Change is hard. Most people don’t like change. We learn from our parents and we take what they give us and build upon it. This is often true for all of life. When it comes to the food we eat, this is also true. As you can imagine, when someone tells you that you need to make a change to the way you eat and think about food, it can be scary to say the least.
The person that usually breaks the news to you is a doctor. Perhaps you have a child that is on their way to type 2 diabetes or you yourself had an annual checkup with some high cholesterol numbers. Maybe your lipids or blood pressure or some other level is off in your blood work. Whatever the reason is that you have to make a change, it is staring you right in the face and you don’t know what to do.
Taking responsibility for your own health or someone you love’s health can be an overwhelming task.
You might think to yourself: “Things have always worked fine the way they were before…why is this happening to me?” It’s not your fault. It is easier than ever to eat poorly. The wrong marketing messages are everywhere. So here you are…the doctor tells you that you have to cut certain foods from your diet to help correct fixable issues or else you will have to take prescription medication…and we all know that those have side effects. This is a decisive moment in your life. What do you do? You have two choices. 1. Take the prescription medication and continue your way of life. 2. Make a change that will last forever. A change that might be a bit more difficult, potentially socially awkward, and hard for your extended family to understand.
I guess all of this has to do with context right? I mean, if you are told this directly, you might want to just take the medication and call it a day, but will that be enough? What happens when your body develops a tolerance and the medication is no longer effective? Making a change that is getting to the root of the problem rather than masking the symptom will ultimately lead you to a healthier life for the long haul…and that’s where we all want to be…in it for the long haul. I’ve got your back. Read on my friend.
Before we continue, please know that I am NOT referring to chronic illnesses, nor am I saying that you can reverse every disease with food. Keep an open dialogue with your doctor and make sure they are with you every step of the way before attempting a new lifestyle change.
So you got the news you have to change your diet from your doctor and you have no idea where to start. You might have been told that you have some crazy levels from your blood work or perhaps you took a food allergy test and it told you that you have a high sensitivity to soy, gluten, dairy, eggs and every other food in the world that you have come to know and love. “WHAT THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT” you say to yourself.
“WHAT THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT” you say to yourself.
To start, take a look at what you have been eating. What are your favorite foods that you eat all the time. Write them down. How many times a week do you go out to eat? When you do go out to eat, what do you eat? Write it all down and take a good look at it. Now ask yourself if there is anything you could do to make those choices healthier. If you have to cut gluten and you love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, find a gluten-free bread. If you like popsicles but they have too much sugar, invest in some frozen popsicle molds and make your own from blended up strawberries, blueberries and bananas. If you are like me and love frozen waffles, there are lots of great brands out there that are environmentally sustainable, care about animals and also taste amazing! “Leggo” of the brands that you think you know…that you think care about you and take a deeper look at the ingredients on the back of the box. Can you pronounce them? If you can’t, then why are you putting them in your body? You can do this.
There are lots of brands out there and I pride myself on trying most of them. I can tell you that it is easier today than ever before to eat clean, real food. If you would like to see some of those brands that I know and trust, I have laid them all out for you right here. Just tell me where to send it and it’s yours. I love shopping in the frozen section as that is often the place where I stock up on tons of trusted brands.
In addition to evaluating some of the foods you are already eating and substituting them out for other brands with cleaner, fewer ingredients, try these three simple steps:
- Incorporate a multivitamin into your life. Vitamins are your daily insurance policy. If you aren’t eating perfectly one day, you can rely on your vitamin to pick up the slack. You want to have a well-balanced diet every single day, but sometimes life gets the best of us. Make sure you choose a whole-food vitamin, like THIS one.
- Think of your plate in fours. Try to have a protein, whole grain, vegetable and fruit for each one of your meals. Another good way to look at your food intake is from Dr. Michael Greger’s app called “The Daily Dozen.” My eight-year-old daughter has a blast logging her food and how many servings of each she has had after a meal. The goal of the app is to make you aware of how many healthy foods you have had during the day. It’s a ton of fun for kids and great for adults.
- Reduce your dairy intake. Chances are that you are consuming too much dairy. Remember, dairy is cheese folks. I am not just talking about milk. Calcium comes from plants, not from cows. The only reason cow’s milk has calcium is because cows eat grass. Get your calcium straight from the source and eat some more greens, but if you really love milk, try some of the amazing non-dairy options out there like almond, flax, hemp, coconut and rice milk! Each of them taste completely different and most of them have a hint of vanilla to them so what have you got to lose by trying them? Nothing! You got this!
I could go on forever on this topic, but alas I am going to stop here and remind you that you can do this. You are an amazing person and your family needs you. Be the best, most-healthy version of yourself you can be by taking responsibility for the food the you put on your plate. Continue to go the extra mile for your family and if I can help you in any way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Much love to you and your family!
Disclaimer: Lean Green DAD™ is a lifestyle blog with posts about food, family and fun. From time to time we might recommend a healthy food or fitness activity, but it is important that you know that Cory is not a certified personal trainer or dietitian. Please consult your physician or licensed professional before starting any diet plan and do what works best for you and your family.