How many times have you heard someone say they are trying to eat healthier or following a specific "Diet", and then they begin to list all the things they are no longer eating?
Or, maybe you or someone you know has read an article or received advice that included phrases like…
In today’s world, people tend to confuse healthy eating with restricting or depriving themselves. And, let’s face it, this approach isn’t working:
- Chronic disease rates (heart disease, stroke, diabetes) continue to rise.
- Our life expectancy in the U.S. has decreased for two straight years.
- 8 of the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. are diet and lifestyle related.
What about a different approach?
What if…instead of focusing on what we are going to remove from our diets (which automatically triggers the dreaded feeling of deprivation), we instead focus on what we can ADD to our diets? Imagine the excitement of discovering new foods you get to eat…instead of dwelling on all the foods you no longer get to enjoy.
Think of what this approach might look like:
- Anticipation and (dare we say), joy, to try new foods.
- As you ADD nutrient-dense foods, the unhealthy stuff will naturally be forced out!
- The flavors of these new foods will start to change your cravings (trust us on this one!)
- Experience a HUGE sense of accomplishment as you add more new, healthy foods to your routine!
- Discover and fall in love with new foods you may have otherwise never tried!
Plus, reduce stress!
When you decide to eliminate a food, that decision alone causes stress. Then, every time you are tempted with that food, your stress levels are amped up again. All you can think about is what you are missing out on. This is not sustainable…most of us eventually cave and give in. Then comes the regret that you didn’t stick to your plan, ramping up stress levels even further!
Instead, by focusing on ADDING nutritious, delicious foods to your routine, you will naturally eliminate the less healthy foods…STRESS-FREE!
Power of a positive attitude: John Hopkins researchers have even found that those with a positive outlook were 13% less likely to experience a heart attack or detrimental coronary event. People with a positive attitude may be better protected against the inflammatory damage of stress, and even have stronger immune systems.
Positive reinforcement: we recently heard a story about an 8th grade class where the teachers were struggling with a variety of behavioral issues. The teachers decided to add “merits” to the existing “demerit” system. Instead of the continual negative feedback associated with earning “demerits,” students now had the opportunity to earn “merits” for doing good deeds throughout their day. The behavior suddenly changed! When they focused on the "good," the “bad” behavior naturally diminished, and the number of "merits" suddenly outnumbered the "demerits!"
So, how do you do it? What foods should you add?
- Check out our Superfoods of the Month for nutritious, delicious foods that you can add to your routine. Pick one and try a few different preparations, and then add another one.
- Add something nutritious to your breakfast to get your day started right! Try the Baked Oatmeal Cups or Mug of Eggs.
- Add a nutritious snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Chocolate Chia Energy Bites or Spiced Mixed Nuts are great choices.
- Focus on adding new spices to your meals to amp up the flavor. The flavor-popping One-Pot Moroccan Vegetable Curry and the Thai Vegetable Noodle Stir Fry are great places to start!
- Add homemade desserts, using natural sweeteners like dates, bananas and other fresh fruits. Smarty Pants Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, Simple Mixed Berry Crisp, and Almond Butter Brownies are a few of our favorites!
Try focusing on EAT REAL DAILY DEFENDERS!
these are a great goal for each and everyday:
- Nuts (¼ cup daily)
- Berries (½ cup or more daily)
- Beans (½ cup or more most days)
- Citrus or melons (1 cup daily)
- Apple-a-day (or a pear!)
- Cruciferous Veggies (½ cup daily)
- Mushrooms, cooked (¼ cup most days)
- Leafy Greens (2 or more cups daily)
- Flax or Chia Seeds (1 Tbsp daily)
- Whole Grains (3 daily, 1 = ½ cup or 1 slice of bread)
Our Eat REAL America recipes are loaded with great ways to include these daily defenders in your everyday meals -- use the recipe search bar to find specific ingredients.
Here are a few more delicious ideas to get you started!
Do you have helpful tips or advice on how to break out of the "I can't have…" deprivation rut? Share with us -- we would love to hear from you!