We have all heard we are supposed to eat a variety of foods especially bright colored foods fruits and vegetables. We know our body needs the nutrients to keep us healthy and to give us all the energy we need! This sounds easy so why don’t we do it? Why is it so hard to load up our plates with a variety of fruits and vegetables? I want to give you the basic information about why it is so important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables but also, how the conversation’s in our head plays a role on if we choose the healthy foods or not. But before we go there lets make sure we are all on the same page by reviewing why we need to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
Color at Every Meal
Here is a great illustration of all the colorful foods we need to include on our plate and why. Each color has a purpose and amazing healing qualities keeping our bodies at optimum. If we eat a rainbow of foods we can give our bodies enough power to heal itself naturally! We can:
- reduce the risk of many different kinds of cancers
- lower cholesterol
- reduce free radicals
- eliminate arthritis
- balance hormones and our immune system
- provide enough antioxidants to reduce the risk of heart disease
- reduce Alzheimer’s, improve memory, slow the process of aging, increase cell communication and many more.
Seriously we are talking about some really good stuff! Why don’t we seriously invest in filling half our plate with brightly colored fruits and vegetables at every meal? If we did we wouldn’t have the current obesity rate of 30% in United States and if we don’t make drastic changes this rate could climb to 43% by 2018.
Stay Alive and Thrive!
Most of us are aware of this data so why don’t we chose to change? I believe that in our fast paced culture we have placed too little priority on our health. We look at food in light of how it tastes or what our bodies crave rather than seeing food as medicine our body needs to stay healthy, alive and thrive. Stop and think about how the health of your body would be affected if you ate food based on nutrient density rather than flavor or what you are craving?
Our bodies need fuel just like our brain does and the quality of what we put into our minds and bodies greatly influences our quality of life. God has given us a powerful source of nutrient dense foods: fruits and vegetables! They contain everything we need for us to stay alive and thrive! These foods have the full capacity to heal our bodies if we eat them in the purest forms. What I mean by purest form is, eat them closest to their natural state. So often we eat food products NOT real food. If you were to rate the food you ate today according to how close it is to its natural state: One being the healthiest form (example: fresh fruits and vegetables) and up to 10 being the unhealthiest form (example: processed and fried foods). How would your lifestyle rate? What leads us to eating junk food even when our intentions are to eat healthy?
Action to Eat Healthy
I believe the conversations we have in our head greatly influence your actions. We have 60,000 thoughts each day, and this can make a difference on your health if your thoughts are unhealthy. Most of us have relied on good eating habits from our upbringing to help us form our eating habits as an adult. We don’t spend much time creating new habits because we are so busy. What happens when we grew up in a home with poor eating habits? Or maybe good childhood eating habits don't fit into our lifestyle today? Before we know it we start conversations in our head to justify why it is ok to eat the unhealthy foods. Think about all the unhealthy habits we developed during our college years or early twenties because of time restraints, lack of financial or worse: lack of knowledge. How many of those habits or conversations in your head are playing on repeat, justifying your poor eating habits today? So what can we do about it? How do we break the cycle?
Break the Cycle
First step is to know your thoughts, words or story that plays when you choose unhealthy food habits. In order to recognize your thoughts, words or story you will need to know the triggers setting you into a destructive thoughts or habits. At first you may not recognize the triggers until after you are in the middle of the destructive thought, habit or story. The key is to know when you are there and refer back to the words got you started in the process. Once you know the trigger and conversation that brought you to this point, remind yourself it's your opportunity to change the words or story so it works in your favor.
This leads us to the second step: a game plan. Come up with a plan of how you will create new thoughts, words or a new story in your head and write them down. For example: if you are in the habit of coming home and grabbing a bag of chips to munch on while you make dinner then chose to create a healthy alternative like a glass of water with a piece of fruit before you can get to those chips. Remember what you say before you justify eating this junk food. For example you may say to yourself, “I have eaten good all day, I just need a little something before supper.”
Write down positive alternative conversations to tell your self. For example tell your self, “my muscles are tired and need nutrients to get me through the rest of the night. I will load my body with water and food with nutrients before I give myself a treat.” This is essential to stop the negative pattern and create new conversations in your head. Keep it in tune with your values of honoring your body God created for us. This is a very important step just as we would do with any new priority in our life. Anytime we had something of great importance (kids, money, job, etc.) we need to take some time to write a plan.
Practicing it Daily
Next step is to put this plan into action by practicing it daily. Remember this is not a habit until you are able to do it on regular basis without much thought process. This takes TIME. Be patient with your-self and give your-self a lot of reminders to help you create a new habit. Put up written reminders of your new thoughts or give your-self information on why picking a fruit/veggie is a better option for your health. Finally, as with all things we put on our priority list, pray daily for God’s guidance. Be kind to your-self. Our eating habits may have been created as early as childhood therefore developing new habits will take time and dedication. All things are possible with God!
Teresa Brenke is the owner of Embrace Health at CLD (Center for Leadership Development). She has over 20 years experience working with adults and children in health and fitness. Her experience is unique in that she has cross-functional areas of expertise and is flexible in providing a multitude of services including personal training, nutrition coaching, weight loss coaching and customized holistic programing. She has had the opportunity to work with approximately 500,000 children, 10,000 teachers and 2000 business and continues to expand and service the holistic health needs to Minneapolis/St. Paul through her CLD Coaching.