Last Updated on August 15, 2018 by Cathy Jo Johnson
Time is our most valuable commodity, making it easier than ever to choose processed or fast foods over whole food alternatives. Just how do we train our body and mind to eat healthier so we can achieve better health and manage our weight?
Taking the plunge is always hard. You want to make a change and eat healthier but are you going to modify your diet so drastically that you can no longer eat the foods that are familiar to you?
Here are some evidence-based tips, which have been found to be helpful in training people just like you, to start eating clean foods and avoid the junk!
1. Be Mindful of What You Put in Your Mouth
The Center for Mindful Eating describes Mindful Eating as “allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom. By using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body, acknowledging your responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment, and becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating you can change your relationship with food.” In that way, you can better judge your hunger and eat for health AND pleasure. Your body will then be able to digest and utilize the nutrition in the foods you have just eaten, for a better, healthier you.
To be mindful of what and how you are eating, you have to be in the present moment. How can you achieve that?
According to Christopher Willard (Mindful.org), these six things can help:
- Eat when your body feels hungry (e., stomach growling); not when your emotions tell you to eat (i.e., sad, happy).
- Stop when your body tells you it’s satisfied; don’t ignore your body’s signals of satiety.
- Eat with friends or family at specific times, and in particular places; not random times and places, or alone.
- Eat foods which are nutritionally healthy; not foods which are emotionally comforting.
- When you are eating, focus on eating (sit and eat on a plate); don’t do other things (read, stand, use your phone).
2. Having a Sugar Craving?
Instead of giving in go to a hike, or a walk! Researchers found that taking a brisk 15-minute walk, made participants less likely to give in to their chocolate cravings, than when they remained sedentary. That’s easy, no?
A more recent review pinpointed that gentle exercise uses the same dopamine reward pathways in the brain as sugar. So, if you want sugar, get off the couch and get into action. What could be better for you than that?
3. Control the Playing Field to Make Better Decisions
In ancient times, our ancestors experienced periods of plenty and periods of starvation. Therefore, they used to ‘stock-up’ on calories during the periods of plenty. Most of us in the Western world, only experience the periods of plenty. We have no shortage of food. But our bodies are still programmed to eat as much as possible, should we experience shortages soon.
Additionally, the types of foods we consume have changed. We are continually eating foods high in carbs and calories, and now our bodies crave them. In the HBO series, The Weight of a Nation, I was heartbroken to hear an obese teen share her food challenges by stating if you don’t grow up eating broccoli you don’t crave it.
Are we destined to be eating these foods, forever? Can we find a way to eat healthier? I am living proof that you can change how you eat. Here are some of my tried and tested solutions:
- If it’s not there, you won’t eat it. Clear out your kitchen closets and workspace from any foods that you may begin to crave. Swap it out for healthy, cleaner, preferably whole food snacks.
- Don’t let yourself get too hungry. When you are hungry, you make worse decisions.
- In the same vein, don’t go to the supermarket hungry, and always follow a list.
- Always carry a protein bar or shake with you – it can be a literal life-saver!
- When you eat out, know in advance what they serve and what you will eat, it saves you the agony of making on the spot decisions.
- Don’t be afraid to treat yourself occasionally – as that might be what will keep you sane. Most people can’t stick to a strict regime at all times. You deserve it!
Changing how we eat is a journey, and it won’t happen overnight. A clean eating healthy lifestyle is a series of decisions that add up over time. Begin changing now! Pick one step and start practicing it today. Do it every day for the next week. Then add another, and another and another, you get the picture.
Tell me in the comments below, how have you successfully eliminated some of the processed food from your diet?
P.S. If you are on the journey to eat healthier, make sure to grab a FREE copy of 25 Tricks to Staying Fit Without Feeling Overwhelmed? These changes helped me maintain a 100-pound weight loss for 14 years.