convinces you that Slim Fast is what keeps a 70 year old looking like a model. Things can get confusing. Simply put, I’ve found eating a plant-based, whole food meals, including all foods in moderation (grains, lean proteins, eggs, yogurt, even chocolate), works.
At the start of this year, like many American’s this New Year I did (or am doing rather) a little New Year’s “detoxing,” if you will. A little clearing out some of junk, which inevitably clears things out in my head. It’s nothing incredibly drastic, but simply cutting out gluten and sugar, sticking to clean, whole food approach, enough to require a bit of effort and discipline on my part, without requiring hours cleaning out a juicer or spending a fortune on smoothie concontions. I kept it simple, so the prep would be simple, therefore the detox - simple. Ultimately my goal was, not only to do it without spending unnecessary time preparing food, but to do it without spending unnecessary time thinking about food. .
So where is this healthy balance that will make real permanent changes, without feeling like you’re on a perpetual diet that just makes you want to go hog-wild into a stash of cookies? And it doesn’t matter is their Newman’s Own cookies - a cookie is a cookie. (Though his are really good.)
How do you get there and stay there? Our heads have more control over these things than we often own up to:
- Know you have every reason and ability change your habits and change your body for life.
- Identify habits you want to change (the very specific times and places you easily cave in and lose control.) Note how you get there in the first place.
- Don’t live by a list of rules, simply choose to eat clean and fresh foods you crave. If a desire for more energy is reason you want to change some habits, this is the best place to start.
- Acknowledge an indulgence. Eating healthy and mindfully doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy and mindful while enjoying a brownie every now and then. The sooner you learn to acknowledge a “treat” as just that, and savor each bite, rather than scarfing it down in guilt, the sooner you will feel and see a change.
- Learn when it’s a treat and when it’s not. As much as the occasional indulgences are totally wonderful, you'll soon find not all “treats” aren’t really a treat, or may not feel like one when you become more aware. Listen to your body, how it responds to wholesome foods, versus the “treats” you typically crave. You discover a shift in your palate’s perspective.
- Eat for a clearer head. Eliminating sugars and processed foods, not only clear out your body but clears up your head, to be more productive and sharp. The more you eat all the above, the less you’re in tune with what your body is really craving.
It all starts in your head. Once you start there, real changes in your habits and health will begin. Believe it our not, a beautiful mind is just as worth changing your habits for as is a beautiful body.