We’ve all been there, counting calories or stressing over every little thing we’ve eaten. I did the starvation diet in high school, and I was quite good at it. I dropped 25 pounds and went down to a size two, but I was a self-conscious wreck. Weighing myself up to 16 times a day, focusing my happiness on whether or not I could lose more weight. It was beyond unhealthy. Combine that with stress and I soon developed constant stomach pain that sent me to the doctor.
Years later and I still struggle with stomach pain from time to time. But I’ve changed my overall mentality and focus on eating healthy and well-balanced meals. I refuse to own a scale and focus on self-love regardless of size. Rather than control how much I eat, I control what I eat. Making sure the food I’m putting in my body is healthy and nourishing. Does that mean I’m perfect 100% of the time? Of course not! But my body is happier because of it!
What Healthy Actually Means
After watching a few terrifying Netflix documentaries, I realized my understanding of healthy wasn’t actually accurate. I thought that by buying food with labels directed at health, I was giving my body what it needed. A few hours, and some shocking discoveries later, I realized I had been going about it all wrong. Now I focus on buying fresh products, specifically lots of fruits and veggies. I try to buy organic when possible, but do the best I can when staying within a limited budget. The most important things I learned were:
- There’s sugar in everything!
Manufacturers add sugar to most products to make them more appealing. We’re over-consuming sugary goods. So I try to avoid them when possible.
- Veggies, Veggies and More Veggies
Vegetables are full of micronutrients our bodies need. I swap these out for unhealthy snack ideas and feel so much better.
- We Over Eat Because We’re Hungry
If our bodies aren’t getting what we need, we’ll continue to crave food. So making sure we have a well-balanced diet is important. Eating foods rich in fiber also helps!
- Meat isn’t the Only Place To Get Protein
We have this idea that we need lots of protein for energy. But overconsumption of foods is leading to disastrous environmental problems. So I try to go meatless at least once a week.
My Healthy Eating Plan
I try to focus on eating lots of healthy vegetables throughout the day. I’m naturally a big eater(especially when I exercise), so that means I take regular trips to the grocery store to stock up on fresh produce. I add vegetables to everything! I snack prep veggie bags for the week, usually filled with carrots, broccoli, and peppers. Perfect for snacking on the go, and even better with hummus.
I try to avoid processed food, sugar, and refined carbs. When I can’t avoid entirely, I reduce. I started doing this by drinking less and less sugar in coffee. My taste buds adjusted and the coffee still hit the spot. I avoid dairy as much as possible because of an intolerance, but I’ve found lots of other benefits to reducing my milk products including less bloating.
I changed my diet slowly over an extended period of time. Well, it’s still far from perfect, I feel better, my skin is clearer, and body is much happier with the change. Making a few gradual changes worked for me. By integrating a few changes, my body slowly adjusted to new foods. The more changes I made, the more I started to crave the healthy food. I always try to focus on what foods I should be eating more of, and never restricted myself from eating anything.
Ditching the Guilt
The last and most important thing I did was ditch the guilt associated with eating. Why are we so hard on ourselves for having a piece of cake? Is it really going to affect our lives that much? Probably not. But having an unhealthy relationship with our bodies will. The more I try not to eat a food, the more I want to eat it. The more I feel guilty for what I ate, the more I fill my mind with self-doubt and hate. So what if I ate the whole box of chocolates. Am I probably going to get a stomach ache? Yes. But am I going to be hard on myself and hate myself because of it? No. I’m choosing not to!
Creating a loving and fun relationship with food and your body is just as important as eating healthy food. If you listen to your body, junk food won’t make you feel as good as healthy food so you may find yourself craving healthier options it naturally. The guilt associated with eating can be crippling, and self-deprecating. Well, I still have to check myself from time to time. As, it’s hard not to fall into the habit of feeling guilty, especially when we are bombarded with constant messages about how we should look. I know that it’s not worth the time and stress. That we need to stop feeling guilty over what we’re eating and start having healthier relationships with the foods we eat and loving our bodies now.