What I Learned On My Journey to Becoming Healthy
Last week, a young girl interviewed me for a project about body image and how I overcame my eating disorder when I was a young girl. It was incredibly eye opening to me because everything I teach about health today started from when I was a young girl. Something that I feel has really helped me, even to this day, is learning about nutrition and cooking healthy food. When I changed my mindset from thinking that food is calories and will make me gain weight, to a more positive mindset of, the nutrients from food is essential for me to thrive and survive, my entire mindset around food and my body changed. That was something that wasn’t included in my early counseling and feel like it was a huge missing piece of the puzzle. I believe it helps because it connects us with our food. It helps us see that food isn’t just a thing that can make us gain weight, it is something that we need to nourish our bodies and our minds. It is the only way we can survive and thrive. If we eat well and think well, we will feel so good about the way we look. Not because we have chiselled abs, or the perfect body, but because we gave our body exactly what it needed to work its magic. When you think about what your body can do for, how it can heal, move, think, grow, it is pretty magical. This is a much healthier way to control what we eat. We change our focus to all the good stuff that we put in our body, instead of obsessing over every single calorie.
You don’t have to have an eating disorder for this to matter – it matters to all of us! I believe that cooking/nutrition classes (where we can connect with our food and body in a more positive way) mixed in with the traditional and non-traditional therapy (if you are struggling with body image or an eating disorder) would be a great combination. I did learn all of this eventually, but not at the same time and I was only able to see the link because I was searching for it. The healing begins when we treat ourselves as a whole person – mind, body and soul.
Even with all the people I had worked with while I was overcoming my eating disorder (and I did get lots of great tools), when I was an adult and felt unhealthy and sick, I was still so confused about health, nutrition and what my body needed not just to survive, but thrive. After getting very poor advice from my doctor, I decided to become my own teacher. I read every book I could get my hands on, but every new book I opened, contradicted the previous book I read. It was so frustrating! I was getting information overload on all the new fads diets and “miracle cures” but nothing taught me about nutrition or my body. What does my body need to be healthy? I didn’t want to count points, or calories, I didn’t want to give up carbohydrates, or only eat raw food, and I also didn’t want to feel like I was living in lack, starving for good tasting food. All I wanted was to feel healthy. Amazing things started to happen when I changed my focus from information overload, a.k.a. Google Expert, to learning about whole-food nutrition, and the human anatomy of the body. I went back to school to study nutrition and the functioning of the human body. That is when positive changes started to occur. I no longer needed a diet; I just needed real, made from Mother Earth foods. It truly is that simple, but in today’s world, it can be so challenging when everything and everyone is trying to prove their way and disprove another, instead doing the responsible thing and teaching people how to cook, what their bodies need nutritionally (no matter what diet they want to follow) and how to listen to their bodies.
Today I want to share with you some of the lessons I have learned and teach in The Contagiously Positive Woman’s Guide To Healthy Living. I share all three principles, Mind – Body – Soul in Healthy Living, but today I’m going to focus on nutrition.
Lessons From My Journey
1. I learned that our bodies are naturally designed to heal themselves (pretty cool stuff), but it needs food to do it. I’m not talking about just any food though. I’m talking about food made by Mother Earth…WHOLE-FOODS.
Whole-Foods Such As:
Protein from organic meat or plant-based proteins
Healthy fats, like avocado, salmon, or raw unsalted nuts and seeds
Healthy complex carbohydrates like grains, sweet potatoes, long-grain rice, legumes and beans
“Diets don’t work. Learning about what your body needs nutritionally is the key to whole-body health.”
2. I learned that what you eat isn’t just important to your body, but your mind as well. Food plays a huge roll on your mental state. An unhealthy diet can cause depression, irritability, PMS, mental fog, fatigue & stress. With regards to children, many experts have linked childhood behavioral problems to a diet high in additives, preservatives and refined sugar. Marketing makes us think that we can save time as parents if we buy their special packaged food. What they don’t tell us is that it is loaded with sugar and can barely be considered real food. The closer it is to mother nature, the better for you and for your family.
3. A healthy diet can and will give your immune system a boost. This means less illness and a shorter healing process if you do get sick. Your immune system can only be strengthened by what you feed it. Only you have the power to give it the food it needs. Those foods are the ones I listed above.
4. Processed white sugar, and all of its hidden cousins, has the same affect on your brain as drugs. This is why it is so difficult to break the habit. It is possible though. You just have to read the labels and see where sugar is hiding out. If you could make one change right now, I challenge you limit your intake of sugar. Are you a soda drinker? Start there and replace the soda with water, flavored with fresh fruit. If sugar has become your own personal nemesis, click here to learn more on how you can break up with sugar for good.
5. You don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to be healthy. By adding a large portion, at least 50% of vegetables to your plate, and not making meat the main event, you will be one step closer to fuelling your body with essential nutrients and losing weight. When choosing meat, choose meat that has no added antibiotics or hormones. Go local and organic when you can.
What you can do starting today: Fill 50-60% of your plate with vegetables, 20% with a complex carbohydrate (see below) and 20% with animal or plant-based protein.
6. You need complex carbohydrates to think & move. It drives me nuts when a fad diet comes out they say to stop eating fruit. Your brain needs the good guy carbs! Carbohydrates are fuel for your brain, just like gas is to a car. Without them, you are starving your brain of essential nutrients. Without gas, your car won’t run. The same goes for carbohydrates and your body.
Complex carbohydrates can be found in four of the major food groups:
8. Eating whole-foods means you are fuelling your body with essential micronutrients. Micronutrients are essential vitamins and minerals that are necessary for development and growth. They are necessary for your body to stay healthy and you can only get them from food. Micronutrients come from consuming a wide variety of food. These are the nutrients that you find in a bottle of multivitamins and you can get them from food. Food first – supplement second. They keep your digestive system running a top performance, they make sure your organs are healthy and doing the job they need to do and they make sure your bodies defence system (immunity) are ready to go to war against and fight off any nasty bug.
8. Eating whole-foods means you are reducing your intake of empty calories from processed and refined foods. This will not only help you lose weight, but keep the weight off. Imagine getting rid of counting calories and yo-yo diets! The more good stuff you put into your body, the more the bad stuff will get crowed out and that includes unwanted fats and toxins. I don’t want to count calories for the rest of my life. And, 100 calories of processed junk is not better than 200 calories of whole-foods made from mother nature herself. Your body doesn’t count calories, it relies on nutrients.
9. Eating whole-foods also means you get a balance in all essential nutrients – variety is essential! Your body needs all nutrients and this includes protein, complex carbohydrates, minerals, healthy fats, and vitamins, which so many fad diets try to eliminate from your diet. Every part of your body needs something different to thrive, heal and grow. Think about all the parts of your body and what they need to do to keep you running smoothly and healthy and happy. Now imagine if you take aways its fuel.
10. Eating whole-foods also means you are ingesting fewer toxins. The amount of toxins, chemicals and nastiness that comes in processed “foods” is shocking. I’ve dedicated an entire chapter on reading labels in Healthy Living because it is important to know if what you are eating can even be considered a real food. Fancy marketing tries to fake us out, but we are much smarter than that.
Whole-food nutrition can do more for you than any pill or fad diet can do. You have the power to learn, to heal and to grow. Even one small can make such a massive impact. If you want to learn more, I’m here to help.
Health & happiness is created, not inherited. You are the only one who can create it.
How To Avoid Fads & Know What Is Right For You
Before taking any program or trying a new diet, ask yourself these three questions:
Is it healthy? Meaning, does it cut out essential nutrients that your body needs?
Can you sustain it as a lifestyle? Meaning, do you want to count calories, which are not even created equally, weigh your food and restrict what you eat, for the rest of your life?
Are they making false claims? Meaning, can it be achieved? Trust your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.