Written by Jamila Holder
I am about seven months into my healthy-eating journey and I have noticed something: a lot of us desire to eat healthier and lead healthier lives in general, but very few of us ever make the transition. (I can’t help but stress that it is a process, not a sudden switch.)
Before I made the transition, I considered myself to be fairly healthy, and I used the fact that I was skinny as proof. However, I had horrible eating habits, I craved sugary treats, and I lived by one rule: “Eat whatever you want, whenever you want.” I had a YOLO mentality towards my health and nutrition largely because I was blessed with a slim physique.
I could give you a list of reasons why we fail to make the transition to eat healthier, but the one I want to address is the thought that “Healthy eating = restricted diets.” I hear it all the time: “So what do you eat—salads?”
Although I love a good salad, it’s not the only thing I eat. Although many commend me for making healthier choices, I also get the sense they feel sorry for me, as if I am somehow limited in my food choices. That couldn’t be further from the truth—I am having the time of my life when it comes to food, and I thoroughly enjoy the foods that I eat.
I can say that with confidence now, but when this journey started I couldn’t help but think what I might be leaving behind. Did making healthier choices mean I wouldn’t be able to have my favourite red velvet cheesecake anymore? My fixation on what I would be losing did not allow me to see what I would be gaining.
I think of Scripture and Daniel’s decision to not take part in the king’s delicacies. Why would someone in their right mind refuse delicacies and ask for vegetables and water? Could it be that he perceived that there was more to be gained than there was to lose? Not only did he honour God with his decision, but the physical results were evident.
The restriction mindset that often stops us dead in our tracks was the biggest hurdle I had to overcome. For whatever reason, the word “healthy” equated to “limitations” in my mind.
When you think of healthy eating, what comes to mind? Let me tell you, we believe a lot of myths!
In my case, I knew I just had to take the plunge before I could give myself the opportunity to talk myself out of it. I started by changing my “food circle.” Since I spent a lot of time drooling over food pics on IG, I started following healthy food bloggers for inspiration and was surprised at the variety. Choosing to eat healthy has opened up a whole new world of foods to experience. I have tried more new foods in the last seven months than I have in my entire life previously. Having fun trying new things brings a level of excitement to cooking that I love.
If you are going to make the decision to eat healthier, know that there is so much more to eat than salads, and if you don’t like a food, try another or experiment with flavours until you find what you like.
I am having fun tasting my food without it being masked in excessive sugar or salt. I never thought I would become the girl that would say “That cookie was too sweet,” but you begin to taste the difference once your taste buds have been “detoxed.” I can now appreciate a smoothie without the added sugar, because the fruits provide all the sweet I need.
My food mindset has shifted, and every healthier choice makes it easier to not revert to old habits. It’s easy to default back to making unhealthy choices if you hate the foods you are eating, but loving what I eat has made the transition easier for me. The biggest lesson I am learning when it comes to eating clean is to make it a lifestyle. I am not on a diet, I genuinely love what I eat.