The Hardest Part about Eating Healthy

We all know we need to take care of our bodies and eat healthy food.  Why, then, does there seem to be so much confusion on the topic and so few people actually doing that?  If you ask 20 different people about how to eat healthy, you are likely to get 20 different answers.  It seems to be so confusing or difficult that many people give up and just decide “all things in moderation”. That way they don’t have to decide what foods are good for them, or bad for them, or deny themselves anything.  Other people who have given up on deciding will say “there are no bad foods”.  The reality is that some foods (more accurately described as food-like substances) are bad for us and should not be eaten, we just don’t want to do it!  It can be hard.  Here are the most common reasons that I hear people give for not eating healthy.  See if any of them sound familiar to you!

carrot dinner

a healthy dinner containing roasted veggies a salad and high quality meat

“But —- makes me happy!” To begin with, most of us have deeply held habits and emotional connections with food.  It isn’t just food, it is pleasure, both mental and physical.  The food we eat may make us remember the pleasure of our family as kids, maybe it was given as a treat for good behavior, or maybe food represented happiness or a celebration.  It’s not just food.  It is a deeply ingrained part of our life.  Certain foods make us feel good, for many reasons, and we want those feelings satisfied.

“But I love —– and could never give it up”. Another reason people can’t seem to stay on the healthy eating band wagon is because many of the foods we eat are addictive.  Bread, sugar, and other carbs are especially addictive.  There is a good reason why we seek these types of “comfort” foods when we feel bad.  They make us feel good.  The worst addictive offenders are processed food and fast food.  There are professional food scientists designing these foods to not only taste delicious, but to also ensure that you want to eat more and more.  It’s like food crack!  The average person is way out gunned in the commercial food world.  It is no wonder that we want it.

My sister in law identified a very common reason for not eating healthy foods.  “It can be a lot of work!”  Real food almost always requires some type of preparation.  Most veggies need to be washed, sliced, diced, and cooked.  That is a whole lot harder than just popping something frozen from the store in the microwave, or pouring some cereal out of a box.  My sister in law said it well when she said that she would be thrilled to eat healthy food, if only she had a personal chef to prepare it for her.  Most people can relate.  Life is busy.

“I can’t afford it.” Healthy foods can also be perceived to be expensive.  A box of mac and cheese or a loaf of bread doesn’t cost very much.  Grass fed meats, coconut oil or olive oil, and fresh veggies cost considerably more.  When I get that type of push back to healthy eating, I consider the value of feeling good and being healthy/active/happy.  You can’t be healthy if you don’t eat healthy.   Most of the degenerative diseases facing our society are directly related to the food we eat.  The cost of these diseases and the emotional toll are immense.  Your health and the health of the people you love are priceless.  Healthy food is one of your best investments.

“It’s too confusing; I hear something different all the time!” Some people honestly seem confused about what healthy food is.  The food industry will certainly try to convince you that what they are selling is healthy.  If we rely on the food industry to tell us what is good for us, then we will be eating processed boxes of this and that along with sugar and chemical laden bars of food-like things.  I prefer Michael Pollen’s method, and assume that if your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize something as food, then we probably shouldn’t eat it.  There go the Cheetos!  Things that are good for you are the unprocessed foods around the perimeter of the grocery store.  Even better are the things you grow for yourself, or get from a local grower.  Real food. This would include fresh fruits and veggies, as well as milk, eggs and meats from pasture raised animals.  I know, I know:  these things cost money, take time to prepare, and require cooking and cleaning.  They also might not give you the sugar/carb bang that is so pleasurable.  Now I think we are getting to the heart of the matter.  

Is it possible that most people don’t make a habit of eating healthy food because it is some trouble, costs some money, and requires some work and self-discipline?  Oops.  I said it.  We prioritize what’s important to us. 

Eat Your Veggies,

Robin

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