From junk food queen to healthy and lean, we show you how to make the transition (almost) painless!
Let’s not lie to ourselves: junk food is delicious. In moderation, it’s also absolutely compatible with a healthy lifestyle, but it’s way too easy to fall into the trap of eating junk food on a regular basis because it’s both tasty and convenient, and we are all so busy nowadays. No matter how tasty junk is though, there are undeniable benefits to switching to a healthier eating lifestyle– better skin, more energy, a leaner body, better sleep, better mood, just to name a few!
So how to make the switch without feeling deprived? Here are a few ideas:
KISS – KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!
Many eating plans fail because they are just so damn complicated. Anything that requires eating specific things at specific, strict times, that requires extensive preparation, hard to find ingredients or difficult periods of fasting might work ok in the short term but it will be really, really hard to stick to for any considerable length of time and when you fall off the wagon, you’ll fall HARD!
Get a diet plan from a reputable nutritionist, or follow something simple, easy and wholesome like the Mediterranean diet. Personally I like Micheal Pollan’s mantra: Eat real food. Mostly plants.
It really is that simple.
Change one habit at a time. It can be tempting to dive right in and cut all sugars, red meat, saturated fat, soda, alcohol, dairy and god knows what else from your diet in a bid to be healthy, and to add a gruelling exercise regime to top it all off. This very rarely works. Humans are creatures of habit, and the psyche rebels against changing too much at once. Instead, try changing one thing at a time – for example, cutting out soda – and keeping that up for a few weeks. Once that becomes easier, choose a second healthy habit to adopt and so on. Little by little you will find yourself adopting a healthy lifestyle in a way that seems like second nature.
If I tell you not to think about rainbow unicorns, I can bet you will start to think about rainbow unicorns even if they had never once crossed your mind before. One of the reasons diet plans fail is that we try to deprive ourselves of our favourite foods, declaring them “bad” and banning them from our diets. All this does is make us want them more, make us think about them and crave them. The solution? Either substitute for similar “healthy” alternatives, or allow yourself a small amount of the food you are craving every now and again.
The key is portion control – it’s much easier to keep portions down if you don’t let cravings get out of control in the first place.
Hang on, you say, this is about healthy eating, not exercise! True, but taking up a sport can make you think twice before picking up that donut. You quickly notice a difference in how you feel during training depending on what you ate that day, and desire to improve performance (or just to avoid pain!) soon pushes you to eat more mindfully on days you work out.
Switching to a healthier eating plan doesn’t have to be painful – in fact it should make you feel unstoppable, not deprived! Remember, it’s a lifestyle not a diet, and if you fall off the wagon then dust yourself off and get right back on again. We all have moments where we eat too much ice-cream or drink too much wine, but those moments don’t define you. You can do it!
Written by Paula Clarke