I never liked vegetables – I can honestly remember times where months went by without me eating any leafy greens, and many weeks passed during which the only vegetables I ate were tomatoes. Bingeing was frequent, and I purposefully prepared an entire box cake batter mix and proceeded to eat the whole thing, raw. I also restricted heavily and lived off of nothing but weight-loss shakes amounting to no more than 600 calories per day.
I said things like “you only live once” and took that as justification to treat my body horribly. Still, I constantly felt guilty about my poor dietary choices.
Today, I cringe at all the damage that I inflicted upon my body for over twenty years.
I went on a backpacking and camping trip through Portugal recently, and camping food is obviously rarely fresh or the tastiest you’ll ever eat. But guess what I craved – not chocolate, not sweets. I craved spinach! Yes, spinach. I never thought this day would ever come.
Today, I live a healthful, balanced diet. I eat predominantly whole-foods, always plant-based, but I also indulge in a vegan donut or burger when I feel the desire to. But the most remarkable change is that I enjoy what I eat, and it makes me feel good and healthy. I know that everyday, I am giving my body all the nutrition it needs to thrive and function properly.
Quit the excuses and enjoy the process
I know it can be difficult. It can seem pointless to even try, because you won’t succeed anyway. It’s bland, it’s boring, it’s expensive… The excuses are endless.
I am here to show you exactly how you can go about implementing a healthy diet and how you, too, can effortlessly maintain it in the long run. It is everything but bland and boring, and will invite so much lightness and ease into your life, that you won’t ever want to go back.
Do your research
There’s so many misconceptions in our society about the health benefits of foods. Look at studies, books and documentaries, such as How Not To Die, What The Health and Forks over Knives. Learn to analyse who the information is coming from: does the author have a vested interest in what he is telling you?
You will have to undertake your own research to determine right from wrong, but let me give you some pointers to give you the gist of things:
- Whole foods are key: focus your diet on whole grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds.
- Limit processed foods.
- Carbs are good for you. Your body uses them for energy.
- Eggs are not part of a healthy diet. The USDA even prohibits distributors from labelling them as such.
- Processed meats are classed by the WHO as a carcinogen. They are not a health food.
- Lay off the alcohol – it’s not healthy whatsoever, and it’ll only lead to you making bad food choices.
Prepare foods that you like
The key to a healthy lifestyle is finding out which foods work for you. There will be a lot of trial and error involved, so embrace the journey and find out what you enjoy. For some that will look like smoothies everyday, others prefer savoury sandwiches. Everything is fine, as long as it is for you.
You don’t like salads full of leafy greens? Then don’t bother with them. By all means, eat your leafy greens, but incorporate them into your diet in a manner that you enjoy.
You can start by recreating your favourite foods in a healthy manner – pancakes don’t have to be chock full of butter and eggs. Pasta tastes just as great in its whole-grain form. Cookie dough with a base of chickpeas and peanut butters is not only healthy, but also guaranteed salmonella free. The internet is your friend on your quest for healthy, tasty recipes.
We all know that when you’re ravenous with hunger, you make bad choices. Prepare for this: keep some healthy snacks in your bag in case you need them. Prepare food in advance. When you’re going out for dinner, choose restaurants which you know will offer healthy options. If all else fails, learn to read food labels to evaluate which processed foods are actually not too unhealthy.
Planning ahead will make it that much simpler for you to stick to your healthy diet.
Don’t go on a diet – make healthy lifestyle changes
Diets don’t work. Let me repeat that for the people in the back: Diets. Do. Not. Work. They are simply not sustainable: you cut out so much that you inevitably end up feeling deprived and unhappy, and craving nothing but greasy, sugary foods.
Instead, switch up your lifestyle for the long term. Make changes that you know you’ll be able to keep. For instance, if your always super busy, accommodate for that – meal prep for the week if you know that you’re unable (or unwilling) to cook daily. If you want to loose weight, don’t restrict everything for a week and than go back to eating anything, but instead eat a varied, balanced diet that includes all the food groups – including carbs. Weight loss will take longer, but it’ll be sustainable and successful in the long run.
Above all: take it easy.
Your healthy lifestyle should never be a source of stress. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t always succeed, and don’t ever feel bad if you choose the pizza over the mixed salad. You do not have to be perfect.
It takes time for your body to adjust to these healthy lifestyle changes, but when it does, believe me, you will have never felt better. Give your tastebuds time to adjust to the natural flavour of foods. Let your mind adapt to the fact that you will not go back to eating processed, unhealthy food full time.
It’s so worth it
The benefits of a healthy diet are countless. Ever since I adopted this healthy diet, I have so much energy to go about my day and my body feels strong and capable – I am able to rely upon it. Migraines, headaches and other ailments are a rare occasion, whereas earlier I used to take pain meds daily. I healed an autoimmune disease and reduced debilitating joint pain. I maintain my weight, without effort. Food has become a source of comfort and fun, and fuel – not anxiety and guilt.
I hope I helped you in the creation healthy lifestyle, and I hope I inspired you to take the first step.