The cashiers used to ask if we raised rabbits.
Growing up, I usually ate healthy. At home we had tons of fruit and veggies and, much to my brother’s and my disappointment, very few desserts. We ate salad every lunch and dinner and I could probably have counted on one hand the number of soft drinks I consumed annually. At the grocery store, we would stack bags of carrots at the checkout counter, hence the rabbit-raising question.
Fast forward a few years and many of those food decisions that were made by my parents are my decisions now. I have so many more options, most of which come with additional calories. It has been way too easy to make “just this once” a daily routine, and my once-healthy lifestyle has morphed into a carb-loaded distant shadow of its former self.
You Are What You Eat
Many, many books and blog posts and TV shows and documentaries have been created to convince us why healthy eating is important, and honestly that’s not my mission today. Let’s just remember that our food decisions should never be motivated by the need to impress others with our health/body/self-control, but instead should be guided by our desire to have the ability and energy for whatever God has called us to do. For the Christian, caring for our health should not be our highest priority, but it should be a priority.
I say that, yet I literally just ate a bag of Cheetos, which is basically the definition of junk food. Nowhere to go but up, folks.
A Few Ideas
Don’t worry; I’m not going to advocate for the latest fad diet or cutting out all sugar in any form at all times. As is true in so many areas of life, moderation is key. With that in mind, here are some practical tips to get your plate back in order.
For starters, what’s your goal? Do you want to lose weight or train for a 5K? Are soft drinks doing you in or are carbs dominating your diet? Decide what you want to focus on right now, and don’t make “be healthy” your goal. That’s too fuzzy and unattainable, so go for specific like ”cut out soft drinks” or “eat green veggies every day.” For me, I’m going to work toward increasing my daily veggie intake, particularly in my work lunches. Pick what success looks like for you.
On a related planning note, have options on hand. Find some healthy snacks and stock up so you won’t find yourself searching for a snack when you’re already hungry — or worse —a little hangry. Remember which busy days need quick and easy dinner options, and know what restaurant you can eat at if you need to eat out.
Capitalize on what you like.
Hate broccoli? Then avoid it for now. If you like carrots and lettuce, include them in your meals as often as possible. I can’t stand avocados, but can find healthy fats that are easier for me to swallow.
Try a “timed” diet.
Experiment with something like Whole 30 or two weeks of Paleo. Diets like these are super hard to maintain long-term, but are very doable for a short amount of time. In the process, you not only strengthen your self-control and realize what you’re capable of, but you find meals and foods that you like and you experience the benefits of healthy eating. All this works together to give you even more motivation to continue making healthy choices.
Pick a treat day.
This is a trick I learned from a family friend. Instead of banning all sugar (or carbs or soft drinks or whatever) from your diet, pick one day a week as your treat day. Each treat day, choose one or two reward foods. Try not to go overboard and override all the healthy choices you made the rest of the week, but reward your self-control with something you’ve been craving. By delaying – not deleting – my food treats, I can limit my splurges while also avoiding getting so burnt out on healthy eating that I stop trying altogether.
Enlist a friend.
Don’t go it alone. Choose someone who will either make healthy choices with you or encourage you and hold you to your plan. New adventures are always better with a buddy, especially one who will keep you motivated (and honest) on the days that are especially tough. This friend should also celebrate your milestones and successes along the way.
No Pie for Me, Please
I don’t raise rabbits. I’m not a health nut, and organic foods will never be my passion. But as a Christian adult, I need to make wiser decisions about what I eat.
So I’ll skip dessert this time. I’ll save it for my treat day.
Copyright 2019 Lauren Dunn. All rights reserved.