Tag Archives: Eat Healthy

Why Is It Hard to Build Healthy Habits?

There is a tremendous amount of emphasis today on living a healthy life and many Americans profess to wanting to be healthier. S0 . . .  why is it hard to build healthy habits?

There is an abundance of information available – articles, blogs, news reports, etc. on how to create a healthy lifestyle. Food suppliers have made healthy eating easier than it has ever been by making fresh, organic produce and additive-free foods readily available. And yet, the U.S. is facing an obesity crisis, diabetes is on the rise, and heart disease is rampant.

The root of the problem is that humans are resistant to change by nature. Studies have shown that because of that resistance it takes at least a month to break an old habit and implement a new one. Even then, we can easily backslide into old patterns.

After a new habit has been in place for the first 30-days, we must diligently hold ourselves on track until the new practice is deeply ingrained as a “habit” and will hold without conscious thought.

Most of us are fully aware that healthy habits are necessary to increase resistance to poor health conditions and disease right now. They are also necessary for long-term good health and longevity.

Unfortunately, the road to change can be bumpy if not done correctly.

Healthy Eating

Junk Food - Hamburger and FriedAsk yourself the hard questions about your eating habits. What kinds of foods do you eat every day? Is your diet primarily made up of junk food? Food high in calories and low in nutrients – filled with sugar, bad fats, and additives?

If you said yes to those questions, you have a lot of company. That describes a huge number of Americans.

Our bodies were not made to process and thrive on that kind of food. It is not the kind of food that people ate for generations. In fact, it is relatively new from a historical perspective.

Food Manufacturers Destroyed Healthy Eating Habits

The world has changed dramatically over the last century. We no longer live in a world of hunters and gathers or farmers and tradesmen. Food manufacturers have changed our eating habits to fit their pocketbooks. They have little or no interest in providing healthy foods that the body needs. Their only real interest is profit.

Today processed and fast foods are everywhere. Convenience is one of the biggest drivers behind the success of such products. They are available, reasonably priced, and inviting you in for a quick bite … and while you are there, they super-size everything, adding even more fat and calories.

But, that isn’t the end of the story or even the worst part. The foods have been purposefully engineered to be addictive. So, the more processed and fast food you eat, the more you want. Those are the foods your body begins to crave.

Happily, you do not have to stay on this destructive path. You can choose to change and start eating healthy. If you are committed to the change and stay true to your new choices, healthy food will become the kind of food your body craves.

Make Changes Slowly

It can be extremely challenging to make such a change cold-turkey, although some people prefer to do it that way. For most, it may be easier to make small incremental changes slowly – and to be patient with yourself in the process.

Small changes over time allow your body and mind to adjust and adapt slowly to your new way of eating. Gradually wean yourself off the bad food and begin to fill your diet with more and more healthy food until eventually a complete change has been made.

Regardless of whether you choose a gradual change or to go “cold turkey” – a change is necessary if you want to live a full, rich, healthy life. The way you eat today and tomorrow will affect how you feel, mentally and physically today, tomorrow, next year, and the rest of your life.

Healthy Level of Fitness

We are in the early part of a new year and chances are some people made New Year’s Resolutions to exercise more this year. Some of those resolutions may have been to the extreme such as: exercise five days a week, run a marathon in a month, etc.

Depending on their current state of fitness, it is possible that after a couple of visits to the gym, they were so sore they could hardly move. They decided to take a few days to heal up and never went back.

When trying to build up your physical endurance and fitness, common sense should tell you to start where you are and Woman Exercising at HOmebuild up slowly. Begin with short easy workouts a day or two the first week and gradually increase the frequency, the time spent, and type of workout over the course of the first month.

When it comes to fitness it doesn’t have to be hard to build healthy habits, it is a process of setting an attainable and realistic end goal with several milestones of mini-goals along the way.

Take Care of Your Body

With birth we each received the gift of a miraculous human body. If it is treated badly, it will begin to falter. Poor health and disease will take over. If it is nurtured and cared for through healthy practices (healthy foods, exercise, rest, and plenty of laughter), it will thrive and serve you well for a very long lifetime. The choice is yours.

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Cover - WOW! You Look FanfasticWOW! You Look Fantastic

It may be hard to build healthy habits, but it doesn’t have to be. This book was written to provide a road map for everyone who wants to live a happier, healthier life. It is based on the author’s fifteen-month personal journey and her life-changing results.

Give your self the gift of a healthy life, beginning today. Use the link to buy your copy through Amazon.com.

Get Out of the Dieting Trap

Image by Lightsource
Image by Lightsource

There are so many voices telling you what to do.

  • Go this way
  • No, go this way
  • Don’t do that, do this!
  • Everything you have heard about dieting is wrong, try this.
  • Lose 20 pounds in 20 days with our new fail-safe diet
  • Forget everything – this is the answer!

You head is spinning because the ads and words of the “experts” all contradict each other.  Who can you believe? What can you do that will work? Which direction should you go?

The answer is simple:  Get out of the dieting trap all together!

Tips for Escaping the Dieting Trap

  1. Eat what you want within reason.
  2. Eat healthy portions.
  3. Stop eating when you are full.
  4. Start thinking about food in terms of what is HEALTHY or NOT so HEALTHY.
  5. Don’t think of food in terms of what you CAN or CANNOT eat (which is what most diets require).
  6. Let go of food obsessions.
  7. Get rid of items in your fridge and pantry that you no longer want to eat.

Don’t get hung up about wasting food. Wasting food is not something that I encourage, but it is not the worst thing in the world either. It is better to throw food away rather than keep items that will continue to trap you in a cycle of dieting.

When you are caught in a cycle of dieting, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that eating is supposed to be pleasurable – not something you dread.

Negative Feelings About Food Are Harmful

When you label food as good or bad, it creates guilt and stress every time you eat a “bad” food. So, you go into cycles of deprivation and overeating.

When dieting defines your life, your food intake is rigidly controlled. You focus so much on dieting that you cut yourself off from wonderfully enjoyable experiences.

  1. You stop going out with friends to some events because you know there will be food served that you may have a hard time resisting.
  1. You spend so much time looking up the nutrition on every bit of food you eat that there is no joy at all in eating.
  1. You may even start to feel threatened emotionally when something happens to disrupt your diet. You become a diet perfectionist, which means that your happiness level is tied directly to your success or failure in staying on your diet.

It Is Time to Start Enjoying Life Again

It is time to let go of such a restrictive way of life and begin to enjoy life at its fullest, which includes the pleasure of eating healthy, delicious foods, with a little indulgence every now and then, as desired.

It is time to come to the realization (deep in your soul) that it is okay to enjoy all foods when consumed in a healthy way.

Start accepting food as a wonderful way to fuel your amazing body. Learn to eat what you need to give you adequate energy throughout your day and provide long-lasting good health.

Deprivation and gluttony are the two biggest enemies to weight loss.

The key to sustaining a healthy weight is moderation!

Build a Healthy Nutritious Diet

As I mentioned before, changing your eating habits and learning how to build a healthy nutritious diet are really quite simple. I did not say it is easy because the percentage of your diet that falls into “unhealthy foods,” will determine the difficulty you will have in changing. However, once you begin to make the change – a little at a time – you will begin to adjust.

Once you get used to avoiding additive-ladened, processed food, excessive amounts of white flour and processed sugar products, etc., you will feel so good (usually within 30 days) that you will wonder why you waited so long. Having said that, I must warn you that the first 30 days can be challenging.

There is research that supports the theory that processed foods can be addictive due to the additional flavonoids and combination of fat, sugar and salt they contain. As with any addiction, when you stop ingesting the addictive elements, there is withdrawal and you may feel slightly worse before you start to feel better, but not for long.

There will be an improvement in your digestive process, energy level, and weight as a result of eating a properly balanced diet of healthy food. The habit of eating nutritious foods that are as close to nature as possible will soon feel completely normal and become second nature.

Fruits and Vegetables
Image by by Erdosain

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px” color=”#cc0213″]9 Tips to Help Make and Sustain a Change in Eating Habits[/typography]

  • Take Your Time – Take it slow. Do not get caught in the trap of thinking that you have to change overnight. The only exception to this is if you are ill or have a serious health condition right now. if you have heart disease, diabetes, or any other major illnesses, you may want to consider “going cold turkey” – with approval of your doctor, of course. But, if you are not in imminent danger, you can take it more slowly. A good approach is to focus on changing one bad habit a week, which makes the change more manageable and tolerable. You will slowly begin to feel better as the weeks pass by. Be patient. You developed the bad habits over a lifetime, it will take some time to build new habits and reap the rewards.
  • Keep the Process Simple – Do not make food preparation complicated.  Anyone can learn to make healthy, delicious meals. You do not have to be a trained chef. The only requirement is the desire and commitment to eating well. Keep in mind that most family cooks typically rotate 12 to 14 meals throughout the year, which makes your job easy. All you need are recipes for 12 to 14 nutritious meals that you and your family enjoy (with a few variations) and you are set.
  • Eat Nature’s Rainbow of Food – Green and yellow vegetables and fruits. When these are eaten in abundance on a daily basis, you will consume more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than when eating any other food group – AND – you will have more energy. In fact, when you eat them fresh (preferably organic), raw or cooked, you can eat unlimited amounts – especially vegetables. You have to be a little more careful with fruits because of the high sugar content.
  • Eat Healthy Carbs and Whole Grains –These should be incorporated into your diet every single day. Avoid white flour products all together. Breakfast is perfect for implementing this tip. A big bowl of steel cut oats with fruit, nuts, and some almond milk is super nutritious and healthy. You’ll feel better all day long. Your digestion will improve, it will get your metabolism hopping, and junk food cravings will begin to diminish.
  • Eat Nuts – These should be eaten every day. Put them in everything from breakfast cereal, to salads, entrees, and desserts – or use them as a delicious, nutritious snack. The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study that showed people who ate a handful of mixed nuts on a daily basis were 20% less likely to die from heart disease, cancer or other ailments. Certified nutritionist and dietician Janet Brill, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., agrees that nuts are crucial for a healthy diet, especially for people over 50. They are a great natural source of vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, and fiber. The consensus seems to be that both almonds and walnuts are right at the top of the list as the healthiest nuts, but they are all good. So along with the top two, eat any nut that you enjoy and live longer. Raw is the best choice, but if you do not like the taste, go for dry roasted and unsalted – but the bottom line is – any kind, any style is better than no nuts at all.
  • Eat When Hungry and ONLY When Hungry – If you eat when your body tells you to eat (in moderation) – and stop when you are full, you will be much healthier. One of the biggest challenges for people who are trying to lose weight is that they starve themselves and then binge eat on the highest calorie foods within their reach – which usually means some combination of fat, sugar, and salt.  So, even when dieting – EAT when you get hungry, stay with natural foods, in moderation, and stop when you are full.
  • Plan Your Meals Ahead – When you plan your meals (and snacks) ahead of time, you will eat better. It is best to plan for a week at a time so that you buy only the foods you want (and should) eat to get the necessary nutrients to stay healthy. AND . . . always shop with a list that guides your purchases – no impulse buying allowed! If you don’t plan and shop well, I promise you will end up with a basketful of unhealthy food and/or in the drive-through very quickly. Hunger and exhaustion trigger a natural instinct to “stuff your face” with empty-calorie convenience foods. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way. The reality is that you must eat, so be prepared to eat well and be healthy. There are studies that support the theory that the high-calorie count of fast food alone is only part of the problem. The hunger that often appears rather quickly (within an hour or two) after a 2000-calorie fast food dinner is the result of eating empty calories – in other words, there is a lack of nutrients to feed your body.
  • Drink Fresh Filtered Tap Water – In addition to being more environmentally friendly, tap water is a better choice than bottled water. It is always available, can be easily filtered for contaminants, and will save you a lot of money. Unless it has been determined that there is something wrong with your water supply, there is no guarantee that bottled water is cleaner or healthier than tap water. In some cases tap water tests better than bottled water. (Unfortunately, the bottled water industry is not as regulated as you may think.) If you choose to make this switch, be sure to invest in a charcoal filter for your tap. This will ensure the elimination of any contaminants that may get into the system and it will also improve the taste – especially if you live in a large metropolitan area like Phoenix, AZ, where the taste is not pleasant.
  • MOVE Your Body – Obviously this has nothing to do with nutrition, but it has everything to do with health and well-being. You will find that as you begin eating better, your energy level will rise – and incorporating some type of exercise regimen into your life will become easier. Regular exercise not only burns energy, it increases your metabolism, which, in turn, helps with weight control. High-intensity exercise will deliver a bigger, longer increase in resting metabolic rate than low- or moderate-intensity workouts. To get the benefits, try a more intense class at the gym or include short bursts of jogging during your regular walk (If your health allows). Do what you can do and find a way to MOVE your body each day. Set a goal to exercise (or move) for a minimum of 30 minutes every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a single 30-minute walk, or three 10-minute walks – just do it.

Making the necessary changes to create a new lifestyle can be overwhelming, but using these tips can help jump-start the process. The goal is to slowly build new habits so they can take root and be sustained over the long haul.

A good place to start may be with breakfast. Let go of destructive habits like gobbling down a bowl of sugary cereal for breakfast – or skipping breakfast all together and grabbing a sugar and fat-ladened latte on your way to work.  Focus on making different, more nutritious choices for breakfast that will lead to better health. Once you have breakfast under control – move on to your morning snack and lunch – and finally dinner. Take it one step at a time.

Join us again for the next post in the series to learn more about the relationship between nutrition and your health. 

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