I recently had lunch with a great friend and (as usually happens when my friends and I get together) we started talking about food, why our body will crave certain things, and what to do about it.
It took me back to the beginning of my journey and reminded me of a time when, even though I knew the changes I was making with food were good, it really sucked.
At least, that’s what I thought at the time. I would go to friend’s barbecue parties with my own little cooler of fresh fruit, veggies and a salad. (I wasn’t eating meat during the days I was trying to go into remission from RA.) The smells of chicken, brisket and sausage on the grill would drive me insane!!! I mean, I’m a girl from the south. Barbecue is our thing! And there I was, my little plant-eating self, determined that food was going to help me get rid of a disease that my doctors had promised was going to cause me to need knee replacements by the time I was 40 (that’s this year, by the way, and my knees are awesome!)
I’m not kidding when I tell you that those first two years of this healthy lifestyle were the absolute hardest!
I’m sharing this with you today because as I sat having this conversation with my friend, and these memories came ruuuusshhhing back, I knew I had to talk to you about the mindset shifts I made in order to make the journey of healthy living not only sustainable for a lifetime, but a journey that didn’t feel like it was sucking me into a deep pit of “poor, pitiful me”. Because the truth is that all the healthy food in the world isn’t going to make a difference if we can’t get our mind on board with the process.
So here are my 3 Tips for Teaching Your Body What to Crave:
#1 Get rid of the diet / deprivation mentality.
Stop saying to yourself, “I can’t have (fill in the blank) because I’m on a diet.”
This kind of negative self talk is nothing but a recipe (no pun intended) for overwhelm, feelings of failure and burnout. If you want to stick to your healthy ways for a lifetime, you have to rewrite the script that plays in your mind, even if there are certain foods (for me it was meat) that you really can’t have! Take the focus off of can’t and put it onto CAN. My world was totally rocked when I started really exploring how many plants there are to enjoy! Brussels sprouts, broccoli, squash, zucchini (in place of pasta if you’re wondering how to eat spaghetti without gluten), asparagus, sweet potatoes, avocado . . . I could go on and on. Just walk through the produce section of the grocery store . . . there is an abundance of beautiful, delicious, colorful food! Foods that I never even noticed before. It’s all a matter of focus and when you begin to explore all that you CAN eat, all of a sudden you don’t feel so deprived anymore.
#2 Silence the inner voice that says, “Eating healthy stinks. I want what everyone else is having!”
Eating healthy does NOT stink. However, if you’re like me and you have fond memories of the days when you called chocolate milk and a warm honey bun “breakfast” then it might take a little time for you to adjust to the truth that good food actually tastes good. You have to TEACH your taste buds what to crave. I promise, they don’t want crap, they just don’t know it yet. We reap what we sow. When we sow good, healthy, whole, delicious foods into our body, what we reap is beautiful skin, endless energy, freedom from joint pain and fatigue, a mind that is sharp and clear and creative . . . in other words – we reap a beautiful life! Are all the people around you living a beautiful life they love? If not, you don’t want what everyone else is having.
#3 Make the decision and trust the process.
It took a lifetime for you to “learn” (or develop) the thoughts, ideas and emotions you have around food. So guess what? It’s going to take a lifetime to rewrite that script that keeps playing in your mind. I don’t mean that it’s going to take you forever to get your mindset shifted. What I mean is that every day, for the rest of your life, you’re going to make choices around food based on the decisions that you’ve made about how you want to live. That’s why the third tip is to make the decision that TODAY is day one of the rest of your life and then trust the process. Are you going to be perfect? No. That’s why that diet mentality is so defeating. ‘Oh I messed up and had a slice of cake at my friend’s birthday party. Guess I have to start over tomorrow.’ Or even worse, ‘I messed up. I can’t do this. I quit. Back to honey buns and chocolate milk for breakfast!’ No. A diet would say you messed up, but, did you mess up? Or did you just take a moment to enjoy a celebration of life with people you love? And that celebration just happened to include a sweet treat – something you don’t eat every day at every meal, but allow yourself to savor in that beautiful moment free of any guilt, shame, or defeating self-talk. You don’t have to “start over”. You just have to keep going! You made a decision to sit down to each meal and be intentional about what’s going on your plate. To pay attention to the thoughts running through your mind. To correct any negative thoughts or emotions you have around food with the truth, which is: good food tastes good, eating it makes me feel good, and every once in awhile, when I decide to, I’m gonna throw in a little something that feels like a special treat and enjoy it without beating myself up about it!
I promise, if you start with these 3 tips, your mindset is going to completely shift and it won’t be long before your taste buds are going to be craving all kinds of good things, rejecting the “crap” you used to eat, and everyone around you is going to want what YOU’RE having – a happy, healthy, energetic and fulfilling life!
I want to hear your thoughts / comments / questions on this! I did a FB live around this topic and I would LOVE for you to contribute to that conversation here.
To hope, healing and happiness,