How to Eat Healthy Without Deprivation

I hear it all the time from clients- “I feel so deprived!” Especially when it comes to healing from chronic health issues, and they’re asked to give up gluten, dairy and refined sugar for a period of time. I get it, it’s hard! But there are some ways to to feel a little less deprived when adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Ditching the deprivation mindset

Too often we think of food as fun, rather than nourishment. Start to swap that mentality. Foods are not meant to be rewards or emotional comfort, but instead fuel for our body. Yes, you can certainly enjoy them, but that is not the primary focus. The more you recognize that food is in fact fuel for each and every single cell, the easier it becomes to stop thinking of it as just enjoyment.

Recognizing hunger

When my clients begin to eliminate foods, they often say that they feel extra hungry. Sometimes, it’s as simple as not consuming enough calories during the day, or the right balance of macronutrients. If you find yourself feeling hungry, evaluate whether or not you’ve eaten enough, or even gotten enough fat and protein. When cutting out gluten, you may find yourself reaching for another serving of vegetables or fruit (which is great!), but they are much lower in calories than a slice of bread or a muffin. So if you feel deprived because you are hungry, go eat more!

Find swaps

There are so many healthy alternatives out there for unhealthy foods. If you are a soda drinker and are trying to cut them out, consider Zevia soda, or even a Spindrift water. If you’re a muffin lover in the morning, look into paleo muffin recipes on Pinterest, or grab a box of Simple Mills mix. The point is, determine what your absolute favorite foods are that you don’t feel like you can live without, and then look into other, healthier options. They are out there, trust me! Once you have a toolbox of healthy swaps, you won’t feel as deprived.

Evaluate your why

Why do you feel deprived? What are you missing via food OR in your life? Do you like the taste of sweet? If so, could you opt for some fruit, or a treat made with local honey? If you love diet soda, what is it about the diet soda? Perhaps it’s the carbonation you love, in which case there are tons of carbonated waters out there. If you miss bread, why do you miss bread? What about it makes you feel good? Oftentimes there is a HUGE emotional piece behind our cravings, and why we feel deprived. Continue asking yourself why you want something, and what else you can do to satisfy that need in a healthier way (be it food, boredom, or even associated emotions).

Remember that it takes time

Adopting a healthier lifestyle rarely happens overnight. For many people, it is small shifts over a period of years. Reducing soda intake, cutting back on bagels, swapping out their Frappuchino for plain iced coffee (more on how to reduce sugar HERE), etc. Remember that it’s not a race. Certainly you can adopt an all-or-nothing mentality, and cut out all inflammatory foods at once if that suits your personality. But if it doesn’t, set small, manageable goals to get to your ultimate destination and celebrate those little wins (just not with food!).

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