January 9, 2014 by Dr. Sana Keller
Although we’re barraged on a daily basis with feel-good ‘comfort food’ commercials, gorgeous food photography online and in magazines, and billboards reminding us to stop by a nearby fast-food chain to pick up their latest rendition of a mouthwatering burger (all promoting unhealthy food options) IT’S UP TO EACH OF US to make the best choices we can to ‘fuel’ our bodies for the long run. For each of us, it’s a matter of either working on REGAINING our health or MAINTAINING our health.
It’s hard! I know! Especially with the effective and sometimes deceptive marketing strategies that make us honestly feel as if we DESERVE to eat the foods being promoted—and that we’re DEPRIVING OURSELVES if we don’t eat them.
The concept of changing our eating habits to regain and maintain our health may seem overwhelming and daunting, especially if you plan to ‘start eating only healthy foods from now on.’ Most people can make it a day or two before frustration, confusion, and hopelessness starts setting in.
How about breaking your plan for adopting healthier eating habits (aka Eating Real Food) down over a 14 week period, where you make a Mini-Pledge each week…adding just one new area of focus each week…One Bite At A Time, so to speak? That’s what Lisa Leake, a food blogger of ‘100 Days of Real Food’ developed. Below is the ‘Cliff Note/Spark Note’ version and here is a link to her web page with full detail and great information: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/10/27/real-food-tips-14-steps-to-cut-out-processed-food/
Week 1: Eat 2 Fruits and/or Vegetables with each meal.
Week 2: Drink only ‘Real’ beverages (coffee, tea, water, milk…) (In addition to Week 1 pledge)
Week 3: Eat only locally raised meat only 3-4 times during week, treated as a ‘side dish’, not the main part of the meal (depending on location, may need to look for grass-fed/organic meats) (In addition to Week 1 & 2 pledge)
Week 4: No fast-food or deep-fried food (Keep the former weeks’ pledges going…)
Week 5: Try 2 new whole foods
Week 6: No low-fat, lite, reduced fat or nonfat foods (I have a blog to be posted soon about healthy fats and why avoiding these is important to our health)
Week 7: 100% whole grain for any grains consumed (‘whole wheat’ is not whole grain)
Week 9: No refined sweeteners (white/brown sugar, Splenda, corn syrup, agave syrup…) Use small amounts of honey or maple syrup
Week 10: No refined oils (canola oil, vegetable, corn oil, soybean oil, grape seed oil, margarines…)
Week 11: Eat local foods (Northern locales may need to focus on organic options during colder, non-gardening months)
Week 12: No added sweeteners (white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, date sugar, maple sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, cane juice…)
Week 13: No artificial ingredients (sweeteners, flavors, colors…)
Week 14: Avoid all packaged food products that contain more than FIVE ingredients
Our ‘self talk’ or ‘voices in our head’ can play an important role in this process as we change our thoughts from ones of depriving ourselves of the good stuff (of junk food) to thoughts of giving our bodies what we need every day to get healthy, stay healthy, and feel great.
As you’re progressing through the weeks, making one new change each week, pay attention to how you’re feeling: Any changes in your weight? Any difference in your energy level? Less problems with abdominal/gut issues? Clearer thinking? Easier to stay focused?
Check out Lisa’s main website, too: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/ where you will read about how she (just like the rest of us) leads a very busy life, but realized a few years ago that the food choices she had been making weren’t truly healthy—rather quite processed and unhealthy. She has great recipes, ‘real food’ meal plans, and extremely helpful tips to make it easier for anyone wanting to develop healthier eating habits.
Yes, your body WILL thank you in the long run…so will your family and friends…
Thanks for reading–Time for action–
Sana Keller, MS, RN, CNC, MH, HHP http://www.healthunlimited.biz
Photo credits: seangallo.com, foodspotting.com, keep-calm-o-matic.co.uk, leadershipcraft.com, financialmoneytips.com