Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hacking Your Diet Excuses

I loosely recommend to my clients "eat more real food" or "eat as close to nature as possible". And while this could be one of the most simple rules of good nutrition, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's easy to implement. Here are a few of the common excuses why you just can't do it, and why I'm not taking them!
1. Trying to do everything at once.
While some people are those all-or-nothing types, I'd say that the average folk usually fares better with a one-step-at-a-time approach. For instance, instead of eliminating all processed foods right off the bat, start with breakfast. Instead of your chalky bowl of cereal, orange juice and dry toast (wheat or not!) try just a plate of bacon and eggs. Don't worry too much about calories--pay more attention to how you feel. EAT SLOWLY! Enjoy your meal, and acknowledge when you are satisfied. It's okay to leave a little on your plate. Once you realize how much you need to feel full, you'll know how much to cook and this will happen less often. Try just eating that one whole foods meal for a week. Next week, try for a breakfast AND lunch. The following week, all three meals. You got it!
2. Don't have enough time to prepare good foods.
People tend to think it takes hours to prepare and cook their own meals. And don't even get started on washing all those dishes! Reality of the situation? If you're smart and plan accordingly, cooking real food is simple, fast, and will even save you money. All I use to prepare food is a good pan (I love ceramic ones. Non-stick, so easy to clean, and has no toxic teflon), a vegetable steamer, and a crockpot. If you really want to get fancy, you might invest in a nice set of knives. But other than that, that's all you need. Too crunched for time to wash and chop your veggies? Go for frozen. Studies suggest that frozen is actually more nutrient-dense than fresh, since they're typically preserved at their peak. Also, since they're frozen, less chemicals (or wax!) are used to keep them fresher longer. Just dump them in your steamer, set the timer, and come back in 15-25mins. Cooking meat stressing you out? Put some chicken thighs on a roasting pan (skin included!), sprinkle some salt and pepper on them, and bake for 45-60mins. Broil some lamb or pork chops. Throw a chunk of ground meat in your pan, cover with a lid, and let it simmer for 10-20mins. Crockpot is the simplest of all... Throw a large roast and some frozen veggies in there with a bit of water and let cook for 8-12 hours. Easier than ordering from a drive-thru!
3. It's too expensive to eat real food.
If you eliminated all the times that you eat fast food or eat out, I'd guess you just put a couple hundred bucks back in your pocket per month. Seriously, record EVERY time you spend money out on food (and alcohol!) Now think about how much you'd be spending on real food. You can easily get all of your vegetables for .50 to 2$ a pound. Frozen vegetables, including peas, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, carrots, kale, and chopped onions are all usually 2$ and under for 16oz. (Side note: corn is not a vegetable! It's a grain!) If you're looking at sale items, you can usually find meat for 2-3$/lb. Seek out coupons and sale flyers in your area. I love Sprouts for their really good deals on quality meat, that are raised without antibiotics or hormones. And contrary to popular belief, sometimes Whole Foods has some great deals on their meat, like 3-4$/lb on humanely-raised beef roasts (chuck is my favorite!) Don't be afraid of the fattier cuts. Fat does not make you fat, and it's critical for healthy hormone functioning. And healthy hormones will give you a lean, strong body! What about cooking fats? These are also relatively cheap, since you won't have to buy them often. Coconut oil and butter are your best options, but olive oil is also acceptable (although not recommended for cooking at high temperatures, like sauteing.)
4. My family/friends/spouse doesn't support my new eating habits.
This is a major one. It's hard to make huge life changes alone, and even harder when the ones we care about question why we're doing it or even question the diet itself ("won't all that saturated fat clog your arteries?!?") Just keep your goals in mind. Reinforce the WHY... Why you are making these changes and why you believe this will work. You have to be strong and willful. Remind yourself of how good it feels to eat real food vs. the artificial, greasy, salty or sugary taste of processed food. Remind yourself how you are investing into your health to prevent stroke, diabetes, obesity, and other diseases. Once the non-supporters see your results, there won't be any more discussion!
5. I'm not willing to give up all my favorite foods.
What if I told you that once you started eating this way, you'll establish new, healthy favorite foods? Our taste buds get "conditioned" to enjoy certain foods, especially those that are highly palatable. These include salty, fatty foods like potato chips, sugary foods like candy or cake, or very carb-dense foods like pasta and bread. Another things these foods all have in common is that they are high in carbohydrate. Carbs are notorious for releasing serotonin, or the "feel-good" chemical in our brain. Ever hear somebody say "I eat candy/cake/cookies/chips etc because they 'make  me feel good'?" From an evolutionary standpoint, this was important. We needed to enjoy carbohydrates because they provide energy and signal the body to store fat for times of famish. But in the modern world, this isn't necessary. We don't need those carbs... Even if we are exercising hard and lifting weights, the amount of carbohydrate that is NECESSARY for these activities is actually very little. If we feed our bodies with more natural sources of carbs from vegetables and fruits, and compliment it with satiating foods like meat and fats, our body begins to crave these foods. I'm not saying you can never eat a cookie again, but the less you eat them, the less you will even want them!
So there are five common reasons why people may not be willing to commit to a
healthy diet. No excuses! ;-)

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