Spoiler alert: There is no shortcut to healthy eating
In today’s faced-paced society we are constantly in pursuit of the elusive dieting quick fix. Every year new fad diets emerge, with each one promising to be next health or weight loss solution. Yet, obesity rates and other diet-related chronic diseases continue to soar, and fad diets continue to fall flat on their promises. So rather than chasing our tails with unsustainable diets, let’s step back and have a frank conversation about what the path to healthy eating really looks like. I’m going to share with you the not-so-sexy, but raw truth behind healthy eating that not everyone wants to hear, but needs to accept and embrace.
I’m going to share with you the not-so-sexy, but raw truth behind healthy eating that not everyone wants to hear, but needs to accept and embrace.
No Pain, No Gain
I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. Healthy eating is hard work. Period. There is no way around it. But when it comes to exercise, we seem more willing to accept the fact that it takes sacrifice, sweat, and sore muscles to get the results we want. We often pride ourselves in how ‘tough’ our workouts are. Don’t get me wrong, I am an exercise fanatic, and I have put myself through marathon training, which is clearly its own form of craziness. So when it comes to food, why are we so resistant to sacrifice a bit of time in the kitchen to gain long term benefits for both our mental and physical health? You might be interested to know that exercise only plays a small role in the energy balance equation , which is why you can easily undo a one-hour workout within minutes by making one unhealthy food choice. Want more bang for your dieting buck? Establishing small, but permanent healthy habits is by far a more effective weight loss strategy than trying to exercising more. Healthy eating means preparing meals using whole food ingredients, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains (e.g. quinoa, barley, brown rice) plain, unprocessed meat and fish, nuts, seeds, eggs, beans or lentils. If do this, you really can’t go wrong. Research also support this: cooking at home more often is linked with eating fewer calories, less fat and sugar  and higher fruit vegetable intakes among teens .
Healthy eating isn’t complicated. Just like most worthwhile activities in life, it takes time, patience and practice, and a pinch of dedication to master it.
Healthy Eating is a Value, Not a Trend
Think of someone who consistently eats healthy. I’m sure if you ask them what it takes, you will learn that it doesn’t happen without time and effort; healthy eaters work at it everyday. Meal preparation is just part of their daily routine. And they don’t mind spending a few hours in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon to prepare meals ahead for the busy work week. This requires planning, occasionally turning down social events, or missing a few episodes of their favourite show. But they will likely tell you that it’s totally worth it. Healthy eaters value nourishing food, and this is why they are willing to invest some time preparing it.
Cooking is a time investment that you won’t regret. It’s also a skill that you can pass on to your children, and it may be the most important investment you can make in their future health.
While completing my master’s degree I developed a deeper appreciation for cooking. During the most stressful periods of the semester, cooking became the break that I needed. It gave me a chance to listen to the radio, shut off my brain, and work with my hands. It became a meditative process that also produced something delicious. Preparing nourishing meals is also a way that I express love and appreciation for my friends and family. Explore cooking as a time to just be with yourself, or invite others into the kitchen to keep you company, or better yet, to assist you. The kitchen is often a natural place of congregation for friends and family, and many important conversations have occurred over the stovetop.
Eating Crap Makes You Feel Like Crap
When your body is accustomed to running on healthy fuel, it becomes increasingly difficult to stomach unhealthy foods. It can manifest as fatigue, digestive problems, or difficulty concentrating at work. Over time, you will stop craving that fried chicken you used to love, because you realize, it’s just not worth it, because the temporary pleasure is not enough to outweigh the consequences. You start to become really picky about the quality of your indulgences, and when you do indulge, you slow down and enjoy it, and you don’t feel guilty.
Everyone is Capable of Preparing Healthy Meals. You Just Need to Do the Work
Healthy eating isn’t complicated. Just like most worthwhile activities in life, it takes time, patience and practice, and a pinch of dedication to master it. If you don’t mind spending hours at the gym, why not spend a few hours learning to prepare healthy meals? CookSmarts.com is a great place to get started. Those are my thoughts on the unspoken truth about healthy eating, and the incredibly rewarding work that goes into it. There is no shortcut to healthy eating, and I don’t think there should be one either. Cooking is a time investment that you won’t regret. It’s also a skill that you can pass on to your children, and it may be the most important investment you can make in their future health.
- Belluz, J. & Zarracina, J. (2016). Why you shouldn’t exercise to lose weight, explained with 60+ studies. Retrieved July 25, 2016, from http://www.vox.com/2016/4/28/11518804/weight-loss-exercise-myth-burn-calories
- Wolfson, J. A., & Bleich, S. N. (2015). Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight-loss intention? Public Health Nutrition, 18(08), 1397–1406. http://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980014001943
- Larson, N. I., Story, M., Eisenberg, M. E., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2006). Food Preparation and Purchasing Roles among Adolescents: Associations with Sociodemographic Characteristics and Diet Quality. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 106(2), 211–218. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2005.10.029