Your Thoughts About Healthy Foods

Ricki making the sign of the cross to show how people react to "healthy" foods

Quick–when you think of “healthy food,” what comes to mind?

Is it flavorless, gummy, chemical-tasting, oddly crunchy, with basically no appeal to anyone?

Sadly, for most people, that’s exactly the kind of thing that comes to mind when they think of healthy eating.

Whether you’ve had to change your diet because of chronic illness, food allergies, sensitivities, or something else, today I want to share why these kinds of thoughts are actually a trap.

You’ll also learn how to get out of it–so that you can go ahead and eat foods that will support your best health, while still loving what you eat.

Watch video, below, or read the text to get the all the information.

For so many of us who were raised on the Standard American Diet, “yummy” foods tend to be those we’ve eaten all our lives: high in sugar, salt and fat; heavily processed, and usually made by someone (or some company or restaurant) other than us.

So, when I ask people what comes to mind when they think of “healthy food,” the response isn’t always positive (okay, let’s be honest: it’s almost never positive).

Sadly, in our society, we’ve been trained all our lives to think that “healthy” means “gross tasting.”

Years ago, I owned an organic bakery. I made healthy brownies, cookies, muffins and cakes. I delivered these regularly to a few local health food stores, and was thrilled to see that my baked goods regularly sold out, usually within a day or two of delivery. (Let me throw humility to the wind here and tell you that they were just that good).

When I first started courting new stores to carry the products, I’d usually spend one or two days of the weekend (when the store was busiest) providing free samples so that people could taste-test and decide to buy.

The first time I tried this, I filled a platter with bite-sized pieces of my Sweet Potato Brownies (you’ll find the recipe in Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free), and proffer the tray to incoming customers, asking, “Would you like to try a healthy brownie?”

Well, I can’t even tell you the kinds of reactions I received. It was as if I was saying, “Would you like to try some eye of newt and monkey brains?” People literally ran in the other direction, stopping just short of giving me the sign of the cross, as if to repel a vampire.

When I changed the question to, “Would you like to try a piece of brownie?” about 98% of the people sampled it, loved it, and asked where they could buy some. It was at that point I told them, “By the way, this brownie is free of sugar, gluten, eggs and dairy–so it’s great for anyone who’s vegan or on a special diet.” Routinely, they were amazed–and even more thrilled to learn how healthy it was.

Gooey, chocolately candida diet ultimate brownies

[Brownies that are actually good for you! These are from Sweet Favorites, Candida-Free]

Over the years as I continue to work with women who follow restricted diets for health (such as sugar-free, gluten-free, candida diet, etc), I’ve found that this negative association with healthy foods still persists.

And it makes sense: in our culture, we are trained from childhood to prefer the processed foods over the from-scratch; the sugary, salty and high-fat foods over the more natural, healthier, options.

But just because you’ve been trained to like something doesn’t mean it’s good for you, though.

Think about smoking cigarettes. When I first learned to smoke (yep, I’m a former pack-a-day), I was about 15 years old. My friend Phil and I would meet up each morning at her house and walk to school together so we could practice smoking. The first few dozen attempts resulted in fits of coughing, hacking, breathlessness and a general feeling of nausea.

But then, we persisted. We pushed through all the negative messages our bodies were screaming at us, and kept inhaling that toxic smoke.

And you know what? Within a few days, we were smokers. Instead of disgust, we found ourselves enjoying the experience. And eventually, even wanted it.

Does that mean that smoking is better for you–or just plain better–than not smoking? Of course not.

The same is true with your foods.

Just because your taste buds have been trained (sometimes for decades) to prefer the foods that make you sick, doesn’t mean that they are a better option. And just as you learned to like those unhealthy foods, you can learn to prefer the healthy options.

Grainfree, Vegan, Raw As You Like Kale Salad on rickiheller.com

[One of my current cravings: Kale Salad, Fully Loaded.]

I like to think of it this way. When I was first married in my early 30s, I loved my husband madly. He was attractive, entertaining, good to me, and someone with whom I could have a great laugh. All good!

But as the years went by and I discovered that he had been dishonest with me, my feelings began to change. Once I knew about the lying, it began to taint all my other feelings about him. What I once loved now seemed very unhealthy indeed, and even painful. In the end, we called it quits.

Why not apply a similar shift in beliefs to your foods?

Think about those foods you love that have negative health consequences for you. In my case, the general categories were dairy, sugar, gluten, alcohol, moldy foods, processed foods, artificial flavors, and a few more. Translated to some of my then-favorites, that might include Betty Crocker frostings (and cake mixes), Pringles, Little Debbies (basically all of them), sugar donuts–you get the idea.

Then, put those foods in the category of the spouse who betrayed you. Because, in reality, that’s exactly what these foods are doing in your body.

Remind yourself how they’ve lied to you: the promise of enjoyment and pleasure has been replaced by the reality of chronic illness, pain, bloating, gas, adult acne, fatigue, foggy thinking, sore joints–whatever it is for you.

Remind yourself how these foods make you feel. Remind yourself a lot.

Now, do they still seem so appealing?

The more you remember that healthy foods are actually the ones that help your body to heal and grow stronger, AND that eating those foods will ultimately allow you return to your healthiest self, the more your feelings will begin to change.

And that’s a critical first step in your journey to eating well for life.

Highlights:

  • Free association with the term, “healthy foods.”
  • One thing that trips people up when they try to eat healthfully
  • My experience selling healthy baked goods
  • The problem with our society’s associations with healthy foods
  • How these associations translate to your approach to your healthy diet
  • Why thinking that “regular” food tastes better is a trick of the brain (and how to change it)
  • My experience as a smoker and how that relates to healthy eating
  • Using the rational parts of our brains to turn the situation around
  • Why you have all the knowledge you need to succeed
  • What happens when you eat food that isn’t good for your digestive tract
  • Thoughts to use to help you succeed at healthy eating for life

Resources:


Disclosure: Links in this post may be affiliate links. If you choose to purchase using those links, at no cost to you, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.

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