As a Health Educator and Wellness Coach, I am extremely passionate about teaching others when it comes to being healthy. I get so frustrated when I hear about absurd diet claims or gimmicky products. I hate when I see someone think they are making healthy choices when they really aren’t. I partly blame marketing for telling us those 100 calorie packs are a better choice; making it a murky mess to figure out what is really healthy. But it’s not just marketing, there are so many other methods of getting this misinformation these days. This is why I do what I do. This is why I want to help.
When it comes to the American diet I often ask myself how we got here. Like you, as I walk down the grocery store isles I am bombarded with brightly colored packages filled with health claims not only marketed to tempt kids, but adults too. With the current trends in health and new diets popping up everywhere, it makes you wonder if things will change or this cycle will ever break.
I also think about what we ate before those isles were filled with boxed foods. Somehow we managed to survive without all the convenience foods. Years ago people raised their own garden and animals. This was predominately where they got their food. Families used to make things from scratch. Yes, they used butter and other fats but they didn’t have all the processed items and preservatives we have now. Things were less convenient. They didn’t have a gas station close by to run in and buy a bucket of carbonated sugary water.
I understand with hectic schedules it is more challenging than ever to make a home cooked meal. However, we have to make some changes if we want to see results. We have to start somewhere. We can’t expect to make life long changes if we are constantly going back to these same unhealthy foods. The movie ‘Super Size Me’ was a prime example of why these foods aren’t healthy long term. We all know they aren’t too.
That said, it’s about time we got back to the basics. I’m not talking about a month long diet or eliminating one food group for a short period of time. We’ve veered so far away from eating real, unprocessed foods, that we don’t even know how to eat properly. Many clients I work with are so confused and overwhelmed they’ve tried everything and don’t understand why it hasn’t worked. When people want to lose weight they are bombarded with fad diets and shake programs or we select flavorless ‘diet’ foods that don’t satisfy us.
The truth- there is no quick fix. The answer is to get back to less processed, more whole food choices and moving more. Yes, this means eating more vegetables and fruit, lean protein and healthy fats. It’s a necessity for your health. Our bodies need these things to function and thrive. We don’t need foods with ‘nutrients’ added back in. Most of the time our bodies don’t know what to do with them. We just use the calories as energy and store the rest.
So the reason I write this is to hopefully resonate with you. The next time you decide to make changes to improve your health, please think twice before starting a ‘diet’. Ask yourself these questions- Is this something I can and will want to continue for the rest of my life? Is this healthy for me and my family? Does this lifestyle change provide good nutrition to fuel my body?
If you aren’t sure what is healthy don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Wellness Coaching can be the guidance you need to make your changes stick. It can also help you get accurate information and clear up any confusion you may have about what is healthy. Seeking out reputable resources can be difficult. These days the internet is flooded with ‘health coaches’ and ‘nutritionists’. Be careful where you get your information. Look for a professional with a degree and certifications in the area.
If you are ready to make these changes and feel overwhelmed, start small. Don’t feel like you have to switch from processed foods to making everything overnight. That is overwhelming! Take baby steps. Start with one meal a week. Take advantage of the weekends or whichever day you have off during the week. Make your food ahead of time. This can have a huge impact on what you eat throughout the week.
We can all learn small tips and tricks that work for our families. I’m not suggesting we all make complicated meals that take all day to prepare. I am however, suggesting we take action to simplify what we eat. The fewer ingredients the better. You should be able to understand the ingredients on your label.
All of this said, I realize it can be difficult to eliminate ALL processed foods. There are some that are healthier than others. We have to be practical and find the balance for our families. However, most of us are tipping too far on the processed side of the balance.
I hope this gives you something to think about. What are you doing to make healthy changes and eat less processed foods?