You’ve just made the decision that you’re done eating all junk food, and you’re going to start eating healthy. You head to the store and stock up on a whole bunch of fresh produce pretending like you don’t even see the chip and candy aisles. As soon as you get home, you get to work cutting vegetables and making a nice, big salad. Just as you sit down to eat, you get a text from your best friend saying that he/she picked up a fresh, hot pizza from your favorite pizza place. You look at your salad, then you think about that hot, fresh pizza. I mean it is Friday night after all, and that pizza won’t stay hot forever. Just like that you grab your keys and head out the door. You can always start eating healthy tomorrow. Sound familiar? I think if we’re honest we all find eating healthy to be a challenge. It can be hard to form new habits and make healthy eating a way of life, but I’m here to tell you that eating healthy can also be enjoyable and satisfying.
For several years now, I have made healthy eating a way of life. I deal with chronic inflammation, and I find that a whole foods diet works best for my body. I can honestly say that I enjoy eating wholesome, nourishing foods. However, I can also say that sometimes I get bored with eating healthy, and I crave junk food. I’ve learned a few tricks over the years to help me stay on track, and I think these will help you too.
First of all, don’t have an all or nothing mindset. I’m guilty of this. I’m a type A personality, and I absolutely hate feeling like I’m not giving something my all. When it comes to eating, I feel like I either need to be all in or all out. I’ve had times where I don’t eat any junk food at all. I find that when I have that mindset, I deprive myself and I end up craving lots of junk food. I’ve also had times when I eat mostly healthy but then snack on little bits of junk food every day which leaves me feeling frustrated. I find what works best for me is to stick to a whole foods diet all week, and then one day a week I eat any treat I want. If I feel like having skittles, then I eat skittles. If I want pizza, I can get pizza. Eating healthy, wholesome foods should make up the majority of your diet, but eating a treat here and there in moderation is good for you mentally and emotionally and will help with cravings.
Secondly, don’t think that healthy eating means depriving yourself. Find healthy foods that you enjoy and find satisfying. Everyone needs comfort foods that they can enjoy on a daily basis, or a diet won’t be sustainable long term. Personally, I find carbs to be very satisfying. I have replaced refined carbs and sugars with wholesome, nutrient dense carbs. One of the carbs that I enjoy on a daily basis is sweet potato fries. I love to take a sweet potato, cook it in the microwave for a few minutes, slice it up, and then fry it in raw butter for a few minutes. Oatmeal, rice, and millet are other carb sources that provide great nutrients while also meeting my need to eat something warm and satisfying. I don’t know about you, but I have a serious sweet tooth. Instead of having sugary treats around the house, I keep raw honey on hand. Raw honey is a natural way to satisfy your sweet tooth and can even boost your immune system. I love taking a big spoonful of almond butter and then topping it with honey and eating that as my sweet treat before bed. Those are just a few ideas. Explore what works best for you, and eat foods that you find satisfying.
Thirdly, don’t get stuck in a rut. Add variety to your diet, and try new foods. This is something that I am still working on. I tend to get stuck in a rut eating the same things day in and day out, and then I find myself bored and dissatisfied with what I’m eating. When I start to get bored, I try to add some variety to my diet and switch things up a little Even something as simple as buying a different type of vegetable or fruit on my weekly shopping trip can help. Recently, I started buying frozen fruit and spinach and making smoothies. It has been really refreshing to switch things up and incorporate something different in my diet. Even switching up the type of meat I buy or trying a new healthy carb source can add some variety and excitement to my diet. Get creative with your diet, and don’t be afraid to try new things!
Making healthy eating a way of life is a journey. Give yourself some grace. You won’t be perfect, but that’s ok! Eat foods that you find enjoyable and satisfying. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try new foods. Enjoy the process and have fun with it!
ACE Certified Health Coach
(B.S. in Sports & Health Sciences)
Heidi is a certified health coach with a bachelor’s degree in sports and health sciences. She specializes in helping women accomplish their health goals through nutritional and lifestyle changes. She enjoys creating healthy meals in the kitchen and working out with her husband.