Monday, January 4, 2010

Changing your eating habits forever

I dedicate this blog today to everyone out there who has ever tried dieting and found that after a while all the progress that was made is now regressing and slowly slipping away. (This has been me throughout my whole life....I have done Weight Watchers, South Beach Diet, Cabbage Diet, Detox Diet, etc. etc. etc....) I have tried everything and with each diet that I went on I had great success followed by the inevitable return of the weight....

So, as many of you know, I have gradually moved into a vegetarian lifestyle over the past 6 months or so. I read a wonderful book called The China Study that really opened my eyes to lifestyle choices and the things we chose to feed our bodies....I have also watched various movies such as Food Inc. (which if you haven't seen, you DEFINITELY should) and have done a lot of research on healthy living and lifestyle choices.

I have made some serious changes in my life and it seems that there are others out there who wish to do the same this year. I wanted to do a post on "How to change your eating habits forever". I'm not a professional and I don't claim to know the answers, but I just wanted to share what worked/is working for me. I hope that something here will inspire you to seek the path of health for your future.

Firstly, you must have a passion and motivation for change. Why is it that you want to change your eating habits? Do you really know what is bad and good for you to eat? Do you really know the impact that food has on your health and life? Where is your passion for this change coming from? Take some time to ask yourself these questions and really contemplate your answers. Until you identify your motivation I think that change will not only be difficult, but very likely it will not be forever....To make a change that will last forever it has to really mean something to you personally. You have to feel that it really is "life or death" and it has to hold that kind of motivation for you. Wanting to lose weight is NOT motivation enough to make a change that will last forever. It has to mean something more...

Secondly, you must identify the easy habits to kick. If you know right off the bat that you could easily give up cheese because you don't really like it anyway, or bread, or meat, or alchohol or whatever it is....give that up first! Then move onto the harder stuff....Once you identify the reasons you have for quitting it is so much easier to give it up...I just gradually took this approach with each thing - coffee, chocolate, meat, sugar, etc....I identified why it was bad for me, what it was doing to my body, how I would feel if I gave it up, what it would mean for my life and future if I did etc.....Once you start seeing the results in your life you get excited about it and want to eliminate more and more things! (For example, after giving up caffeine and chocolate my headaches started going away! I am definitely excited about spending less of my life suffering and more of it living...This has motivated me to eliminate other things as well)

Thirdly, you cannot give something up without replacing it. (Depriving yourself only makes your lifestyle choices more of a diet than really a change.) In order to make these changes last forever you have to find something that will satisfy you in the same way. For example, to satisfy the need for sugar you might eat fruit or something with a natural sweetness. The way I felt less deprived when giving up meat was to treat myself to new foods and buying new ingredients. I had never cooked with legumes or grains like bulgar wheat and stuff. I had never even heard of cardamom pods and never dreamed of cooking with ginger enough to buy a whole root of it! Basically when I moved to NZ I started a whole new pantry and I took that time to fill it with only the good stuff! I don't cook with flour or lard or anything like that anymore, I have a huge selection of grains, beans/legumes, spices, herbs etc...If a recipe calls for cream or something that I know my body doesn't like, I skip it and find a new recipe! Look for recipes that are totally different than what you are used to making and it will add a new element of excitement to these lifestyle changes.

For me the key is not buying it....I never buy sweets or candy or chocolate or cakes or anything like that, I never buy ice cream or cereals or snack foods like granola bars. I just don't buy it!! If I need a snack I eat a few raisins and some pumpkin seeds or some carrots or something. After the first month of getting past all the cravings I don't even need snacks anymore. I feel totally satisfied with what I have eaten and I hardly ever crave sweets. (I think that part is directly related to my lack of meat intake though.) I have never felt healthier and more energetic. I don't have any pain like I used to have, and I just feel refreshed. If you are offered a small chocolate or a bit of cake or something, you can feel awesome about indulging in that since it may have been months since you had a treat. And you can enjoy it knowing that it isn't part of your every day lifestyle and therefore a small bit isn't going to hurt you. =) I think it makes the indulgence even more intense.

The biggest part for me is finding things to cook that will attract my husband to eat them! (he is definitely a meat eater!!) I have found that he totally loves Indian food and Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern so I stick with a lot of recipes like that. I do a lot of soups where I can make some meat on the side for him, and I also just adapt things....if he ever complains (which is very rare) I just use the reasoning "I'm trying to save money, love; it's so much cheaper to cook without meat!" He has no response to that and will usually smile politely and recognize that I'm trying to honor his desires to save money! =) And yes, it is true - meat is so much more expensive...especially if you are buying organic meat! If you have children I would encourage you to start NOW to help them eat healthier and make better food choices.I think that as a parent you have a wonderful opportunity to help your children learn how to eat things that will help them grow happy and strong and help them avoid the many pit-falls of our American diet.

I hope that this helps to motivate you to make life changing choices for your future, not just a quick fix diet for today......It's about what is going to help you live a healthier, happier, longer life! It definitely takes dedication to do an overhaul on your diet like this, but I think that it is well worth the sacrifice. I promise that if you commit to changing your eating habits for life, it WILL bring life back to you!!! It won't be a diet that you have to constantly be starting over, it won't be an up and down road, it will just be your new lifestyle, and it will be so worth it!!! If you need encouragement, please feel free to write me. By making these changes for myself it has changed my life, and I hope that you will find the same to be true.

We all feel, struggle, laugh, and cry...We are a supreme universal spirit ~ Namaste

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