You've done it! You've decided to start eating healthy this year. Now what? Where do you start? What does eating healthy mean anyway? There is so much information on what is classified as "healthy eating" it can be very confusing. Let's start by defining healthy eating.
Healthy eating is a lifestyle of eating that is easy to maintain and helps you achieve your health goals. That's right - it starts with you. When you decided to start eating healthy, what was your reason? Is it to lose weight? Is it to have healthier digestion? Is it to have more energy? Until you decide why you want to eat healthy, it is going to be very hard to actually find an eating lifestyle that works for you.
Fad diets and eating programs may or may not work for you. You may have friends eating the "Keto" way and it is working wonders for them. It may not for you. You may have friends eating plant-based with great success but it may not be a lifestyle you can maintain. You may have friends counting points and losing weight. But you may not be able to follow a point system.
Before you can start eating healthy, you need to determine your desired outcome. Here are 5 ways to figure out what healthy eating means to you.
#1 Start with your most recent Doctor's visit results.
When you had your last check-up what did you learn? You may have learned that your blood pressure is now considered pre-hypertensive given the rating system was changed. You may have learned you have gained some weight. You may have learned your cholesterol level is too high. You may have learned your thyroid function is off. You may have been told that your blood sugar is too high.
If a recent check-up made you start thinking about helping your body by eating better, this narrows your search about how to eat. There are plenty of holistic nutritionists who can design a meal plan to address your specific health concerns. Look for someone who is board certified from the National Association of Nutritional Professionals or who has a Bachelors or Masters degree from an accredited college such as the American College of Healthcare Sciences.
#2 Get a delayed food allergy test.
If you haven't uncovered a potential health concern from a recent medical exam and you still aren't feeling 100%, a delayed food allergy test may help you. Traditional food allergy tests can't identify a food allergy because the test can only identify what you ate most recently. Did you know that most food allergies won't show up until at least 28 days after eating a food? This is why it is so hard to pinpoint if there is a delayed food allergy making you feel ill. A local integrative doctor may provide a delayed allergy test in your area.
If you can't find a local doctor who performs the test, you can also try an elimination diet. This is not ideal given the allergy may not show for 28 days after you've eaten the food. But if you are willing to put in the time, you can start eliminating foods from your diet. After a period of time, reintroduce the foods back into your routine and see how you feel. If you have a negative reaction, such as gas, bloating, fatigue, you may have a sensitivity.
#3 Try a routine that fits your lifestyle.
If you simply want to try something new, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about healthy eating from books and the internet. My philosophy is to eat mostly plant-based and to take supplements to support my overall health. I am a firm believer that even if you are eating organic food, you cannot get enough nutrients from food to feed your body.
Our bodies are very complex and want to work hard for our health. No matter what we do to the body, it fights for us until it can no longer fight. By simply eating organic fruits and vegetables plus limiting meat intake, you are helping your body avoid harmful chemicals that interrupt our natural processes. Not only will you feel better and have more energy, some health conditions may actually subside.
For example, when I started eating organic, about 4 months later I had a dentist appointment. I had a tooth on the "watch" list the last time I saw the dentist. During this appointment, it was time for X-rays. After looking at the X-rays, the dentist told me the tooth appears to have gotten better - all on it's own. I've never had a tooth that was on the watch list taken off the watch list! Usually it progressed to need a filling. This is my proof point that avoiding chemicals in our food can have a positive affect on our health.
#4 Plan to eat healthy.
Once you've decided on what eating healthy means to you, planning for it will keep you on track until the change becomes part of your lifestyle. It only takes 21 days to create a new habit - good or bad. Create meals for at least 3 days a week that meet your new eating goals. If you are used to planning out the full week for meals, don't let me stop you! Most people do not plan every meal so you may need to ease into it slowly.
Also, don't be afraid to make changes to recipes or make substitutions. When I want to make a recipe and the vegetable or fruit is not in season, I simply use frozen. You can find just about any vegetable or fruit in the freezer aisle and even organic is becoming easier to find!
#5 Involve your friends and family.
Don't underestimate the power of a support system. Tell your friends and family about your healthy eating goals. There will be some who won't want any part of it, but there will be others who may want to participate with you. By telling others what your goals are, it will help you maintain accountability. Plus, when you start to notice changes, you can share those successes with them. It may persuade them to join you or to make a change in their own eating habits.
I hope you enjoyed this post on how to start eating healthy. If you try any of the above, let me know how it worked for you. I love reading your experiences on topics I share.
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