By Dietitian Jill Place AKA The Good Gut Queen
I’m working with a 20-something woman that DOESN’T COOK! Being a former chef and cook-o-phile, I couldn’t believe it! She had NO idea what down-and-dirty steps she needed to do for eating change.
In her case, it was actually teaching her how easy cooking could be. All I did was make some Gluten Free pasta and cook up Gluten Free (not ALL are) meatballs and jarred sauce. And topped the whole thing with some Dairy Free parmesan.
The whole process … which I did right in front of her … took all of 7 minutes. And I discovered a TERRIFIC jarred sauce that I’m running out to buy again today.
Part of the problem was that she had the misconception that food made in a restaurant was safer. So I educated her that that wasn’t so and taught her some home safe food handling techniques.
I also addressed her fears … I talk about that in the article, How to Change Your Eating FOREVER (AKA I JUST Lost 13 Pounds!). It’s really important to address those INNER thoughts and phobias (yes … some of the things we believe about food are downright terrifying) before you even try the advice I but forth in this article.
But … once you do … consider these down-and-dirty steps to eating change …
Step One: Be Creative and Adventurous
I’ll bet my client never even thought of doing what we did that day. So the first step is to be creative AND adventurous about food.
I’m recommending both as they’re both important and interconnected. Experiment with food … that’s why I love doing the health self-experiments I outline in these articles (check out the third paragraph of Finishing YOUR Health Self-Experiment for links to all of them).
Even though I cooked professionally, I can’t tell you how much stuff I pitched because I didn’t like it. Or … to be honest … because it was downright AWFUL! But there’s also a ton of times that I’ve been RIGHT about food choices. And combinations of foods … the creative part.
Case in point … my choice of sauce. First of all, it was on sale! Second … I figured … how could you go wrong with porcini mushrooms and truffles?
So glad I was right. I think the whole experience went a long way toward changing the mind of my client about cooking at home. And gave her one thing to start her cooking repertoire with.
And … another truth. I used to spend hours cooking. Now I’m always looking for shortcuts and five-minute meals. Not only because I’m super-busy. But because you can make wonderful meals in a very short time.
In a very short time if only you’re creative and adventurous. But you have to be willing to take action first.
Here’s my advice … try a new food every day. There are tons of fruits and veggies (7,500 types of apples alone) out there … as well as jarred sauces on sale … to try.
As Lizzo … the singer who combated large-size prejudice to garner a “best new artist” award … said, “not knowing what you’re doing has nothing to do with where you’re going”.
Step Two: Do Your Research
OK … so you want to go Gluten Free and/or Dairy Free. Or go whole-hog and do The Heal Your Gut Diet … the main freebie on this website. But have no idea where to go next once you make that decision.
Change is a lot more possible when you have information to back it up. My advice … first get that diet and read it over and over. Then do some research and find websites/more info about making the change.
I’ve got quite a few (and growing) Gluten Free Dairy Free recipes on my website. But there are also lots of others out there … here’s one … 15 Go-To Paleo Beginner Meals. Not thrilled with these? Do your own research.
Check out Paleo, Pegan (here’s 20 Pegan recipes for you) and Gluten Free recipes if you just want to start there. Gather enough info about the change BEFORE you make it.
Step Three: Make Your Own Choices
Then … make a choice about what you’re willing and not willing to do. And make the choice YOURS … not anyone else’s (like your spouse, friend, or online guru).
Owning the choice will go a long way towards making whatever change you make a success. I give you permission to do whatever you choose to do. Even if it’s as small as eating one more vegetable a day than you normally do.
Here’s an inspiring story … one I’ve told a million times before. But it still inspires me.
I had a client I’ll call Mark with severe compulsive overeating issues. Being very smart couldn’t help him overcome these issues. And it took him EIGHT YEARS to make a change.
One day, he came into session and announced his plan for eating change. He was going to do a version of what we now call a Paleo diet.
He lost 80 pounds and ran a marathon with a former history of asthma. And was recently able to effortlessly take off 40 pounds when an injury sidelined him. Because he now had the lifelong tools to do so.
Oh … and another bit of advice … and I take my inspiration from Mark’s former trials, tenacity and perseverance. Once you make that choice … let everyone you know know that you’re doing it.
And stick to your choice. No matter what blow-back you get. Friends and family want you to maintain status quo … even if it doesn’t serve you. I Gluten-Free it. Don’t let them.
Step Four: Experiment
I’ve written several articles about this … Magic Pill Mindset BEGONE! first helps you change your mindset so you CAN experiment. Then … EXPERIMENT Your Way to Health gives you a general idea of how experiments work. Next … Setting Up YOUR Health Self Experiment shows you how to begin one. And … finally … Finishing YOUR Health Self Experiment pulls it all together and gives you a fabulous worksheet (fill out the form below) to pull your experiment together.
For example, if you want to follow “The Heal Your Gut Diet” for 14 days, state that as your purpose. Figure out your “Heart Reason” … your deep motivation for doing this … maybe it’s because you feel crappy… you have gas, bloating, and heartburn … and you just want to feel better.
Then state what you will do “always”, “never”, and “sometimes” to make it a success. And remember that this is only an EXPERIMENT … for a short amount of time … and not an all-out commitment.
You’re merely seeing if it will fulfill your purpose and Heart-Reason. After the set amount of time, you can continue, stop, or modify the experiment (for example, add some gut-healing supplements). But at least you did SOMETHING to make you feel better.
Step Five: Plan
You’ve probably heard the saying “If you don’t have a plan, the world has a plan for you. And it’s not about (i.e. Gluten Free Dairy Free eating).” I use it often because planning is key to success … especially where eating is concerned.
Because you’ll just do what you normally do … trust me on that. I’ve been counseling people about lifestyle change for almost 30 years … and I’ve seen it time and time again.
So plan out your … for example … 14 days of healthy eating. I like the What I Eat pad from Amazon. But … whatever way you plan it … write it out, buy the food, and stick to it!
Step Six: Forgive Missteps and Go On!
Are you human? I certainly am. And humans make mistakes. And have lifelong cravings that they must fulfill.
You will make mistakes on whatever plan or self-experiment you choose to do. Perhaps you just don’t know what was actually in that food … like when you eat out. Or you don’t use an app (if you’re going Gluten Free … the app “The Gluten Free Scanner” actually scans bar codes to tell you yay or nay about the food), read the ingredients, and find that flour (when “flour” is listed, it’s most likely wheat flour) is the third ingredient.
I even make mistakes when I shop … and I’ve been Gluten Free for some time. The trick is to forgive yourself and go on! It’s a muscle that can be exercised and perfected. I Gluten Free it!
Each mistake teaches you something new about yourself. There is no failure, remember, except in no longer trying. It is the courage to continue that counts. ~