When I was a kid, my absolute favorite thing to eat was pop-tarts. I didn't even put them in the toaster. (I guess you were supposed to?) I would just open a pack of their crinkly foil and eat one, and then the other. DELICIOUS! My mom used to tell me I was going to turn into a pop-tart. You are what you eat, after all!
As I got older and became more aware of how my jeans fit and what other girls looked like and how awful the freshman 15 (or 20) made me feel, I began to alter my diet with what seemed like healthier options. I would eat a Morning Star (vegetarian) breaded "chicken" patty on a white bread bun with cheese. Or I would not eat for a few days at a time if I thought I'd been eating poorly and needed to balance things out. Or I would eat only green beans.
Does any of this sound familiar? Raise your hand if you've ever skipped a meal. Raise your hand if you've ever purposely thrown up a meal. I'm guessing that's a lot of you, too, even if it wasn't recently.
There's an awareness that came into my decision making in my mid-to-late twenties. First all all, I became aware of what different foods are actually made of. Now I can't even imagine eating a pop-tart for I can't imagine how they're made. I only want to eat food if I know what it is and can understand how it came to be on my plate. I also leaned that, although a vegetarian diet may work well for some people, eating vegetarian (or any particular diet) doesn't mean that it's automatically healthier. Lastly, I realized that "healthier" and "low calorie/low fat" are not the same thing.
Because I'm more concerned about my long-term health than that "last five pounds," I choose HEALTH. The key words in my journey are "learned" and "know." How do you begin to eat healthier? You educate yourself! Don't follow suit on the latest diet trend because of the testimonials that swear it "works." Don't buy a $500 juicer if you aren't in the habit of buying proper fruits and veggies to begin with.
You can't juice a Big Mac.
(Don't test me on that, neither of us really wants to know the results.) Don't stick with "light" and "low fat" and "no sugar added" without knowing what exactly IS in those products.
One tip: One of my favorite tips is to shop the border of the grocery store. That's where you'll find fresh fruits, vegetables, and your proteins, plus things like hummus (which I am kind of neutral on, myself), and where you'll avoid things that are frozen, canned, boxed or bagged (read: full of those hidden mystery ingredients).
One myth: You don't have to spend a fortune to eat better. I only occasionally shop at Whole Foods. Just focusing on fresh natural produce will make a big difference. You can always look for local, organic, and "real" food once you know what you're looking for and why.
Resources: They are unlimited! Two of my favorite places to learn are from chef/author Candice Kumai. Check out the blog on her website, her contributions to SHAPE magazine, and her books. She focuses on "food with benefits," things that taste good and bring nutrients to your body in addition to avoiding the other crap we talked about. Also, "Healthy Grocery Girl" Megan has an awesome website and YouTube channel dedicated to helping you shop for and make the right things. BONUS! I'll be filming a video with Megan tomorrow to share with you during health + happiness month.
Do you have a food journey story? Do you have questions you'd like me to as Megan? Share in the comments below!
Today is your last chance to enter my first health + happiness giveaway - have you earned all of your entries? Keep up with me all month long to make this your Healthiest and Happiest year ever!