One of the things that I think people believe about living a healthy lifestyle is that they have to stop enjoying the food that they eat. They somehow equate healthy food with plain, raw, tasteless vegetables, no more yummy burgers or steaks, and nothing sweet—ever!
If that were really true, very few people would ever stick to eating healthy food. Now, I personally know a few people who don’t enjoy food at all. They look at eating as a necessity and not as something that gives them enjoyment or satisfaction, unless it is candy or packed full of sugar.
I can tell you that is certainly not me! I come from a family of eaters; we love all kinds of food. I was not raised to be conscious about the food I eat, but fortunately, there was very little junk food available to me growing up.
As a young adult, I ate what everyone else ate. I was conscious of my weight, especially starting out in the U.S. Air Force, and I worked out pretty hard. I ran, and I lifted weights 5 days a week. I was fit and trim, and I actually enjoyed working out.
Being in the military, we were pretty poor and rarely ate out. I did my best to make meals at home, but I was really inexperienced because my parents didn’t teach me how to cook. Our meals were pretty basic and plain.
Fortunately, over the years I discovered that, once you master the basics of cooking, all you need are some recipes and a willingness to try new things. I also discovered that I had a creative flare for cooking, soon after which I decided that I like to cook.
When I got pregnant with my daughter, I started to watch my diet more closely. I limited sugar and caffeine, and I made sure to get plenty of sleep. Things changed more once my daughter was born.
Early on, she developed food allergies, which caused me to take a deeper look into what we were eating. All I had as a guide was the results of her blood test. It took a while to figure out how to make food that she would eat. I definitely had to get away from packaged foods and start incorporating whole foods to avoid the allergens that most packaged food contains.
And that is where my journey to eating healthy started. As you may know, people will do far more for others than they will do for themselves—especially when it comes to parents and their children.
When you have to cook for kids, you have to make it yummy. Getting away from processed foods (basically items that have a list of ingredients) is one of the healthiest ways to eat. For busy people, (and who isn’t busy) that isn’t always possible or practical so you learn to compromise on some things.
The longer you work at it though, the easier it gets. When you know the truth about nutrition and how to feed your body, you realize that you don’t need to be a vegetarian to eat healthy and be healthy. That’s where having a mentor such as a health coach can really help. I wish I had someone knowledgeable about healthy eating to help me all those years ago.
Today, people are always surprised to hear that we eat steak and burgers, potatoes, cheese, and lots of other foods that they eat, too. The difference is how we prepare those foods and the ingredients that are in them.
We even occasionally have dessert such as cookies, brownies, cakes, and pies; again, the difference is the ingredients that go into them. I make most of the desserts from scratch so I know everything they contain.
Does that mean that I will never touch junk food again? Of course not! Besides an occasional glass of wine (such as the one sitting beside me right now), there are certain occasions when I find it acceptable to “cheat” on my diet. I call them special occasions.
Sometimes, it truly is a special occasion. Eating at a really nice restaurant usually indicates a celebration of some kind, and you better believe I am going to look at the dessert menu. I love a great cheesecake, carrot cake, or key lime pie. And who can pass up tortilla chips at a nice Mexican restaurant?
But there are also special times spent with people you don’t see very often. Sometimes, you are going to end up with a blizzard from Dairy Queen in your hand or a find your hand in a bag of some variety of junk food being passed around. Eh, it’s ok—really, it is.
Even if you are on vacation and really blow your diet for an entire week, it’s ok. You can just resume your normal diet when you get back home.
Did I cheat on my diet when my family was here last week? A little; last year was worse. Do I regret it at all? Not one bit. I wouldn’t ruin a special time by being a prude about my diet. The point of a healthy lifestyle is to eat nutritious food, but it also about not being stressed out all the time. And that includes getting stressed out over the food you eat.
Be wise and be well!
Luke 15:6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep’.