At this point (unless you are hiding under a rock or refusing to listen) all of us have a good understanding of what healthy meals and a healthy diet looks like. There is a lot of theories around how much carbohydrates, fats and proteins that we all need or should be consuming, which can in turn cause us to doubt ourselves. We worry about vitamins, minerals, nutrients, implications of food and illness...the list of worries associated with food is endless. I frequently speak about the importance of a plant based diet, but don't believe that animal products are going to kill you. I am leading a detox at the moment that is highly restrictive for two weeks, but my intent is to teach people to feel and understand the relationship that food has in their bodies and heal themselves from food related physical ailments. I work independently with each person to ensure that the detox serves them in their physical and mental health. We also discuss how to detox our lives off of the plate. Ensuring that we fuel our needs in career/hobby/sense of purpose, relationships, physical activity and spirituality. What I reinforce with everyone that I work with is that each one of them is a unique individual with unique needs. Learning to see health through a different lens is important to a healthy lifestyle.
If you think that losing 20 pounds (through a highly restrictive diet and insane amounts of exercise) is the solution to all of life's problems and that once you reach that goal your life will be better...you are probably going to be disappointed. I am not saying that losing weight and reaching a goal won't make you feel better, but that your intentions are too shallow. A healthy lifestyle incorporates so much more than food and exercise. As a health coach I do not recommend or prescribe diets. If you are looking for a meal plan you won't find one (except in my detox but that's only 2 weeks). The reason for that is I believe that once you are able to adjust your life off of the plate, making healthy food choices and sustaining them will be easy. EAT MORE VEGETABLES, DRINK MORE WATER and FIND BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE!
I hope you all are surviving the Holiday season. In my previous life as a retail manager this time of year was THE WORST. I was stressed with work (so many seasonal holiday associates to hire and train, cranky Holiday shoppers, increased traffic in the mall and on the roads) and stressed with all that I "needed" to get done at home. Just this year, three years after my retail career, I am able to hear Christmas music and enjoy listening. When you hear non-stop Christmas music from October-January it messes with you. I started thinking about all of the "needs" that we have created for ourselves over the Holidays. We need to bake cookies, purchase presents for everyone that we know, drink lots of sweet sugary beverages, send out Holiday cards, decorate our homes and the list goes on. I like traditions. The nostalgia and comfort that comes from repeating activities that bring us the warm and fuzzies. What happens when those traditions no longer bring us real happiness? When we spent a whole year eliminating refined sugar from our diets and the spiked eggnog and sugar cookie induced coma you have found yourself in is not worth it any longer. Also why do all of our traditions seem to be built around eating unhealthy foods? It's often easier to see things retrospectively. Think back, start at Halloween. How has your nutrition been compromised since then?
I listened to an interesting Hidden Brain Podcast recently about the psychology of social and cultural eating. They studied spicy foods. Why is it in Mexico chili peppers are used like salt? Children under the age of 3 or 4 rarely liked the spicy foods. By the time they hit 5 years old though they were eating it just as frequently as everyone else. The taste hadn't changed but the child understood the social and cultural standards. We all start with innate tastes for certain foods. Spicy foods, stinky cheese, and bitter foods are not good to us as children. Yet we acquire these tastes as we get older. Why do we want to acquire a taste for stinky cheese? We have officially evolved once we enjoy stinky cheese? No thanks!
The reason that people eat things that they know they should't has everything to do with the way we want that food to make us feel. We want to fit in with the group around us eating all of the Christmas sweets and drinking eggnog. Spicy food gives us a real thrill but without too much pain. Sugary foods make us happy. As a child how often did you get a sweet treat (ice cream) after doing something well. We have all of these expectations about how certain foods make us feel. These expectations about how we will feel after eating can be very tricky to overcome. I really get tested during the Holiday season. The good news is there are ways to get past this barrier to your health.
The good news is that we are pretty resilient. We can make changes in our lifestyles and our nutrition any time we want. We have to want it bad enough and know that we are worth every single ounce of effort that it will require to be successful. I am worth it and you are worth it! Rethink some of your unhealthy traditions over the Holiday season. Write yourself a letter for next year about how you want to take on the Holiday season a little differently next year.
Not eating meat, cheese and avoiding gluten in the South makes you a pretty big weirdo! I am getting used to fitting out. The remarks about "how could you?" and "why would you?" and the like, no longer irritate me. The answer is simple..."it makes me feel better." Everyone has preconceived notions about nutrition and diet and I can see why. There is so much information out there that is contradicting. One year carbohydrates are good (remember the base of the food pyramid) and the next year fat is what is killing us all, then the next year we should all go on the Keto diet and eat all of the fat. Nutrition research is often contradictory and results are rarely able to be replicated. Vegans and vegetarians get a bad wrap for being too sensitive over animal rights and get put into the crazy, liberal, hippy category. Why do we have to put each other in these little boxes? Why are people so quick to judge and criticize something foreign? I am here to tell you that eating a clean diet that excludes most of the popular foods of the traditional American diet is not going to score you brownie points at a party. This social constraint is often what leads people to make poor choices at parties, events and with groups because we feel the need to be apart of what everyone else is doing. When they ask you for the third time if you would like a piece of birthday cake. When they think you must be nuts to refuse the pizza at the party. When they say that not eating hamburgers and hotdogs is anti-American. You know what you have to remember? I CHOOSE WHAT DOES AND DOES NOT GO INTO MY BODY. Fitting out is something that I am proud of. So many Americans are sick and tired and most of that is because of the foods we choose to eat. I choose differently and do not feel bad about it at all and neither should you. Don't allow the opinion of how someone else thinks you should live your life change the way you act, feel or behave. Find your tribe. People that support and honor the choices that you make. Surround yourself with those people and you won't feel so bad about ignoring the opinions of others.