It ain’t easy being healthy

Okay, let’s admit it. Eating healthy is hard work!  It’s expensive, it’s time consuming and it isn’t very popular at least here in the US.  It’s much easier to buy dinner in a bag from the drive through or in a ready-made box *just add water or milk and boom! You’re in the habit of putting little effort into what you put in your mouth.  I’m not pointing fingers here, I’m probably preaching to the choir too but I’ve been there, done that.  It wasn’t that long ago that Pasta-Roni and Hamburger Helper was on our meal-list at least a few times a week.  Takeout Chinese 2-3 times a month and not enough exercise by far to go around.  I do spend a lot more time cooking food these days than I used to – especially when compared to a 20 minute meal like Hamburger Helper.  I know I enjoy food more now.  How’s that for an oxymoron while on a diet?  I’m on a “diet”, eating off a partially restricted food list and I enjoy food MORE now than before.  Why is that?

Since I’ve been changing up our recipe box, food is more exciting!  We pick some top favorites to keep in the actual box, the rest are here on the blog to come back to if we’re without a new idea.  I think I pay more attention to the quality and flavor of food these days.  Not that I don’t salivate sometimes when passing some juicy burger chain restaurant anymore, I just know that I’ll walk away feeling like I ate a salt block when I’m done.  That’s another thing I watch – how I feel after I eat.  It is probably easier to notice the difference in how my body feels now because I eat Burger King/ McDonald’s/etc. much less often and it’s amazing how I got used to feeling that way.  Tired, uncomfortable, thirsty, greasy, abdominal cramps…these are things I notice now that I can relate directly to my diet after eating at a place like that.  I think I enjoy food more now because I feel less negative emotions about eating.  I used to eat what I knew to be too much and what I knew to be bad for me.  I’d eat until I felt sick but felt compelled to finish, to not waste anything.  I felt guilty then afterwards because I shouldn’t have eaten ________ to start with.  Now, I know I’m eating good, healthy food and I’m eating it with portions in mind.   If I’m truly still hungry then I eat something that is filling but healthy but I don’t often eat anymore to where I am guilty over having eaten.

There is a difference between being full and being satisfied.  Now when I’m done eating and still want more I stop and think “am I still hungry or am I satisfied”?  Most often the answer is that I’m satisfied.  If it’s hard to tell, waiting 15 minutes usually clears up the question.  I used to eat like a starving person that didn’t know where the next meal was coming from.  When I was a kid my family would joke “we aren’t going to take it away”!  My Dad sold vacuums so there were also a lot of jokes in that direction as well.  I didn’t taste much of what I ate because my end-game was to be full, to fill something emotional and physical and taste wasn’t involved.  I’m trying to eat more slowly but this is a hard habit to break, especially in my job – I used to be lucky to get a lunch break on a 12 hour shift and now, I’m a lot more likely to get a break but it’s just a 30 minute one…that leaves about 20 minutes to eat by the time I get my lunch from the fridge, heat it up and sit down.  Can’t savor anything too long there but it could be worse.

I’m only basing this off my own personal experiences so these thoughts may not apply to everybody. The process of being me and being healthy is still “under construction” but I think it’s been worth it and I think it is working.  Yes, some meals take more fixing that I want to do sometimes, yes the ingredients are more expensive and some are hard to find.   In the end though I’m happier, I feel better physically and emotionally and I am learning new things – like how to like myself!

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