Not really a part of my choice to shift towards a minimalist lifestyle, but the last couple of years I have been taking healthier life choices in terms of diet. Mostly because my health has required it of me, in terms of a IBS diagnose which have plagued me in various ways, mainly in the form of respiratory problems.
During this process, I have slowly but surely shifted towards healthier dietary choices. It’s an on-going debate what constitutes healthy eating (I mean, just think about all the different diets out there – low carb, smart carb, low fat, full fat, 2:5, intermittent fasting – you name it). Still, I think we can all agree that upping our intake of veggies and reducing our intake of sugar and processed foods are a big part of it.
The path to figure out what foods work and do not work for me, happens to have lead me towards a more minimalist way of eating. Even if it wasn’t as much a conscious decision as it was out of necessity when needing to eliminate certain food groups. I wouldn’t promote the elimination of any kind of food groups to healthy individuals with a normally functioning gut, mind you. But eliminating or at least readily reducing processed foods and added sugar is a clever choice for everyone. And it’s the best starting point when looking to build a healthier lifestyle.
Healthy eating isn’t always a piece of cake
For me, changing my eating habits have proven to be a long and bumpy road, especially since trying to treat an irritable gut and reduce symptoms sometimes involves more than just shifting towards a general idea of healthy eating habits.
I’ve had ups and downs in relation to my dietary restrictions, and the latest one I endured was when my doctor suggested I’d eliminate dairy, eggs and gluten to see what difference I noticed in terms of symptoms. Now, what was I going to eat, seeing as my diet as this point was a standard LCHF diet with large amounts of dairy and eggs?
In truth, I didn’t know. And I had one of those “what in the world am I going to eat”-moments, like I did a while back. But – I eventually found a way to make it work. And now, even if my doc said I could reintroduce, I’m not sure if I’m there yet. I like my eating the way it is now. And, for what ever reason, keeping up a healthy diet is easier if you are convinced that eating these other unhealthy foods are standing in the way of your healing. Some people say “motivation is key”, but for me, having a mindset to avoid those foods altogether is much easier. Whenever I step away from my diet, it’s harder to get back on track and just keeping on overindulging on processed junk food.
I am not claiming to be a dietary expert of any means. But – through my navigating through dietary terrain in search of a healthy gut, I have taken note of a couple of tricks I have made use of in order to keep a healthier diet. Here’s five of them:
1. Plan your meals and meal prep
This is particularly true for those (like me) who are avoiding certain foods as part of an elimination diet. But – I suggest it holds true for anyone wanting to eat healthier. Isn’t it so that whenever you have not planned your next meal, it’s easier to grab something less healthy and processed from the supermarket shelf? Meal prepping, or at least meal planning, will help you in your healthy eating endeavor and will make eating less of a hassle in a busy weekday schedule. If you don’t find the time to always meal prep ahead of time, at least always making sure to have something healthy and easy to cook up available in your fridge will help you make better food choices in general.
2. Swap carbs for vegetables
You might not want to go low carb, but many of us fill up on grainy carbs instead of eating our veggies. Even if you want to keep your carb quota up, adding more veggies to your diet is never a bad idea. You can’t really argue with that, can you? As a step in your pursuit to healthier eating, it’s a good idea to swap carbs for veggies. To do this, you can on occasion swap your mashed potatoes with cauliflower (or all the other unreal things you can sub with cauliflower), your pasta with zucchini noodles, add vegetables into your baked goods to reduce the use of flour (or even use part vegetable flour in your cooking, like sweet potato flour or other floured vegetables).
3. Choose the “healthier” alternative of junk and or fast food
Let’s be fair, I don’t always have the energy to cook healthy meals from the ground up. Even if whipping up something easy and homemade can be quite quick and simple, sometimes you just can’t be bothered, right? I know I can’t. So, as I stay away from white potatoes, I often reach for the bag of frozen sweet potato fries, and combine it with chicken or sausage, and combine my fries with ketchup free from added sugar and a low carb mustard. When I know that it’s probably not super healthy, I do know that alternatively I’d just grab a frozen pizza, and as I stay way from wheat and cheese for my gut, I feel good about my choice.
Also, I’ve always been a soda-holic, and Coca Cola was my beverage of choice. Preferably the sugary kind, as aspartam somehow feels worse. Now, as I’m mainly staying off both of these sweeteners (cheating occurs..ahem..), whenever I try to curb my soda-addiction, for example, I reach for a ginger beer with low sugar content. And for my chips, I choose the root vegetable kind. Choosing the lesser of two evils, as is were, can often help us stay on track.
4. Redefine your idea of ‘candy’ and sweets
Do you have a sweet tooth? I can so relate! Yet, I’ve managed almost eliminating refined sugar altogether in my diet. I won’t lie – it has taken some time and commitment, that’s for sure. I know many people argue that using mock recipes and sweets with natural or low-carb sweeteners are counterproductive. That it only leads to continuous sugar cravings. To some degree, I relate – my sugar cravings might still be very much a thing. Yet, if I didn’t indulge in healthy-ish sweets from time to time (or, who am I kidding… almost daily), you bet I’d be giving in and eating sugary, over-processed candy in no time. Snacking on berries, fruits, coconut cream sweetened with Sukrin and added cocoa and the occasional raw cake when drinking coffee out, those are the things that save me from caving. And so, I keep indulging in those things with a good conscience.
5. Avoid drinking your carbs
Juices, milk, sugary sodas, smoothies, etc, are a quick way to up your total carb count without even realizing. If you make a point to drink only water with your meals (or a little while after, which is more recommended), you ensure that you don’t overdo it on less noticeable sugar and carb intake through drinking. Not to say that you should never drink anything beside water, but treating such beverages as juices and smoothies as part of your meals or in-between meals instead of thirst quenchers goes a long way in reducing unnecessary sugar and carb intake.
These are five of the different things I do to keep a fairly healthy diet in check. I realized I could go on and on about this subject, but this post is proving long enough already. If you managed to read al the way to the end, what’s your thoughts on the above list? Do you have any healthy eating tricks of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!