In my Bahá’í-inspired life coaching practice, I often see people who are familiar with the quote:
What will be the food of the future? Fruit and grains. The time will come when meat will no longer be eaten . . . our natural diet is that which grows out of the ground. The people will gradually develop up to the condition of this natural food. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Ten Days in the Light of ‘Akká, pp. 8-9.)
They are motivated to make a transition to healthier eating habits and want to know how to go about actually achieving that goal.
The good news is that once you do something consistently for only a few weeks, it becomes a habit.
Here are some simple techniques to help you avoid those tempting junk foods so you can make wise and healthy decisions in your daily routine.
Strategies to Avoid Temptation:
1. Am I hungry? Ask yourself if you’re really hungry or if you’re eating out of convenience or emotion. Many times you probably aren’t as hungry as you think, so try to get involved in a different activity instead of snacking.
2. Water, water, and more water. Drink a lot of water each day. Not only is this good for your whole body (both inside and out), it can actually make you feel full. Also, oftentimes when you think you’re hungry, your body is actually thirsty, so keep yourself well hydrated.
3. Try chewing gum. Putting something in your mouth like gum or hard, sugar-free candy can help convince your brain that you’re eating!
4. Divert your energy. Instead of putting all your energy into making two grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon, try taking a walk or doing something that requires you to use your hands, like knitting or woodworking. It’s pretty hard to do these and eat at the same time.
5. Allow yourself snack time. Choose healthy snacks instead of chips and salsa or chocolate bars. For snack time, try eating celery, popcorn without butter, fruits, or a make-your-own trail mix with raisins, nuts, and dried fruits.
• A good hint for snacking is to have healthy snacks readily available in your home, and unhealthy snacks completely out of the house; that way, the healthy stuff is easy to grab.
How to Choose Healthy Foods:
The next time you’re off to the grocery store, use these tips to help you choose the right foods and avoid the unhealthy stuff.
1. Stay away from preservatives. You don’t need that Twinkie that can outlast any environmental disaster! When you learn to read nutrition labels and ingredient lists, you’ll find that there are many snacks that are full of preservatives. You probably shouldn’t buy the food when the ingredient list contains more than a handful of items. Plus, if the expiry date isn’t until two years from now, it’s being heavily preserved.
2. Use the food guide or pyramid. Canada’s Food Guide or the food pyramid from the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gears you toward whole foods and minimal sweets. Get a copy and make your grocery list by following their guidelines.
Update Jan. 2015: The US FDA is no longer supporting the food pyramid – it’s been replaced by “Choose My Plate“.
3. Buy lots of fresh vegetables that you can use to make up a quick and healthy stir-fry with chicken, brown rice, or even soy products. Buy easy to make salads where the lettuce and other veggies are already washed. These are easy, quick, healthy, and they taste good. The key is to choose vegetables that are dark green or orange in color.
4. Buy fresh fruits and do some research on how to tell when fruits are at their freshest and when they’re in season. Try some of those exotic fruits you’ve always looked at but never purchased. Make your own fruit drinks and smoothies for a healthy, delicious treat.
5. Buy a variety of whole grains and nuts – this doesn’t just mean bread and peanut butter! Do some research into the kinds of nuts and grains you can eat, and try gradually introducing them into your diet. A good resources is at:
More Great Grocery Store Tips:
1. Shop in a circle. Many nutritionists will tell you to shop the perimeter of the store. Grocery stores are usually set up with their fresh foods, fruits, vegetables, fish, and breads all around the perimeter. Preservative-laced foods are in the center and at the ends of each aisle.
2. Go alone. Leave your children in good hands and go alone to the grocery store. This way you can concentrate on getting only the healthy foods you desire without being pressured into buying junk. Alternatively, if you do bring your children, be prepared to spend extra time teaching them how to spot healthy foods.
3. Make a list! This technique is a tried and true method to avoid buying foods that aren’t healthy. Stick to your list and, for fun, seek out healthy foods you haven’t tried before to tempt your taste buds.
With some determination and strategies in place, you can achieve your goal to eat healthy! By incorporating healthy changes into your diet one by one, you’re slowly creating a new habit, and moving towards the ever-advancing society promised in the Bahá’í Writings.
Before long, you’ll be choosing healthy foods without a second thought, and those unhealthy foods you used to eat will no longer tempt you. Once you discover the benefits and better taste of fresh and healthy foods, you’ll never want to go back!
What do you do to eat more healthy foods? Post your comments here: