There's no shortage of healthy recipes out there. You own every new and hip plant-based cookbook, read all the best blogs and yet, you still can't seem to make eating healthier a habit. But guess what? Struggling to eat healthfully can't always be blamed on a lack of food knowledge. Sometimes it's the mindset.
Talking to yourself can often help you achieve anything you want and in this case, it can help you make 2015 your healthiest year yet! Here are 10 mindset-shifting tips to help you permanently eat more plants.
1. Treat food like high-quality fuel.
Food gives us energy. Energy to function, energy to work, energy to run errands, energy to do all the things we love.
Plants offer us the most fuel of all foods. Since they're jam-packed with easily digestible nutrients, the fuel in plants shoots right into our bodies to give us instant energy. When we start to think of food as fuel, things like a midnight snack becomes unnecessary (who needs fuel to sleep?) and a healthy breakfast becomes necessary (who doesn't need fuel to have a great, productive, happy day?).
2. Know that health and happiness depend on what you put in your body.
Your health and happiness go hand in hand. Like chopsticks and sushi or smoothies and mason jars, you can't have one without the other. So if you try to force down a salad with anger, resentment and jealousy of your friend's bacon cheeseburger, you're actually doing more harm than good.
Negative emotions, especially while eating, can give you painful digestive distress and cause your body an inability to fully absorb your food's nutrients. So instead of forcing yourself to eat more plants, realize that you're eating more plants so you can live a healthier and happier life. Sure, your buddy is inhaling his juicy burger, but will he feel energized, healthy and happy later on? Probably not. But you, plant-eater, will feel great. So eat your salad with joy that you're feeling better and living happier.
3. Be aware that if something looks gross, it may be pretty good for you.
Yes, sometimes green smoothies look crazy (especially that ugly shade of brown that results from mixing kale and blueberries), but they are so incredibly good for you. Tell yourself that the grosser something looks (within reason), the less gross it'll make me feel. As your start to feel better, slimmer and more energized from daily green smoothies, you'll start to crave that daily dose of liquid health.
4. Ask yourself, "Is 30 seconds of flavor worth how I'll feel in an hour?"
Asking yourself this question before reaching for that bread basket, ordering dessert or getting that third glass of wine will prove time and again to be tremendously helpful when making the wisest decision for your body. If you really break it down, that dinner roll would be 30 seconds of palatable pleasure, but will leave you feeling yucky, bloated and unsatisfied.
This question is excellent for tapping into our own bodies' inner wisdom and using that to guide our decisions. When you can happily push aside cake because you know how sluggish it would make you feel in an hour, you'll experience personal pride (and good health) unlike anything else.
5. Choose living foods to make you feel more alive.
Raw, living plants (fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds) have all their nutrients in tact. Because they haven't been heated, they even come with some of their own naturally occurring digestive enzymes, which help our bodies break down and absorb their nutrients with hardly any effort. The less energy our bodies spend digesting, the more energy they have for exercising, dating or figuring out that sudoku puzzle.
6. Have no regrets.
"Live with no regrets" usually means wishing we had gathered the courage to do this or wishing we had taken the initiative to do that. But what about the other side? Rather than eat something you'll regret later, just don't eat it! No regrets.
7. Just take one taste!
You're at a wedding. The non-gluten-free, non-dairy-free, non-refined-sugar-free wedding cake is staring you in the face and you can't even concentrate on doing the cha-cha slide without knowing what it tastes like. Have a bite. One sugary, gluten-y, dairy-full bite of decadent wedding cake once in a while isn't going to kill you. Satisfy your curiosity and then get dancing.
The same thing goes when it comes to trying a new plant-based dish. Steamed kale isn't the most attractive, appealing, mouth-watering dish. But one bite? That isn't going to kill you. And in this case, the one bite can shatter your fears and misconceptions that steamed kale sucks (it's actually delicious) and get you to eat the whole bowl!
8. Don't cave in when cravings come calling, because nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.
Cliche? Maybe. True? Definitely. It doesn't matter how good that deep dish pizza might taste, it can't possible taste as good as living long enough to see your grandkids grow up, having the endless energy to travel around the world or having the mental clarity to excel in your career feels.
9. Give yourself emotional reasons to eat well.
Visualize yourself skiing down the Colorado mountains, picture yourself feeling comfortable in that bikini on the beach, feel the joy of someday walking your daughter down the aisle feeling strong, alive and vibrant. When you give yourself consistent emotional reasons to eat for your health and then pull up those reasons in moments of temptation, your big picture can easily inspire you to push aside the cheese puffs.
10. Practice tough love.
Some people respond well to tough love. So if you're one of those people, just stop. It's not worth it. It's never worth it. Your health is worth it. Your health is always worth it. And your happiness is worth it. Feeling good 24/7 is worth it. Living long is worth it. Having energy is worth it. Drop the sugary, fatty cappuccino, grab some herbal tea and move on. NOW.
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