Transitioning from a classic middle-of-the-road diet, even if that included a few healthy options, can seem quite daunting. Downright overwhelming, actually. After recognizing that changing my diet would impact my illness, I started on my journey to transform my eating habits. It has proved arduous at times, with moments of frustration and anger as I floundered in the wreckage of my kitchen. It has also been gloriously rewarding as I conquered seemingly impossible recipes to my own satisfaction. Overall, the entire process has been drastically fulfilling, leading our family towards a better definition of a healthy diet and improving our quality of life. Here are my tips for transitioning into an alternative diet, such as the SCD or Paleo diets.
Step One: Educate Yourself.
When you’re starving, scrounging around in the bowels of the pantry searching for something edible, this doesn’t help you much. But I promise it’s the best place to start! By reading and imbibing factual, credible information, you are setting yourself up for success.
If you have specific needs based on allergies or illness, read medical articles, other blogs, and talk to others with the disease. Of course, consult with your provider first, before you do anything drastic.
If you simply want to expel some of your dirtier eating habits in exchange for more beneficial ones, study the lifestyle eating plans available and ask questions. Not everything you read is true, but it’s fairly clear to see which ones have scientific-based health claims.
Here are some of my recommendations based on the reading I’ve done:
My Diet Library by natalie-bridges on Polyvore
Step Two: Be Brave!
Starting from scratch, with foreign new ingredients and confusing kitchen gadgets stops many people in their tracks. Don’t get discouraged! You probably won’t be able to cook a perfectly fluffy soufflé or a melt-in-your-mouth banana creme pie on your first attempt. But don’t let those moments of fear and vulnerability overwhelm your initial desire to change your eating habits.
When I began my diet-overhaul, I started in such a fashion- completely overboard. I bought three hundred dollars worth of new gadgets, without knowing how to use them, and many jars and bags of seemingly healthy ingredients before I did my homework.
Ditch the fear, embrace the foreign, and be prepared to have some tremendous failures in the kitchen.
Step Three: Read the Labels.
Before you even get home from the store, you may realize that you didn’t read carefully enough and some of your items are less than acceptable.
Read the labels, every time.
If you don’t recognize an ingredient, google it as you stand there. Any product that has over five ingredients, especially those with names like maltodextrin or yellow dye number five, are most likely nefarious.
Step Four: Choose Organic.
If you can afford the additional price, go for organic options. You may have to travel to several stores if you’re searching for one particular ingredient, but it will be worth it. If you can’t or don’t want to pay top dollar for every ingredient, follow the “dirty dozen” list for which foods are the most susceptible or resilient to the pesticides.
EWG Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen
If you have intestinal issues, you should be especially careful with pesticide-laden foods. Because the digestive system of someone with problems, such as IBD, is fragile, it cannot handle the extra load of toxins and insults. You may not notice a change at first but I promise, by eliminating those extra damaging chemicals, you are helping to heal your gut.
Step Five: Know Your Meats.
Get friendly with terms like “grass-fed” and “responsibly-sourced.” I used to think all of this was a crock of propaganda but I’ve changed my tune. I’ve found that no only are these choices healthier, but also tastier too.
If you have gut problems and/or are allergic, even the corn or soy fed to the animals- into your mouth and eventually your intestines- can cause issues. Splurge on the more expensive, but healthier options when you’re picking out dinner. Again, organic is best, and cage-free for eggs.
Step Six; Make A Plan.
When you’re eating mostly from home with few restaurant options, you may find yourself in a bind, shoving bars and dried fruit down your throat, desperate for real food with no time to prepare it. That’s when you’ll fail. It’s all about the preparation.
Sit down one night per week and make a food schedule. I realize this sounds incredibly boring but you’ll be happy when you have delicious meals every night of the week. Try to pick simple recipes for days when you know you’ll be busy and if you feel like getting creative, save those for a day when you know you’ll have the extra time. I wouldn’t suggest trying out a new recipe on guests, especially if you’re new to cooking this way.
Try to plan recipes back-to-back that use similar ingredients so you won’t find yourself wasting food. Remember, eating this way can get pretty pricey if you let it!
Step Seven: Have A Back-up Plan.
I know, I just said plan ahead. But let’s be honest. There will be days when you get a flat tire or a friend unexpectedly comes into town. Don’t let the schedule rule to the point where you miss out on life. Here are my favorite healthy snacks on the go:
Paleo Rescue Snacks by natalie-bridges on Polyvore
Even though I presented only a few simple steps, hopefully that helps you to get acclimated to a new diet and find some sources of inspiration.
This week, I’ll post a photo and description of my meals for work days. Being gone from the house for thirteen hours means lost of preparation, and usually lots of food!