When you think of eating healthier, what do you think of?

I know, every thing but a fulfilling meal comes to mind. You might think of healthy foods as salads, ‘low fat’ sandwiches, and things with little or NO FLAVOR. And maybe you think eating healthier means a following restricted diet, eliminating specific food groups and things you love, or counting calories!

Whatever the case, eating healthier how most people have pictured it, isn’t accurate. In fact eating healthier should include food from all food groups. After all, this is the food that’s good for us; so the issue then lies in how the food is being prepared. 

Let’s talk about it… 

Where Diet Food Goes Wrong

Diet food unfortunately is completely unhelpful for the most part. This is food that has had the fat removed from it, based on the incorrect belief that fat causes health issues. We now know that fat is actually good for us and even slows down the absorption of sugar as well!

What’s more, is that it’s fat that makes us feel fuller! And while it contains more calories, this simply means we need to eat less of it and less of everything else as well.

What Healthy Food Really Looks Like

The first clue – healthy food should actually be taste good and enjoyable.

Have you ever heard of the Mediterranean Diet? Well people in  Mediterranean countries are in great health despite eating a diet that would technically be considered unhealthy by many ‘experts’ here in the U.S.

They live longer and have great heart health thanks to the saturated fat they comsume and things like resveratrol found in red wine.

Resveratrol is part of a group of compounds called polyphenols. They’re thought to act like antioxidants, protecting the body against damage that can put you at higher risk for things like cancer and heart disease. It’s in the skin of red grapes, but you can also find it in peanuts and berries.

At the same time though, the Mediterranean Diet includes a ton of different fruits and vegetables all arranged beautifully on the plate and displaying a ton of vivid colors. (similar to the one I have pictured above)

i.e. Greek salad contains tomatoes, feta, cucumber and pepper and is packed with deliciousness! It also includes an oil based dressing on top that ensures all the nutrients are absorbed better.

When you eat like this, you actually enjoy your food and you feel full and satisfied. This also means you don’t get a lot of cravings or feel the need to snack and you also get to enjoy eating in a way that is much healthier for you!

Please don’t confuse my example with the Mediterranean Diet being the only one that offers great benefits.

So, the take takeaway message here is a very simple one: eat a varied diet and make sure you enjoy it!

The Secret Power of CBT for Eating Healthier

One of the hardest parts of eating healthier is turning down the tasty snacks that you know aren’t the healthiest for you. I know!

You don’t have to starve yourself or follow strict guidelines to eat healthier. There’s nothing wrong with a nice pasta dish with vegetables and meats.

But what you want to do is avoid that large piece of chocolate cake after dinner that will add A LOT of unnecessary calories to your diet and leave you feeling sluggish afterwards. It provides zero nutrition and it sets your diet back in a way that can sometimes be hard to recover from psychologically. 

Notice I said avoid the large piece of cake and not avoid the cake all together. 

Now let’s continue… 

What is CBT?

CBT stands for ‘cognitive behavioral therapy’. This is a psycho-therapeutic approach that involves training our brain to overcome negative thoughts. The belief is that your thoughts can reinforce negative beliefs and can have unwanted effects on your behavior.

What does CBT have to do with Eating Healthier?

Simple: it gives you the ability to reprogram your thoughts and to remove the desire to indulge in cakes, etc. (using my example from above)

To do this, simply think ahead and focus on how you’re going to feel after the meal.

Focus on the cake and the taste and you’ll produce the reward hormone dopamine. Instead, you focus on the last time you made yourself feel sick from eating too much cake. You probably felt bloated, stuffed and guilty and most likely you couldn’t finish it. Concentrate on those unpleasant feelings and suddenly the cake doesn’t seem so appealing.

Now instead, imagine how good it would feel to have a refreshing dessert that would perk you up and leave you feeling good about yourself. How about a smaller piece of cake? (… Even though it’s cake, a smaller piece is a healthier choice without adding too many calories!)

Over time this makes a HUGE difference!  If you do this consistently, you may also create new associations to the point where you actually don’t want to eat cake at all.

I hope you found this helpful! If you have been desiring to live a healthier lifestyle, develop specific habits, or maybe your energy level is always low, I can help you. 

Your Partner In Health,
Monica Bundy