The problem with changing eating habits is that we try to do everything at once. Then we end up giving up because the change was too great, and it happened too quickly. You can’t go from chugging down cheeseburgers like your life depended on it, to sucking on one stick of celery a day.
It is hard for people to know where to start. I’ve gone from 30 kilos overweight and feeling like crap (mostly because of my diet), to loosing all that weight and now waking up feeling amazing every morning. The process took almost three years, but I believe it could’ve been done in a shorter time. This guide will explain the steps I would take if I had to do it all over again.
This guide is by no means everything you could do to optimize your nutrition. It is meant for people that are just starting out, and that have tried many times to just become a little healthier, but keep failing. The suggestions in this guide are based on very obvious health-beliefs that most people agree on (like eating less sugar and more vegetables), and some of the more controversial tactics and ways of eating that I personally believe in, are not mentioned at all.
Level 0 – Trying too hard
Eat a raw carrot. Feel the bitter taste. Cringe. Abandon challenge. Go to McDonald’s.
Level 1 – Fluid sugar and deep fried foods
Realize that changes happen slowly. Start with the super low hanging fruit.
Super Low Hanging Fruit
1. Sugar in fluid form
2. Foods deep-fried in Vegetable Oil (including chips)
Health nuts tend to disagree about things. They get angry and argue with each other. A lot. But the two things they agree on are that sugar is bad for you (especially in fluid-form), and that oxidized oil from vegetable sources are dangerous.
I used to be addicted to soda. I had six cans of Coke every day at work, and sometimes topped it of with a large 1L bottle when I got home at night. When you drink that much that often, you stop feeling sweetness. But what I really liked was that scratchy feeling I got in my throat from the carbon-dioxide combined with instant mini-high from the sugar.
“After 6 months without soda (not changing much else), I had lost 10-15 kilos without even noticing.”
I realized I could get the same scratchy feeling from sparkling water. And while I was still addicted to sugar, I started getting it from other sources while slowly quitting soda all together. After 6 months without soda (not changing much else), I had lost 10-15 kilos without even noticing. And tasting soda now, after around 3 years is like licking a sugar cube.
Vegetable oils are bad. And avoiding foods fried in vegetable oil is the second most benefit-dense action to take in regards to health. Vegetable oils include: Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil, and Rice Bran Oil among others. Deep fried foods and Chips (both in it’s American and British meaning) are the easiest to identify and stay away from.
Once you managed Level 1 for a while. Be awed at how much better you feel, and move on to Level 2.
Level 2 – Refined white sugar and learning to cook
Yes, more sugar to avoid. This time it is the next worst thing after sugar in fluid form: refined white sugar. Here’s a short video explaining why it is bad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XemhzeVBuCg
Brown sugar, stevia, and honey are better options to keep getting your sugar fix while you struggle through this level.
At this level if you haven’t already, it is also a perfect opportunity to take an interest in cooking your own food, as this will automatically make you eat healthier. Meals that are cooked from scratch are in general made from better sources of nutrition, so unless you make up your own recipes using only ingredients from processed foods, you should improve your diet a lot by only doing this.
Level 3 – Sneaking in vegetables
If you’ve had bad eating habits for a long time, chances are you might be a little afraid of vegetables. That is okay. At this level, you will not have to face your fears, as you will hide them in your food.
The best way of doing this, I find, is to finely chop vegetables like carrot, celery, onions, and parsnip, into a stew, and cook it for a long time. This way the consistency and the pure taste of vegetables, will blend in to the more complex (and amazing) flavors of the stew. My favorite is to double the amount of vegetables in a regular Bolognese recipe, and just eat it with pasta and pretend like they’re not there at all.
Another way is to just eat more of the (few) vegetables you already love. This way you will get more of the good stuff from vegetables while not torturing yourself. My to-go greens at this period was arugula lettuce, tomatoes, and olives.
Level 4 – All other sugar
So you’ve managed to take away sugar’s easiest path to your brain (by not drinking it anymore). You’ve stayed away from the most dangerous form of sugar (refined white sugar). And you’ve added some more vegetables and other good stuff into your diet. Now it’s time to remove it all together. By now it’s no mystery that sugar is worse than many drugs in regards to health. And getting rid of your sugar addiction is key to maintain wellness throughout your life.
This part will not be easy, and like any other drug, there will be a time of withdrawal symptoms like tiredness and irritability. But once you’re on the other side, the cravings should stop and you should feel good enough to never look back again.
It is okay to have honey or dark chocolate every now and then once you’re rid of your addiction. But at this level, everything should be avoided as it will be easier and quicker.
Level 5 – Getting to know vegetables one at a time
As mentioned above, I used to hate most vegetables. Now I there is nothing I don’t like. I realized that the more you eat something, the more you like it.
So you can force yourself to eat the things you don’t like with the certain knowledge that you eventually will like it. That is a good thing. But what I also found was that once I cooked something myself that I never liked before, I instantly started to like it more.
There was something with the action of preparing and cooking the foods that made me appreciate them a lot more.
So the suggestion is: try cooking the things you don’t like, and try to eat them more often, and eventually you’ll crave the foods you used to hate (as I did with broccoli).
You have now stopped eating the truly bad foods. You’ve gotten rid of your sugar addiction. And hopefully you’re well on your way of loving vegetables. There are many other changes you could make to feel even better, and being healthier in the long run. But these steps should get you well on your way.
Let me know what you think! I’d love feedback and suggestions, as well as your experience if you decide to try this strategy.
This article was originally posted on www.stillstupid.blog