Cleaning up what I ate and how I lived was, hands down, one of the most amazing life-changing things I have ever done. My body functions with ease and I feel alive from the inside out. The fact that my husband, Ken, and I are raising our young daughter with healthy wholesome foods as the foundation of her blossoming eating habits just makes the healthy living journey that much better. I remember when Ken and I decided we truly wanted to clean up our diet once and for all, the idea of where to start making such a huge change left us baffled and intimidated. But we took it day-by-day and now eating, cooking, and living a wholesome life is now second nature to us. People often ask me for words of wisdom about transitioning to a real food way of eating, and here is what I always tell them:
1. Figure out why you are wanting to make a change.
Is it because you are feeling sluggish all the time? Or a medical issue has called for a major wake-up call? Are you concerned about the eating habits your children are developing? Or is it some other reason? Whatever your motivation behind wanting to transition to a healthier way of eating, define it! Even if it’s just to yourself or your partner. That reason behind the transition will help motivate you through the rocky patches of giving up an unhealthy, highly processed diet.
2. Start with baby steps.
It’s tempting to want to jump into a 100% clean, unprocessed diet once you have found the motivation, but be careful about burning yourself out with so many major changes all at once! Figure out small sustainable steps and add them into your life one week (or one month) at a time! It’s not a race to health, but creating long-term habits that will last a lifetime that is important.
Not sure what small steps to start with? Here are a few of the steps my family and I took when we were transitioning.
– Introduce green smoothies at breakfast
– Cut out foods with artificial food dyes and sweeteners.
– Pack lunches for school/work
– Veggies & fruit are part of all meals (yes, even breakfast) and have them take up 50% of the plate.
– Drink your daily required water to be sure you are staying hydrated
3. Set yourself up for success!
Hit Pinterest and meal plan! Grocery shop! When the Oreos run out, don’t buy any more! Stock your house with healthy clean whole foods so you eat healthy clean whole foods! At the end of a long day, it’s tempting to hit the drive-thru if you’re staring at an empty fridge, so set yourself up for success by being as prepared as possible for this transition.
4. Educate yourself!
I became knowledgeable about my health by being a nutritional information junkie! I read every book I could get my hands on and watched so many documentaries. I learned to read labels and what questions to ask when dining out (“does your seaweed salad have added food dyes?”). Learn to be your own advocate and learn more about what your unique body needs to function at its best.
5. Start cooking!
I think this is the step that intimidates the most people. We are a busy society and the idea of having to hustle into the kitchen to slave over a stove at the end of a crazy day stresses us out. I get that. Truly. But you don’t have to make a fancy 5 course dinner from scratch to be healthy! Healthy can be a simple slow cooker chicken with a salad for dinner or lentil soup you made during meal prep and rewarm for dinner after a busy day! My slow cooker became my best friend for making sure a healthy dinner came together easily for my busy family. Figure out what works for your lifestyle and family and run with it!
6. Don’t let the “haters” deter you.
People are going to have opinions about the changes you are making in your life…and some will feel it is their place to share those opinions with you. Some will find your changes inspirational, and others may try to sabotage your efforts with remarks or judgments. Don’t listen to those Negative Nellies! Remember why you are making these changes and believe in them! You are walking your own path and often people say negative things about others healthy lifestyles because they feel badly about their own. In turn, be mindful not to impose your new views on eating onto people who might not be ready to hear them. Regardless of if it’s your sister, best friend, or father-in-law, remember not to judge their journey. Lead by example and be open to sharing what you’ve learned with them when asked. Chances are, if they don’t feel judged, they won’t judge your life choices either.
Congratulations! Simply by reading this, you’ve taken the very first step in transitioning your life to a real food way of eating! You’ve obviously thought about doing it or are in the process of trying to if you’ve read this far and now is the time to act! You’ll be amazed how great your body feels and functions when it is fueled with clean real food and pretty soon, cooking a meal or throwing baby spinach into your grocery cart will feel like second nature to you too. It’s a beautiful healthy life before you! Enjoy!
TAESHA is a wife, mother, and teacher based in San Diego. She aims to use her website, TheNaturalNurturer.com, to inspire people towards a healthy lifestyle through her family-friendly recipes and tips. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.
Photos credit: Emily Rochelle Photography