5 Strategies to Start Your Healthy Diet
By Dee Josey
The Time For Abundance is Now
Eons ago, we lived in a time when food was...well...food. Mom would start breakfast for her family at 9:00PM the night before by preparing the bread to rise. At 4:00AM, she would spend the next three hours fighting the chickens for eggs, squeezing milk in a pail, carving bacon off her pig, gathering firewood to heat the stove, and preparing a lovely breakfast for her family. Food was simply fuel for our bodies. If you wanted to eat, it took planning, preparation, and time.
Fast forward 100 years, and we found a way to live in “abundance.” With the creation of grocery stores we no longer have to raise, harvest, process, and make our food from scratch. We have convenient, tasty, processed and refined foods that are cheap and available year-round. Instead of having to grow, gather, grind, leaven, and bake the grains, we can simply pick up a loaf of bread. Better yet, we can grab our bag of pop tarts to eat for breakfast on the way to work.
What’s the problem?
The problem is that we are over-consuming processed food. A recent cross-sectional study found that processed foods make up close to sixty percent (57.9%) of the traditional American diet. While some of these minimally processed foods, like canned tomatoes, frozen peas, and yogurt can add convenience and nutrients to your diet, most processed foods are high in calories and low in nutrients. Us science nerds call these foods “empty calories.” These foods have a lot of added sugar, salt, chemically produced fats, and other preservatives to make the “food” taste better and give it a longer shelf life.
Food companies spend A LOT of money figuring out ways to get us to buy their food, and they are experts. Processed foods make it difficult to figure out whether we are hungry or full; like a drug, we over-consume and still look for more.
Why is this a problem?
People who eat a high processed food diet typically:
Have a lower metabolism that leads to undesirable and unhealthy body composition.
Are at higher risk for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, three of the top leading causes of death in America.
Have trouble sleeping, concentrating, and regulating their mood and stress level.
Are poor nourished.
Have trouble regulating their appetite.
Are in more pain from inflammatory diseases like osteoarthritis and gout.
What’s the Solution
Like most, you probably know you want to start to eat healthier, but you are not quite sure what that looks like. By throwing enticing advertising, convenience, and addictive chemicals in our faces 24/7, our society makes it difficult to know where to begin. Here are some of the ways we coach our athletes at Delta Performance:
1. Start adding nutritious foods to your diet
When we fill up on “nutrient dense” foods, or foods that give us a bigger health bang for our buck, there is less room for those empty calories. Gradually start adding healthy foods to your diet.
Eat a salad or cut up veggies before your dinner.
Before you reach for that mid-afternoon brownie, eat a piece of fruit first.
2. Find a Healthy Substitute
Come up with a list of potential substitutes for your most common processed foods.
An apple instead of applesauce
Rolled oats instead of frosted breakfast cereals
Black coffee (or better yet, water) instead of a Frappuccino
3. Move Along the Continuum
Look at the foods you are already eating, and ask yourself, “how could I make this a little bit better?”
Unsweetened almond milk instead of whole milk
Whole grain bread instead of white
4. Notice Behavior Patterns
Pay attention to when you eat more processed foods. If it helps, keep track with a food journal, so you can use it look for patterns in your behavior. Once you discover the habit, you can be more proactive to break it.
Do you consume higher processed foods when you are:
5. Shape your Path with a Kitchen Clean-out
We save this one for extreme cases because it is the most intimidating. It works really well for some and is extremely stressful for others. PROCEED WITH CAUTION
“If a food is in your house or possession, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate, will eventually eat it.” - John Berardi, Nutrition Expert and Founder of Precision Nutrition
Summed up, keep and stock up on the healthy things and purge the rest.
“ The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”--Confucius
Processed foods are everywhere, and they lead to a plethora of health issues. Just like learning how to walk is a fundamental to running, limiting processed foods is a fundamental to eating and living healthier. Take the step today to make changes to your diet. Incorporate small, easily manageable goals that you can do every day, and before you know it, you will be a thousand miles further.
PS: If you want more information on the processed food industry that is so prevalent in today’s society, we highly recommend watching the Fed Up Documentary narrated by Katie Couric. It will give you an enlightened outlook on “food.”
Are you ready to take your nutrition to the next level?
The health and fitness world can be a confusing place, but it does not have to be. Let our coaches help you make sense of all the information out there and build a plan for your success.