Easing the progress of any change is the confidence that you can handle change. You CAN handle the truth, right? Unfortunately, for most of us, part of any change is remembering the times we failed to complete the intended change. We all fail and we all sabotage future success by focusing, highlighting, dwelling on, gnawing over, and losing sleep over, our failures. One reason the Sis sisters came up with our Baby Steps plan was to provide do-able changes that will not only reward you with the outcome of the change, but will provide you with a success. And it doesn’t need to be a total smashing success, because food choices are not permanent. We have many opportunities to get it right… everyday.
I took a class on parenting that offered some wonderful solutions to discipline that work best when delivered by a sane, rational adult who has had enough sleep. Yeah, right…, I haven’t met many of those. But the teacher left us with a profound message. “If you do it this way more than 50% of the time, you are doing a great job as a parent.” I found that to be very helpful and I think it is relevant here as well. Parenting and eating are very similar in that we do them a lot, and have lots of tries to do it differently. It is better to do the right thing some of the time than none of the time, and really great to do the right thing most of the time!
So enough chopping and dicing, let’s put the goods in the frying pan ;-)
Baby Step #1: switch out some nasty thing from your diet and replace it with something healthier.
One item. One switch. As often as possible.
Here is a list of top 10 nasties, with suggested replacements. If you eat nothing from this list, then you will have to fess up to that item that you know you should give up. Now I’m not talking about the special treat you have at Christmas every year. I’m talking about something that is a regular part of your life which has a poor impact on your health.
One last thing to consider before you choose is to consider the function of this item in your life. Is this an item that provides energy (mocha latte, sugar)?, an item that provides comfort?, and item that is part of your routine?, an item of convenience?, a reward? because knowing that will help you successfully replace that item with something that fulfills the same function.
Here’s the Top Ten “Foods” to consider replacing (remember, the idea is to pick only one – no stars for over-achieving…)
1) Soda / sweetened beverages (energy drinks & sport drinks): Water, water and 50% soda or juice to help you cut back, water and lemon or lime, iced tea (with at least half as much sugar as soda that you can then reduce), coffee (unless you have heart issues). Cut back entirely or drink half as much, just work your way towards as little soda as possible.
2) Doritos / Cheetos /Potato chips – especially flavored ones (lots of nasty chemicals). If you need a teeny baby step on this one, switch from flavored to plain chips of your favorite variety, or go all out and switch to homemade popcorn (check out some tasty, healthy recipes here), healthy crackers like Triscuits, kale chips, or salty nuts.
3) Pre-made baked goods like donuts, cookies, cakes, lunchbox treats : switch one for homemade baked goods or for pbj on whole wheat bread or a flavored herb tea, or a small serving of dark chocolate.
4) Fake dairy like Cool whip, Hazelnut flavored goo (I mean fake coffee additive), powdered coffee creamer, etc. Better to put a little REAL dairy, small amount of sugar and maybe a drop or two of vanilla or some cinnamon in your coffee than that oil-based imposter for anything edible. Here is a recipe for date cream which can also be used in coffee – just thin the recipe a little with more milk of choice.
5) Boxed macaroni & cheese. (This includes Hamburger Helper type stuff) I know this is totally a convenience food, who has time to bake macaroni and cheese?… and most kids don’t like it as well. Here’s a fast, easy version of homemade macaroni & cheese, but you could also just add veggies and shredded cheese to pasta or microwave baking potatoes and top with some shredded cheese and/or salsa and/or cooked veggies. On an evening where you do have time to make something and then let it bake for an hour, try this recipe that uses hidden zucchini.
6) Candy (high quality dark chocolate in reasonable quantities is another story). Weed it out people. Substitute homemade treats in reasonable quantity, flavored herbal tea, or brushing your teeth – sometimes that flavor takes away the craving for something sweet. As with soda, if you eat a lot of candy and drink a lot of soda, you are probably addicted to sugar, so set a reasonable goal of reducing how much you eat. Keep lowering your amount, and re-choose when and if you slip.
8) White wheat crackers & flavored crackers. Triscuits = wheat, oil and salt. This doesn’t mean that eating an entire box of triscuits won’t make you gain weight, however, substituting simpler flavors helps your palate get over the MSG, chemicalized rush of crackers like Chicken in a Biskit. See chips substitutes (#2) for more ideas, but you can dip any cracker into salsa, or add real cheese or plant based cheese like Little Sis’ sunflower cheese or an easy cashew cheese or a more difficult, but also firmer cashew cheese!
9) Fast Food. However much you can cut back. Commit to decreasing your intake of this terribly harmful food. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend watching Super Size Me with your family (watch first to assess the appropriateness, there is some frank talk about sex, but nothing graphic).
10) Commercial white bread is full of unnecessary ingredients and does not have a lot of nutritional value. Look for whole wheat breads and make sure you read the labels. Just as an example, azidocarbamide is a dough conditioner used in many breads that can also be used to clean your boat. For real. Read the labels.
Just a word of encouragement. Set your sights on an achievable goal. If you think you can only cut your consumption of one of the above in half, then make that decision and set a goal of 2 weeks. At the end of the 2 weeks commit again and decide if you can cut back some more. If you slip, if you slide, if you make a poor choice, it is not a permanent fail. Your chooser is not broken, it’s just not perfect. If it was perfect, you probably would have already been recalled to the place where perfect humans go ;-). You are still a wonderful human being with potential for joy, love, productivity, creativity and health. Just decide to try and choose better the next time and keep on the road to better health, one baby step at a time.
This post was shared at Wildcrafting Wednesday.