Healthy Eating – The First Step
You’re finally convinced that adopting a healthier lifestyle is the road you should take. However, you may also feel overwhelmed with where to start, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when we tend to reach for the easiest foods out of boredom and comfort. So, how do you go about transitioning into a different way of eating that will benefit your health, without feeling depressed about having to give up all your favorite foods? Everything you’ve read has already convinced you it’s too much work!
Take heart! There are simple beginner steps that are quite powerful to get you started. It begins with small choices, one by one, that add up over time to make a difference. Think about it: reaching for a piece of whole-grain toast with almond butter and fruit instead of that sugary donut is a small victory. After a couple of hours, instead of grabbing a bag of chips, choose “chips” made of root vegetables, like this product from Terra (Other Options). They are just as tasty but won’t sabotage your health like a potato chip which only offers empty calories and damaging fats. This becomes the second small victory in your new resolve to be kind to your body.
While you’re making better choices, another important tool is to educate yourself. Reading labels can be intimidating, but there are short cuts here, too. My favorite one is glancing at the list of ingredients. The shorter the list, the closer to a whole food, which is a healthy choice. Another thing to look for is whether you can pronounce the ingredients. The longer the list and the more complex the ingredients, the more processed and unhealthier the food.
Start your journey to improved health at the grocery store and determine to keep your cupboards stocked with healthier choices to reduce the temptation to slip away from your decision to better eating habits. Here’s an excellent article that addresses the ingredient issue if you’re interested in delving deeper into the science of whole food vs processed food. As you gain confidence, you can learn to read nutrition labels to help keep your sugar and sodium intake moderate. Here is a good place to start. It’s a gentle learning curve, one step at a time.
Another small change is choosing to cook with olive oil instead of canola oil; this is a single decision that will bring huge dividends yet requires zero extra effort. If you’re all about the texture of food and are craving an easy chocolate treat, here’s a chocolate mug cake recipe to the rescue that takes less than three minutes to make. It requires very little effort and expense and there will be no leftovers to tempt you, a good decision! Again – small choices that add up over time. Want contrast? How about an apple with peanut butter, instead of caramel? Crunchy and creamy, tart and smooth, all in one delectable healthy bite! If you love to cook, get creative!
Get through the first day making tiny decisions one at a time. That’s it. That is already a huge victory. Then get up the next morning and do it again. When that first pound comes off or you start to notice you don’t feel as sluggish or achy when you get out of bed in the morning, you will find that those decisions get easier to make. It doesn’t require shopping only at health food stores (an art in its own category) and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend more.
One of my favorite hacks for consuming those good-for-you green vegetables is drinking a glass of green powders once a day. The initial investment in a quality one such as this product is cheaper by the dollar than multiple trips to the market, not to mention the effort required to clean and eat them. Besides, how many of us have started out with the best intentions only to let all that work sit in the fridge until it turns into an unidentifiable science experiment? Once you gain enthusiasm for healthier eating, moving into the arena of fresh veggies will be more satisfying. Small decisions, big returns. Why not start today?