I consider myself quite fit. I work out 6 times a week, ski, run, compete in races and I am usually training for something. A few months ago, I got to a point that I knew the one thing I hadn’t truly changed was the way I was eating. I followed the general 80/20 rule: 80% of the time – eat right. 20% of time – eat whatever. I was getting what I needed during training, but in reality, I wasn’t getting what I need overall. I also suspected I was allergic to something I was eating. The gym I go to does an “Eat Small, Eat Healthy, Eat Whole” sort of “program” where you get meal plans and nutrition advice. This is exactly what I needed to shift my eating style and it’s been truly life changing for me. Here are some key things I’ve learned:
Food sensitivities! By cutting out dairy and most gluten and gradually reintroducing things, I realized I am allergic to most dairy, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and processed breads.
I feel FANTASTIC! The initial weight loss was a bonus (not intentional), but being able to digest everything I eat, not have my throat swell up, and not coughing after eating certain foods is so refreshing! Not to mention having a higher energy level and getting to eat all the time (have I mentioned that I really actually LOVE food?)
Reading labels. This has taught me several things. Processed foods are just not good for you. In the United States, HFCS is the hidden ingredient in so many foods that the FDA does not require be put on a label. It’s also in many foods, syrups, dressings, and sauces than you would think. If you can’t pronounce what’s on the ingredients label or you don’t know what the ingredient is – don’t buy it.
Eat 5 times a day. Eating small meals throughout the day is important and not only keeps you going; it keeps you from overeating and from feeling hungry between meals. Why? Because this how we should be eating!
Eating healthy isn’t as expensive as I thought. The initial change-over was hard, especially since I live in Alaska. For me, it’s more of an issue of not being able to find the foods I want or need and they do cost more here. But in reality, once you start clearing out your cabinets and getting those good foods in them, I can fill my fridge and my kitchen for the same price as a grocery store trip was before.
I waste less food. That might seem funny, but I tend to waste less food and I’ve realize how long fresh foods can last. I pretty much only use raw and fresh food and I make only what I need for my household, so there isn’t a huge waste of leftovers that may or may not get eaten.
It’s a struggle. This is the part I won’t lie about. Going to dinner can be hard because I have to wonder: What are they cooking with? Will it give me a reaction? I always give myself a cheat day during the week to eat whatever I want, but realizing what food sensitivities I have now – it’s an added concern for me whenever I’m choosing something off the menu. Trying out new recipes in my household has been a challenge – and it’s a balancing act that is gradually working itself out. It’s hard to try lots of new recipes day after day and sometimes – you don’t like them (those obviously get nixed from the list)!
Changing the way I eat has changed my life in such a short amount of time! For so many reasons, I’m glad I’ve done this and I am so glad I’ve had the support of my gym – Elite Urban Fitness, (www.eliteurbanfitness.com) – and everyone around me!
I know there are others out there who are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, or maybe have a different way of eating healthy… what are your experiences in changing the way you eat?