My family started meal planning because my wife was sick with layers of complicated food allergies and we could no longer eat the easy foods that were once available to us. If we didn’t change our lifestyle we simply wouldn’t eat. We had to start meal planning to keep track of it all.
Many households are facing this same challenging transition. If that’s you, you probably feel discouraged by all of the foods that are no longer an option to you. You may even feel that the changes you need to make are impossible.
Our guest for this blog series is Amy Mihaly, Certified GAPS Practitioner and a Family Nurse Practitioner in the state of Colorado. Amy has always believed there should be a natural way to eat, live and treat disease. After experiencing her own healing on the GAPS protocol, she passionately teaches how to listen and work with your body to bring healing.
We reached out to Amy to put together a series of blog posts that we are calling Beyond Limits to provide a little encouragement, and a lot of wisdom, for those of us going through a massive transition with food. If you are struggling with food allergies, eating more healthfully, or a new way of eating that has been “forced” upon you, please join us and read on…
Part 1: Getting Started
Part 2: Eating Healthy When You Never Learned How to Cook
Part 3: Eating Healthy When Limited by Time
Part 4: Eating Healthy When Limited by Money
Part 5: Eating Healthy When Limited by Allergies
Part 6: Eating Healthy When Limited by Picky Eaters
Part 7: Eating Healthy When There Are Multiple Limits to Overcome
It’s something we all know we should do, and something we all succeed in doing to various degrees, but we never seem to arrive to that place of consistent “healthy eating.” We “fall off the bandwagon,” or “cheat” too often, and slip back into the old habits we were trying to put behind us. There are a variety of reasons why we fail. During Beyond Limits, we are going to address many of these. Today we are focusing on the most important one—the mind!
Our mind is powerful. It’s what assists or sabotages our efforts to make changes in our lives. The best list of “healthy eating tips” won’t do you any good if your mind is working against you. Let’s look at important mindsets we need to have in order to have success in any habit change.
The Perfect or Nothing Mindset
This mindset often prevents you from even starting a good habit. You think “I won’t be able to do it right, so why start at all?” The problem with that? None of us ever do everything right!
“To err is human,” as Alexander Pope said. Making mistakes is an experience all people share. You will make mistakes! And until you are okay with that, your “all or nothing” mindset will sabotage you again and again. I suggest that you replace that mindset with another:
Every good choice makes a positive difference.
No positive decision you make is wasted. Making one good eating decision will bring good to your body. And choosing the best of two (imperfect) alternatives is better than thinking “I can’t do it perfectly” and giving up altogether
Listening to Peer Pressure
I don’t mean peer pressure to eat the cake at the office party (although that is a real thing too), but peer pressure to follow the latest health trend. Every few weeks there is a new “cancer cure” or “waist trimmer” habit that you are pressured to follow. Should you follow the Paleo diet, or become a vegetarian, or do a week long juice fast, or eat nothing but pomegranates for a month? Many people who have a desire to get healthy are overwhelmed by the choices available, and they often pick one that is not helpful to their body, choose too many new habits to maintain, or don’t pick any at all. Instead of looking to popular opinion for your healthy habits, I suggest a different approach:
Start with what makes sense for you and your family.
There are some baseline healthy habits that will benefit everyone, and are not just a hot new trend. These are to eat real (not processed) foods, drink primarily water, be active in your day, spend some time in the sun, and get proper rest. No trendy “health miracle” will replace these. But you can’t change all these at the same time (more on that below), so choose what makes the most sense to you. Is your caffeine consumption affecting your sleep? Then weaning off of that (thus improving your sleep patterns and maybe even decreasing your sugar intake) would make a lot of sense. Is it winter? Then replacing processed food with real food would make more sense than taking a daily walk outside for the purpose of sun exposure.
If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend my book Notes From a GAPS Practitioner. It’s not just for those on the GAPS diet. It describes how different foods, probiotics, and detoxing affects the body, and how you can begin to understand what your body needs you to focus on first.
Feeling Guilty When You Don’t Do it Perfectly
As we discussed before, we will all mess up. We can forget to thaw meat for dinner, or think we have an extra food frozen, when we don’t. Or we want to eat at the office party. Or whatever. This sometimes keeps us from getting started, like we discussed earlier. But sometimes it derails us off an otherwise-successful habit change attempt. When you act outside the new habit you are attempting to establish, don’t give it the power to derail you. Usually this manifests as guilt. Most guilt is not helpful to us at all. So don’t allow guilt to control your mind. Instead, I suggest a different mindset:
Focus on the path you are following, not a single step off the trail.
When perfectionism is not in play, then a choice is simply that, a choice. It has no power unless you give it some. So throw out the perfectionism mindset, and celebrate all your successes!
Changing Too Much at Once
Unless you have extreme symptoms that require an immediate change, it’s best not to change too much at once. You are setting yourself up for failure. Experts in the habit-changing world agree that it is best to only change one, or maybe two, habits at the same time. But we are often impatient for change, or worried that our motivation will wane, so we change many things at once. This often leads to failure, and adds to the circumstantial evidence “proving” to us that we can’t change. But you can! Get rid of the mindset that you have to “hurry up and change,” and exchange it with this mindset:
There is plenty of time, so I only need to change ___x___ right now.
This mindset change is a deep one. Most of us have bought into the lie that there isn’t enough, also called the lie of lack. Not enough time, resources, energy, etc. When we change our mindset, we are saying that we believe there is enough time and energy to make the changes that need to be made in our lifetime. And when there is enough, there is no need to rush, stress or panic. This does not mean we can be inactive. But if you wanted to be inactive, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog!
Waiting for the Perfect Time
Don’t wait for the perfect situation or motivation, or until everything else is ready in your life so you can focus on this. If you wait until you have it all together, or your life circumstances line up perfectly, you will never start! There are some things that may be difficult for you to do now, but there are other habits that you could start doing. Anyone can drink more water, no matter what else your life looks like. Everyone could park farther away in the parking lot and walk another minute or two a day. Everyone can do something. And now you know you don’t have to do everything all at once, or perfectly. Start with the something that makes sense for you. Change your mindset from wait to:
Today is a great time to start ____x____ habit.
Choose what you can do, and what you feel is important to do, and do ONE thing. Prove to yourself that you can do it (because you can!) and that you want to do it (because you will feel better). And each time that you succeed, it will be easier and more exciting to address the next habit change, and before you know it you will be doing things you never thought possible! All because you didn’t wait, and you chose a mindset that worked with you and not against you!
Now that we have addressed the big mindset pitfalls, you are ready to go! You just need to pick the habit you want to change. Coming up, the next posts will address some of the common limitations we may need to overcome a choice to eat healthier. Limitations such as time, budget, picky eating, allergies, and more.
Join us in Plan to Eat
Amy has put together 15 recipes that are available to you through your Plan to Eat account. Many of these recipes promote healing, some are designed to help avoid common allergens, and some of them are simply to get us in the kitchen cooking real food instead of pulling something out of a box.
All of these recipes are available through the desktop version of your Plan to Eat account by clicking on the Challenges tab and selecting “Beyond Limits” in the dropdown menu.
Join our Facebook group
Do you have a question for Amy? Or maybe you want to connect with others who are going through something similar to you? Our Beyond Limits Facebook Group is a great place to connect with others!
Hint: This is a great place to use the Friends feature to share recipes with other Plan to Eat users!