This week my family, just like many other people in Texas, experienced a bit of a crisis. Due to the winter storm, we lost electricity for a little over 2 days. Thankfully, we live in a fairly insulated home, that remained around 60 degrees inside. But the lack of ability to use of a stove and refrigerator/freezer side-tracked my healthy eating plans.
Due to limited selection of restaurants / grocery stores being open; we ate fast-food for about 4 out of the 7 meals. I was craving vegetables by the second day! However, since my body was cold, raw fruits and vegetables didn’t seem too appealing.
There have been times in my life when a crisis caused me to depart the healthy lifestyle. Going through a divorce and becoming a full-time single mom, caused me to get off track with my healthy eating habits. To make it easier on myself, I went to cooking foods like hot-dogs, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and spaghetti. In hopes to alleviate stress; I sought out comfort foods such as chocolate, ice cream and popcorn.
Fortunately, the company I worked for, blessed us with a heavily discounted gym membership ($18 a month!). I made up the poor eating habits by exercising 3 hours a week at the gym. Since the gym also offered free childcare, that was a double bonus! You cannot find a babysitter that would accept $18 for 12 hours a month of childcare!
All that being said, I have noticed there are 5 main things that can deter healthy eating:
This one is most obvious, since I already noted it above. We want to feel better fast in the easiest way possible. This is why many of you may go to those foods and beverages that help take the pain away (alcohol, sugar and possibly drugs). These foods and substances can give us that easy comfort. But sadly it’s only for a short time and then we’ll feel bad once again. I have noticed this recently that when I eat junk food, I feel lousy with-in an hour after eating it. I no longer drink alcohol, but my second experience with alcohol, I drank way too much and of course, had a hang-over the next day. After that experience, I vowed never too drink that much alcohol again. And I never did. It wasn’t worth it to me to feel good for a couple hours, and feel bad for a whole day.
2. Lack of Healthy Habits
After the crisis, it didn’t take me a long time to get back to eating healthy. Fortunately, I have ingrained in me healthy eating habits. Both my parents taught me how to eat healthy. As a child, I rarely ate out at fast-food restaurants. I believe my mom took me to McDonald’s or Burger King once or twice a year. She never fried foods at home. My mom always served a vegetable with dinner. And my parents planted a garden every summer which contained a large variety of fruits and vegetables. Many people often question whether their physique is due to nature (genetics) or nurture (habits). I’ve had people tell me, oh you must be thin because you have good genetics. But, I have noticed over the years, that when I begin eating poorly and exercising less, I do gain weight and my cholesterol goes up. My mom struggled with her weight throughout high school and my dad struggles with high cholesterol and has been overweight during times in his adult life.
3. Society Told Us It’s Healthy
It can be confusing to determine what is healthy for you. I used to drink milk regularly and have it in cereal. I remember seeing the commercial “Milk, It Does a Body Good!” I remember being told milk was good for us because it had Vitamin D and Calcium for my bones. But then I read an article stating that milk has a lot of empty calories. You drink it but it doesn’t fill you up as much as eating foods like lean proteins or vegetables. I’ve since read other articles and watched documentaries that milk and dairy products may do more harm than good and actually could be contributing to more cancer. It kind of scared me. But I think there needs to be a lot more research for me to see that correlation. However, I did decide to give up milk 2 years ago. I have noticed that I no longer have a bloated, heavy feeling after I eat. I have since cut back on ice cream and other dairy products. And I have not gained weight since doing this. I have lost about 8 pounds over the past 2 years.
4. Everyone Else is Doing It
This is probably the hardest thing for me to overcome. I want to be accepted by people. When we would have potlucks at work (prior to COVID); I noticed there were very few vegetables or fruit. So I decided I would be the one to bring the salad, veggie or fruit tray. Then I became known as the “healthy” person in the office. I felt that maybe people didn’t like this about me; as if I was judging everyone else. I enjoy eating healthy. It makes me feel good. Yes, I also do like to eat the occasional dessert or fast-food item. But I don’t like to do it often. One time I decided to bring a cheesy rice, broccoli casserole for a potluck (it still contained a vegetable). I thought my co-workers had gotten sick of me bringing salads and fresh vegetables. But one of the ladies commented that she missed having my salad. She said it’s one of the few times she eats salad. This surprised me because no one ever said anything before. So I decided from that point on that I would bring a salad or fresh vegetables.
Now that I’ve noted the things that can cause to eat unhealthy, I wanted to share with you some ways to begin or return to healthier eating habits.
1. Do Research
If you don’t really know what foods are good for you; you’ll need to do some research. If you are already seeing a doctor regularly for your health; ask your doctor and see what they recommend. If your doctor doesn’t have any eating recommendations, then I’d suggest finding a nutritionist. There is a lot of information available on the internet; but I’d be careful to what you believe. Just like I was influenced by the “Got Milk” campaign, it may not actually be that healthy.
After doing research and consulting with your doctor; start trying other foods. Everyone’s body is different. While my body is not very sensitive to foods, yours may be highly sensitive. Although I did find, that since I have stopped drinking milk; I have become more sensitive to it. It’s interesting that our bodies may have been de-sensitized overtime to certain foods. Keep a food journal and start changing the foods you eat. I’d recommend dropping the least healthy food you eat or drink (maybe sodas or candy). Then replace it with a healthier food item such as a fruit or water. You may feel bad for a day or 2 due to the loss of sugar, but in the long run, you will feel better, trust me! It’s like any form of withdrawal, there are some temporary side-affects. Just remember that they will be temporary.
3. Find Accountability
This will probably be the most important thing to do. We all struggle and slip up. Like I said, during my divorce, I wanted to go to the junk food. Find someone who has established healthy eating habits. I know it can be difficult to go to a person due to fear of be shamed or rejected. Look for a person who can hold you accountable but in a kind, loving way (I don’t mean enabling). I get it, we can’t all afford to pay a personal trainer. But I’m sure you know someone who is further along in their health. It needs to be someone that is more than an acquaintance; otherwise you’ll more likely not go to them when life gets tough and you feel like giving up. On the other hand; it shouldn’t be your spouse. Spouses usually don’t make great accountability partners because they can often enable you when going through crisis.
Whatever you do, Don’t Give Up! You’ll feel better in the long run once you stick to a healthier lifestyle. You’ll have more energy and less ailments. I know people in their 70s and 80s who manage to run marathons, lift weights regularly, swim or dance and they feel great! They don’t struggle with shortness of breath, broken bones or sore joints like their peers.
If you would like more information about accountability, Contact me for help!