In our current culture, as throughout most of history, food plays an important role on so many levels. And yet, as we grow in conscious awareness to incorporate more healthy habits, too many of us think that healthy somehow means ‘a deprived way of eating‘.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you have been neglecting healthy food choices because you have pictured a scenario where you will be cranky, deprived, and moody – craving everything in sight, feeling like everyone around you is eating what they want, except you – think again.
When our food choices are made from a conscious awareness, we can find that eating great makes us feel like we are gaining where variety, taste and nutrition is concerned, not losing.
The biggest part of turning our food choices into healthy habits and feeling great, is to start by adding in healthy foods that you like, not by telling yourself what you need to remove.
Removing the Removal Process
Believe it or not, the removal part of unhealthy food choices comes naturally and sometimes very subtly when we incorporate more and more healthy foods.
Say for example that your diet is based on fast food. The best approach is not to tell yourself that today you are giving up all fast food. No way. Your mind will do everything it can to make sure you realize what a bad idea that was, and how much you are missing out on. The best way to go about it, is to add in new, healthier options. Start for example by making a choice to make more meals at home ahead of time, for when you need them.
This allows you to get to know your grocery store, and the more you get to know your grocery store, the more fun and creative you get with personalizing your meals and the less you start to rely on fast food.
This works for every food choice. Whether it is a chocolate or soda addiction, make changes by adding in new food and drink options. Never start by trying to remove, avoid or lose the “poor” food choices. They will naturally get eliminated over time, as you learn more about healthy food choices and incorporate them into your life.
The best way to feel great about what you are eating, while maintaining healthy habits is to eat like you are gaining, not losing out on something.
Here are 5 more tips to feel good about what you eat:
1. Prepare your own meals.
Nothing says quality and pride like making your own meals. You know exactly what went into them and how each part was prepared. You can maintain personal standards and pick your own quality ingredients, no matter what your budget.
As well, there is a great feeling of accomplishment associated with putting together your own creations that nourish your body, no matter what they are.
2. Work with, not against, your taste buds.
Taste is important, and there is no way anyone will feel good about what they are eating if they don’t like the taste.
If you know you have a tendency to prefer sweet flavors, add in healthy choices that are of a sweet nature like bell peppers, carrots, teff grain, buckwheat, mangoes, etc.
If you know you have a tendency to prefer sour flavors, add in healthy choices like tomatoes, ginger, oranges, raspberries, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, etc.
With the many herbs and spices out there, as well as food combinations, almost every flavor can be brought out of any meal. As you add in more healthy options, you will find yourself moving away from processed white sugar and salt that mask the true taste of our natural food.
3. Throw out the rules
If you feel like having a salad for breakfast and oatmeal for dinner, go for it. There is nothing to gain, but feeling bad, by sticking to rules that certain foods should be eaten at certain times only.
Get bold, get brave and get creative with your food! Add in some mango chunks to a vegetable salad or some avocado slices as part of dessert. Make a cold peach soup to cool off with in the summer or have steamed squash as part of a hearty breakfast in the winter.
When it comes to healthy food choices, feel great by eating them when your body says so, not when some arbitrary rule says so.
4. Substitute favorite processed food favorites, for homemade ones.
Perhaps french fries are your vice, or perhaps it is ice-cream. No matter what it is, you can immediately make the food item many times healthier, just by making it yourself.
If you absolutely cannot give up fried foods at this time, picking the right, fresh oil to cook with at home can make a tremendous difference, where the health value of the item is concerned.
And if you have not yet tried homemade ice-cream, let me assure you, you are missing out on some awesome, guilt-free stuff. Just by having a blender, you can make a fruit only based type of sorbet or add in some organic milk or yogurt for a creamy taste, and sweeten with raw honey. Tastes amazing, and the only thing you are missing is loads of processed sugar and salt, as well as modified dairy products.
Substitutions like this can be made with literally everything. From homemade hummus, to natural juices, this is where delicious also becomes healthy.
5. Pace yourself
There are a lot of delicious foods out there, but we cannot eat them all at once. Nothing feels better then getting up from the table, being able to move and think, with more energy than one went into the meal with. However, this will never happen when we overeat.
Overeating is extremely taxing on our digestive system and thus entire body. Some people think it is normal to feel tired after a meal. It is not. Whether you become more conscious about your portion sizes, or practice better self-discipline to know when you had enough, it is an integral part of feeling good about what you eat.
I know none of us enjoy the guilty feelings of having eaten too much, or the feeling of being “stuffed“. And the best part is we never have to feel them again. Whether the food is free, or you won it, or you are at an all-inclusive buffet, it should not matter. Your mind may tell you that you are feeling great while you wolf down as much food as possible, but your body reminds you very quickly that it was so not worth doing.
So make sure your plate is never full to the rim with food, practice saying “no thank you” and know your limits to feel great after every meal.
Evita Ochel, B.Sc., B.Ed., CHN - is a certified holistic nutritionist, biologist, educator, writer, researcher and speaker in the areas of health, science and holistic wellness. She is a nutritional science expert and her teaching and writing focus on natural, wholesome, plant-based and organic nutrition to achieve optimal health and longevity.
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