5 Great Tips to Start Eating Healthier than Ever Before
"Oh, the cheese! I can't live without cheese! What about ice-cream? Not ever? What about cookies? I can't live without 'em! Could I just have one? Or two?"
"You mean per day, per week, per month?" I ask.
"Per meal!" she says. "You know. In moderation."
Oh, yes. I know. It's hard to change the way we eat. That's why I thought you might enjoy these 5 Great tips to start eating healthier than ever before.
We're so attached to our favorite flavors and textures, aren't we? We love what we love, our comfort foods, our snacks, our go-to's. Plus, being on any kind of restrictive diet feels like we're being punished in some way.
That's why fad diets never work. Deprivation city!
We all know - from everything we read and hear - that eating
nutritious foods is a great thing to do for our health and well-being, right?
And if you're dealing with cancer, it's a key element in your healing strategy, no question.
So, if we know that, and there's plenty of scientific evidence to back it up, why is it so challenging to make that transition? Though we want to, intellectually, how do we do it so it truly becomes a new way of life? Our new normal.
This is a complex subject, and I'll do my best to keep it simple. I hope these tips help you get closer to achieving that in a way that's doable, fulfilling and motivational.
How do we transition to a healthier way of eating so it becomes something we can stick to?
1. YOU GOTTA KNOW YOUR "WHY"
From my own experience, in order to create positive change, especially when it requires a good deal of will and determination, we have to have a strong motivator.
The answer is different for each of us. It could be as simple as wanting to see your grandchildren get married. Or because you just got divorced and want to start dating again (and show your ex has-been what he's missing!)
Might be because you have a serious health issue you need to bring under control, or because you adore your husband and want to spend as much time as you possibly can with him.
For me, my "why" was the last two reasons: I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer five years ago. And, I knew I wanted to LIVE so I could spend as long as possible with my wonderful partner in all respects, the love of my life, Joseph Bennett.
Obviously, it worked! 'Cause I'm still here, thriving in so many ways.
It's important to strongly connect with a meaningful "why" you can focus on when things get tough and you're doubting your will power or determination.
It's much more powerful when your "why" arises from the heart, not your mind. If it comes from your mind, you'll be able to talk yourself out of it more easily.
2. DON'T TURN THIS INTO ANOTHER "DIET"
Undoubtedly you've already tried several versions of "diets" out there, right? By their nature, they're temporary, designed to "lose weight". What typically happens? We initially get excited, start seeing results, and soon we slip a little, then a lot, and bam! We're right back where we started, or worse.
Shifting to a healthier way of eating isn't a "diet." This is a new habit you're mindfully developing over time, to become the new norm as a way of life, because you care about yourself. It's driven by your "why" (see above) and as you begin to heal, to feel stronger and look healthy again, and your energy increases, and your brain fog dissipates, and your blood-work normalizes, and your doctor visits diminish, and your friends tell you how fabulous you look... these "mini milestones" or "markers" will help keep you on track.
When that happens, you connect to how much you love yourself, and how you are at choice at every moment to continue to prove that to yourself. And, even when life gets tough (cause it always does) you stay on track. And if you get off track, you forgive yourself and just get back on. Or you ask for support to get back on track.
Like anything else, when you do something new for a while, it becomes easier and easier. Soon, you won't even miss the things you used to love (like your ex!) There'll be new loves in your life (like the new hot boyfriend or girlfriend) who will also love what you love. And, you'll wonder why you waited so long to do this!
Begin to adjust to the idea that this is an awesome new way of being that will improve your health and many different areas of your life, which are all interconnected.
Yes, it's possible!
3. GO S-L-O-W
Sometimes we get excited and jump into something new, all in. We go at it 100% for a while and do great. Then, the change can prove to be too much, too soon and things get uncomfortable. So we go back to our old playing field (even if it also used to be uncomfortable - we can get incredibly comfortable with being uncomfortable as long as it seems familiar!)
You probably know that, when it comes to food, often when we shift to a cleaner way of eating, if the change happens too quickly, we can begin to experience some detox side effects.
The accumulated toxins hidden in our fatty cells and organs begin to be released through the bloodstream, and that process can give us headaches, nausea, malaise, fatigue.
"See? This isn't working! I feel terrible! Get me a donut!"
No, my love. It IS working. You just need to give it a little more time. You're so close!
To prevent those detox "symptoms," go s-l-o-w-l-y. There's a lot of power in making small changes. Start making adjustments a bit at a time, exploring new foods and flavors, and releasing the things you know you want to let go of, as you're ready.
Adjust maybe one or two new things per week, then move on to others.
When I embarked onto this healthy lifestyle adventure I, unfortunately, didn't have the luxury of taking my time. My life was, literally, on the line. I chose to dive in and make some very strong commitments immediately.
I already ate well (so I thought) but I adopted a strict anti-cancer eating plan as soon as I figured out what it entailed. That meant releasing sugar, flour, anything white or processed, meat and dairy, and switching to as much natural and organic produce straight from the Earth as I could consume. (There's more to it than this. Just keeping it simple...)
Yes, it was sudden and pretty extreme, but I felt that the situation demanded it.
And, you know what? It worked! (Hallelujah!)
Because, here I am telling you about it, and helping other cancer patients get through their cancer journey to create the best possible outcome.
You CAN do this. Prevention is the best medicine! Why wait until something major happens? However...
If you ARE dealing with active cancer at the moment, then you may choose to jump into this arena full force like I did. I can absolutely help you figure this out, as it's my special area of expertise.
And, I happen to LOVE cooking delicious, super nutritious meals.
4. START WITH MAKING SUBSTITUTIONS YOU ENJOY
Do your best to make this FUN as you discover and experiment with food substitutions you can make by trying new foods and new preparation methods you enjoy. (Cooking videos coming soon! Want me to keep you in the loop?)
It sure makes things a lot easier!
It requires some exploration and willingness to try new things, new exotic flavors and products that at first may seem odd. Yet, believe me, you will come to LOVE them!
Here's a list of things you could easily begin doing, depending on how far along you are on the spectrum of eating healthfully.
Of course, it's always best to eat at home (with food you prepare) vs. eating out at restaurants all the time. And, if you DO it out a lot, you can still make great choices. Just do the best you can.
Make fruits and veggies the main course, with animal proteins a side dish. That means: rather than a large steak with a small salad, reverse it: large salad, small steak.
Make sure the salad is super colorful with green, orange, red, yellow, purple. Think of the RAINBOW. Your plate will look more appetizing, and it's more nutritionally balanced with awesome antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Make substitutions slowly
- Instead of red meat - choose chicken or fish (salmon's omega 3's are great!)
- Instead of cow milk - choose soy, coconut, almond milk (check out my home-made almond milk recipe!)
- Instead of cow yogurt - choose goat, cashew or coconut yogurt.
- Instead of a regular burger - choose a veggie or Portobello burger (yum!)
- Instead of white rice - choose brown, quinoa, millet, buckwheat
- Instead of regular ice-cream - make your own with frozen organic fruit (stay tuned for my easy & delicious homemade ice-cream recipe!)
- Instead of conventional produce (non-organic) - choose organic (it DOES make a difference. Check out the super helpful Dirty Dozen list of fruits and vegetables you definitely need to avoid if eating non-organic.)
- Instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners - choose real maple syrup or flavored stevia drops. Sweet Leaf Vanilla Creme flavor is my favorite!
- Instead of white or regular wheat bread - choose sprouted grain breads, like Ezequiel brand (in different presentations.)
- Instead of regular pasta - choose chickpea pasta (I LOVE Banza brand. It's higher protein, lower carb, gluten-free!))
- Instead of a cookie - choose sliced apples with almond butter.
-Instead of opening the pantry to see what there might be to snack on - keep cut up carrots, cucumber and jicama in a glass container. Squeeze some lemon, sprinkle salt and chili powder... bam! Instant vacation to Mexico!
What about breakfast?
Breakfasts can be challenging, since so many choices include pancakes, cereals, syrup, bacon, eggs. If you'd like some inspired ideas for healthy breakfasts, check out this blog post on my other website here.
The list could go on! But, I'm getting hungry!
Start slowly and enjoy finding what works for you. If you need ideas or support, contact me here.
5. IT'S NOT JUST WHAT YOU EAT, BUT HOW YOU EAT THAT MATTERS
This last tip could've been the first. I've found this to be SO TRUE!
It's not so much the choices we make about what we put in our mouth that matters (although of course they do, otherwise we wouldn't be talking about it.) We can easily become obsessive about this, and that can be counter productive.
You already know what to aim for. Give yourself a break. It's OK if you get off course once in a while. Just do your best to get back on track.
What matters most is your INTENTION. How you approach this new facet of your life. Do it playfully, become a curious detective or an explorer discovering new and exotic flavors and dishes, and you'll reach your goals more joyfully.
And, be very CLEAR that you're intending to HEAL your life, to get as healthy as possible, so that you can live well to be the person you came here to be!
Live BIG, discover love, explore your power and your wisdom and your generosity!
Before each meal take a few moments to be grateful that you're alive. Grateful that so many people worked hard to make sure this food was in front of you. Grateful for the loving people in your life.
I like to place my hands over my plate of food and visualize that I somehow transmit healing magic into every morsel that goes into my body to heal every part of me that needs healing. And I think to myself:
"I'm so grateful! This food goes to every single cell in my body that needs healing. It becomes alive and healthy and vibrant as it receives this amazing nutritious food I prepared."
That, in itself, was a key factor in recovering from cancer. I truly believe that!
It's an act of love.
Eating healthfully is a true act of loving ourselves. Make time for it. Try not to rush. Do your best to eat mindfully, deliberately, with a great deal of self care.
Do you see how all of this can have a tremendous impact in your life? All of these tips saved my life. And the process helped me prioritize what really matters.
I dearly hope that your health isn't in the dire situation I was in. If you're well, you're already ahead of the game! Do your best to stay as healthy as possible.
I share all of this with love and gratitude. Hope it serves you well.
If you need support with any of this, you know where to find Joseph and me. We are here for you.
If you have any QUESTIONS or COMMENTS, please feel free to share them below. We promise to answer each and every one.
Eli (and Joseph)