While I’m on vacation this week soaking up the sun in beautiful California, my friend Erin from Eat Real Stay Sane is here guest posting for me. I’ve gotten to know Erin over the past few months and she is such a sweetheart, not to mention witty and fun. I like a gal with a good sense of humor and a down to earth approach to eating real food. She’s an expert on staying sane while switching to real food. Go visit her site and her Facebook page. I think you will love her.
In a life-altering moment my husband and I now call “The Purge,” we threw away all our unhealthy food. We tossed out 3 giant garbage bags of processed junk, and gave another 6 grocery bags’ worth to my brother-in-law.
“Here little bro, have all our food that we now believe causes cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, and most other degenerative diseases! Enjoy!”
Looking back, it’s probably the worst present we’ve ever given someone, even though he loved it. Probably like giving someone a puppy with a time bomb inside.
Sorry ‘bout that.
Anyway, we know switching to a diet based on natural, real, and raw foods isn’t the easiest thing you’ll ever do. Even though we had the gumption to throw out pretty much all our junk food, we still struggled mightily.
Living in this world doesn’t lend itself to healthy eating. And that’s a colossal understatement. We still face catered work lunches, donuts and cookies in the office, the itch to eat out, “needing” sweets, and all the other stuff we’re familiar with in today’s society. And trust me, for a long time, we still gave in much more than we should’ve.
It’s a struggle, and it’s easy to become frustrated, stressed-out, and disheartened.
From my personal experience, here are my 7 favorite ways to make the switch without losing your sanity!
1. Satisfy Junk Food Cravings with Homemade Substitutes
My husband was terrified… TERRIFIED that switching to real foods meant eating weird foods. By weird, I mean green. He’s practically allergic to anything resembling a vegetable, and he assumed his life of eating tasty foods was over.
But, we slowly began to realize that we didn’t have to give up the meals we loved – just some of the ingredients.
We still eat delicious pizza, fries, burgers, tacos, brownies, cookies, and loads of other stuff health gurus would laugh at. By substituting in healthy, real ingredients, we can eat all the meals we used to.
When you’ve got that itch to eat something junky (I never stop hearing about pizza in my home), put it on your meal schedule! By learning a few of the real food basics, you can make any meal a healthy one.
2. Recognize it’s an Ongoing Process
Here’s our dirty little secret: despite being real food bloggers and being totally committed to eating healthy, we still have stuff in the kitchen that isn’t legitimate. Maybe before someone starts a blog, some sort of committee should come over and check our cupboards. But until that day comes, we’ll keep plodding along!
Here’s the point I’m trying (… and most likely failing) to make:
Adopting a real foods lifestyle is an ongoing process. You’re not going to wake up one day and somehow transform into a kombucha brewin’, real milk drinkin’, sprouted flour eatin’ machine.
Fun fact: we just bought our first batch of raw honey the other day. 32 pounds of the stuff, actually. Can you tell we’re not ones for holding back? Before then, we’d been using the cheap store bought variety.
I’ve still never eaten a pastured chicken (too expensive) and we buy regular eggs at the store occasionally, to name a few examples.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re probably 85% real food approved in our diets – but we continually make small improvements, like the raw honey. There’s no one out there saying you need to turn on the real food switch and comply perfectly tomorrow.
3. Celebrate Every Change
Let’s imagine this is the first post you’ve ever read about eating real foods. That would be totally cool, by the way. I’d feel like I was letting you in on a big secret, like introducing you to the Wizard of Oz or something.
Maybe you read this post and decided you needed some more educatin’ on this real food stuff. You read about the benefits of coconut oil, so you buy a big tub of it. You run home and light all your veggie oils on fire.
There are two ways to take this:
- Hurray! I switched out my cancer, diabetes, and heart attack causing veggie oils for superfood coconut oil! Although, I might have a more serious issue if my first inclination was to burn things.
- Well, I use coconut oil now, but I still eat refined sugar, white flour, and eat out too much. I suck.
Which one do you think will keep you sane in the long run? Seriously, this is a supremely important principle to learn, and not only for healthy eating, either.
By tossing your veggie oils, you’ve made a change that most other people haven’t. You’ll be eating healthier than you were before, improving your quality of life.
What’s not to celebrate? Why not take pride in an important improvement in your life?
4. Find Ways to Save Money
I get it.
I know how money runs our lives, as much as we would like the reverse to be true.
I know it’s hard to stomach $8 for a gallon of raw milk. It can be downright painful dropping 20 bills on real maple syrup.
Just thinking about that stuff can be agonizingly stressful. And here’s a small bit of advice.
If you’re having trouble affording a large-scale switch to real foods, start small. Focus on eating more things like eggs, potatoes, and oatmeal. Dinner for us at least twice a week is eggs and toast.
You get the powerfood-action of eggs cooked in coconut oil. You can slather some healthy bread with butter. It’s quick, it’s cheap, and it’s a seriously healthy dinner.
Another dinner is potato bar. Bake up some potatoes, put some butter, cheese, bacon, and a fried egg on top. That’s another staple that costs us a few bucks.
As our holistic chiropractor always says, “Do the best you can with what you have.” If you can’t yet afford raw milk, start with plain ol’ whole milk.
Plus, you might actually be surprised that when we switched over to real foods, we actually began spending less money per month on food. I know, we couldn’t believe it either.
5. Don’t Beat Yourself up over Mistakes
Another good motto for life.
Just last week, I dropped the salt shaker on the floor, spilling about half a cup all over the place. You know what the husband does? He grabs the camera and immediately takes a picture, saying it’ll be great for the blog. I just sort of stared at him because I was prepared to start yelling an’ stuff.
He’s annoyingly upbeat sometimes J
In other words, just roll with it. If you cave one day and hit up Carl’s Jr breakfast (sooooo good) on the way to work, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, I like to figure out how I can avoid doing that next time. Should I have made something the night before? Or what if I drove a different way to work?
6. Purposely Eat Junk Sometimes
Last week, we drove past the cutest little blonde, freckle-faced 10-year-old girl I’ve ever seen. She’s got her little table of Girl Scout Cookies set up on the corner, and she’s jumping up and down with every car, trying to sell anything she can.
Talk about stinkin’ irresistible. If she’d had a border collie puppy, I’d probably have caved and bought her entire stock.
We settled for Thin Mints and Samoas. We’ve been eating about 1-2 cookies per day.
This does two things for us:
- We were able to do something fun, in this case talking to an awesome little girl and making her day by buying cookies.
- We get to eat a little (unapproved) junk every day without doing something crazy, like scarfing a Ben n Jerry’s pint or hitting up a pizza buffet.
By eating something small that isn’t necessarily real food approved, we keep ourselves from going insane. Like I said above, we’re usually about 85% real food in our diets, but savoring those fun eating experiences helps us be healthy the rest of the time.
7. Throw Yourself into Loving Real Food
I can’t begin to describe how important a principle this is to me.
I have a friend, who just last year, spent about $4,000 on the band Hanson. You know, those kinda girly looking guys from the 90’s? I didn’t even know they were around still, or that they had so many “Fansons,” like my friend.
I have another friend who owns 30 pairs of boots, many of them sporting a $300 price tag.
It’s easy to sit back and criticize them for how they spend their money.
But I’ve come to realize something about life, and it’s now one of my favorite mottos:
You have to have something to get excited about. You need things to throw yourself into. Something you want to talk about and spend your money on. Something you don’t really get sick of. Something to be truly passionate about.
For some people, it’s 90’s bands. Others like boots. Some people collect stamps or baseball cards.
Life is so much more fun and worth living if you have things to get excited about. It will make the world more interesting to you, and the world will find you more interesting as well.
I’m going to suggest that you throw yourself into real foods. Educate yourself. Learn about all the health benefits that most people don’t know. Share it with your friends to try to help them improve their lives. Learn about the corrupt corporations and government agencies that keep the truth from us.
Don’t make healthy eating an annoying and tedious task that you have to slog your way through every day.
Make it a quest. Let it consume you, in a good way. Your mental and physical health will improve in ways you might not even understand yet.
Hopefully, those 7 ideas can help you more easily switch to eating a healthier diet! What other advice would you add?
Erin Smith blogs with the husband over at Eat Real Stay Sane. She’s abnormally obsessed with peanut butter, teddy bears, and science fiction. Also, she will accept any picture of border collie puppies. Or real border collies.