Baby Steps to Health
I’ve heard it takes 21 days to make a new habit. Well 21 days full of denying yourself what you want and eating things that are new doesn’t sound like a habit that you will be able to make and keep!
Most fad diets (and even good ones) have you make drastic changes. And not just one or two changes, but often a complete 180, all at once. The changes supposedly make your body start “eating bodyfat” by denying it a major food group (for example the Atkins diet denying all carbohydrates). Or they do not allow you to eat any of your favorite foods, which make the diet so difficult to maintain! Since the goal is a lifestyle change to be healthy and not just quick weight loss, a new approach should be taken.
Make Real Food “Baby Steps”
To create healthy eating habits and make them sustainable, you have to like what you are eating. Some changes you may not even notice (like simple food swaps), and other changes will make you feel better and thus be easier to maintain. My favorites are the ones that taste better than what I was eating before!
Here are some suggestions you can do in your home. Pick one or two a week, and keep building!
- Switch from margarine to butter (man-made trans-fat to an animal fat).
- Switch from powdered or dairy aisle creamers full of yucky ingredients to homemade creamers (my favorite is peppermint mocha).
- Switch from a snack of chips to a piece of fruit.
- Switch from meals focused on carbohydrates (pasta or potatoes) to high in vegetables.
- Switch from soda to water (or if you really like flavor, try home made flavored water).
- Try baking your bread instead of buying it (here’s a yummy recipe that’s fairly easy).
- Invest in a bread-machine! I prefer using the dough cycle and cooking everything in the oven (it tastes better that way). My favorite bread recipes for the bread machine.
- Make homemade rolls instead of using refrigerated dough.
- Switch from processed sugars to natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, and succanot (many recipes can be easily swapped 1 to 1 or 2 to 1).
- Start cooking from scratch instead of from a box. Build up to once a week, then twice, etc.
- Slowly cut out meals eaten in restaurants.
- Switch from vegetable and canola oil to coconut oil (great for cooking eggs, popcorn, etc). Olive oil is okay, but not for cooking at high temps.
- Slowly step up from fat-free milk, to low-fat milk, to full-fat milk, to even raw milk! (We’re at the full-fat stage, still looking for a safe raw-milk provider). Why to drink full-fat milk.
- Switch from low-fat to full-fat dairy (see the previous link on milk).
- Switch from low-fat, fat-free, sugar-free, and artificially sweetened products to the real thing, and here’s why!
- Instead of store-bought desserts, make them at home and control what goes in them. My favorite cupcake recipe, and cookie recipe.
- Instead of store-bought trail and snack mixes, make them yourself.
- Buy produce in season instead of buying the same thing every time (you get more nutritional benefit since it is fresh, you can save money since it is often on sale, and you increase variety).
- Find local sources for produce, honey, eggs, dairy and meat. Your produce will be fresher (because they will be picked ripe instead of ripening in a truck), often have more nutritional benefit, and you will be helping your local community (as well as helping your body and your pocket-book). Often, local farmers follow organic practices but either can’t afford being certified organic even though the may follow stricter practices than many things labelled organic. Get to know them and learn about their sustainable practices. Eating local honey and produce can help with allergies as well.
This list can go on and on! Do you have any real-food healthy switches you can recommend? I’m sure I missed so many! Again, don’t do all of these at once. Pick one or two a week, and keep building to a healthier lifestyle.