The first step to a healthy diet
To be honest I’m a little uneasy about my first food post. I try to think back a couple years as to what I would have listened to about nutrition and a healthy diet. Ok, I wouldn’t have listened to anything or anyone and I don’t think anyone will listen unless they really are searching for change. Nevertheless I want to tread very lightly. …..for now. I don’t think I can even begin to write about changing food choices until I explain at least a little history and my former diet. I grew up working on a dairy farm. We had a constant supply of beef, pork, and fresh milk. My three main food groups were meat, cheese, and fast food . This is what the average day looked like for me about five years ago:Every morning I would get two sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits, two orders of hash browns and a large diet Pepsi from a local fast food restaurant. About ten o’clock I would eat what was supposed to be my lunch that I had packed the night before. At lunch time I would get a half pound burrito with a side order of jalapeño poppers and another diet Pepsi. On my way to my second job I would get two things of the dollar menu for a snack. This was usually two double cheese burgers. At least four nights a week we would order out. This would most likely be pizza and wings, blue cheese went on everything, and I mean a lot! For night time, Doritos were my “go to” along with more diet Pepsi.
So, there ya go, that was where I started. Looking back it’s almost embarrassing but at the time I really didn’t think it was all that bad. I mean, you have to eat, right? The reason I was fat is because of my genetic joint disease, or so I told myself. I found genetics are a fantastic excuse for just about anything in life. It’s the one thing you can’t control so you can use it for everything from high blood pressure to obesity itself. (Future rant)
My daily menu looks far different these days and I’m not going to say what it consists of because 4 years ago if I would have read it I would have laughed so hard that diet Pepsi would have sprayed out of my nose and then I would have left the webpage. I’ve been trying to narrow down that first crucial step in how or why my daily menu changed. There were so many steps and so many changes but the key is that it didn’t happen overnight.Thinking you can change every aspect of your diet on a certain day is only setting yourself up to fail. I have been changing my diet with little steps for over four years and I’m still not done. I honestly think it is just one of those things that is constantly honed and refined just as fitness. So, here’s what I think the first critical piece that came into play as my diet started to change. ( I actually hate the word diet so I will take the liberty to call it my “menu”)
Like most people I love food. The worst thing you can say to a fat guy is, don’t eat as much food if you want to lose weight”. Who in their right mind wants to give up something they love to watch some pointless numbers go down on the scale? I can’t remember where I heard it first, but the phrase “overfed and undernourished” popped up in an article I was reading. Today, it seems like it shows up everywhere, there is even a movie out with that title. For some reason overfed and undernourished just kept ringing in my head. Years later I found out that Jon Gabriel was using the same concept for his transformation. He has a great story, I’ll toss the link at the bottom of the page.
Was it really possible that while dinning on my near 10,000 calorie diet I was undernourished? Could I really be eating this much food and still be malnourished, or worse, starving? Looking back I can tell you that there is no doubt I was starving. Obviously, I wasn’t starving for calories but I was definitely starving for nutrition. My menu consisted of the most calorie dense foods on the planet which ironically have the lowest density of nutrients. I totally believe that understanding this concept started the ball rolling for me, albeit slowly.
I gave it a whirl, I did NOT remove anything from my menu just yet. I did ADD some foods to my diet. I started to have a salad with some of my pizza. Now I’m not talking about the kind of salad I was used to. Typically, if i had to eat salad it consisted of a bowl of ranch dressing with some iceberg leafs dunked in it. I didn’t go crazy, I just ate a colorful salad with some mixed greens and some vinaigrette dressing. My goal was quite simple and attainable, add one healthy dish to my menu everyday. No restrictions, just one small addition. The key to all this is consistency. I’m still not a huge fan of salads and I would much rather chow down a pound of green beans, or cauliflower. Add whatever you will like provided it’s an unprocessed plant that is nutrient dense. Mix it up a bit too. I had never even heard of kale, much less tried it until I was well over 35. Pick up some fruit. I still ate my sausage biscuits in the morning but I downed a nice, ripe banana beforehand. Within a week I started to feel better. The much needed nutrients started to give me more energy. I didn’t realize it at the time but my although I didn’t have a clue I was starving for nutrition my body sure did. I could eat and eat and eat but my appetite was never suppressed because my body would call for more food because it didn’t have the RIGHT food. When it started getting the some nutrients and vitamins it stopped calling for more food. As a result, I really didn’t even want that second sandwich. The coolest part of this is that it wasn’t even a conscientious decision to start ordering one sandwich with my banana instead of two. Looking back it is so easy to see why my eating habits were starting to change but at the time I just knew that I set one simple goal. Just add one nutrient dense meal to my menu per day. In the weeks to follow my goal turned into one per meal and that’s when some real change happened. No, I didn’t see the scale plummet, I wouldn’t have anyway because my scale only went to 350 pounds but my energy levels were changing drastically. I was sleeping better than I had in years.I didn’t know it at the time but my body was taking those nutrients and starting the healing process for all the damage I had inflicted on it over the years.
So, go ahead, ADD something healthy to your menu. I will do my best to chronicle the steps that went into changing to a healthy diet in the coming posts. You will be able to find them easiest by clicking on categories, then healthy diet.
Here’s Jon’s link.
“Eat plants and move your body, all ya gotta do is a little more than yesterday.” 😉
Until next time,