Cut this out. Avoid that. Eat everything in moderation.
But this message often leaves us feeling like we are missing out. Feeling as though we will never again enjoy a slice of birthday cake or grandma`s apple pie. And this feeling of being deprived often leads us straight back to where we started, if not more unhappy, disappointed and regretful of the fact that we just ruined a whole week`s good work by consuming a week`s worth of sugar in one sitting!
I like to call this approach to 'dieting' the 'minus' approach.
"Minus this, this and this, and you will lose that holiday weight/fit into those jeans in no time."
The minus approach leaves us feeling like we are restricted, and will never be truly satisfied. Like we will never quite have enough. A mentality that so many of us already struggle with in so many other areas of our lives, we sure as hell don`t need this attitude towards food.
What if we looked at our health with a 'plus approach'? If we focused on adding more to our daily diet, not less? Stay with me here...
More of the good stuff, leaves less room for the bad. And allows your body to slowly rebuild itself, get the nourishment it needs and realise it never really needed all that other stuff anyway.
We live in an abundant society. And with an abundant mindset, we feel comfortable, secure and in control. Opening up the menu in our minds, instead of hacking it to pieces, makes us feel free, open to exploring new things and as though we have an abundance of food options in front of us. And if we begin to slowly adopt healthy options into our daily menu, we slowly develop good habits and these begin to overshadow the bad habits we never thought we would ditch.
If you're ready to make the step into adding more nourishing foods into your diet, here is the hitlist of foods that begun my health journey and helped me change my habits:
1. Herbal Tea Whether you love your morning coffee or don't start the day with a cup of anything, adding herbal tea to your mix will do you wonders. I'm personally a huge green tea fan but there are plenty of different types to choose from, each with their own health benefits. My friend Penny shared some great information over on her blog about the amazing health benefits of her favourite herbal teas, which you can check out here. Whether you need to detox, aid your digestion or simply need to reach for a mug of something to stop you from raiding the vending machine, there is a tea out there for you!
2. Green Juices This was the game changer for me. After reading Kris Carr's book, Crazy Sexy Diet, I was forever converted to the magic that is green juice! How ever many veggies you think your body needs, it is nowhere near enough. It is near impossible for us to physically eat the amount of leafy greens and veggies needed to nourish our bodies as well as they should be, and that's where green juice comes in. It's injecting all the good stuff straight into where its needed and gives you unbelievable amounts of energy and clarity. Just be sure to use the best quality vegetables you can afford, and a juicer that extracts as much from the vegetable as possible, to avoid any waste. For tips on which juicers are best, read this. When making your own green juice (or buying one - Top Juice was my bestie for a while before I made my juicer purchase), be sure to stick to the green, alkalising veggies and try to refrain from adding fruit, which should really be consumed in it`s whole form so that the fibre that balances out the sugar is not stripped away. If you need to add a bit of sweetness at first, try adding half a green apple, or a sweeter veg like carrot or beetroot to get your taste buds going until you get used to the flavour and can't go a day without one!
My all time favourite green juice recipe consists of celery, cucumber, kale, lemon and a chunk of ginger. Nothing makes me feel quite as fresh and revitalised each morning!
3. Green Smoothies Smoothies are definately a close second to my daily juice. They allow you to add wonderful superfoods and supplements, and mean zero waste as you are consuming the whole fruit/veg in an easy, drinkable form. A nutrient rich green smoothie can act as a meal replacement, or a nourishing snack between meals. I love that I can throw in handfuls of greens alongside a variety of yummy fruits, coconut water, chia seeds and whatever else I feel like and know that I am once again increasing my veg intake for the day. This is the perfect way to sneak greens into the kids' diet too!
4. Leafy Greens and Veggies at every meal No exceptions. At breakfast time, if you are more of a yoghurt-and-granola kind of person, adding a green juice or smoothie makes this ever so much easier. And an extra few minutes is all it takes to add some sliced veg to your omelette or cooked brekkie in the morning. If you're a toast and coffee person, this may seem like a huge jump, but let`s start small. How about some sliced avo on that (hopefully not white and processed) toast?
Incorporating veg into our lunches and dinners is a no brainer if we commit to it. I like to take it a step further by aiming for both raw and cooked veg in my day. Whilst cooking vegetables makes it easier for us to digest them, we also need the nourishment of raw veggies that have not lost any of their nutrients during the cooking process. Big leafy salads jam packed with protein, a rainbow of veg, seeds, olives, avo and quinoa have always been a favourite of mine for lunch, as I try to mix it up daily with different dressings, legumes or protein options. But don't get discouraged and feel you need to become best friends with salad every day to get healthy. As long as you are getting that veg into each meal, you are on your way.
5. Probiotics Learning about probiotics has been one of the most interesting things for me over the past year or so, never having really known too much about gut health, nor what Kombucha or Kefir were! Probiotics help strengthen our gut and increase the amount of good bacteria in our bodies. Fermented foods, like sauerkraut, and fermented drinks such as Kombucha and Kefir are amazing sources of probiotics and can help restore the health of our digestive system. I highly recommend you check out this Health Talks episode on gut health and probiotics, for more information.
6. Coconut Oil How about introducing coconut oil into your everyday cooking? Or using it as an alternative to dairy when creating delicious desserts or home-made chocolate? Coconut oil has been shown to boost metabolism and assist in weight management, as well as having a number of great skincare benefits. But be sure to choose quality over price!
7. Good Fats One of the biggest misconceptions out there today is that all fat is bad. Our bodies need fat to function! And the good fat (unsaturated fat) that you should be consuming can be found in some of my favourite foods - nuts, seeds, oils (like coconut oil above), avocados and oily fish. Don't let the higher calorie count of these foods scare you into thinking that you need to eliminate them!
By focusing on these 7 food groups early on in my health journey, my mindest shifted from a 'diet' mindset to a 'health' mindset, and each day I looked forward to experimenting with new foods that would bring me closer to my healthiest self. Our bodies are powerful beyond belief, and with the right medicine (food, not drugs!) it regains the ability to heal itself and finds balance, which will become obvious over time in your mood, energy levels and weight.
Whilst this is the plus approach, I do have one thing I want you to ditch, if you are up for the challenge. Ditch counting calories. I can't stress this enough. If you are committed to a healthier, stronger and happier you, then spending your day feeling constricted by a set of numbers is not the way to go. Listen to your body, intuitively, and feed it the nourishing, wholefoods it craves. Your body will thank you for it!
I hope this post has given you the inspiration to incorporate one or more of these foods into your daily routine. Let`s focus on all the goodness we can feed our bodies and build healthy habits that will last us a lifetime! Got a question? I`d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Big love x