Have you ever heard the term “fake it ’till you make it”? How about “dress like the position you want, not the one you’re in”. My boss told me recently, something that really resonated with me. He told me to tell my clients to:
“eat like the size they want to be, not like the size they are”
Today, we are going to talk about a few nutrition habits the “healthy” girl has and some she probably doesn’t have, too. Check out this list and see if you could make some changes in your diet to get closer to the size you want to be.
#1 She Checks Food Labels
Knowledge is power.
I think of nutrition as a sliding scale. All of us are at a different spot on the scale. For some of us, quitting 3-Cokes a day would be improvement, for others, improvement comes in the form of more subtle changes (like switching from regular flax to organic flax). Wherever you are on the scale, the food label holds the same importance and is the cornerstone to a healthy diet.
Remember, the best and most nutritious foods on the planet don’t have a food label…
My grandmother used to tell me, pick your battles in life. That statement very much applies to what you put into your body. Nutrition labels are a battle ground. Begin with baby steps and make improvement.
Some great things for a beginner to consider – food label 101:
- Sugar – try to avoid it, but always try to avoid things like high fructose corn syrup, aspartame and saccharin. This is just a few of the sugars to avoid and this list is only the beginning. Research this, stick to natural sugars, if you must, like agave, stevia (if your stomach can handle it) and cane sugars. Under 10 grams per item is a must, but stay under 30 grams for the day.
- Sodium – the american diet is FULL of sodium, the harmful kind. The USDA estimates the average sodium intake to be 3,500 mg per day. WHOA! Most processed foods have tons of sodium and that’s what is causing this sodium intake number to be so high. Check the labels. You should really try hard to be under 900 mg per day.
- Fats – good fats vs. bad fats – I hate the language here. In a nutshell, because this topic is broad, stay away from: trans fats. These fats are what you eat when you eat processed foods, bakery foods, margarine, etc… The most important thing to consider is making sure to get ENOUGH of the mono and poly fats into your diet; these are the fats your body desperately needs for energy, cell generation, brain function, etc… Focus on eating more natural fats. BUT don’t be a fat phobic. Saturated fat is not so bad, as long as it’s not the only source and of course, grass-fed, organic, antibiotic free, sustainably raised, etc… You need happy fats in your diet like avocado, fish and nuts. Focus on those.
Those are just a few things to watch for on your food label. I think you should avoid packaged foods all together, but I know that most Americans do not follow that diet advice. Which is why we are in the middle of a huge epidemic of high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure…
Some things for the advanced food label reader to consider:
- GMO – know the foods that are most commonly associated with genetically modified organisms. Avoiding GMO’s are one of the most important dietary decisions a person can make – especially those of us with autoimmune disorders. Here is a great website to help you navigate: The Institute for Responsible Technology. Organic foods are not allowed to contain GMO, so buying organic is one sure way to avoid. Keep these things in mind, straight from the website referenced above: “Currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S. include soy (94%), cotton (90%), canola (90%), sugar beets (95%), corn (88%), Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%), zucchini and yellow squash (over 24,000 acres). Products derived from the above, including oils from all four, soy protein, soy lecithin, cornstarch, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup among others. There are also many “invisible ingredients,” derived from GM crops that are not obviously from corn or soy.”
- Gluten Free – most products that are made gluten-free, taste mostly . . . terrible. What can I say. The way the manufacturers make them taste better is to add wayyyyyy more fat, sugar or sodium. Really check those gluten-free labels. If you have to be gluten-free, it’s mostly better to accept the fact that you cannot eat gluten and splurge only occasionally on those products.
This list is only a few suggestions. I recommend that you spend some time researching. Take a package that you commonly eat and google every ingredient in the list of ingredients, one by one. What did you find? What are you eating? Does this knowledge change anything for you?
#2 She Packs Her Lunch
Eating out can really take its toll on a healthy diet. Sabotage lurks everywhere and it’s even hidden in dressings and sauces. You can never really tell the true quality of restaurant foods, so limiting them is a better step. AND never eating fast foods is a good stance to take. There is absolutely zero fast food out there that I would recommend eating.
The only exception to this is a good solid salad bar with fresh and organic ingredients. Our Whole Foods has a really, really nice one. So, go for it.
#3 She Doesn’t Have a Cheat Day
When you talk to people who eat healthfully, they don’t think of themselves as on a “diet” that deserves a cheat day. Do vegetarians have cheat days? No. This is a lifestyle choice. Anything less than that mentality is hard to sustain. AND honestly, the yo-yo dieting effect is hugely linked to the cheat day mentality.
Cheating is a relative word and with a healthy diet, it looks more like a cheat moment; splurging on natural sugars, like yogurt with fruit and nuts or high quality dark chocolate.
Cheat moments that maintain the bones of your diet are a better way to approach the splurge.
#4 She Eats for Health, Not for Skinny
This is by far, the biggest difference, between those who struggle with weight and those who don’t. I’m not talking about anyone under the age of 30 here. Because before that, lots of people can eat terribly un-nutritous foods without physical consequences.
The goal of your food should be to fill your body with the energy, vitamins, minerals and fluids it needs to maintain good health. Period.
Anything you consume that does not fit that requirement is empty. And some of that empty stuff is actually harming you.
Ask yourself before you eat “am I eating this for nutrition?” and if the answer is no, put it down or only take a bite.
#5 She Loves Color on Her Plate
The healthy girl is a huge fan of variety because she knows the impact that eating the same exact things over and over again, does to her system.
I use this analogy all the time:
Think of the times before the big grocers made EVERY SINGLE THING available all year-long. Oranges in May, sure thing. Blueberries in December, absolutely. This is not the way our bodies are programmed to eat. Our biology is used to us eating things in waves. We eat tons of oranges for like three weeks, then they disappear out of our diet, sometimes for an entire year. The growing seasons are being forced, which is causing a “clog”, if you will, in our bodies. Eating the same exact things, over and over is not healthy. Your body will begin to overload on certain nutrients and lack others.
Fill your plate with colors of the season. That’s the best way to avoid this trap. Eat the lettuce that is plentiful, the fruit that is plentiful and the nuts that are plentiful. Sometimes I buy bananas and then I’ll go weeks without or even months. I realize they are ALWAYS available for the same exact price, so it’s really hard to know when the true banana season is… But, you can “fake” it by not buying things for weeks. And follow the seasons when you can. The in season produce tastes better anyway.
It will help your budge too.
#6 She Doesn’t React to Peer Mockery
Oh, this is a delicate one. It can be controversial and people take offense easily, but it has to be said.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been mocked, just in the last few months, by my peers.
“Oh, healthy girl isn’t going to eat that” – referring to the food we were wanting to share at a restaurant
“Is that all you’re going to eat” – referring to a HUGE plate of vegetables and fruits
“All she eats is salad” – overheard one friend tell another
“You eat like a bird” – eye rolling
All of this is because they are sooooooo self-conscious about their own food decisions, they have to make it okay, somehow, but it’s at your expense. Or at least, that’s my guess. My reaction? Nothing. Nada. I have actually lost friends over my diet. And guess what, I am 100% okay with that.
To the girl who mocks, since I have this open forum and can react without a scene, I would like to say this:
You are being unkind and petty. And, I am not hungry. So, please stop concerning yourself with my plate and its lack of junk food.
#7 She Recognizes How Amazing She Feels
I just told a friend, recently: “I eat like this because I am afraid not to. I don’t want to feel bad. I want to keep feeling amazing. I don’t want to wake up tired, cranky, cloudy and bloated. I love the way I feel, so I eat healthy out of fearing the alternative”.
And, that is the truth. I recognize how wonderful the nutritious food makes me feel. I can keep up with anyone, do anything and my clothes are comfortable too.
This could be you!
#8 She Doesn’t Buy It
Walk past it in the grocery store. THE BIGGEST FAVOR YOU CAN DO FOR YOURSELF.
#9 She Doesn’t Judge
Or tries really, really hard not to.
She tries to influence others in a positive way, but doesn’t judge them for their bad habits.
I struggle with this somewhat, personally. Especially with those friends who constantly ask advice and never actually put anything into practice. I’d rather just skip the conversation and just be friends. I don’t have to care about food my friends are eating. I’m perfectly happy to ignore it, just as I wish they would ignore mine (read She Doesn’t React to Peer Mockery above).
BUT I do struggle with this when they initiate the conversations. I’m still working on this piece of advice for myself. BUT I’ll keep trying! Just keep trying!
#10 She’s Always Learning
She has these healthy habits that she then finds out are not working for her. Or she reads a news piece on scientific facts from a study and then changes her habits. It’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to change.
It’s also okay to admit it out loud.
I didn’t eat very much meat for years. I then found out I had B vitamin deficiency. It was a little hard to “come out” to everyone that my dietary choices made me sick. But you have to be able to learn from your mistakes and correct them.
Ask yourself: “how’s that working for you?”. And truly listen to the answer.
#11 She Doesn’t Count Calories
I know most are astonished to learn that almost every single person that is at a healthy weight without struggling, DOES NOT count calories.
Ever wonder why that is?
It’s kind of hard to be overweight when you eat naturally grown foods that come from the earth; ones that require you to pick them or cook them with love.
I’m talking fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, nuts, seeds, yes – BEANS and legumes.
I do agree that grains aren’t that good for us. I think Paleo people have such a great point on this! Well, besides their take on beans and dairy.
I don’t like diets that tell us not to eat certain naturally occurring foods like fruits, white potatoes or beans. Grains are a grey area. They are, for all intents and purposes, not eaten in their natural state.
#12 She Cares About Quality
The dairy mentioned above, she cares if it’s organic or if it’s grass-fed or if it’s fed GMO grains. Quality matters because it really does.
If you eat sick cows, what do you think will happen? If you eat chicken pumped with antibiotics and growth hormones (or fed grains that are genetically grown to make them fatter), what do you think will happen to your own body?
If you eat food that someone cared about, you are making the right choice.
Boxes of Nabisco whatnots are not in this category.
#13 She Loves Food
She loves to find really robust produce and quality organic meats. She loves to prepare them and really learn the appropriate ways to cook them for the best taste outcome. Choosing the produce that looks good, typically results in it tasting good. Loving the food you eat is key. Sitting at the table inhaling your lunch on the go, is not a way to love your food.
Try this at home. See what happens when you really take the time to enjoy your food from the beginning (shopping) to the ending (eating). How much better do you feel about eating it? How much better does your body feel in the coming weeks?
#14 She Eats a LOT of Raw Food
Good quality fruits and vegetables don’t always need to be cooked. The best thing you can do for your body is to acclimate your taste buds to love raw foods. Blending is a great way to start. Green smoothies give you a HUGE nutritional bang with that raw and natural taste. The more you eat raw, the more you like raw.
Someone used to a fast food, processed diet, is not going to love the taste of raw food. It’s simply because your taste buds are programmed to expect: trans fats, sodium, sugars. None of which is found in abundance, in any natural food.
Start slow and teach yourself to love food in its raw state.
#15 She Hydrates with Water
Her day consists of mostly water. Occasional green tea, kombucha, coffee, or whatever your thing is – fine. BUT most of your day is filled with glasses of water. Your body needs the water to flush toxins, keep functioning and stay healthy.
It never needs soda or juice. By the way, soda and fruit juice are equally bad for you. If this is a shock to you, research it.