We remember more vividly teaching our kids how to ride a bike.
As we held onto the back of the seat, they would wobble and weave as we guided them along. Then, without fail, when they "thought" we were still holding on, they would glance back and see that we were 10 feet behind them. Suddenly, their front tire would start to wobble back and forth again and you can guess what happened next...they crashed.
And, the crash was always inevitable.
Sometimes they would get up and brush themselves off and try it again. A few times they would call it quits for the day, but they were back at it the next day, determined to master this new skill.
At first, learning to ride a bike feels completely awkward and unnatural. Once you get the hang of it -- the balance, steering, pedaling and braking -- you can't imagine NOT knowing how to do it.
You can't unlearn it.
And then, with enough practice, you don't even have to think about it anymore...it's just second nature.
Learning how to live a REAL food lifestyle is a lot like learning how to ride a bike. At first, it can feel awkward and wobbly, and we will fail a bit. If you are immersed in the world of ultra-processed food and the convenience of fast food, the elements of a REAL food lifestyle (planning your meals, cooking at home, being mindful of your food choices, knowing what to do with REAL ingredients, shopping at the farmers' market) will NOT feel natural, and will take some practice.
Then, it becomes your rhythm, and you don't even have think about it anymore...it becomes second nature. You develop so much confidence that it feels natural and somewhat graceful...and before long you are pulling off cool tricks (sort of like jumping curbs and popping wheelies!).
Learning to ride a bike is a life skill. Learning about the foods that are best for our health and vitality should also be a life skill. It is a skill that can help us thrive, not just survive, and benefit us for our entire lives.
And, once you learn it, you can't unlearn it!
Mastering a new skill.
Mastering any new skill requires a strong enough desire, purposeful practice, and learning from our failures. Most children find a strong desire for "freedom" and use their bodies to power themselves around the neighborhood. To achieve this, they practice until they master a few key skills such as getting on and off the bike, balancing, pedaling, steering and braking. They crash, but they don't give up. They learn from their mistakes, they build confidence and, before long, they are flying around the neighborhood and experimenting with tricks they have been watching their friends do!
Just like bike riding, there are a few key skills that lead to successfully living out a REAL food lifestyle. In our experience, these skills include:
- Focus on REAL food and how to read an ingredient label.
She called me after 2 hours of scouring through the grocery store aisles with shock and disbelief. She realized she shouldn't be buying many of the ultra-processed foods that had become part of her routine. I felt kind of bad, like I had just told her the truth about Santa Claus! But, I knew this could be a game-changer for her and this was an extremely eye-opening experience. Once she learned about reading ingredient labels, she couldn't unlearn it. It is now second nature and she has totally transformed her eating habits, her cravings and her health!
- Stock your pantry, including staple ingredients to have on hand all the time.
- Use a few essential kitchen tools and gadgets to make cooking as easy as possible.
- Give vegetables a starring role with every meal. We constantly hear people say, “I had no idea vegetables could taste like that!” Mastering the skill of roasting vegetables will change your life!
- Planning and preparation. Think about today what you will be eating tomorrow. Being mindful of your food choices and mastering the skill of planning ahead will reduce your stress, and boost your success exponentially!
- Keep the ingredients on hand to make 5 quick and easy REAL ingredient-focused meals in under 30 minutes: meals like the Southwest Stuffed Sweet Potato, Mexican One Pot Pasta, Grilled or Roasted Veggie Sandwich, Baked Fish Parmesan with Seasoned Roasted Vegetables, and Fire Roasted Sloppy Joes.
An Eat REAL America member recently shared a story about having an extremely long and stressful day at work. Prior to her REAL food journey, she would have resorted to ordering pizza to destress and find comfort.
Because her REAL food lifestyle was starting to become second nature, she resisted this temptation and, instead, made the Southwest Stuffed Sweet Potato (using ingredients she had on hand). She was thrilled with the decision because it was absolutely satisfying and she knew it was so much healthier than ordering pizza. For her, this was a huge win and another confidence booster on her REAL food journey!
Where are you at when it comes to healthy eating?
Does it still feel awkward and wobbly? Are you still falling off the bike more than you would like?
Maybe you are jumping curbs and popping wheelies?! Wherever you are, keep going -- don't quit!
As you clean out your pantry (and continue to read those ingredient labels), what things are you finding that really shouldn't be replaced once they are used up? Please share your comments - if you need some help coming up with the REAL food replacement, we're here to help!
We love a good challenge!