Ever feel like healthy eating can be daunting? Having spent almost 7 years surrounding myself with different styles of eating and living, I can relate to you if you ever feel like there’s a lot of confusing, conflicting information out there on what we should and should not do. So in this post I’d like to offer a more clear and effective approach you can use to get started with better health today.
More and more people are interested in improving their health through better nutrition, which is so exciting. Understandably, everyone wants to know things like: What should and shouldn’t we eat? What foods are the best? What foods are the worst? What about superfoods or supplements? What about this exercise? What about this diet, or that diet? And so on.
I get many questions like this when the topic of food comes up in conversation, and I first and foremost acknowledge and appreciate your desire to improve your health. But what I like to say when it comes to diet is that we are truly in the best of times and the worst of times. To explain what I mean by this, I’d like to start off with some thoughts on current challenges.
Addressing Current Challenges with Healthy Eating
In my (relatively short) time on this planet, I’ve discovered many different styles of eating, from standard American fare to vegetarian, vegan, raw food, fruitarian, high-fat and low-fat diets. By taking a second look at diet and stepping from the norm of eating culture, I have come to realize how much food shapes our lives and health.
Without a doubt, many people tend to overlook the important role that diet has in overall wellness. It goes without saying that the Western world finds itself in an ongoing struggle where food often wins over weight, disease prevention, and many other factors of health. It definitely disheartens me when I see confusion about nutrition preventing people from sticking with habits that keep them on track to move forward.
While some tease that everyone knows how to be healthy, it’s just that they are lazy or don’t feel like it, I believe that this is not the case. Sure, it’s true that most people know not to make fast food a regular habit, or take another serving of dessert, or consume a plate of food that is entirely beige. All joking aside though, if everyone knew how to get healthier through better nutrition, I think that we would be finding fewer people struggling with it every day.
In modern life, we encounter a nutritional paradox which is deeply rooted in our daily surroundings. Food has ceased to be its most basic evolutionary need that keeps us merely surviving. Because of this, we now need to be more conscious of our food intake in navigating through the sea of choices that the average person is presented with non-stop.
It is impossible to lay blame on the individual because there are so many reasons for what actually happens with food problems. That’s right, it’s not your fault! We do not choose to be unhealthy when we really know what options we have. People may have the resources to make their own choices, but it is understandable that they do not know how to apply them.
Humans are creatures of culture, of habit. From the day we are born, we learn and adapt to the things around us, because we are literally programmed to survive through the natural response to take advantage of resources, like food, as greatly as possible. So by making unhealthy food choices, a person is responding appropriately to their environment, and today it is unfortunately one that does not give diet the attention it calls for.
The stories in the news, the products on the shelves, and all the different diet books in the end can make healthy eating seem out of reach. But when taken for what it is, eating well is not as complicated as it seems. Research on the topic is not useless, but you don’t have to be “in” on some mysterious system of science just to make valuable improvements to your diet.
Here’s a quote I found from The Guardian that helps explain what I mean:
“Nutritionists and their kin sell the idea that diet is somehow more complicated than that; something that requires access to arcane and detailed knowledge to which only they have access; knowledge of the breakdown of exactly what is in each food.
And so the shopper is paralysed. But do I need vitamins L and Y this week? Or calcium? Or protein? Or no protein? What kind of fat did you say again? Because when you sell the idea that eating well is complicated, that foods are made of immemorable combinations of chemicals, then you prime the market.”
It is unfortunate but true in many areas of the health and wellness field, which is very disappointing, because there are so many simple things one is able to do that can make a world of a difference. This is what I aim to leave you with in this post.
From Struggle to Success
To look towards a solution and get started with the right mindset on your journey, I think it’s best to start simple. My hope in sharing this information is to reach readers with congruent information they can actually use. Moreover, I want to preach what I practice. I never want to promote anything I don’t do or believe in myself.
I’ve realized through many humbling experiences that not everyone has the same food and lifestyle interests as me. That being said, I still want to share my passion for healthy eating with others, and pass on some of the knowledge I’ve accumulated that I think can be very gainful for many people.
Friends and family have asked me before:
* Hey Brian, is this healthy?
* I want to eat healthier, how do I start?
* How can I lose weight more effectively?
* What about this food, or that food?
* What do I do about cravings?
I’m always happy to give quick tips, but it is difficult to provide information during casual conversation that really goes in depth and in context. So at my website, I have set the goal to disseminate information in an appealing way that gets to the core of all these issues and ultimately empowers people to think for themselves. (By the way, I will cover issues like cravings and other worries in an upcoming article.)
Being a nutrition junkie, I have immersed myself in many books and websites over the years to keep in the know about what information someone may find if they want to improve their diet. I have to say, most of the self-help stuff I’ve found is impractical or full of claims that entirely miss the point of even trying to eat and live healthier at all.
Even if what an author is stating is good, the message can be clouded by confusion, fear, or apprehension about taking action that reader is left with. This doesn’t help anybody, especially someone without much experience in healthy eating, who may then be turned off to the idea altogether and never end up seeing there are other ways to approach the issue.
I have observed that the biggest mistake is to focus time and energy in the wrong directions. People may try to do everything at once, and thus end up undermining their success in improving their ability to stick to their goals and produce results. Because if you want better health, simply talking about it is a start, but it won’t get much done!
I believe that almost 80% of the race is won by simply doing the things we all know we should do anyway. Things like taking in more fruits and vegetables, cutting out processed foods, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and working on practical fitness. Everyone wants a quick fix, but honestly, these are the strategies that hold the test of time.
At that point, we can fine tune the last 20% by learning and applying the extensive knowledge on health and human physiology that is at our disposal. But isn’t it silly to try to go straight to grad school when you haven’t even mastered first grade? So many different theories can be found in the endless paradoxical science we call nutrition, but there are many fundamentals that no respected expert disagrees on. It may not be the cool way, but it works.
Rather than preaching a tiring regimen that involves every new vitamin pill, or having only organic and local foods when it’s not always possible, or meticulously measuring each portion for each meal (and other healthy eating myths I’ll cover), let’s see the forest for the trees and synthesize the priorities that will actually matter when all is said and done.
What Matters When it Comes to Food?
Healthy eating is something anyone can do. Healthy food can be found in many places at different budgets, and will serve you in strength and happiness for years to come. What I’m talking about is nothing earth-shattering, but it is an approach to feel better without having to reorient your entire everything and waste lots of money and worry in the process.
I want people to reclaim their peace of mind and energy through a solid relationship with food, and then be able to MOVE ON! Food is delicious and very important, but it is not everything. Use it as the means to your desired end, not the end itself. Health is a rich subject that spans many areas just waiting to be uncovered, and diet can kickstart this progression for you and for anyone else who will most definitely be inspired by your example.
I think we all could use a break from the same old paradigm that I’m sure you’re just as tired of seeing as I am. What will make us actually WANT to choose healthful eating in our daily lives? There are certain criteria that are innate in all of us when it comes to food. I think I’ve finally boiled them down with the list of five below. Food has to be:
#1: Delicious, most importantly. If something tastes good, people will go out of their way to make it happen, and if it doesn’t taste good, it’s not gonna happen. This is a self-explanatory concept.
#2: Convenient, i.e. quick and easy. Nobody wants to spend hours by the stove, wait for random seed-like things to sprout in jars, need to drive 10 hours just to buy groceries, or worse, have to rely on the next Fed-ex delivery whenever they’re hungry!
#3: Familiar, or relatively so. With some exceptions, the bulk of the population is not interested in reprogramming their brain against everything they know and love about eating. We can work within this to find healthy choices that are realistic and consistently appealing.
#4: Inexpensive, to keep things in perspective. This can mean different things for different people, because not everyone can or wants to afford lots of costly foods. That being said, if you want to eat healthy, you will need to make it a priority. More info on this soon.
#5: Inspiring, which is often forgotten. Life is exciting and full of variety, and so too should healthy eating be in everyday routine. When healthy eating is done the right way, people are more motivated to take initiative with the new skills and benefits they see right now.
The approach I believe in with eating is centered on these five tenets so you can accomplish your health objectives effortlessly. I want to free you of the “nutribabble” in today’s world, and be your humble guide from struggle to success.
The Bigger Picture
I know in my heart that if given a good opportunity and good tools, people want to do the right thing. Every day I am noticing more and more people beginning to show an interest in improving their health through changing their diet. So rather than laughing or marketing a gimmick, I choose to offer some food for thought on our health and choices instead.
Because in life everything really comes down to choices. When you make a good choice, it is reflected in your life, no matter how insignificant it may seem at any point in the process. By making the choice to think about your health and the health of your world, you are taking a step forward in your own power, and that is what this article is here to honor.
Sometimes we face the doubt or apathy of friends, family, and surroundings on a larger scale. Going against the usual is not always an easy thing to do, both inwardly and outwardly, especially with food. This is something that takes practice getting used to.
However, this challenge can make the journey all the more rewarding. When someone improves their diet, this not only brings benefits on a personal level. An attitude towards better health is inspiring to everyone around them. It’s for this reason that I wrote what you’re reading today. Real people have the energy and potential to make real changes.
Like with all other choices, you can only change if you want to change. I cannot force you to do anything, but I can provide you with tools and encouragement. By doing this, my hope is that you will want to apply new habits. Always remember that you are responsible for your own choices, body, and health, and that this is something to be proud of.
Thanks for reading! This is only the tip of the iceberg. Designing an eating plan that not only fits your nutritional needs but also your lifestyle needs is a topic full of exciting information. The purpose of this article is just to outline a more sensible mental approach to eating, so you can clear your way for every next step along the way. Stay tuned for more!
Question of the day: What are you most excited about with health? What concerns hold you back?
Brought to you by Brian Greco
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P.P.S. - Need some new easy ideas for fruits and vegetables? Check out my book here.