We all know that diets don’t work. A one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating can’t produce results for every body type. You need a personalized healthy eating plan that takes into account your food preferences and lifestyle.
A sustainable healthy eating plan provides your body with ample nutrients and your soul with satisfaction and joy.
Many women have spent their entire lives dieting. You know the drill: get the list of approved foods, throw out anything on the naughty list, obsess over every bite. Pretty soon you’re feeling weak and craving those naughty foods like crazy! Eating plans cannot be healthy when they remove an entire macronutrient component (carbs, fat, protein). Our bodies have been intelligently designed to utilize these components. We need diverse nutrients to thrive.
The question becomes how much of each type of macro does your body need? Equally important is the concept of food quality. Studies are being done every day on the effects of modern foods on our bodies. The sad fact is that many of the products we eat are bad for us — damaging our cells and slowly eroding our health. Our food is factory-farmed, laced with chemicals, and adulterated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The good news is that we know quite a bit about what a healthy eating plan looks like:
- Emphasis on fruits and vegetables
- Avoidance of fast food and processed food
- Minimal fried food
- Minimal dairy (best choices are raw A2, sheep or goat products)
- Small to moderate amounts of healthy fats (avocado, raw nuts, coconut)
- Lean, wild, grass-fed pastured meat
- Wild, sustainable seafood
- Whole grains (non-GMO)
- Avoid personal food sensitivities (gluten, dairy, soy, eggs)
Create Your Personalized Healthy Eating Plan
1. Your Food History
Take some time to write down your food history. For every diet you’ve ever attempted, try to recall what you were allowed to eat, what you were forbidden to eat, and how you felt emotionally while on the diet. This will give you insight into the effects of deprivation on your physical and mental state.
If there are foods that you absolutely love, but you’ve been told they’re “bad” — the solution is to make those foods healthier, and to eat them in moderation. Life is about joy. If you force yourself to live by impossible standards (like abstaining from celebrations by deciding to never eat birthday cake again) you’re setting yourself up for failure. And misery!
There’s a place in your life for every food that you truly love.
On the other hand, there are combinations of food that can become addictive. Fast food companies hire food scientists to engineer the flavor by adding chemicals and salt-sugar proportions that excite the taste buds. If you’ve ever been addicted to fast food, you know what that feels like.
Other combinations of fat and sugar like those found in cookies, cakes, pastries can be quite addictive and have negative health consequences to our bodies. There are plenty of healthy recipe makeover recipes on the web. Do a search for your favorite foods and see if you can switch up the ingredients to make them healthier.
A bit of sugar or a baked good now and then won’t hurt you, as long as you don’t make it a habit. For your daily go-to meals, you really want to focus on making the best choices. That means high-quality food cooked at home with love and care!
2. Your Favorite Foods
Make a list of foods you love in these categories:
- Grains and Starches
- Spices and Seasonings
This is now your shopping list. Do a little research online to see if anything on your list has been shown to have negative health consequences. Our knowledge of food changes rapidly, so it helps if you keep abreast of the latest news.
3. Weekly Meal Plans
The next step is to create some healthy meal plans using the list of your favorite foods. You can go old-school and make meals around protein, starch, and vegetables. Or be inventive and create power bowls, main course salads, ethnic favorites like tacos, stir fry, curries, kebobs, and pasta. You need enough variety so you don’t get bored.
Make a weekly meal plan, taking into account your schedule as well as other members of your household. Take advantage of bulk cooking so you have leftovers for an extra meal. Perhaps you’re extra busy on Tuesdays. Make a big pot of soup, stew or chili on Sunday, and plan to have the leftovers on Tuesday. Or make a refrigerator salad bar so you can whip up a healthy salad at a moment’s notice.
Pleasure is one of the key factors in determining whether your healthy eating plan is sustainable.
You need to eat foods that you enjoy. If you’re accustomed to a processed food diet, it will take some time for your taste buds to appreciate the subtle flavors of fresh produce. Be gentle with yourself and keep experimenting until you have a collection of healthy recipes that you love.
4. Change Unhealthy Habits
If you have a few unhealthy habits, now is the time to identify them. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge!
If you eat lightly all day, then binge on snacks and chips at night – that’s a habit that can be changed. Try eating more during the day, especially loading up on fruit and veggies. Don’t skip breakfast. Eat afternoon snacks like apples, which hydrate and replenish your body. If you’re hungry, then eat. Don’t starve yourself during the day, only to binge at night. Spreading your food consumption throughout the day will keep your blood sugar balanced.
If you’ve stopped cooking and you rely on take-out food, now is the time to get back in the kitchen!
You just need a bit of organization and planning to make it happen. Work through the above steps and get your meal plans ready. Shop for the entire week at one time, so you have everything you need. If you’ve never been much of a cook, take some fun cooking classes. Your skills will improve and so will your health.
5. Set Healthy Goals
Set a primary health objective for yourself and your family. Review your latest bloodwork, and take a good look at your health issues. Is your energy low? Are you eating junk food? Do you overeat because of emotional issues or stress? Does your spouse or family refuse to change their eating habits?
Do some research on strategies to counteract the issues that are plaguing you. For a deeper look at creating a healthy eating plan, check out The Ultimate Guide to Better Health.
Hire a coach to help you create action plans, or reach out for other appropriate support. It’s never too late to make healthy changes; your body has the ability to rejuvenate itself. Commit to taking back your health!
That’s the process for creating your personalized healthy eating plan. Issues and challenges will come up. It’s fine; don’t worry about it. Take your time. Experiment with new foods, new recipes and new strategies for meal planning and cooking.
I’d love to hear about your progress, please leave me a comment below. Or send me a message.