We are constantly bombarded with advertisements for fast food, refined foods and junk food. These foods are so tempting and so delicious they are hard to resist. What if I told you there is a trick to convincing your mind you don’t want that junk food? After all, eating healthy and avoiding junk food is the basic key to physical wellness.
What is physical wellness?
Before we get to the “healthy eating” portion of this post, I want to define physical wellness, since we haven’t touched on this aspect of wellness before.
Physical wellness means being in top condition, free from illness, disease, etc; Developed through regular exercise and healthy eating; taking personal responsibility for your own health; Empowers you to measure your own health for warning signs; benefits include looking and feeling good, high self-esteem; determination (EXAMPLES: HEALTHY EATING, EXERCISE, YOGA, STRENGTH TRAINING, HEALTHY RECIPES)
I saved this aspect for last because it is the embodiment of the other 5 aspects of wellness. In order to be physically well, you need wellness in all other areas.
The very basic aspect of physical wellness – HEALTHY FOOD
You are what you eat is quite literally true. Your body makes new cells from the food and nutrients you give it, so, garbage in…garbage out OR healthy in…healthy out!
The first thing you should do if you’re not well is to look at the type of food you eat. When you go to a nutritionist or dietician, they’ll ask you to do a food diary for three to five days. This tells them if there’s anything in your diet that could be causing your problem.
Are you eating a Standard American Diet? This SAD diet is just that sad, filled with processed foods, sugar, refined carbs, unhealthy fats and lots of salt. These SAD refined foods are considered “negative nutrients.” In other words, these foods are so deplete of nutrients, and so filled with chemicals, that your body must deplete itself of its own nutrient stores in order to digest them. These things should be avoided if physical wellness is your goal.
With that said, it seems it should be easy to avoid unhealthy food in favor of healthy food. The scientists that engineer unhealthy food don’t make it easy for us, however. Most SAD food is perfectly engineered with just the right amount of salt, sugar and fat to make it almost irresistible and addictive. So, what is a person to do? After all, the very act of forbidding these foods, make them more attractive. In comes Gillian Riley in the following Tedx Talks video
The Mindset for Healthy Eating
“Gillian Riley is an author whose work focuses on the mindset behind overeating. She teaches techniques that break patterns of eating behavior, delivering control that lasts. Weight loss, when appropriate, is one of many benefits. Motivated by the effectiveness of this approach, she’s inspired by the practical application of the theory into the everyday lives of those who struggle with food.” ~ Tedx Talks
In this video, Gillian discusses the punishment we feel when we BAN food, which makes it more appealing and makes us want it MORE. She encourages us to CHOOSE not to eat bad foods, making them less appealing. Here is a summary of some of Gillian’s wise words:
- When you “forbid” yourself from eating certain foods, actually called prohibition, causes people to want and eat MORE of those foods.
- Prohibition causes an insatiable appetite for food, causing us to want it more, eat more, and become more stressed.
- The key is to give yourself permission to eat anything you want…WITHOUT ACTUALLY DOING IT.
- Instead of “following instructions” or “setting rules”, she says we need to FREELY CHOOSE to eat healthy/eat less and avoid junk food.
What if I told you perfection isn’t a requirement for healthy eating? You can follow the 85/15 rule and still be healthy. What’s the 85/15 rule? The concept is that you eat a healthy, whole food meal plan 85% of the time, then 15% of the time you can eat ANYTHING you want.
If you eat healthy, nourishing, whole foods, 85% of the time, your body can handle when you eat the refined/processed, negative nutrients 15% of the time, because reserves of vitamins, minerals and enzymes have been built up.
Now, while this is technically a “rule”, which Gillian Riley would probably frown upon, it does work. Knowing you have a “free meal” coming helps to be more free to choose a healthy meal. Many professional fitness enthusiasts and weight lifters swear by their “cheat days/meals”, insisting it’s a necessary part of any healthy lifestyle. Remember, the act of forbidding, or believing we can never have something again, is what gets us into trouble and makes us want it more.
How do you implement the 85/15 lifestyle? It’s best not to jump right into 85% healthy eating. You’ll want to work up to it. Here are a few suggestions:
- Track your food, for 3 or 4 days-Don’t worry about what you eat. Just eat normally, without judgement. You’re just trying to determine your percentages.
- After each food, record whether it’s depleting or nourishing. See my article on the upside down pyramid for tips on distinguishing these two terms.
- If your diet is made of mostly depleting foods, gradually replace them with a whole food version, until you are up to 85/15. See the table below for suggestions on substitutions:
Don’t tell yourself “I can never have a McDonald’s Big Mac again.” By doing this, you simply put the power in the hamburger and make it more appealing, as well as harder to resist. Instead, tell yourself “I freely choose not to eat that McDonald’s Big Mac, so I’ll be healthier and happier.”
Then, on rare occasions, 15% of the time, you can treat yourself and know you are still building up your health. I would also argue, that by treating yourself occasionally, your healthy lifestyle will last longer than if you ban junk food all together.