Living the good life is really quite simple: Eat well to live well!
Eating fresh, nutritious food is more important than anything else you do to ensure a healthy body and protect yourself from illness.
The press and advertisements complicate our eating habits by pushing foods that we absolutely should not eat and creating unnecessary concerns about other foods, such as the “lack of protein” in our diets. Yet, you rarely hear anything about getting enough vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which are equally important and much more likely to be ignored by the general population.
If you were to check the diets of the average person, chances are they would include enough protein (possibly too much) and be lacking in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This is a serious problem because all three are necessary to fight off damaging free radicals and lower the risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease (the #1 killer in the U.S.)
So What Now?
This series has given you a great deal of information and the thought of making changes may seem overwhelming. However, I want to assure you that establishing a healthy diet and reaping the benefits from the added nutrition you would receive is not difficult. You just have to make it happen.
It is exciting to note that grocery stores are beginning to stock a wide selection of fresh, organic foods, cage free eggs, grain fed beef and even some packaged goods that are not filled with additives (although, I still recommend that you stay away from packaged goods as much as possible.)
Eating well does not require buying “superfoods” and expensive products to get the nutrients that you need.
When I talk to people about upgrading their diets to healthier foods, they often complain that they will be stuck with the same few foods over and over again, which would be horrible. But, that is a needless fear.
In actuality, most families eat the same 12 to 14 meals every month, year-after-year. They are in a recycle mode that rarely includes anything new. My guess is that once you discover the wide-variety of nutritious fresh foods available, you will be introducing more variety – not less – into your diet.
Eating well can be a fun adventure filled with colorful, delicious food that is exciting and enjoyable – far from boring.
How to Proceed
Clean out your refrigerator and pantry. Toss out all processed foods (or give it away) – this includes everything made with white flour and sugar. If that is too painful, set a start date for your new way of eating and get rid of a little bit at a time . . . and DON’T buy any more.
Do not keep unhealthy foods around to tempt you or your children. If you are committed to eating well, you must take this step.
Create a menu for the next two weeks. Then, make your shopping list for Week One and Week Two. After you have finished a good lunch, go shopping for Week One (never shop when you are hungry).
You will find that grocery shopping is easier when you are not buying processed foods, because there are fewer sections to visit and no labels to read. In fact, you will find that most of the foods you want are placed around the perimeter of the store.
When you are ready to shop for Week Two – make any necessary changes to the menu and your shopping list, then repeat the above. (You may have some food leftover from Week One, or you may have missed something important that you need to pick up.)
It is much easier for me to work in two or three week increments. Find out what works for you.
Changing your eating habits can be challenging. I recommend that you apply the 80/20 rule. Your effort to eat well should be right on target at least 80% of the time – and you may slip 20% of the time. Don’t beat yourself up when you slip. But, acknowledge your actions and think about how you can avoid the slip in the future. Even doing everything perfectly 80% of the time will bring great results.
Slowly, but surely, you want to increase your percentage up to 100%; but in the beginning, if you are consistently at 80%, you are doing well. You may even be surprised at the changes you see in the way you feel (mentally and physically) and the increase in your energy levels as you get into the rhythm of eating well-balanced, nutritious meals.
Enjoy your food. Food gives us the gift of life and should be enjoyed and shared with love. Eating well is not about deprivation, it is about abundance – enjoying nature’s harvest. If you are basically healthy, without serious health issues, your new diet will eliminate restrictions and constant worry over what you should, or should not eat. Tasty, delicious meals, good health, and a sense of well-being will be the norm.
Set up your exercise routine – remember it doesn’t have to be a lot – but it must be regular.
Get enough sleep (between seven and nine hours each night). If for some reason that is absolutely not possible, incorporate power naps into your daily routine to avoid sleep deprivation.
Listen to your body. Once you eliminate all of all the junk food and processed foods from your diet and begin feeding it healthy, nutritious food, your body will tell you what it needs, so pay attention.
Watch your energy levels, notice if there are energy lags, keep yourself hydrated, eat when you are hungry (don’t eat if you are not hungry), and go to bed when you are tired (preferably near the same time every day).
Have regular checkups – at least once a year, possibly more if you are older or have chronic health conditions. Ask questions about your blood work and talk with your doctor about how your diet may be impacting the results.
If you are successful in implementing all the steps at least 80% of the time, it will only be a short time (60 to 90 days) before you start feeling the difference that a highly-nutritious diet, regular exercise, and adequate rest can make in your life.
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