Everything in life has positioned you to fail when it comes to transitioning to a healthy diet, especially a vegan one. Let’s face it: if you were raised in mainstream America, there might not be a single memory formed around nutritious veggies unless you had a garden. Even then, having a garden doesn’t necessarily translate to simple, nutritious meals.
Eggs and bacon. Lots of bacon. People even started putting bacon in chocolate bars and frying it at fairgrounds. Bacon is in your Bloody Mary and on top of cupcakes. Meanwhile, egg paraphernalia has lead you to believe it’s the perfect protein and it’s even healthier if you eat it without the yolk. And you don't get enough calcium if you don't drink milk and eat cheese.
McDonald’s was a staple for one reason or another. It was a reward for good grades or doing well in an organized sport. It was a hangout for friends after drama practice. They put Beanie Babies in Happy Meals and you were relegated to going multiple times a day to collect them all (ok, I dated myself here). I don’t need to turn this post into everything wrong with McDonald’s but what I can say is it was/is a part of probably 99.9% of all children growing up in America- and yes, I made that statistic up.
Commercials on the television and radio are bought and paid for by the meat, dairy, egg, sugary drink, over-processed-snack industry. So are billboards. And school lunch programs. And hospital vendors. And grocery stores. (More on the addictive process in another post.)
My point is: it is not your fault.
That thought can bring a lot of comfort and can stop you from blaming yourself and focus on blaming your parents for raising you on crap. Just kidding! They didn’t know either and they were doing the best they could. The media and government wouldn’t allow people to sell food that would make you sick, right? Wrong.
Perhaps you are just starting to notice these things and have just started thinking about making a change? Maybe you want to lose weight? Maybe it’s a digestive thing? Maybe it’s a severe illness of a loved one? Whatever it is, you are not alone. And starting to question the way you have always done things is the first step to opening new doors and reaching a level of happiness and contentedness that you didn’t know existed.
It begins with examining the relationship you have developed with food over the years and who you surround yourself with (check back for a post on the research in this area.). Are your friends and family over-weight? Are you food obsessed and does everything revolve around the next meal? This is a common occurrence in our society and something I personally struggled with. It took me nearly 7 years living a Flex Life until something inside of me clicked: I was no longer willing to compromise my health for a French Fry. (Sometimes I indulge in a fry but I’m talking about everyday FF consumption here.)
Let’s talk about what you can control. Right here and now, you choose what you want to put in your body and what you want your health to look like. What happened in your past doesn’t matter moving forward. You are in charge of each and every morsel of food placed in your mouth. Remembering this in times where you feel like you can’t control anything can be a powerful grounding practice. It can be the very thought that helps you regain perspective and focus on what you can control when life seems like it has jumped on a runaway freight train and you are watching it go off a cliff.
So how do you get from pork chop ambassador to plant goddess? A lot of hard work, perseverance, education and compassion.
- It takes a lot of hard work to start changing habits which have developed over a lifetime. If your desire to change isn’t coming from you or from an authentic place deep within, it will only be more difficult for you to reach your goal. (*cough, doing it for someone else won’t work, cough*) The work associated with attaining a goal usually means breaking old habits, potentially certain friendships, and requires discipline you haven’t had to use on yourself yet.
- There are days where you take a step or leap back. There are times where you don't have the strength or willpower to resist. It takes perseverance to continue marching forward towards your goal. It doesn't matter how many times you dance back and fourth. Each time it gets a little bit easier to change directions or take a bigger step in the right direction. And just because it feels as difficult the thirtieth time to make the right decisions, do not get discouraged. It does get easier. You haven’t missed anything and you are on the right track!
- Taking the time to get educated on the benefits of reaching your goal can help solidify the “why”. Without the “why,” it can be easy to lose site of the end goal. Understanding the scientific reasoning or the statistical significance of your decisions can be very motivating and just add fuel to the fire (for example, start to research where your food is coming from in your grocery store and how it is sourced or look into the correlations between diet and cancer). Embrace your new culture and consider doing research to support what your gut it literally telling you. The resources are overwhelming!
- Having compassion towards oneself allows for a kindness to be extended no matter where you are in reaching your goal. That hop forward is met with pride and encouragement and the shimmy backwards is met with space and love. Beating yourself up about missing a milestone or any one opportunity to be closer to your goal will only prove to be counterproductive long-term. So stay kind towards yourself and consider rewarding yourself with a big hug or a verbal confirmation. Treat yourself like you treat your best friend.
Nurturing these values in your life will help you reach your desired health and wellness goals. Your eating habits will change! As you become more mindful of your choices, why you make them and who they effect, you will be empowered to walk a new path. Commercials can’t entice you. Not even Mickey D’s. Bacon won’t have another chance to stick to another artery. Your mind is the most powerful organ you have, and you control it’s output as much as you control the action of placing food into your mouth.
*Healthspiration*: Stay kind towards yourself and consider rewarding yourself with a big hug or a verbal confirmation. Treat yourself like you treat your best friend.
*Opportunity Discovery*: Research the “why” behind your goal. Are there health potential health benefits to changing your habits? How does changing your spending habits affect the environment around you? Try engaging your friends on their thoughts on the subject and see if a new perspective sheds light on some additional benefits you haven’t thought of on your own.
Interested in working with a health coach to meet your goals and discover your why? Contact Lorna at Finding Healthfulness to set up a consultation and learn more about the coaching process!