The phrase “eating healthy” carries so many (untrue) negative connotations (boring, restrictive, tiny portions, terrible food, constant hunger, etc.), so I want to counter that by sharing some really awesome things that I’ve personally experienced in my journey.
A while back, I shared my past struggles with weight/body image, and showed you some of the different yo-yo weight phases I’ve experienced. Changing how I eat (and making it a lifestyle, not a fad “diet”) has finally clicked for me, making me feel like Dorothy when she realized she had the power to go home all along.
I won’t reiterate everything in that post, so check it out. I will say, however, that weight is the root cause of so many critical issues for Americans (health and body image-related), so I hope to empower as many people as I can to gain control. For millions of people, it’s an endless, frustrating daily struggle.
I stand firmly behind my belief that our country’s broken food industry is the root of the problem. People aren’t eating food; they’re eating “food-like” products containing more chemicals and junk fillers than actual nutrition.
As frustrating as it is, we all have the power to take back control. It’s all about choices. I won’t say getting started is easy, but I absolutely will say it’s doable, because it is. And, it’s easier than you think it is.
I’m not doing anything magical or complicated. I’m not doing anything that you cannot do. It does require changing some habits and looking at things differently, but it’s worth it – and, in the process, you will notice some really awesome unexpected results.
Here’s what I experienced, and I think you will too!
#1 – I’m Less Hungry
Believe me, I know how crazy this sounds, especially coming from me. I’ve always loved food, and been a big eater. Back when we used to eat at Olive Garden and would go for the Never-Ending Pasta Bowl, I’d earn shocked looks from the wait staff over how much I could eat.
Now, this isn’t to say that you stop loving food or having an appetite when you eat healthy. Certainly not! I still get ravenously hungry if I haven’t snacked, but overall, my appetite is greatly diminished from what it used to be. I don’t walk around constantly ready to eat a moose. I don’t feel hungry an hour after a meal. I feel full on way less than I used to, and I feel more satisfied than I ever have – that’s the honest truth!
Food exists to be our fuel, not entertainment. (Though food for fuel can still be just as delightful for the taste buds!) What I’m getting at is that nutritionally-devoid food serves as nothing more than entertainment value for your taste buds, and is usually spiked with chemicals (like high fructose corn syrup) designed to trick your brain into thinking you’re not full. So, you overeat, and what’s worse, the food provides your body zero nutrition. Your body must constantly seek that nutrition, driving you to eat in greater frequency and quantity than you need to, and leaving you always hungry and dissatisfied. It’s an ugly cycle, but one that can be broken.
#2 – I Crave Healthy Foods Harder Than Bad Ones
Before you join an angry mob with torches and pitchforks to come find me, hear me out. I’m not saying that I never get lusty over naughty food. I do – I’m still human, dang it. When I’m on Instagram or Pinterest, I see pics of bad things that make my mouth water, like one I just saw of deep dish New York pizza. *drools*
But – and this is a big “but” – while I’m browsing, I see 10x more healthy things that drive me just as nuts. Quinoa-stuffed peppers? Yes please. Zoodle (zucchini noodle) French onion bake? Oh baby. Sweet corn cilantro soup? Come to mama. You get the point. If you would’ve told me a couple years ago that I’d be drooling over food like that, I’d have called you bonkers.
An even bigger difference, though, is in the unprovoked cravings. You know that feeling, where if you don’t get ___ soon, you’re gonna freak out? People most associate this with cravings for the bad stuff. But did you know it’s possible to crave healthy, fresh things?
No joke, I was ready to throw a full-blown adult temper tantrum the other day because I just wanted a giant salad with every veggie known to man. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s my new norm. If I go a day or two without a hearty dose of veggies, I go batty. I think once you’ve been eating healthy, your body gets used to it, and is quick to alert you if you divert from it.
There is another reason why I believe I crave healthy more often, so read on…
#3 – Bad Foods Will Actually Make Me Feel Sick
I’m not kidding! When you’ve been eating really clean and healthy, and all the junk has been purged from your body, your body is not tolerant of it being put back in. I’ve learned that the hard way, and certainly don’t care to repeat those mistakes.
If you’re not familiar with how I eat, I buy pretty much 100% organic produce and about 85% organic of everything else (and am very picky ingredient-wise). This changes your body drastically, I don’t care what anyone says.
For example, I haven’t eaten anything with artificial coloring in a long time (at least a year). If I do have any, even a little, I feel really “off”- headache, anxious, brain foggy. As you can imagine, I stand 100% behind the studies indicating that artificial colors contribute to ADHD in children.
Another example, from a few months ago, is Frosted Flakes. Used to love ’em, and could eat 2-3 bowls at a time. We still had one unopened box (not expired) left in our pantry that’d been left untouched after we switched to organic cereals. If you know me, I hate wasting anything, so my husband and I decided to eat it. Mistake! I couldn’t even finish my bowl. It tasted so, so bad. I ate about half, though my husband finished his (and mine). My stomach hurt for the rest of the night, whereas he had digestive upset for several days afterwards. (My guess is that we both reacted to the preservative BHT that Kellogg’s uses, since we haven’t had any in our bodies for over a year, and lost our tolerance to it. Or, perhaps it was from their garbage GMO corn. *shrugs*)
How does this relate to eating healthy? Well, a Conditioned Taste Aversion occurs when we eat something and then get sick, because our brain links them. From that point forward, we’re unable to eat that thing without associating those awful feelings. (Lemme guess, you had a CTA and didn’t know there was a name for it, am I right? Mine growing up was cotton candy. I puked from it once, and to this day cannot tolerate even the smell of it.)
Anyways, the more you eat healthy, and feel sick from the times you cheat with an unhealthy food, the more you’re actually “training” yourself to not want such foods. Interesting, huh?
#4 – Weight Management Became Much Easier
This was a key point in my post about my journey. Maintaining an ideal weight (around 135 lbs.) was previously only easy for me during high school, when I was exceptionally active as a volleyball and track athlete. Even though there was a middle school period where I was skinny (unhealthily so), it was a sick obsession; to achieve it, I over-exercised and starved myself of fat and calories.
However, I’m now a person who can honestly say that I’m at my current weight (130) with little effort, other than what I put into saving money on healthy groceries. (Well, okay, I guess cooking counts too.) Because it’s been so hot in NE Florida summer, the extent of my exercising has been taking brisk walks, 30-45 min each, 4-5x a week. With cooler weather coming, I’m sure I’ll be back to biking again. But my point remains – I’m not killing myself in the gym, trying to outrun my fork. (News Flash – you can’t.)
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that eating healthy eliminates the need for exercise. Not at all. Exercise is important for overall health and wellness no matter who you are. I’m just saying that many people live under the gun, exercising in a constant battle to keep weight off, and that’s the wrong way to go about it.
I don’t count calories. When I’m hungry, I eat. I eat till I feel comfortably full, and I always feel satisfied. I eat with a focus on nutrition, but I love what I eat! There is absolutely no deprivation to speak of. (Some of you may disagree, if you believe that black-listing certain things, like fast food, counts as “depriving myself”. I have no desire to eat the junk they schlep out, and instead call it “having higher standards”.)
How to do it? You’ve gotta get away from synthetic chemicals and toxins. All these fake ingredients (especially in processed/junk foods and fast food) not only trick your brain, but they tinker with your body’s ability to regulate your weight.
Eating more whole foods is a great start, but remember that buying organic (especially for the Dirty Dozen) matters; conventional (aka “not organic”) fruit and vegetables are bombarded with synthetic chemicals (many which are endocrine disruptors) that you end up ingesting. (They cannot simply be washed off, since they are physically absorbed into the plant cells.)
These and other toxins affect your endocrine system, contributing to weight gain. Toxins from other sources (like beauty/bath products, cleaning products, and pharmaceuticals) also are sources of endocrine disruptors, plus they contribute to your body’s toxicity levels, so cleaning up how you live is just as important as how you eat.
Here’s a good read on the suggested link between toxins and trouble losing weight (basically, “yo-yo dieting” in a nutshell). The more toxic our bodies are, the more our body will create more fat tissue, to “protect us” by storing those toxins away. This being the case, major weight loss needs to be done with proper toxin cleansing, as losing weight thereby makes the body more toxic – which sadly creates the need for the body to “rebound” weight-gain to protect itself again.
I started seeing results even at the beginning of my journey (which began with making smoothies and cutting out certain ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup), but it’s gotten easier the cleaner we eat.
Within the last year, I’ve gotten really serious about going organic, and the more things we’ve switched over, the less I’ve had to think about my weight. I’ve also switched to healthier cleaning and personal products over this year, which I believe factors in. About nine months ago, we stopped drinking cows’ milk in favor of almond milk, which helped as well. Within the last couple months, we’ve drastically cut back other forms of dairy, and it’s resulted in me losing a couple more pounds I wasn’t working for.
It’s a refreshing, positive change. I mean, seriously, my whole life (except high school) I dreaded getting on the scale. While I was in my worst period of denial (circa 2011) I refused to do it because deep down I knew I’d gained more, and couldn’t face the truth. It’s a freeing feeling to get on a scale without fear!
#5 – Eating Healthy Became a Little Addicting (In a Good Way!)
I had to mention this one because healthy eating gets stereotyped as a total drag to do, and even worse to stick with long-term. Seriously, though, when you do it right, it’s addicting!
The healthier you eat, the better your results, and the more pride you take in what you’re doing. It all snowballs in a good way, as one change leads to another and to another as you strive to be the healthiest you can. Once you’ve reached a point where you can look back on how you used to eat and see the error in it, you never want to be that person again. Once you feel like you’ve finally found that “fit”, you don’t want to give it up.
Contrast this to those stupid dieting schemes you constantly see advertised. You know the ones, the “Lose 10 lbs. in a week!” type mumbo-jumbo. Or the ones that involve eating only certain meals you have to buy from the company (which no doubt are heavily processed, toxic “diet food”) or the ones with entire lines of branded meal and snack items (also just as toxic because “low fat” equals “more fake chemical fillers”). No one wants to live that way, on a program or counting points, eating tiny portions of stuff that tastes bad. It’s not realistic, and it sets people up to rebound because it’s simply a terrible way to live.
It should never be a “diet” – it’s got to be a lifestyle change, and one you want. It’s about holding a higher standard of what you’ll put in your body, not just about fitting that size smaller of jeans (though that comes as a bonus). It’s also about breaking the chemical addictions and cleansing those toxins from your body, so that the junk no longer has a hold on you.
Once you have that sense of pride and control, you simply don’t want to go back. You look at other people eating junk, and wish they knew how much better they could feel. You want to help others however you can. Why do you think I keep trying to share it?! When you’ve discovered the secret to maintaining a healthy weight (i.e. that there is no “secret”, rather a return to the traditional ways of eating, before things became over-processed and nutritionally-devoid), you want to tell anyone who’ll listen. When you change how you eat, it changes you.
#6 – My Skin is THE Best It’s Ever Been
I’m 30, so admittedly, it’s about time that my skin moved past my hormonally-charged teen years. However, I don’t think age is necessarily to credit here, because I still consider myself (very mildly) acne-prone. But, my skin is the best I’ve ever seen it, including being the least oily. Coincidence? I think not.
Starting in my pre-teens, I suffered with acne on my face, neck, chest, and back. I had a dermatologist at 12. Regrettably, I’ve used all the horrific chemical creams from said dermatologists, and hope upon hope I won’t get skin cancer from them.
What drives me insane is that no one told me then that eating healthy is linked to skin health. (Yeah, people used to say oily foods and chocolate caused acne, but that was kind of it, as far as diet advice went.) Dermatologists take a skin-only approach, not the whole-body approach, which is wrong. What you eat and drink affects your body chemistry, and it affects every living tissue within your body.
I wish back then that a dermatologist would’ve told me straight up: eat tons of fruits/veggies, eat less processed junk/sugar, and cut out dairy. I truly wonder how my teen skin may have differed. (On a positive note, dermatologists are finally, though reluctantly, admitting the link between cows’ milk products and acne!)
Another contributing factor? I also now use a face wash that’s truly good for my skin – check out Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash. It’s loaded with beneficial ingredients, not the fake, chemically toxins that are in everyday face washes by The Big Name Brands.
There you have it – six of my favorite results of eating healthy! What about you? What changes have you noticed? Share in the comments section!
Wishing you healthier, happier days!