Everyone is at a different point in the journey toward better health. Some have barely begun or have no intention of beginning, while others have pursued healthy living so vigorously, that all that is left for them is to de-stress about the whole thing.
Similarly, people have different ideas about what healthy living is. You have your vegans, your vegetarians, your low-carbers, your calorie counters…you name it, there’s a group for it. There’s even the “I’m not listening!” group. See?
Personally, we are most closely associated with what has become known as real foodies, although we are by no means extreme…by no means! We eat food that is, simply put, real. It has not been morphed into an unhealthy version of its previous self. (Real foodies can be vegans, vegetarians, low-carbers, and calorie counters, too, by the way, although we are none of those.) So, we eat homemade bread, but not store-bought. We’ll have eggs for breakfast, but not Cheerios. Butter, yes, margarine, no way on God’s green earth can you force that stuff down the throat of this born-and-raised-on-a-Wisconsin-cattle-farm girl…I mean, no thank you! Essentially, I’m an apple girl, not a fruit snacks girl. (Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t eat it and love it at YOUR house…we just don’t eat it here.)
For years we had fortified cereal and whole grain crackers in the house, along with other seemingly innocuous food choices that we were led to believe were healthy for our children—granola bars, whole grain breads, soy milk, flavored yogurt. I would keep a few frozen pizzas in the freezer for “those nights,” and we loved to feast on Manwich from a can…mmmmmmm. (Uh, we took it out of the can and prepared it as directed, just so you know.)
Today we don’t eat any of that, unless we have made it ourselves. That means we make our own bread, snacks, yogurt, sometimes ketchup and pasta…you name it, we probably make it. (Although I’ve yet to find a mayonnaise recipe they will eat.) The ingredients are simple and real.
That doesn’t sound like a simple philosophy for better health!
You’re right; it doesn’t. (You don’t have to yell. Just keep reading.)
If we had made the transition from our fairly decent diets to eating mostly real foods overnight, or even over-month or over-year, it would definitely not have been simple…at all! In fact, ironically, the stress would probably have killed me, or at least launched me head first into a bag of Doritos! (Mmmmm…chips.)
But we did not work on improving our health overnight or even over-year. We did it over years.
Here’s the simple part of the simple philosophy for better health:
Wherever you are in your journey toward improving your health, take one step forward. Only one!
If you drink soda every day five times a day, cut back to four. If you smoke eight cigarettes a day, cut back to seven. If you eat only packaged, processed foods, even those that claim to be healthy, try to make one meal a week from scratch. If you live for sugar, gradually (gradually) cut back and replace it with something better.
If you are further along on your health journey, your steps will look different. Perhaps you could take one item from your pantry and read the ingredients. It should read like a children’s book, not like a science journal. If you can’t read it in a Dr. Seuss sing-song voice, you don’t want to eat it and you certainly don’t want to feed it to your children! Replace that one item…just that one! (Don’t even bother reading any other labels right now.) Eventually, you won’t even remember that you used to make pancakes from a box or that you used store-bought salad dressing and soup or that you had cold cereal 15 times a week—that’s a lot of cereal. You and corn syrup and hydrolyzed soybean oil won’t even be on speaking terms, and you won’t remember when the relationship first started to disintegrate.
Some ideas: replace your bad oil with a healthier oil (we use coconut and olive), find one salad dressing recipe to try (we can help you there), learn to do one new thing in the kitchen, such as making your own pancakes, stock, or bread. (If you’re really new, pancakes are a snap.) Just pick one!
Perhaps your journey toward improving your health requires something beyond food, such as exercise or de-stressing. Focus your one step in that direction, getting a pedometer and slowly increasing your walking goal, or taking time on the occasional evening to unwind with a warm bath and an uplifting devotional. But don’t stress about it! If the babies are having an I-don’t-know-why-I’m-sad-so-can-you-peeeaaasse-hold-me night or your hubby is feeling chatty or amorous, enjoy the blessings of the moment rather than stressing over your lack of de-stress time. (We humans are ironic that way.)
If you’re really far on your journey toward improving your health, then I’m probably learning from you! Nevertheless, there is one thing I’ve noticed that many health-focused people really need to do…and that’s enjoy life! Don’t stress because your child ate the Dumdum they gave him at the bank when he and your hubby were running errands together. Don’t become judgmental because your mother-in-law served GASP instant mashed potatoes with gravy from a package for Thanksgiving. Don’t fill everyone’s ear with all the things within arm’s reach that will kill them—that kinda makes you a downer. (I know, cuz sometimes that’s me.) Unless there is a critical health issue involved, relax, live, love, laugh, and let it go.
Pick just one thing…and do it! Got it?
Part two of the simple philosophy for better health:
Aaaaaahhhhh! There’s more?!
You bet your bippy. (I thought you were going to stop yelling.)
When you mess up–and you will–don’t worry! Don’t stress! Don’t give up on the whole simple philosophy for better health. In fact, plan some mess-ups.
We like making chips and they are delicious with a capital -licious! But…sometimes I buy chips. Yup…buy them. Not the less-bad-for-you organic variety either. And then we eat them…all at once. And we smile. Not just a polite little smile, but a great big giddy smile, like this:
That great big giddy smile is good for you. Try it.
What small step is in your simple philosophy for better health?
Linked up to Healthy 2Day Wednesday.