Founder of Foodie Underground and Innate blog contributor Anna Brones discusses how to make healthier food and lifestyle choices in the quick fix, fast food world.
When it comes to being healthy, we want a quick fix.
The problem is that we often equate the word “healthy” with body image. When we’re inundated with images of trim and tan models all day long, “skinny” comes to mean “healthy.” Intellectually a lot of us are aware that our shape and size isn’t necessarily the best indicator of overall health, but it’s a hard image to let go of.
So we focus on diets because they are the ultimate quick fix. Trust me, no one eats grapefruits for two weeks because they’re trying to live a balanced lifestyle. They’re doing it because they want to look good in a bathing suit. We’re always on the search for the magic thing that will allow us to keep living the way we’re living (i.e. eating hamburgers and ice cream cones in large quantities), while feeling and looking better at the same time.
I read an article recently whose headline read something along the lines of “Man Lost a Hundred Pounds! You’ll Never Guess What He Gave Up!” I am paraphrasing of course, but it was as if the headline was intended to pull readers in to learn about the one magical thing they could kick from their diet to instantly shed pounds. You know what he gave up? Processed foods and meat. He switched to a plant-based diet consisting of whole grains, vegetables, legumes and oils. He cut out all fast food and most sugars. In other words: an all-around healthy diet that he worked hard at to maintain. No crazy secret ingredient or miracle cure. Just real food.
But an all-around healthy diet takes commitment. It’s not something you do for a week and then go back to eating hamburgers. No, being healthy means staying healthy. That’s not a diet. That’s a lifestyle.
So what is it that gets us to commit to something?
Earlier this year, I committed to a slightly ridiculous running goal: One thousand miles in one year. Sure, that sounds doable, but then you take off a few weeks because of an injury, a couple of other weeks because you simply needed a break, and soon you’re trying to clock miles just to keep up. But I’ve stuck with it. I’ve wondered numerous times why I’ve stuck with it. Yes, it was a goal set up by a friend, but she’s not going to kick me to the curb if I don’t complete it. Ultimately, the only one holding me to this goal is…me.
So why do I keep doing it? Because not doing it seems more absurd than actually sticking with it and making it happen. This is definitely related to eating healthy. Eventually you get to a point where not eating healthy isn’t an option anymore. You feel too good to do anything else. Sure, you may indulge from time to time. After all, the rule of “everything in moderation, including moderation” is golden. However, you ultimately know your own limits. If you commit to a healthy lifestyle you’ll realize that there’s no turning back.
Why don’t one-off diets work? Because they’re not sustainable long term. You know what is? A balanced diet of real food, where you break down and indulge in a few guilty pleasures, but you primarily eat what you know is good for you.
In fact, eating healthy doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s actually the simplest thing we can do. But in the age of big food businesses, the hamburgers and chips are what we have come to see as simple. Trust me, in a face-off between a potato and a potato chip, a potato will win the simplicity contest every single time.
We know what we need to do to stay healthy. Eat well. Get some exercise. Have a balance between work and play. Don’t put too many toxins in your body. Once we know these things, all we have to do is commit, but for the long term.