As we get older, the years just start to blend together. Resolutions don’t mean much anymore, it is just another year to look forward to, enjoying life and loving our family. So this year, I want you to stop. Just halt all brain functions for a moment and open up to an idea: Make yourself a priority this year.
That is correct. I just told you to think less of others and really take a good look at yourself, your health, your weight, and your lifestyle. Is it truly where you want to be? Have you always wanted to wear your hair in a bob? Do it! Is your blood pressure elevated? Fix it! Are you a handful of pounds heavier than you want to be? Lose it! Do you spend time on hobbies and game night instead of cleaning? Change it!
I am not trying to preach at you. I am talking to you from experience. From that experience, I will reveal to you a little secret: Changing your diet will change your life.
There. I said it. Anyone, at any age, can literally transform their life with just changing the food you eat. Why, you ask? Here is why:
In November of 2012, I was researching healthier ways to eat. Here are the three topics I most ran across:
- Vegan Lifestyle
- The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
- Paleo Lifestyle
I felt run down and tired all the time, my husband borders on high blood pressure, one son has Asperger’s, another with ADD, one with Asthma…You see where I am going? I knew that being the cook in my household, I would be the one shopping for the food and cooking meals. It was time we mixed it up and got everyone healthy.
I fell in love with the Paleo Lifestyle. To me, it offered many foods we love to eat while cutting out the grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes that, for me, were less important.
I began switching the milk with almond milk. Recently, I started using coconut milk in smoothies. But I would cook with it, the kids would use it on their cereal and I have a couple that prefer the almond milk to regular milk. Now, I can argue the benefits of dropping milk all day long. The point is that in the end, my asthmatic son has cleared up significantly. He was forever congested and wheezing. Cutting the milk resulted in a decrease in mucous that caused so many of his problems. We always thought he was allergic to everything!
I replaced the peanut butter with almond butter. I encourage the kids to snack on vegetables dipped in a couple of tablespoons of the stuff. They were pretty leery at first, but have warmed up to the idea nicely. I prefer to grind my own from the store, made of nothing but almonds, no sugars, no salt…just nuts!
The first time I went grocery shopping after making my mind up, I bought zero processed foods. All fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and nuts. A healthy balance of protein, carbs and fats was what I aimed for. Gone are the days of boxed dinners, canned lunches and bagged breakfasts.
Did I meet with rebellion? You bet I did. Yet during the Christmas holiday we all fell off our little wagon and ate what other people had prepared for us, not knowing our change. With kids, begging them to make good decisions when our new lifestyle was still in its infancy was very difficult. But even I, the conspirator of all this change, fell to temptation and ate potatoes with cheese, whipped cream, brown sugar, and drank soda. If I hadn’t, I would have a plate of turkey. Nothing else. Not real exciting there.
Around the first week of January, as life was returning to normal, my belly began to complain at me. I ignored it and grew grouchy at my family for their incessant complaining. That was when I made the decision to worry about me for once.
I broke down and bought them the foods they were begging for, but I also made a weekly plan for what I would eat each day, buying my own food. The food they did not want. I hadn’t realized so much up to that point how sluggish I was feeling. The after Christmas blues were setting in. I was not motivated to do anything. It took me two days just to get up the energy to go to the grocery store and buy groceries. Maybe I was just feeling terrible and maybe I was already feeling guilty for caving to the majority.
Regardless, I knew how much power eating right held for me so I could not go back to eating processed foods again. It was a giant victory for me, as everyone else crowded around their plates of spaghetti and looked at my plate almost longingly. “That smells so good,” they all tell me. And I told them I made them the food they had begged for. “You guys don’t want to eat healthy, remember?” I ask. Five faces turn back to their plates and I sensed a little regret in them. I smiled inwardly feeling like I won. They really did like how I was cooking.
After dinner, one of our older boys complained of a stomach ache. I explained that after eating good food, that was his body’s way of telling him that grains did not agree with him. You shouldn’t hurt after you eat. You should feel satiated and comfortable, but not pain.
Why did I ramble on about my story? Well, no one paid me to write about their diet plan. No one endorses what I say. All of that was from my heart in an effort to help someone else in my position to find that light.
The DASH Diet was voted one of the best “diets” out there for eating healthy. I believe that being healthy depends on the individual. No doctor can tell you that you are a healthy individual if you still have pain or reoccurring problems that just get masked so you feel better. The art of getting to the root of the problem has been lost for a long time, but more people are becoming wise to it.
Finding a way of life that suits you can potentially iron out the wrinkles in your body, can balance your feeling of wellbeing and will enable your body to perform as it has been wired to. You will fight disease and imflammation by eliminating many of the foods that cause it. But the lifestyle has to be something you can continue doing, not something you will try for a week and then revert. (Although doing that will teach you a lesson with stomach aches)
Be willing to open your mind to new possibilities. New foods, new ways of cooking, and renewed energy will all help to lift your mood. Changing what you eat will result in weight loss. Carbs are the largest reason people cannot lose weight as they are changed to fat when you ingest too many. One candy bar or pastry can be your entire daily allowance in one tiny package. You need carbs in your diet, just the right ones and not more than about 100g a day as the brain manufactures 120g of glucose on its own. Anything lower than what they brain requires will eventually force it to burn its own fat as fuel. Many say less than 50g, however the right carbs such as in fruits and vegetables are great for your body and as long as you don’t take in more than your body will use, you will shed pounds.
Adding exercise to your routine will also help in speeding your metabolism a notch or two and will burn the fat but build the muscle. Gauge yourself on body fat, not necessarily what the scale says. Any time you build muscle, you will weigh a little more. Remember that the scale is just a number. Trimming fat, strengthening your cardiovascular system and boosting your mood are what matters.
My advice is to research and find a lifestyle that works for you. If it doesn’t work, mix it up and try another. Eliminate foods that are known to be irritants to the digestive system and see if you feel better. Start with the dairy, then the grains, and lose the sugar. Legumes are also irritants, but those first three are probably the worst, I would say. I know that I cannot tolerate cheese or breads anymore. Pasta makes me bloated and sore.
There is a whole wonderful world of wholesome primal foods to choose from out there. Time to think about you this year and get on track! Enjoy lower blood pressure and stronger muscles as you age for more independent living. I think that the majority of people want to live out their days at home. I know I do. Taking care of yourself can help you in that goal. No matter how young you are right now, those times will inevitably arrive and then you will be glad that you heeded my warning: Change the way you eat to change your life.
Stephanie Marlowe graduated with a degree in health science promotions. She currently works with Senior Care Franchise.