I’d love to share with you my personal story, and my secret on How to Start a Healthy Eating Habit That Will Change Your Life for Good starting today. Why change anything if it isn’t broke? I’ve heard this before and not just once.
Let’s begin with my own experience and why I changed mine and my kids’ way of eating. It was 2015, and we had just moved back to Okinawa, Japan.
One year later, in 2016, I decided to go to the doctors’ for a routine checkup. My lab work seemed fine, the doctors didn’t say anything, but I was feeling exhausted, I had excruciating cramps, fatigue, dizziness, bloating, a weak immune system, my periods were all over the place, depression, and anxiety. I just didn’t feel like myself. Here are some of the posts I wrote during that time.
Long story short, I ended up undergoing a bone marrow biopsy to rule out any blood disease, but even this extensive test didn’t show much other than inflammation.
Let me tell you, this was not your normal flu-like situation. I was in a dark place mentally, physically and my overall wellbeing seemed at stake, I knew I had to get to the root of it.
Then one day my aunt mentioned “GLUTEN”. What was gluten? A new diet? A trend? The more I researched about gluten and its effects on the human body, the wider my eyes became. After checking off all the symptoms I suffered from, our families’ gluten-filled days became history within days.
And this is where it all began, where all our healthy eating habits set their roots. Although, there wasn’t anything wrong with me on paper as some doctors might like to say, my body, however, told me otherwise.
How are healthy eating habits developed?
At first, being gluten-free was quite exhausting; I felt overwhelmed and didn’t want to spend hours at the grocery store dissecting each label. Then I also asked myself what and where can I eat? After three years as a gluten-free vegan, I can assure you it is possible and will get soooo much easier over time.
Here are my hacks on how I avoid all these problems:
- I use mainly Vitacost.com for most of my processed items, like crackers, veggie broth, spices, noodles, sauces, nut’s, seeds, and so on.
- Vitacost allows me to filter out anything that is not gluten-free, makes my grocery shopping so easy, plus they ship for free within days.
- The Gluten-Free Scanner is an excellent app for iPhones and has helped me with questionable in-store items.
- Avoid processed foods. We only consume a handful of processed foods nowadays. Processed foods are boxed/pre-made foods, like frozen meals, chips, bread, soups, and so on.
- Leaving out these unhealthy nutrient-deficient foods is easier than you think, start a meal-prep plan if you are a busy mom or dad and don’t have time to cook every night, or set up a slow cooker in the morning before you head out for work.
- NO MORE drive-through restaurants, it’s just not healthy for you, period.
- Find a few restaurants in your area that are GF and Vegan, for those days that you want to treat yourself.
- Shop at local farmers’ markets and buy enough food for one week. I used to buy so much food every other week but had to throw out a quarter of that monthly.
- Involve children in the kitchen, let them help you prep meals. Everything will taste so much better if they helped make it…try it!
- And lastly, educate yourself. My kids and I are continually watching health documentaries. It’s essential to teach them while they are young; most kids need a visual, and documentaries are a great source since they are backed up by science.
What Are Habits?
We all have habits, and we activate hundreds every day. These habits are divided into three groups. The first group are the habits that we simply don’t notice because they have been part of our lives forever—like tying shoelaces or brushing teeth.
The second are habits that are good for us and which we work hard on establishing—like exercising, eating well, or getting enough sleep.
The final group are the habits that are bad for us—like smoking, procrastinating, or overspending.
The best way to improve your bad habits is to replace them with new ones directly. When you create a pattern, your brain creates new neurological pathways allowing you to use those habits more easily.
How to immediately start your healthy eating habits?
- Cleaning out your pantry would be the “fast approach/aka — cold turkey method“, which is what I did. Keep on reading. I also have a “slow approach method” for those that don’t feel comfortable jumping in the cold water.
- Make a list of things you absolutely can not live without, like; Bread or noodles (funny, these were my two must-haves)
- Replace them with gluten-free/vegan options, you can find here what I was using.
- Create a recipe folder with your favorite recipes, if you don’t have any yet check out my newsletter. I’ll be posting weekly downloadable recipes there.
- Create a routine, set a timer for when you will start lunch and dinner. I use my phone’s alarm to create a schedule. I actually started my water drinking habit that way, and now I am off the alarm and only use it for dinner prep reminders.
- Eat a handful of green-leaved veggies with every meal, pack nuts and seeds when you are on the go. And consume at least 2-3 fresh/frozen fruits every day.
- Remind yourself who you are doing this for, your children, yourself, your husband, your parents. Bad things can happen, and those left behind will suffer the most. I still have those days sometimes when I have to remind myself of why I am doing this. My children are my everything, their health is irreplaceable, and I don’t want them to suffer as I did.
Eating Habit – Slow approach method
Now let’s talk about the slow approach method, I also like to call it the switch and ditch method.
- If you think you will need more time to make substantial changes in your eating habits. Take each food group at a time. Example: Once your pack of noodles is used up, don’t buy that same brand again. Look for noodles that are organic, high in protein, gluten-free, vegan, and have less than three ingredients. These Brown Rice noodles are the ones I use, and we love them.
- This next step is to talk with your friends and family. Let them know about your new lifestyle and set your boundaries, let them know why you are doing this and that it is crucial for you to get their support. If the people that surround you are real friends, then they will accept your new lifestyle and help you the best they can.
- Detox, you probably heard this word one too many times. But to get your body on the right path, you have to rid it off all toxins first. Start drinking at least 40 oz. of water every day, add a slice of lemon to it or use lemon essential oils (please educate yourself about which brand is best for internal use), the acidity from the lemon helps loosen toxins, and you will release them with each bathroom break. I also recommend Epsom salt baths, natural deodorant, and monthly massages alongside lots of water intake.
Don’t feel discouraged, just remember who you are doing this for and if I can accomplish a healthy eating habit, then you can too.
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