I've just shared the number one statement that will make most of my clients recoil in dislike of me as a health coach. When I watch faces contort and go from an eager look of anticipation to one of dissappointment, I am quick to tell them about Joe.
Meet Joe. Joe is just a regular guy. Every weekday, he wakes up to his alarm at 5:30 AM, puts on his work clothes which consists of one of a few different outfits, makes a cup of coffee, hops in his car (which he's had for over five years), and is on his way to his job that he has proudly held for the last sixteen years. On his way, traveling the same route he's taken for the last 4,000 rides to work, he stops at either the same gas station or fast-food place and picks from one of a few favorites for breakfast. At the checkout (if he went to the gas station), he grabs a Snickers bar for later because it's his favorite.
His lunch, which he never brings from home, is going to be either a 6 inch sub from the place across from his office, a burger with fries from the place down the street, and pizza on Friday because the office always orders in. Sometimes, they bring in take-out, but he has his favorite order so no one even asks what he wants because it's always the same thing.
In the afternoon, he stops by his co-workers desk for a few peanut M&M's as he walks down to the vending machine for a pop.
When he gets home for dinner, he and his family sit down for Meatloaf Monday, Taco Tuesday, Leftover Wednesday, and Spaghetti Thursday. On Fridays, they go out for a Fish Fry. Saturday is usually a batch of soup and Sunday is a hearty roast or chicken with potatoes, carrots and all of the sides.
And that's pretty much it. Much like Joe, we are creatures of comfort and routine without a lot of variation. In fact, most people don't like to try new things and prefer to stick with what they know - the tried and true. Just like Joe, most of my new clients do and eat a lot of the same things every single day. But when they leave my office with a new cookbook along with some menu planning worksheets that we filled out a for practice, a few weeks later, I hear the same thing, "I need more recipes."
I totally know the feeling. When I first started eating foods that were good for me, which was a new concept just about five years ago, I felt like I had entered a whole new world that I knew very little about. Lots of foods that I used to eat were out but there were a whole bunch of things that I could eat that I hadn't been. Here is how I made the adjustment to healthier eating:
Don't reinvent the wheel. Take a meal that you're already eating and look for a way or two to make it a bit healthier. Swap in veggies for carbs. Eliminate ingredients that aren't necessary. Example - taco salads instead of tacos. Swap in turkey for ground beef, skip the shell or tortilla, measure out your cheese and see if you can skip the sour cream. Add in additional veggies and use a bit of salsa for your dressing. Side note: this should NOT turn into the midwestern taco salad with Western Dressing and Doritos.
Go online and create a Pinterest board or Instagram where you can search for healthy recipes that look appealing. I love using social media as a way to connect with food. We need visuals. The ability to search for specific types of meals too is super handy. Have chicken breasts but don't know what to do with them? "Healthy chicken recipes". Voila!
Eat the same thing. You already do it now but with foods that you choose. Suddenly, when someone tells you that there are some restrictions, your brain may go a little crazy. If coming up with new ideas is hard, stick with just a few that you know you like.
Be patient while you wait for your tastebuds to change. This does actually happen. Feel like you have never loved a lot of vegetables? As your body adjusts to eating healthier foods, your taste receptors change too.
Don't be afraid to change a recipe based on what you have (or don't). I usually cook from scratch or off of the cuff. While recipes inspire me with flavor and the main ingredients, I don't obsess if I wasn't able to incorporate every ingredient or sub another one.
Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead. Eating healthy is a skill. It takes practice just like every other skill in life that we want to learn and get better at. One of the best ways to flex your new healthy eating muscle is to make sure that you write out a bit of a plan (or at least think ahead) with some ideas.
I know it's not easy. And that it does take work. I'm not going to deny either one of those two things. And yes - it's a lot of vegetables, but it's a lot of other good for you foods too. Learning how to combine foods together to make meals does take practice and time. So, as you're navigating your way through uncharted territory, be kind and patient with yourself. And always, if you need support or guidance, let me know. Send me an email or give me call.
Want to check out my Pinterest board? https://www.pinterest.com/fitnessmrs/good-eats/