The key to healthier eating is simple… Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Diet.
The scene: Nine grandchildren all silently waiting, laser-focused with eager anticipation. This is the moment they had each looked forward to. They had been told to eat their dinner, finish everything on their plate — otherwise, this moment would not arrive. This was their reward.
One by one, nine sets of eyes, opened wide like lily pads, gazed down upon their coveted bowls of chocolate-covered ice cream. Their excitement was palpable, as they rushed about the room parading their prize.
“Whoa, lucky!” exclaims a parent. Others in the room share an expression that mirrors their children’s awe. Another asks, “What have you done to deserve such an amazing treat?”
This is not an unfamiliar scene at a family gathering, or on a daily basis throughout many children’s lives. Think back. When you were a child, you were most likely told by the adults in your life one (or all) of the following:
- You must eat your dinner if you want dessert.
- Eat your veggies because they are good for you.
- If you are a good girl or boy you will get a ”treat” (of unhealthy food).
- You are lucky to get some sweets.
Basically, the message received was that unhealthy food is something special and healthy food is something to endure as a means to attain a treat.
Unhealthy foods in our society are held on a pedestal. They are our reward, our comfortable place. Healthy foods, on the other hand, are something we have been told we should eat. They are often portrayed as foods we have to contend with, not love.
What if it didn’t have to be this way?
How you see food, how you talk about food, how you emotionally react to food is merely a habit. A habit you learned when your brain, as a child, was developing and learning to form beliefs about all aspects of your life.
For the first six years of a child’s life, the conscious part of the brain is not primarily functioning. The brain is functioning at a very low EEG level. A child is observing the environment just like a television camera, recording everything, bypassing consciousness — which isn’t working yet — and going straight into the subconscious [source: Bruce Lipton]. They are primarily downloading information they experience around them from the adults they are surrounded by. And how they react to the world has much, if not everything, to do with what they observe.
How — What — When Mirroring
- We are programmed on how to eat and what utensil to use, from a knife and fork to chopsticks.
- We are told when to eat foods, designating cereal for breakfast or sandwiches for lunch.
- We inherit a belief system deeming certain foods as good or bad, yuck or yum, a treat or a punishment.
This is all learned… and can be unlearned.
Like it or not, as we are growing up we are educated about food; most of the time this education comes from adults who have not stopped to think about the messages they are imparting to their children. Our beliefs about food, whether they are celebratory – seeing chocolate cake as a treat —, or punishing. something you need to exude willpower over, or something you “have to have to be healthy” — are simply ideas that you downloaded before you could logically think for yourself.
It is time that we collectively change our ideology about food. Could you imagine regarding a juicy beetroot and carrot salad with a hint of tarragon as a way to nourish yourself when you feel a bit tired? Could you imagine viewing processed foods as devoid of life and unappealing? Do you have a healthy dialog when it comes to your food? Remember, many of our self-defeating theories are just habits… and habits can be changed.
It’s not necessarily easy, but it doesn’t have to be difficult either. Whenever we open the door to change, we make ourselves vulnerable to resistance. However, where there is a will there is a way. That determination will be fortified by experiencing the benefits of eating healthy foods. Changing a habit, either a physical one — getting up half an hour earlier to exercise — or a mental one, viewing vegetables as just plain amazing, propels us in the right direction. There can be a period where your obstinate mind revolts. You may start to make excuses, but stay the course.
Changing a habit can make us squirm. It is easy in the short term to stay where we are, with our same beliefs, our ingrained way of reacting to life — but in the long run it is harder staying. It is called a comfort zone, which paradoxically, is anything but comfortable.
Change your conversation with yourself, with others, and most importantly help empower the youth of today. Quit holding unhealthy foods on a pedestal. Quit thinking you are rewarding yourself or your children with treats. If you want to lead a healthier life, identify your theories about food. Make your own determinations about what you ingest and how it makes you feel.
Healthy, alive food + your unwavering determination to shift = your vibrant, best self
As Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “Change your thoughts, change your life.” I would add, “Change your thoughts, change your diet, change your life.”
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