Healthy eating has been a large outlet for my creativity in the past few years. I have always loved to cook and I pretty much view recipes as a springboard for an idea that then mutates into an original piece of art- THAT YOU CAN EAT!
When I finally buckled down, committed to weight loss and made some kitchen changes, I started searching for healthy ideas and recipes. It’s amazing all there is out there on the internet now to know how to replace icky stuff (Boooo Vegetable oil, yea Coconut oil) and to build awareness of all the blech that is in processed food. Blech is my official term.
It took a lot of work to get to a healthy point and detox my body from all the long-term mindless eating I had been doing. And it is possible to go a little cuckoo learning all there is to learn about the messed up state that our food systems are in right now. (This one takes the Cake. Or the Bread as the case may be) It all makes me want to figure out how to homestead. And then I think about all the work and grab an organic apple and am glad we can at least support a local farm for our eggs, milk and produce. It’s not too much work, though, learning how to make gradual changes to our diets and avoid damaging our beautifully made bodies!
I have approached my diet with this methodology:
Step One: Say no to junk as often as you can- and it’s surprisingly often. Even as I was mindlessly eating up the leftover snacks my kids didn't finish I wuld as my self: Is this needed? Nope. Not at all. Do you really need to hit up a drive through or can you maybe hold out for 15 minutes until you can grab something at home. And if you do have to stop, give yourself an extra five minutes to sit in your car and eat a salad (minus too much cruddy dressing) as opposed to a sandwich of junk. Show up to a picnic with healthy things- other people will appreciate it too and if they don’t, I’m sure there is plenty of other ick they can eat. Just say no thank you, I’m not eating that right now. Or just don’t say anything and don’t eat it. I also always have some good snack at the bottom of my purse for emergency hunger! Making small changes is not easy, but it’s worth it!
Step Two: DRINK YOUR WATER. Our bodies are made of 80% water. Or is that the earth (again, not a science blog)?! Well, regardless of the exact percentage, water is what I think of as the “oil” for our bodies’ engines. It helps us process the fuel and function as well as we can. I aim for half my weight in ounces. So to make it easy- if you weighed 100 pounds, you’d aim for 50 ounces of water. I carry my trusty water bottles EVERYWHERE and grab it first if I am feeling hungry. I have been mentally contemplating a cute way to make a carrying case for them, ‘cause they do not necessarily look attractive. But for now, function over form!
Step Three: Contemplate cold turkey elimination. You may just have to do this. You may have to pick a timeline or a goal weight and stop eating refined Carbs (ie. breads, pastas, pastries) or Soda or Sugar. Or all three. Sometimes our bodies need serious detox. I found that getting rid of those things, letting my body’s metabolism re-set, made the biggest difference with fat burning weight loss. It also helped me learn my threshold for what should add back into my diet and what I can eat without weight gain and without guilt after I hit a goal weight. The best part: Fat is back. Yup. Healthy fats are so good for your body's carburetor (ie. metabolism ie. I am going a little far with this metaphor) so slice up that avocado, grab the cashews, enjoy that coconut oil and bring on the bacon- well clean low sugar, non-sodium nitrate infused bacon. Yea. I know it can be a little complicated. Let me know if you are interested in a structured and supportive program to help with this step!
Step Four: When in doubt get the veggies, gummies or nuts out. And put a few in a bowl. These are my go-to snacks now. Not pretzels or chips or ice cream. Just try it. If you are feeling snacky, grab a portion of these first. I put them front and center in the fridge and pantry and have a canister of nuts on the counter instead of a canister of flour. I need nuts daily- flour, not so much! What are gummies, you may ask? Stay tuned. I have some seriously fun ways I have used these lately! But the point is- if you’re hungry and water isn’t cutting it, don’t starve yourself. Your engine is sputtering and you’re about to run out of gas on the highway! Make a pit stop- just make sure it is a smart one! (Ok, now I am really driving the metaphor into the ground.)
Step Four: Pay attention to ways to replace your junky favorites in your life and try to do it with the least amount of packaging possible (if it’s wrapped up, it’s got more junk and less freshness). If you like nachos and cheese, try pepper scoops with cheese or salsa. I LOVE getting Fajita Nachos – hold the Nachos- at our local Mexican restaurant. Sure, the server may look at me a little strange when I ask them to put it all on lettuce, but it’s so yummy I don’t care how many times I have to explain it. I probably should learn how to explain it in Spanish. I also need to learn how to say: Extra Guacamole, Please. (Healthy Fats are the BEST.) If you like ice cream, try throwing frozen fruit in a blender. Thanks Mom for the YoNana thing-a-ma-jig! Go ahead and add a little cocoa powder if you’re like me and love chocolate.
Step Five: Don’t let cravings tell you what to do! Find ways to combat them before they start- maybe by planning a daily dose of dark chocolate. Yes, I love dark chocolate. And if I know that I could have a piece every day if I want, I find I want it less voraciously. As I said before, you can also finding ways to make replacements for those cravings – sparkling water as opposed to soda or popcorn instead of chips. Also, recognize that cravings aren’t in charge of you. Get busy, be productive, do something else you love to do- even splurge and do something luxurious like take a bath. Sniff Peppermint. Yup- peppermint essential oil can give you a burst of energy AND it can help your brain stop craving not so fabulous fuel. Other essential oils help with this too! I have incorporated peppermint oil INTO my gummies for a health-providing, energy-giving, craving-cutting mid-day treat. Have I mentioned that I am in love with multitasking?
Step Six: Find a buddy. It may be an online support group, it may be one person, but having someone you text, call or meet up with to talk about health helps! Actually, this step maybe needs to go earlier as all the other steps are so much easier if you know someone else is aware of your goals! I’ll be your buddy ‘cause have I mentioned I love ice cream and chocolate and it’s summer time and both of those things are everywhere!?!
Step Seven: Have fun! What?!? Have fun? But dieting isn’t fun. Oh, wait. Haven’t you noticed I never mentioned dieting? That’s right: I don’t think of being healthy as dieting. It’s just smart living. Sure, it may be challenging but so are crossword puzzles, learning new hobbies, climbing to the top of a mountain. And they can be fun. It’s all about perspective. That’s one of the main reasons I seek out creative cooking. It’s fun for me. And part of the fun is in knowing that it’s also good for me by producing healthy results. I have kept my weight off for one year and 3 months. And it feels so good. Sure, I went a lot of months not eating stuff that my brain told me to eat. But, I realized that brain wasn’t actually thinking most of the time- it was more about retraining my habits and taste-buds. Once my body was running better, my brain caught up with the game, reset itself and now I can listen to it more. As long as it isn’t always telling me to have ice cream for dinner!
Stay tuned, ‘cause now that you know I like to get creative in the kitchen, I wanted to share some of those healthy things I love in coming posts! What is your least healthy favorite food or meal and do you think there is a good replacement for it?! Let’s get creative! What is your favorite healthy food or meal?