Have you ever said to yourself, “I wish that I craved salad like I crave pizza”? Well, with a little work, that can actually become a reality for you. The truth is, our bodies and taste buds adjust to crave the foods that we are used to eating. If your body is used to having a daily (or several times daily) soda fix, that is what you will crave. If it is used to having a lot of sugar, that is what you will crave. Likewise, if it is used to having healthy meals, fast food will sit like a rock in your stomach and make you long for a salad and whole grains.
Now comes the hard part. In order for your body to begin to crave healthy foods, you will need to start eating them. If your diet is moderately good, this won’t be too difficult, but if you live on soda, processed breads and fast foods, this may take some effort. I would recommend that you pick one or two areas to begin with first and start there rather than trying to “fix” it all at once. Here are 6 steps for you to follow:
1. Sugar is addictive, so this is a primary source of unhealthy cravings. If you are a heavy soda drinker, whether diet or not, start tapering that off. If you are trying to be a healthy person, soda should not be a regular part of your diet – if at all. Save it for a treat now and again. The same thing goes for other sugar sources. You will find that if you eat a lot of highly processed and sugary foods, your body will literally crave those foods and you may go through a withdrawal period as you try to change your eating habits. Symptoms can include headaches, nausea, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, depression and moodiness. Yep, those tasty treats that you enjoy can lead to dependency. You might be thinking right now, then why would I want to stop eating sugar if I might experience those things? I assure you that how you feel once your body is being nourished with healthy foods will far outweigh a week of discomfort. Not to mention the diseases you will be avoiding, such as cancer and diabetes. One side note that I have to mention: never, ever eat artificial sweeteners; they are poison to your body.
2. If you are not quite sure what most fruits or vegetables look like in their natural state, then start adding them to your diet. Be an adventurer and try ones that you have never had before. This is a fun thing to include your kids in. Let them pick some that they’d like to try too. The more color they have the better they are for you and the more variety you eat the better. Just remember, if you are not used to the way they taste you will need to train your taste buds to like them. Experts say that you need to give a child a new food something like 15 to 20 times before they will develop a taste for it. Bear that in mind when you are trying these new foods, and remember that your taste buds are used to highly processed foods with lots of sodium and sweeteners.
3. Next pick the area of grains. Grains in their whole form are essential to a healthy diet. They provide fiber, B vitamins, Omega 3’s and other valuable nutrients. When they are highly processed with all of the fiber and nutritional value removed, they become toxic to our body and lead to inflammation, obesity, cancer, diabetes and a whole list of physical woes. If you are used to eating only white bread and white rice, you are robbing your taste buds of a whole world of flavor and nutrition. Start by switching to a bread that contains only whole grains. Next start eating long grain brown rice. Switch it up with millet or quinoa for a change.
4. If cereal is a big part of your breakfast, I can relate. I really enjoy cereal myself. This can wreak nutritional havoc with your body if fruity o’s and chocolate sugar bombs are your favorite kinds. Instead of a highly processed, highly sugared bowl of cereal for breakfast, try finding some kinds that are made with whole grains and natural sugars. Brands such as Nature’s Path are very readily available, and while some flavors are fairly high in sugar and you will want to avoid them, most are made from organic whole grains. Better yet, cook up some oatmeal, sprinkle some cinnamon and honey on it and add some walnuts. Include a banana or another piece of fruit and you have given your body good nourishment to start the day.
5. Drink water and lots of it. Another great alternative is herbal teas. Fruit juices, soft drinks and excessive coffee are not such a great idea at all. Not only do water and herbal teas help hydrate your body, but they also flush out toxins. Water is essential to your body’s well being.
6. The last thing I will cover is the fats category. Most people think that foods high in fat content are not healthy for you. Not so! They are very healthy for you provided they contain the right kinds of fat. In general, the fats contained in fried foods, fake fats (such as “butter” spreads), and the fats in processed foods are the ones you want to stay away from, and the fats contained in nuts, cold-processed oils (such as extra-virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil), avocados and fatty fishes (such as salmon) feed your body and are good for you.
It will take time for your body and taste buds to adjust to your new menu, but I guarantee that after a month or two of healthy eating you will feel better, look better and look forward to your healthy meals. You will be amazed at how awful you feel after a weekend of binging if your body is used to being nourished by healthy foods, and you will be excited to get back on track with healthy eating again. If looking at this diet seems overwhelming to you, remember to start slowly, and gradually set up your healthy eating habits. Write out a plan for yourself to do this at a pace that is manageable. You will be very glad you did!