Many people approach me with the question, I want to eat more healthily, but how do I get started?, and my answer is usually, Do it gradually and sustainably. Any kind of lifestyle change can be overwhelming but it can be especially impractical if it’s too much too soon. You get really excited and motivated, plan for a complete overhaul in your kitchen, and then find that when life gets busy it’s much easier to rely on old habits. So here are some tips for incorporating healthy changes to your diet that you can actually maintain.
Be an Explorer
When my husband and I made significant changes to our diet, the range of healthy foods we were unfamiliar with was quite vast. So, we became explorers. Every week we would try to pick one new food we were unfamiliar with. Swiss chard, what the heck is that and what do you do with it? Is it aduki beans or adzuki beans? I have these hemp hearts in my fridge but I don’t really know what to do with them. Starting with one food item at a time was a manageable way to get going. I would pick something that was interesting or looked good, then search through my favourite recipe books and websites (or just use Google) to find a recipe that seemed tasty and easy. Over time, my repertoire grew and now my fridge and pantry are stocked with super tasty and healthy things I didn’t even know existed five years ago.
Keep Things Simple
Most changes in our lives are much easier to maintain when they’re not overly complicated or too time-consuming. Start small, and as you build confidence and become accustomed to the changes you’re making, you’ll be better equipped to increase complexity. When you’re starting out, don’t choose recipes with long ingredient lists and requiring 2 hours in the kitchen. I’ve made delicious and nourishing stews with four ingredients plus spices. It doesn’t have to be complicated – just nourishing and flavourful.
Be Patient with Yourself
Accept that sometimes you may open your fridge door and think, What on earth am I going to do with these ingredients? Some days you’ll be baffled as to what to make. Some weeks you’ll be motivated to buy artichokes and then never end up using them. Some nights you’ll fall back on easier choices like takeout Thai. All of these things are okay. Long-lasting change is a process not a quick fix, so be patient and encouraging with yourself. And persevere! You are capable of living a healthy, fulfilling life and it’s consistent effort that will get you there.
Here are a couple of links to my favourite hearty soup recipes. I’ll serve them on their own or accompanied with brown rice or quinoa and a mixed greens salad – easy and super satisfying. Note: I find soaking the peas/lentils overnight makes them cook faster and easier to digest.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Let me know what solutions have helped you to eat more healthily – share your experience in the comments below.