How To Eat Healthy Without Feeling Like You’re On a Diet
Written By: Suzanne Kvilhaug
It’s hard not to envy and want to pick the brain of people who love eating healthy all the time. They make it look like a walk in the park and show no signs of struggle, no frustration and have no complaints. Their Instagram is full of picture-perfect healthy meals, they’ve been gluten-free even before it was mainstream, and they haven’t had a sip of soda since the 90’s. They stick to the perimeter of the grocery store (yeah that’s a thing...), they don’t eat any processed food, and they drink 8 glasses of water a day. For a lot of people, eating healthy can feel like a serious challenge where only the strongest survive. And survival feels like mission impossible. Not everyone finds eating healthy to be easy, but everyone enjoys the idea of eating healthy. So can you turn the attractive idea into your reality? Is it possible to eat healthy without the classic feeling of misery that comes along with the territory of dieting? With the right mindset and approach...yes and yes!
Put the idea of all or nothing out of your mind
When you are starting out on the journey to eating healthier, the keyword to remember is journey! A journey by definition takes a long time, and that means success is not going to happen overnight. Journeys are meant to be enjoyed, not rushed. You won’t immediately quit all of your unhealthy habits and that’s perfectly fine. It’s admirable to be enthusiastic about eating healthy but the decision to go all in right off the bat rarely works. The beginners high may convince you that anything is possible... but not so fast. Don’t go through the kitchen and throw out everything that’s processed, swear off junk food forever, and set unattainable lofty goals. Going all in is setting yourself up for failure and leading you right back to square one. It’s not about deciding to be 100 percent healthy, 100 percent of the time, and never looking back. It’s more like slow and steady wins the race.
Never use the D word
By now you’ve probably heard that the word diet is pretty much banned or viewed as a four-letter word. It’s no longer about dieting, it’s about making a lifestyle change and eating healthier. As cliche and overstated as it is, it’s true! Dieting is not sustainable nor enjoyable, and even if it works for a little while, the infamous crash is inevitable. To be as straightforward as possible, dieting does not work! Simply using the d-word is a bad idea from the get-go. Your mind goes into a panic, you start feeling sad about the things you are going to miss, and you constantly fear deprivation. When you switch your mindset to eating healthy being a lifestyle, you make changes at a comfortable pace that stick. Expect there to be setbacks, detours and bad days, but that doesn’t mean you need to quit when they happen. Just wake up the next day and start again because...it’s a lifestyle!
Nix the belief that eating healthy = boring
Healthy does not equal boring. Repeat to yourself, healthy does not equal boring! This is one of the biggest misconceptions that keep people from trying to eat healthily. When you really think about it, it doesn’t make sense. Eating healthy means eating more real food, and real food has real flavor. If you are used to eating mainly processed food, at first it may feel too difficult to enjoy the taste of healthy food. It takes time for your taste buds to readjust but before you know it, you will find that healthy food tastes way better than the artificial stuff. Adding healthy things to flavor foods like lemon, lime, balsamic vinegar, and cayenne pepper can go a long way. When you start eating healthy, you discover the options are endless and the word “boring” is far from how to describe them.
Choose what feels right for you
If you hate meat, don’t go paleo. If you love meat, don’t go vegan. I mean, duh, right? Always make sure that the choices you make are something you REALLY want to do. Why would you do something that doesn’t resonate with you or excite you? If you don’t want to do it, you won’t stick with it! It’s that simple. Start reading different approaches to healthy eating and see if there is a way that feels meant for you. If there isn’t, take principles and food ideas from different healthy lifestyles and create your own. Mix and match until you get it right because the thing about eating healthy is, it isn’t “one size fits all”.
Don’t fear the produce section
It’s inevitable, a healthier lifestyle means eating more fruits and vegetables. If you are completely new to eating healthy, the produce section may come off intimidating as hell. Who knew there were so many different kinds of lettuce?! It’s like, which one do I want? What in the world is that purple thing over there? Is it necessary to get organic everything? How can you tell if something is ripe? And does ripe mean it’s ready to eat, or not ready to eat? Google things as you go along, and make it a point to learn something new with each trip to the grocery store. Over time you’ll go from amateur to expert and look back and laugh at your produce section fear. If you prefer to grocery shop online, this is an easy and effective way to learn what food and produce to buy in the comforts of your own home. You’re not lazy, you’re resourceful!
Snacking is allowed and encouraged
“I’m quitting snacking completely!” is a troublesome motto of many eager people who just made the decision to eat healthily. The issue with not snacking is that your blood sugar will eventually drop too low and voila - the binge eating show begins. Not to mention the feelings of misery (eh hem, hangry) kick in and everything becomes an annoyance till you eat again. Healthy snacking is a way to fuel your body in between meals. The best part of the healthy food movement is the number of healthy snacks available that taste REALLY good!
Whether you fell off the wagon or you are starting to eat healthy for the first time, you don’t have to sacrifice your happiness and sanity to do it.