Last time, we talked about how Diets Don’t Work. You’re probably saying to yourself, so if diets don’t work what do I do now? Well, making a temporary change (a diet) is not going to give you the long-term, lasting results you are looking for, but you can’t make drastic changes in your habits overnight (unless you are a very disciplined person and I don’t know about you, but I am NOT one of those people). The changes I’ve made in my own eating habits started with small changes over time. After all, it took me well over 30 years to get into really bad shape, did I really think I could pop a pill, rock my abs or change my bad habits overnight? I felt like I knew what I needed to do, but I had no clue how to get myself from where I was to where I needed to be.
To be honest, we thought we were doing a decent job with food for our family. Sure, we knew we needed to eat some more veggies, but other than that, we were not eating a lot of red meat and we were eating low-fat and non-fat things. (Hey, the box said that non-fat was healthy! Plus, all those vitamins and minerals in that cereal was part of a well-balanced breakfast! Right?)
Here is what my meal plan used to look like: breakfast cereal or a scone or maybe a banana and coffee; sometimes I even skipped breakfast all together. By the time lunch came around, I was starving, so I had some Mexican food or a turkey sandwich and chips and a diet soda. After a long day at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company, I had the appetite of Fred Flintstone, so I came home and snacked on a chips, crackers, cookies or whatever else I could quickly get in my mouth before I passed out. Dinner was usually one of the same 7-10 things we always made: spaghetti, tacos, chicken with some sort of boxed noodles and a few pieces of asparagus or broccoli (We thought we were health freaks with this meal!), sloppy joe’s, chicken pot pies, frozen lasagna & maybe a salad, pizza, ground turkey with boxed ingredients like Hamburger Helper, etc. You get the idea. Now, I am sure YOU don’t eat like this, but now-a-days with two working parents, these kinds of foods are cheap, easy to prepare and convenient to purchase.
If you look at what we ate, for the most part came in a box and was processed and prepared for our ease of use. There was no real fruit, vegetables and/or whole grains in these foods. If you look at the nutrition and ingredients labels, you will see they are full of calories, sugar, fats, salts and a bunch of things I cannot even pronounce. We were processed people.
Now, these types of meals are not necessarily bad or unhealthy for you. As a matter of fact, we still enjoy many of these meals today. The difference is, when we have these meals, we prepare them with real, whole foods, rather than boxes and packages. The problem with processed foods is they remove all the good stuff and add other stuff in so it can last longer on the grocery store shelf and in your cupboards. When you leave your body craving the nutrients it needs, it will keep telling you you’re hungry, even after you’ve eaten plenty of calories.
So, a simple challenge is to get yourself thinking about ‘real food’. Don’t get crazy thinking you’re going to change all your eating habits overnight, but consider some baby steps toward better habits. Here are a couple to get you started this month:
Buy real food – You’re probably saying, “Real food? What am I buying now?” If you are like us, you are buying food-like things, but not real food. Real food is found in the perimeter of the grocery store: the produce, meat and dairy sections. If it comes in a box and has an ingredients list of more than 5 ingredients (that can’t define and your kids cannot pronounce), it is probably not real food. Focus on things that have whole grains and avoid the white flour products. All of the dinners we used to eat can be made with real whole foods.
It will take a little more work then just adding boxed substance to boiling water or putting a box of something in the microwave or heating some frozen pieces up in the oven on a cookie sheet, but once you get in the swing of things, you will be amazed how easy it is and what real food tastes like and how great it will make you feel and look.
Fruit Bowl – One thing I did early on was go out and buy the largest fruit bowl I could find (it was actually a salad bowl) and I placed it on the center of our kitchen island and made sure it was full of nice-looking, interesting fruit. Before I purchased the bowl, the fruit we purchased was stored in the bottom of the refrigerator and was not visible or easily accessible. It usually went bad before anyone touched it. After the bowl, when I came into the kitchen I would see the fruit and grab it instead of chips or something less healthy in the cupboard.
These are not huge changes, so give them a try. Small changes like this can change your life over time. What do you have to lose? If you need some help, I am starting a blog with recipes and tips to help you out at www.HeresWhatiDo.com. Or, give me a call and I’ll help you find a way to get more real food into your fridge and your family.