Just the fact that it’s a new year leads many of us to be more aware of the changes we’d like to have in our lives, whether we attempt resolutions or not. For a long time, the big one on my list has been to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Somehow. We all know that we should be eating plenty of fruits and veggies, right? It’s the “how” that is tough and can be scary. It's not an easy change. If we haven't liked them before, how willing are we to try them now? If we are required to give something up that serves as a pacifier to us, how likely will we? If we don’t like doing something, how likely will we keep it up? If we can’t figure out how it’s going to fit in our lives, how will it?
In 2015, I had a goal of eating more vegetables. Around this time last year, I was trying to do that by “detoxing” with bowls of pureed raw veggie soups. I was so optimistic reading the recipes - after all, I loved avocado, so a creamy avocado soup would be great! Of course! Why didn’t I think of it before? So essentially making a soup out of blended avocado, apple, seaweed, and greens didn’t seem that crazy until I tried it. Ummm. I mean choked it down. I thought this was the way to get those greens in that I’d been missing, beyond yet another salad. So I kept choking down different versions of that soup, hoping the next one would taste better to me. That lasted about a day and a half before I grabbed a bag of chips and some cookies.
My husband often teases me for “running up the hill.” This phrase was coined our first time on a hike together. He had to practically run to catch up with me at the start, only to have me run out of steam half way up, inching along to reach the top, far less enthusiastic. Ok, yeah I do that. I am all in until I’m not. And here I was, doing it again with the raw green soups. I wanted so badly to get going on my goal that I was full steam ahead, even though it was too much too fast, didn't feel good, and didn't taste good. Going all greens all the time was not the way to start.
Thankfully, I’ve since learned there are so many more possibilities. Eventually last year, as I continued through trial and error, I took steps gradually and discovered real, doable, and actually enjoyable ways to reach my goal of eating more veggies. In fact, this goal led to eating all kinds of plant-based whole foods. I was finally able to shed the SAD (standard American diet) and eat real food that I have found to be full of flavor, options, and nutrients, leading to eating habits that made me happy, allowing me to enjoy meals. And I’ve found that there are satisfying plant-based alternatives to my many cravings. In fact, because these methods have been so satisfying, I was finally able to drop the two unhealthy options that I had been clinging to: cheese and sugary sodas. And without a lot of effort. I’ve lost weight I haven’t been able to lose in over a decade, without counting calories or changing my activity levels. Touchdown! Victory! Real change! Goal achieved!
Change doesn’t have to be scary. It happens step by step, often with baby steps. I don’t want my healthy lifestyle to be based on willpower and a grit of the teeth. I want it to be based on my love of good food, enjoying each meal. I want it to be good for me, taste good, and feel good.
My criteria for what I eat now is pretty simple: If it’s beneficial and tastes good, I eat it. If it’s not and doesn’t, I don’t - or I rarely do. Now I eat mostly plant-based whole foods, loving that I can have my sweet tooth and rich, creamy food cravings satisfied with just real, beneficial ingredients that make me feel good. I feel very comfortable on this path, so my goal this year is to continue in this direction while focussing on methods that are economical, fun, time-saving, and enjoyable for the whole family. I also have the energy to take on a new workout program this year, with a goal of discovering a program that works for me consistently, as I’ve now found with food.
For me, the changes all began with smoothies. Here is a favorite that’s delicious, quick and easy, takes care of chocolate cravings, and works veggies in, too. A real treat, with every ingredient a beneficial plant-based real food. So many smoothies use banana as a base, which I love. If you’re all out of bananas though, you can still make a smoothie like this one.
- 1/4 cup oats
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon cacao nibs
- 1 tablespoon cacao
- 3 dates, pitted
- 1 cup frozen berries
- 1 1/2 cups spinach
- 1 1/2 cups nut milk
- Place the oats, dates, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, and cacao in the blender first.
- Add the berries and spinach, then the milk.
- Blend until completely smooth. Add more milk to blend if necessary.
*hemp seeds, cacao nibs, and cacao can be found in the bulk section of some grocery stores, in health food stores, or online. Their flavor and nutrition content are well worth it!
Place the oats, dates, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, and cacao in the blender first.
Then add the raspberries and spinach, and finally the milk.
Blend until completely smooth. Add more milk if necessary to blend.
Smoothie tip: Because a lot of ingredients hit our systems quickly when we drink smoothies, I like to drink my smoothies slowly with a glass of water, to help with digestion and rinse my teeth.
Is there a change you've wanted to make for awhile that has been difficult to sustain? Would it help to give yourself the chance to take baby steps toward a lifestyle change rather than run up the hill?