I had a friend of mine that offered to help babysit my children for the summer, fo freee! *fist pump*. We’d always end up hangin’ out in our kitchen for lunch, and whenever I offered her a choice of drinks I noticed that she would only take water.
One day I decided to ask her why, and she began to explain that she was trying to clear her skin as she was having trouble with acne. So I advised her to try and cut out certain foods from her diet and see how her skin responds. The conversation then took a turn and we started talking about eating healthy in general and I may have gotten just a little carried away. It’s safe to say that I felt like I gave her some really helpful tips that she could walk away with.
I totally wasn’t prepared for what happened next.
She sighed and said “There’s just too many rules!”.
I paused, as my brain came to the realisation that she wasn’t as thrilled as I was. And that’s when it hit me.
A lot of people have negative associations with eating healthy. It dawned on me that not everyone is excited about it as much as I am.
In fact, that conversation was such a eureka moment for me, it made me reflect on some of my past social interactions that revolved around eating healthy, and made me see them in a new light.
I hadn’t realised it at the time, but our church community began to label us as the “super healthy family”, and I knew that for a fact just because people would say comments like “OMG your kids are so healthy, they see fruit as a treat!” or “We wanted to buy you some groceries but heard you only eat organic, so here’s some money instead so that you can do it yourself.” or my favourite one yet “Whenever I come to your house I feel like I’ve had a detox.”.
Now, I’m not saying I was upset by these comments, actually I see them as a compliment in a way. However, what I didn’t like about them was how it highlighted the mindset that our lifestyle choices were inaccessible for mere mortals.
It was almost like it was us against the world sort of thing. It was also frustrating because just a few years ago I was actually one of them! I loved my junk food and had an insatiable sweet tooth from as long as I could remember. My milk teeth were all decayed for cryin’ out loud coz I just had too much chocolate (as if there is such a thing. Ha!). I loved my pasta with double portions of cheese, and carbs were like family to me. Yet no one seemed to get the revelation that if I could do it, so can they.
It was then that I knew I didn’t just want my family to be healthy; I wanted to extend all the powerful knowledge that I had acquired to my community.
I figured I had a choice, I can either come across as a healthy food extremist or a pompous foodie snob with all my health jargon or I could play a part in inspiring and empowering others to take back control of their health. I obviously decided to choose the latter (doh!). But I also wasn’t naive, I knew my work was cut out for me. This was going to be an uphill struggle.
But before I was to convince anyone why switching to a healthier lifestyle was one of the best decisions of their life, I had to find out why people are so opposed to the idea.
Here’s what I found.
The 5 most common reasons why people struggle with eating healthy
1. It tastes awful.
By far the biggest barrier to entry is the taste. However, there are a couple of things you need to consider here.
Firstly, if you think eating healthy is all about boring flavourless salads (like the packaged ones you buy from grocery stores - I’m talking iceberg lettuce and shredded carrots) then of course it’s gonna be awful!! That just isn’t life. I find that people have no idea how incredibly DELICIOUS healthy food is. There is so much variety, and you can flavour the food however you like. Girl if you think it’s boring that’s just because you are (I’m only kidding, you’re fabulous dahling).
Secondly, people who eat a diet that’s based on heavily processed foods, I find, have the least appreciation for real, fresh food. Their taste buds have completely been acclimatised to the taste of processed sugars, trans fats and wheat in almost every packaged food and large amounts of salt. This is a tough one. There is no easy way out. You just have to cut out processed foods from your diet and replace them with real foods. Your palate will readjust and you WILL begin to enjoy the taste of real whole foods - pinky promise! Whether you choose to go cold turkey or do it gradually is totally up to you.
It’s just the same with my kids. Whenever I introduce something new to them, they can be reluctant or point blank refuse. I don’t give up, I just keep offering it to them over a period of time and more likely than not they change their minds and start enjoying the food I give them. A study done in 2010 showed that elementary school aged children enjoyed veg that they initially disliked after 9 or 10 tries.
2. It's too expensive.
Yes it is, I am not even gonna attempt to sugar coat this either. But it all depends on how you look at it.
I see healthy eating as an investment, that may be expensive, but will save you so much money down the line in doctor’s fees. And although our health service is free in the UK, you still have to pay for additional services and prescriptions. So why not honour this body that you have been given? It has worked so hard and so well to keep you going up to this point! Don’t you want to live a long life, free from illness and complications to enjoy with your loved ones?? You can’t put a price on your health. Think long term on this one friends.
3. It's too much hard work.
Unless you want to splurge on buying ready made healthy meals (which aren’t always as healthy as they claim), you are best off prepping your own food. This means meal planning, prepping and packing; something that not a lot of people are willing to do. You have to look at the long term goal, and how much your health means to you. Whatever you value, is what you will make time for.
A lot of times I hear people say that they don’t have time. The reality is you can find time by prioritising what’s important. Do you have to watch as much tv? Or how about how much time you spend on social media? You can use that time to cook a meal!
Things like batch or bulk cooking over the weekends can also go a long way. Besides, it saves you a fortune in the long haul! Please keep in mind that the learning curve is steep when learning a new habit. In this case, we are talking not just a habit but a lifestyle! Give yourself time to adjust and learn. It will get easier going forward as you won’t be doing as much learning as at the beginning, it’ll just become second nature.
4. IT'S TOO restricting.
In terms of what you can eat? That’s a total lie. It’s just a lack of knowing what’s out there, and how to cook and prepare delicious meals and treats. Hopefully this blog will sort you out when it comes to that! Feel free to check out other posts I’ve made for inspiration like my Peanut Butter And Banana Overnight Oats Recipe.
In terms of eating out and at social settings? I can understand that it can be a bit tricky. Some ways to go around it is to order things like fish and potatoes with salad for a meal or if you are going to someone’s house you can always eat beforehand so you aren’t too hungry when you are surrounded by things that you know aren’t good for you, that way you’re less likely to binge.
If that's too difficult for you, you can always let loose once in a while, as long as you know it won't lead you down the junk food train. I don't recommend it to begin with, only once you have established solid healthy habits. In times like that, remember how good it feels to be healthy and how happy it makes you, then make your decisions mindfully based on that foundation.
In terms of portions? This is not another yoyo diet craze where you have to count calories when you eat. That’s just gonna create an unhealthy relationship with food. When you eat wholesome fresh foods, rich in healthy fats and fibre, you get fuller much quicker and for longer. So I say eat until you are satisfied and no more. You won’t have the same cravings that come along with processed foods that have “empty calories” and have you hungry in another hour.
Ultimately, when you start eating healthy, after a while your body begins to respond and amazing things begin to happen like your skin clears up, your energy levels skyrocket, your digestion improves and bloating decreases to name a few. When you begin to experience those things, you will realise that you are now experiencing true freedom. People think that they like junk/processed foods, but what they don’t want to hear is that they are actually addicted to them. That ladies, is the real restriction.
5. IT'S TOO confusing trying to keep up with conflicting health news.
I 100% agree with this one. So let me simplify it.
Buy real, fresh, local food that doesn’t come in packages as much as possible, and cook your food from scratch.
Think what your grandmama used to eat.
Back then there was hardly any processing involved when it came to food. People used to grow food in their own gardens and rear chickens and all that kinda stuff. They did not have all the common ailments and diseases that are plaguing us today. It’s really not rocket science.
Have you had any reasons that have stopped you from making the leap to eating healthy?
Still need more convincing? Check out my other post on Why Clean Eating Is The Real Deal.
Oh and by the way, that friend of mine who had acne? Yeah her skin totally cleared up by the end of summer (over a period of 4 weeks ). This stuff really works guys!
I would love to hear from you! Come and join the Earth & Spoon Lounge Facebook group if you haven't already, where you can find other like minded chiquitas who are taking the bull by it's horns when it comes to their health. In the words of my wise 4 year old, you got dis.
What kind of struggles have you had when it comes to eating healthy?