I changed my life one bite at a time and you can too!
2500 years ago Heraclitus said ‘Change is the only constant in life’. He was right and change is nothing to be scared of, instead it’s to be used to our advantage. It means wherever you are, whoever you are, there’s room for you to become someone else. To eat better, to exercise more, to learn a new skill.
Growing up I never considered what food was doing to my body. It just wasn’t something my family thought about. Most meals revolved around a piece of meat, some rice or potatoes, and if we were lucky some tinned sweetcorn.
As I moved into my early twenties I started to experiment with other foods. It was exciting to try new things, to test out all the vegetables I’d never eaten. My diet improved, but considering where I’d started it hadn’t actually improved that much.
I also had an (un)healthy appetite for sugary drinks and chocolate bars. And of course, now I was living on my own and I had to make ends meet. That meant I would regularly eat at cheap fast food restaurants. You know, the famous one that does burgers and the other one that does chicken.
In the back of my mind I always knew that these foods were bad for me, but as I had a fast metabolism I wasn’t seeing any difference in my weight, I assumed I was fine. That all changed towards the end of my twenties. I started to see friends with health problems and I started to get ill constantly. I knew it was a time for a change. And that’s what I did. For the last 10 years I’ve been slowly improving my diet and I make sure I exercise. I’m feeling better than I ever have. Certainly better than I did in my late twenties.
The last 10 years have been a journey away from the person I used to be. Especially the last 2 years that I’ve been using CheckYourFood, my diet has change dramatically as I now have a tool that clearly shows me what foods are giving me nutrients and which are not. So, you’d think you’d be right in assuming I never eat any chocolate bars or fast food?
Well, my confession is that I still do. I can’t help it. It was part of who I am for so long that it’s been almost impossible to stop. The difference is that I don’t eat them every day, or even every week. If I was to deprive myself of chocolate or the occasionally burger or fried chicken I’d go mad. And I’d probably me more likely to rail against my new life and revert back.
So, I allow myself these. Sometimes I visit a fast food place twice a month, sometimes I won’t visit one for months at a time. I just try and check myself, and if I’m going too often I make a mental note to go for another option.
Everything in moderation as they say.
What you need to know
Trying to start a new life can be hard. Everything is set up to keep us as we are. Our family and friends, as lovely as they are, can be our worst enemies when we try and break out of our current situation. I think the best way for yourself, and for them, is to change gradually.
If one day you decided clear out all of the food in your house and replace it all with ‘super healthy’ options that you never normally eat. Your friends would raise their eyebrows and make comments, and your body would wonder what the heck was going on.
Instead, choose to gradually introduce new healthier foods and cut back on things that you know might not be the healthiest choice. But don’t do this randomly, make a plan, write it down.
Where do you want to be in a year’s time?
How can you change things each month to work towards that goal?
If you have a plan it can keep you on track and make you feel good that you’re making progress. And if you make small changes, your body and your friends are less likely to reject them.
And things can change. In my mid-twenties, when I used to drink loads of sugary, milky tea and cans of soft drinks, someone offered me a green tea. I thought I’d give it a try as I’d heard it was really good for you. I took a sip and nearly vomited. I kid you not. It was so far away from what I liked that my body and my taste buds reacted aggressively. I remember feeling a little silly as the person who offered it to me gave me an odd look, but my reaction was to get defensive and think, ‘They’re just some hippy health freak, I’m a normal person and normal people don’t drink that stuff’.
Silly eh? But that’s what we do. We make excuses not to do things. Fast forward about 5 years and I made a conscious decision to cut out the sugary teas and coffees I was drinking. It took me a year but I got to the point where the only hot drink I drank was green tea. Quite a turn around.
My advice if you’re trying to eat new foods to improve your health, but don’t like ‘health food’, is first to learn that lots of normal food can be healthy if eaten in the right amounts. And to branch out into trying new foods, vegetables or things like green tea, is first find a type of cuisine you like and build up the flavours around that. That way you’re eating something you like with a small addition of something else. Then slowly progress to more of the things you want to be eating.
Keep a food diary
The reason I’ve made such great changes in the last 2 years is because I’ve been keeping a food diary of what I eat and am seeing what nutrients I’m getting. If you’re not getting all the nutrients you need you are putting yourself at risk from many chronic disease. The really rewarding thing for me is seeing on my report that I’m getting 100% of a nutrient I only used to get 20 or 30% of. You can start using the CheckYourFood food diary today. Click here to get started.
Remember, change is the only constant in life, so make that change towards a healthier life.
What I love about CheckYourFood is how I'm still surprised by the nutritional content of the foods I eat. I love learning and CheckYourFood is an amazing journey of discovery through health and nutrition, and something I really love: FOOD.
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