How to: Eat HEALTHY without DEPRIVATION.

We seriously have ALL BEEN THERE. If anyone reading this has ever NOT felt totally deprived when trying to live a healthier lifestyle, than I applaud you! I seriously cannot believe it took me SO LONG to learn the following concepts, but once I grasped them and understood WHY, the HOW became so much clearer.

In a nutshell, I am someone who really cannot deprive myself of the things I want. If I feel I am following some sort of "set of rules" I will find myself spiraling down the rabbit hole of no return. I think this stems from my career in dance where the goal was always to stay "aesthetically pleasing" no matter what the cost. I followed so many rules about food so I wouldn't gain any weight that when my performing career was over, things got a little wild.

I strive to never use the word diet. For me, that word has a negative connotation. One that involves strict rules, failure after failure, starvation, blandness, and mental health issues. Instead, I try to focus on LOVING myself by FUELING my body with the foods it needs and SOMETIMES giving it some "not so healthy" options. Upon doing this for a while, I realized that my body actually started craving the GOOD FOODS because GUESS WHAT.... those foods are actually what I WANT and CRAVE and NEED. Once I embraced how GOOD healthy eating made me FEEL, the spiral of bad habits just...... stopped?

SO, in the last 3+ years, I have really had to dig deep to figure out WHY I want what I want (or don't want in so many cases!) and the EMOTION I may be trying to avoid by use food as a tool or a weapon to combat unwanted stress, sadness, anger, depletion.

These are the MAIN TOPICS that I choose to follow because I know they are good for MY HEALTH, not only my waistline.

1. Eat ENOUGH FOOD. EAT MORE OFTEN, like 6 meals a day. Eat breakfast EVERY DAY. Deprivation comes when HUNGER strikes and there is absolutely NO REASON TO FEEL HUNGRY when you are trying to feel HEALTHY. If you are truly fueling yourself with the RIGHT foods each day, you will realize HOW MUCH FOOD you are actually eating! For me, that looks like:

4 servings of proteins
3 servings of vegetables
2 servings of starches
2 servings of fruits
1-2 servings of healthy fats (but avocado is LIFE, so there's wiggle room there....ha!)
2 tablespoons of Oils or Nut/Seed Butters
1 serving of dressings and seeds

Your serving amounts may be MORE depending on your goals, current weight, fitness level, types of workouts/daily activities, etc. There is no ONE SIZE FITS ALL when it comes to amounts of foods a person should consume in a day. That depends on YOU and what you NEED.

And let's be honest... a "perfect" day would mean that I followed all the "rules". There IS ROOM IN THESE SERVINGS TO BE A HUMAN, MY FRIEND. There is ALWAYS room to be a human.

2. What to AVOID! Because we are trying to live our fullest and best life, there are CHEMICALS added to foods that serve NO PURPOSE and we should really try to avoid and eliminate them as much as possible. Once you get these nasties OUT OF YOUR LIFE for some time, you will no longer crave them. And when you do eat/drink them...they will taste AWFUL. I promise!
  • Avoid all over-processed foods, particularly white flour and sugar.
  • Avoid all chemically charged foods.
  • Avoid foods containing preservatives.
  • Avoid artificial sugars.
  • Avoid artificial foods such as processed cheese slices.
  • Avoid saturated and trans fats.
  • Avoid sugar loaded beverages, including colas and juices.
  • Avoid or do your best to limit alcohol intake. (We all need our wine. I hear ya, ladies!)
  • Avoid all calorie dense foods containing little or no nutritional value. I call these anti-foods.
  • Avoid super sizing your meals.

3. IF YOU DECIDE TO HAVE THE WINE AND THE PIZZA, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU LEARN TO DEAL WITH IT AND MOVE ON. You are NOT a bad person because you ate something that wasn't originally on the "plan". Don't sabotage the rest of your week, weekend, month because of one meal. Learning not to make this moment and make into a string of moments is super important. That is where the HEALING comes in when it comes to food. Food cannot own you if you don't let it. Shrug it off and eat some broccoli later. You'll be okay. 

4. It is possible to still go out to eat and enjoy yourself even though you are working on fueling your body with healthier options. Just take a peak at the menu before you leave, pick out the "healthier" meal you are going to order and don't even open the menu when you get there! Just order! If you look at your plate and think "this is way too much food for me tonight", simply ask for a to-go box and put half of it in there to take home! Don't overcomplicate. Don't beat yourself up. Don't stress over what you "can't have". You can have whatever you want. You're an adult. But, you're also a SMART adult that knows your body is your home and fueling it properly makes you feel AMAZING. 

5. CRAVINGS. They are going to strike, I promise you. Here is the ONE thing I do when a craving that surprises me hits, I walk past a candy bowl, I see a Starbucks en route to the mall, I really want a burger when I just had one yesterday.....

I wait it out. 

Typically, I am hit with a craving when I'm bored, tired, stressed, sad, angry, hungry... all of the emotions! If it's a human emotion and you're feeling it, chances are, you have used food to avoid it. So, wait it out. Starve the craving. If all of a sudden I'm cooking dinner and I think "I deserve a glass of wine", I will drink a glass of water first and wait 10 minutes. If that glass of wine is STILL calling my name, I'll drink it. But, 9 times out of 10, I'm onto the next thing and don't even realize 10 minutes has passed and I haven't had the wine. Starve your cravings out with GOOD habits. Maybe you actually ARE hungry and need to snack on some veggies and hummus to kick the craving for the snickers? Try it. See what happens. Journal it. Keep track of how you FEEL before and after to learn your OWN patterns of self destruction and learn and grow. You can do this. Fighting a craving is not hard in the grand scheme of life. 

I hope these 5 concepts help you get started, feel less stressed, and understand that food is here to be our friend, NOT the enemy as you embark on your healthy journey with nutrition! Please feel free to contact me if you ever want some guidance or support in these areas.

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