Do you feel overwhelmed when it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes?
Many people do because of a phenomenon called information overload.
There is so much data available online and in bookstores, and there are so many health gurus out there, that it can be totally overwhelming to even take a single step toward a healthier lifestyle.
I’ve noticed that, when it comes to healthy eating, a lot of people take an all-or-nothing approach. They feel like they have to do it all in order to see progress. But then they get so overwhelmed by all of the steps they think they have to take that they quit before they even get started.
One of my readers recently sent me this message:
“The biggest problem I am facing…is that we are so busy…I feel I do not even have the time to sit and decide where to start and what to do…I would rate this as a 9 due to my frustration. I never want to do something unless I am sure I am doing it well and have a plan. There is so much information out there now that it is overwhelming to know what the best choices are in terms of eating well as a family. Because I am not sure what do, I do nothing. I tend to be all in or all out unfortunately.”
I never want you to feel that way when reading this blog. Ever.
So, I say, let’s put an end to this right now.
The information is overwhelming, yes. But that doesn’t mean putting certain steps into practice is difficult.
Let’s wade through the muck and get to what really matters: simple, progressive dietary changes.
Step Number One to Healthy Eating: Take a Freakin’ Step!
I’m not exactly sure why, but this is the hardest thing to do! Action is our ally when it comes to eating well. We just get so bombarded with information and planning that we fail to do anything.
Yes, a plan is important, but it’s not the most important step. Action is number one, baby!
Why do I say this? Let’s look at it this way. Does a medical student expect to be a world-class surgeon after day one of med school? No. Does an art lover expect to paint a masterpiece the first time they put paintbrush to paper? No.
These expectations are ludicrous. The people in these examples get a ton of information on their first day. But they don’t let that information bombard them, and they definitely don’t expect results that naturally take years to achieve.
We have to approach eating well this way, too. The most important thing is to get started, not how much we do on day one.
That’s why I love the idea of baby steps. This idea can be a tough concept for those all-or-nothing, perfectionist types out there. But believe me, try baby steps and you won’t be sorry.
Action is your friend. Take a step each day or each week.
Don’t focus on going from A to Z. Focus on going from step A to step B to step C, and so on.
Start by adding one more green vegetable to your diet, try making a green smoothie once or twice this week, or drink an extra glass of water. Trade in your sugar- and chemical- laden breakfast cereal for organic granola.
Make it easy on yourself and you’ll stick with those changes. Before you know it you’ll be eating healthier than ever.
Step Number Two: Avoid Information Overload
Information overload sucks. Sometimes after I read stuff online I feel like my head is going to explode. But I try not to forget the basics of eating well.
The basics include:
- Organic foods whenever possible
- More greens
- Whole foods – veggies, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds
- High-quality proteins
- Eliminate as many processed foods from your diet as you can
Remembering the basics is way easier than remembering rules of the latest fad diet. And people who stick to the basics usually achieve their goals faster, plus the changes are usually longer-lasting.
Life’s complicated enough. We don’t need to make something as fundamental as eating well more convoluted than it needs to be.
Step Number Three: Don’t Be Afraid to Get Your Hands Dirty
Guess what? You can become a master chef in your very own kitchen.
How? Do you need to spend years in culinary school?
What you need is practice. And then, more practice.
Cooking your own food is healthier than eating out. Many people know this but don’t feel comfortable in the kitchen.
I have news for you. First, starting out in the kitchen is going to feel uncomfortable, just like when we start anything.
Second, it doesn’t take long before you can start to feel like a pro.
The first step toward becoming a master chef is managing your expectations. The worst thing you can do is expect your first few exploits in the kitchen to be like those of Gordon Ramsey – and then beat yourself up when they’re not. So, please do yourself a favor and toss those high expectations in the trash.
Second, start with one or two simple recipes. Try cooking them once a week. You don’t want to get sick of them, so don’t go crazy and cook the same things every day. Just make them regularly. And again – make sure they’re simple. There’s no better way to get discouraged than by trying to create a Julia Child-esque culinary masterpiece when you’re just starting out.
The key here is consistency. Keep practicing and, before you know it, you’ll be the master chef of your own kitchen.
Here is a challenge for you. Pick one recipe you already make and try and find a healthier version of that recipe.
For example, maybe you already make Shepherd's Pie for supper. Instead of using your old recipe give something like this a try.
Or maybe you love pancakes? Instead of using the mix from the box, give these greek yogurt blueberry pancakes a try.
Trust me...you don't have to start out making recipes like this when you want to eat healthier.
But fill your boots if you want to.
Step Number Four: Make Shopping Easy
I don’t know that many people who like to go grocery shopping.
When you’re tired and pressed for time, shopping just seems like an added pressure.
My tip: make shopping easy for yourself. Here’s how.
- When it comes to clean eating, stick to the Clean Fifteen and avoid the Dirty Dozen. Print out the list and keep it in your wallet. They also have an app, which I use on my phone.
- Buy in bulk at Costco. The great thing about Costco is that you get more food for less money, and they are offering more organic products. We still buy local, however, when you are on a budget with a growing family, sometimes you have to look for the best deals. Walmart also has some great options for organic food.
- Order ahead of time. A food delivery service like Blue Apron or HelloFresh can make home cooking so easy. This isn't the cheapest option, however, it does give you peace of mind for those busy weeks. We may do this once every month.
- Remember that healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, according to a personal example from Mr. Money Mustache, you can easily and significantly cut your monthly food bill while making healthier choices.
Step Number Five: Don’t Be Afraid to Get Some Help
One of the goals of healthy eating is getting essential nutrients. When you start taking baby steps, though, you might not get all of the nutrients you need from your food.
That’s why it’s ok to supplement your diet with some vitamins and minerals.
Don’t go overboard and spend a ton of money on supplements.
A few supplements that we take are the following:
Let’s Recap: 3 Steps to Progressive Dietary Changes
Can I make a suggestion?
Print out this blog, cut this “recap” section out and put it in your wallet, on your fridge, or tape it to your bathroom mirror. Keep these steps to progressive dietary changes in front of your face and you’ll be more likely to stick with them. That’s the only thing that helps me sometimes!
1. Take Action
Remember: Action is your friend, even if it’s baby steps.
2. Avoid Information Overload
Don’t make life more complicated than it needs to be. Stick to the basics:
- Organic foods
- High-quality proteins
- Eat more greens
- Whole foods: veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, whole grains
- Eliminate as many processed foods from your diet as possible
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Your Hands Dirty
You can quickly become a master chef in your own kitchen…as long as you practice!
4. Make Shopping Easier
Buy in bulk from Costco. Keep a list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen in your wallet. Utilize a food delivery service for busy days.
5. Supplements Aren’t Cheating
It’s ok to supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals via a nutrient-dense green powder, along with other important vitamins and minerals.
Bonus Tip: Get the Healthy Eating Support You Need
In addition to the five basic steps above, get support. You may find that you get the support you need from the comments in these blogs or on my Facebook page. If that helps – awesome!
If you need more support with your healthy eating goals, get a coach, start a support group, let your friends or followers know on social media.
By getting support, you’ll be less likely to fall victim to information overload (it’s a sad, slow spiral, believe me!).
Instead, you’ll be encouraged to continue taking action and be so much happier along the way.
Do you find making dietary and healthier lifestyle changes difficult? Let me know how I can help. Comment below or on my Facebook page.