It’s the last week of April 2020 – and we are about to go into another month of COVID-19 quarantine.
You’re either working from home, on the frontlines in healthcare or another essential business, or unfortunately unemployed. We are all powerless in determining how long the quarantine will last, whether scientists will create a vaccine, or what our futures will look like.
However, we do have power over ourselves.
I know you think it’s hard to sit around at home and NOT pig out on junk food right? Well, that’s ’cause you’re thinking according to the old norm.
It’s time to create a new norm.
So, let’s say you’ve decided improve your health by either giving up or significantly reducing your meat (red meat) and dairy intake.
Both, depending on your own body chemistry make-up are sound decisions.
In my early 30’s when I started noticing that every time I ate meat – especially hamburger, steak, pork chops, even gravy from red meat – I felt lethargic, bloated, and definitely constipated, I decided to say goodbye to it all.
My personality couldn’t fathom giving up some meats; I gave up reds, poultry, seafood, pork, the whole shebang.
But I made a few mistakes that I’d like to see you avoid if you’re planning to improve your nutritional health by giving up these foods.
Filling up on carbs: I became a carb QUEEN! The way I figured it was: I’m not eating meat, so anything else is fair game.
Well, in my own defense, I was in my 20’s when I gave up meat – back in the 1990’s – and I’d actually never heard of a vegetarian or a vegan. I gave up meat specifically because whenever I ate it, no how much of it I ate, I felt like crap!
Not only did I not know anything about the vegetarian/vegan lifestyles, I was less than savvy about how too many carbohydrates affect your body. I’m not even sure I knew exactly what foods were carbohydrates – that all those bread sandwiches, pancakes, spaghetti, macaroni, and potato meals were the reason my dresses and pants were getting so tight.
I gained 25 pounds before my carb mistake settled into my brain. Yep, I learned the hard way; but you don’t have to.
So here’s the skinny on carbohydrates: There are good carbs: veggies, dairy products, breads, and fruits; and bad carbs: candy, cakes, cookies, honey buns, and on and on. Carbs give us our energy so it’s not necessary to cut them out.
All carbs – good and bad – contain some type of sugar so it’s best to balance your intake. And carbs in natural form such as fruits and veggies are much better than processed carbs (breads) any day.
Processed foods: When I gave up meat back in my 20’s, there were a few processed meatless brands (Morning Star) but not as many options as today.
When I decided to segue into a vegan lifestyle (I was 50 years old), the food industry had created a meatless, processed food smorgasbord – irresistible and totally deceptive as healthy meatless options.
Most processed foods – regardless of your nutritional lifestyle of choice – are unhealthy. They are loaded with extra sodium, sugar and fat, and will totally derail your goals if you’re choosing a meatless/dairy-free lifestyle to improve your health.
It is possible to take the “lesser evil” method and choose processed foods that don’t have as much sodium or as much sugar and fat as others if you’re willing to comparison shop. That’s truly the best option if you can create a habit of discipline.
Otherwise, why choose to go meatless and dairy-free only to fill your body with unhealthy ingredients?
Avoiding Meal-Prep: Meal prep is one of the most important steps in creating a new nutritional habit.
Let me answer that by offering a few life scenrios:
- You are the only one in your household going meatless/dairy-free and your fridge and pantry are still stocked with temptations.
- You leave work tired from a stressful day and can’t wrap your mind around creating AND waiting for your food to be ready.
- You regularly pass by your old fast food joints where you’d stop and pick up something quick.
Shall I go on?
These few scenarios alone are reason enough to prep your meals and your snacks to keep you on track as you try and get used to a new mode of nutrition. Prepping your meatless/dairy-free meals will ensure you have a healthy lunch to carry with you to work; snacks to satisfy your hunger and still keep you on track, and a dinner ready to pop in the oven, or eat as is.
If you avoid these three mistakes, I guarantee you’ll have a sturdy foundation to eating healthier for a lifetime, and not just to fit into your summer outfits.
Remember that none of us were born chowing down on fried chicken, snarfing down super-size fries, chug-a-lugging Big Gulps and store-bought smoothies loaded with sugar.
We made a habit of eating/drinking those foods. We created those habits – and any habit created, can be destroyed.
Here’s to your health.