Monday, July 22, 2024

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Dieting For Life: Embracing Healthy Eating as a Daily Choice Without Giving Up the Joy of Food

Eating healthy shouldn’t be something we do on occasion, but a daily life choice we make.  Why don’t we?  Because we love food!  One of the biggest pleasures I have is shopping for groceries.  I slowly glide my shopping cart up and down the isles, staring at the freezer compartments for new and exciting baked goods.  I love everything I see, which is the problem I have with food.  I do love food.

An interesting fact about chocolate:  Companies who manufacture chocolate have seen their sales rise during this economic down turn.  People interviewed on street corners said they refuse to give up chocolate.  It’s one of the few treats they provide themselves without guilt.  Chocolate it seems, is a feel good food we are not willing to give up.

When I was younger I enjoyed food, but I wasn’t as possessed by it as I am today.  I was too, busy tending to my family, working long hours and trying to keep my household intact.  Now that my family is grown, I’m divorced and living on my own, food has become a focal point in my life.  I have hobbies which I enjoy, but there is something about baking sugary goodies that keeps me happy.  I’m constantly baking cookies, cakes, brownies and pies.  I’ve thought about starting my own online bakery I enjoy it so much. 

What we need to do is retrain our thought processes.  Instead of craving a cheese burger, we need to train our brain to crave fish (not breaded fish served at fast food restaurants).  Instead of craving chocolate, we need to think natural sugar in fruit to lift our spirits.  Instead of a thick, juicy steak, we need to choose a slice of turkey!  All much healthier choices, but unfortunately, not near as mouth watering as those foods we should eat less of.

Years back I decided my love of jewelry would make a fantastic business, so I bought thousands of dollars worth of jewelry.  Within a couple years of marketing jewelry, my passion for jewelry diminished.  It was no longer a hobby  which I enthusiastically enjoyed,  it was an actual job that required long hours of work on my behalf.  Something tells me if I did start a bakery, my passion for food would also subside.

What it really takes to turn our lives around is will power. Will power to change the psychology of food we eat.  To realize why certain foods make us happy.  To conquer our addiction to food, we must understand why food welds so much power over us.  If we can define why certain food effect us in certain ways, then we can use mind over matter to stop the unhealthy eating patterns we have formed over the years.

What is it about food that makes us so happy?  It’s psychological and rooted in our childhood.  Certain foods bring back memories of holidays spent with love ones, meals our mother or grandmothers prepared for us with love.  When I cook the favorite dishes of my family, all the warmth and joy I felt preparing those dishes return.  Is it no wonder that we are a nation of obese individuals?  Food is an instant feel good high, so of course we’re going to eat, eat, eat!    We all like to feel good.

Make a list of the foods you should be eating and take that list with you to the grocery store.  Prepare a list of healthy meals for the next 7 days.  Buy ingredients for only those meals.  Do not fill your shopping cart full of foods that will tempt you to cheat.  I do think it’s prudent when going through withdrawals of unhealthy foods, to keep a little bit of those unhealthy foods on hand.  Going cold turkey is never easy or wise to do.   If you have an acute craving for sugar, eat a few bites and put the rest away.  You can’t expect to change a lifetime of cravings in a few short days.  It will take time to reset your brain to crave healthy foods that will help you live a longer, healthier (thinner) life.

What doesn’t make us feel good, is when we look at ourselves in the mirror.  All those added pounds and bulges make us feel worse about ourselves, instead of better.  How do we break this cycle of food, weight and depression?  When stressed, I reach for chocolate.  I firmly believe there is nothing chocolate can’t cure.  When nibbling on my candy bar (or shoveling it down in three bites), I instantly feel my spirits lifted.  Who would suffer a blue mood when it can easily be replaced with a sugar high? 

When you crave a donut in the morning, that craving is real.  Your body is telling you your sugar level is low and that donut is going to make you feel better.   Accept that fact and search for something that increases your sugar level without the calories and fat grams of  donuts.  Fruit is your best choice, but at the beginning it may not be enough.  So eat half the donut plus a cup of fresh strawberries.  When you crave a cheese burger, don’t purchase the $6 burger laden with 54 fat grams.  Instead, buy the $1 burger to stop your craving.  It’s still not a healthy choice, but it is a healthier choice then the $6 burger.

Understanding the psychology of food, helps us understand why we make the food decisions we do.  If you can learn to control your cravings, you will eat healthier, live longer and loose weight!  Add 30 minutes of exercise to this program three times a week and you’ll be even healthier yet.  It’s not easy, but you can do it by taking it one day at a time.  By tackling one food addiction at a time.  If you have a down day and eat a $6 burger… that’s okay.  Start again.  Don’t punish yourself for your failures, it will only make changing your eating patterns that much more difficult.  Love yourself for trying.  Tell yourself you’re doing a great job and you’ll do better next time.  Set up a reward system.  If you go 10 days eating healthy meals, you can buy yourself a new pair of shoes.  Whatever reward works for you.  

Tall, short, thin or fat… you are a child of God and God loves you just the way you are!

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