Eating Healthy: 3 Keys to Making the Change
It’s time for a change. Awful, unhealthy habits can creep into our lives slowly so we don’t even realize what’s happened. The next thing you know you’re eating chocolate cake for breakfast and then you wonder why you feel yucky all day.
Too much sugar and too few vegetables have me feeling like a summer slug. Ich.
Being healthy is important to me. I want to be healthy and I want my family to be healthy. Unfortunately, I love sugary treats. Logically, I know sugar is bad. The evidence is overwhelming. High sugar consumption has been associated with heart disease, overeating (as in reducing the hormones that tell us we’re full), and it can even affect our mental health.
If only sugar and junk food didn’t taste so good.
We’ve all sat through health class, heard the reports on the news, and realize the importance of eating healthy food. However, implementing a change in diet is hard, especially if you’re fighting food cravings.
Eating Healthy Makes a Difference
After I had my last baby, four years ago now, I did an eight-week weight loss challenge to lose my baby weight. It was awful. My family called it my grumpy diet, but it worked. I lost the last 15 pounds of baby weight.
For those eight weeks, I was only allowed to have sugar one day per week. After three weeks, I noticed a change in my body on the days I ate sugar. I felt sluggish, queasy, mentally foggy, and less satisfied with whatever treat I chose to eat. I couldn’t believe what a difference sugar made in how my body felt.
In fact, once I was done with the weight loss challenge and could eat sugar anytime I wanted, I found I didn’t miss it. I didn’t even want it. Of course, slowly, over time, that changed as I introduced it back into my diet.
The Challenge of Prepared Foods
When it comes to sugar-filled food, I am all or nothing. Either I eat it, a lot of it, or I can’t touch it at all because…well, I’ll eat it until it’s gone. There is no middle ground. Most of that sugar is in prepared foods.
When it comes to feeding my kids healthy food, I find prepared foods the most challenging. If you’ve ever looked at food labels, you’d be surprised how much sugar is hidden in there. It’s everywhere.
Check out this infographic with 46 different names for sugar that are commonly used on food labels. What? How are we supposed to keep track of all that?
As a mom, I find it frustrating that sugar is added to so many foods. As much as I’d like my kids to eat fruits and veggies all the time, it doesn’t work that way for us. Even when I want to lower the amount of sugar they eat, it’s in most of the quick, convenient kid-friendly foods that I can toss in my bag for an on-the-go snack. I mean, there’s added sugar in pasta sauce (not that I’m throwing that my bag for a day at the park), goldfish crackers, granola bars and yogurt.
It’s time to make the change.
First, Start Small with the Family
I want my family to eat healthier but I know if the change is going to be successful, I have to start small. If I go nuts and throw out everything in my pantry with added sugar 1) I’ll have no food left in my cupboards 2) my family will mutiny. I’ve got five other people in my house, two of which are significantly underweight, as in the doctor has told me to fatten them up, not that I want to do that with sugar.
As the person that makes the majority of the meals around here, I can make small changes to our meals and snacks to start eliminating sugar. For example, many times when baking I can cut the amount of sugar without significantly changing the taste. That is what I do when I make pancakes from scratch. My kids never know the difference.
I’ve started offering my children fruit and veggies for snacks before anything else. I’ll tell them they can have some goldfish after they’ve had an apple or orange. They get more nutrients and eat less of the unhealthy food because they are already partially full.
Hopefully, with these small changes, we can start to build better habits.
Second, Start Big with Yourself
You have 100% control over your own eating habits. While you may start small with your family, start big with yourself.
Decide what changes you are going to make – whether that be eating sugary treats on one day a week, three servings of veggies or drinking 60 ounces of water per day. A lot of people avoid eating healthy because all they see are the foods they can’t eat. If that’s you, here’s my suggestion, instead of taking away anything, add something healthy. Okay, so you’re going to eat ice cream that’s fine. Eat a vegetable first. At the very least, you’ll be adding nutrients to your diet.
Once you’ve decided on your healthy change, track it. Track it on your phone, in a journal, or in an empty binder. It doesn’t matter where, just do it. Create a way to see your progress so you’ll be motivated and encouraged.
I’m not endorsing, pushing, or offering some kind of eating plan. I’m not that kind of expert. If you’ve been thinking about making a healthy change in your life, why not start today? Right now? Don’t wait because there will always be reasons to put it off.
There is no day better than today to make a change.
Third, Get a Partner
Starting August 1st, I’m significantly cutting the sugar from my diet. However, I’m not doing it alone. I have a ‘buddy’ to whom I have to be accountable. I have found that when it comes to eating healthy I am willing to lie to myself but not to others. Sad, but true.
Make yourself accountable so it’s not easy to skip out on your goals.
I’m cutting treats, snacks, and other foods that are high in sugar including yogurt and cold cereal. Not only will I be monitoring my sugar intake but my carb intake as well.
It’s time to be healthy. It’s time to feel better.
What are you doing to be healthier? What has contributed to your success? What has made it hard? What challenges do you face when trying to help your family eat healthier? I would love to hear from you.