Here are the 5 Things That Happened to Me When I Stopped "Dieting" and Just Started Eating Real Food
My health journey has been going on for a long time now...since I was in my mid 20s actually. I'm 40 and fabulous now! A big part of my healthy journey has been nutrition. This journey hasn't been a journey of perfection, but rather a journey of doing amazing at times and epically failing many times. What I thought was healthy 15 years ago I now know was anything but. I spent a lot of time "dieting" by eating low-fat, "diet" foods and counting calories. A nerdy fact about me is that I LOVE spreadsheets...like almost as much as I love avocado and summer. I can remember a time when I would complete a spreadsheet daily of all the foods I ate and the calories, trying desperately to keep my calorie count at 1,200 calories a day. And I did it, and I lost weight, and I was hungry a lot of the time and I didn't feel great. I can remember grocery shopping and only buying foods that said they were low-fat or fat-free or sounded healthy (like Lean Cuisine) or 100 calorie packs of everything...if it was a "diet" food per the food industry I thought it was a good, healthy food. For a long time I paid no attention to ingredients or the fact that I was eating processed junk, even though at the time I truly believed it was healthy. And with all the purposely confusing information that food industry marketing bombards us with, it's no wonder I thought the way I did. However, as I continued my journey I learned more and more about eating whole foods. And as I made the change to eating whole, real food I stopped counting calories and worrying about portion sizes and to my surprise great things started to happen. I feel really passionate about sharing my experience with whole foods with others because of the amazing things that happened...all by just changing my eating habits. I want to share with you too, so keep reading to find out the 5 things that happened to me when I stopped "dieting" and started eating real foods.
1. Weight Loss
Over the last 15 years my weight has fluctuated. I think this happens to a lot of us. I would be at a comfortable weight, then up 20 lbs, then back down and so the cycle would go. I would count calories and watch portions religiously (remember my spreadsheets I mentioned??). I would lose weight, but eventually counting calories would become overwhelming and exhausting and really kind of boring. Plus I found I was hungry a lot of the time. I'd stop counting and eventually my weight would creep back up. However, when I started eating real food I also stopped counting calories and watching portion sizes...and guess what? I lost weight, I wasn't hungry, I didn't get overwhelmed and give up and I actually felt satisfied after eating. That's the great thing about eating whole, real food. Our body knows exactly how to use and process it. It's really hard to overeat real food, unlike the hyperpalatable processed food I used to eat.
2. Better Sleep
One of the very first things I noticed when I started eating real food was that I slept better. I've had trouble sleeping for several years now. I never really knew why and I'm not sure the trouble sleeping is completely a result of the foods I was eating, but I do know that the quality and quantity of my sleep improves when I am eating real food. I'm not one of those people who can function well on little sleep. Without sleep I can be a pretty unpleasant person to be around, so the better my sleep is the better I, and everyone around me, feels.
3. Increased Energy
Before eating real foods, I can remember having the afternoon energy "slump" pretty much every afternoon. My go-to was caffeine and I'd reach for a cup of coffee to help me get through. But I noticed when I started eating real, whole foods that not only did I not have that afternoon energy slump, I also felt more energized at night. When I get home from work I have the energy to get stuff done! I used to come home and not want to do anything. And I don't need that afternoon coffee any more.
4. Increased Confidence
This is by far my favorite thing that happened to me when I started eating real, whole foods. Confidence is something that has never come easy for me. I guess it's hard to feel confident when you lack sleep, don't feel good about your weight and have no energy. So anything that makes me feel confident is important to me. I think another reason eating real, whole foods gave me confidence is because I knew I was doing something good for myself and my health. For me being healthy makes me feel good about myself and increases my confidence. Combine that feeling with the ability to maintain a healthy weight, increased energy and better sleep and I've found my perfect storm of confidence. Now feeling good about myself feels amazing!
5. Decreased Anxiety
Putting it out there that I struggle with anxiety gives me, well, anxiety. It's not something comfortable to admit or talk about. But I can tell you that when I eat real, whole foods my anxiety doesn't go away, but it decreases noticeably. My guess is that it can be attributed to the increased feeling of confidence I just mentioned. Whatever the reason, anxiety is unpleasant so any time I can do something that makes my anxiety even a little better, it's worth it to me! And eating real foods has done exactly that for me.
Lots of amazing things happen when you eat real foods. Now that I told you about what happened to me when I stopped "dieting" and started eating real food, you may be thinking...what's real food? One of my favorite quotes is by Jamie Oliver who said "Real food doesn't have ingredients. Real food is ingredients." I think that does a good job of explaining what real food is. Real food is food that comes from the earth, not a package. It's vegetables, fruits, quality meats and healthy fats. And I honestly can't think of one negative thing that has come from eating real foods. At the fabulous age of 40 I feel better than I did in my 20s and most of my 30s. It's not as hard as you may think to eat real, whole foods. It's actually been fun trying new vegetables and preparing foods in ways I hadn't before. And there's truly no better feeling then feeling good about yourself and knowing you are doing something good to become the healthiest version of yourself you can!
Want to learn more? Check out my 30 Day Clean Eating Program at www.michellecallahancoaching.com/30-day-clean-eating-program.