Real food isn’t a diet as such, but instead a lifestyle. It is something that we can always get better at. I find myself continually adopting new healthy habits as I master previous ones and while I feel I am growing closer to the lifestyle I want, I honestly don’t think I will ever finish. Often when we start down the path to real food we can become overwhelmed, especially as we see others ahead of us on the journey and see all they are doing.
To me a real food lifestyle includes more than just eating the purest most nutrient dense foods, but it also includes understanding and getting closer to the sources of our foods. It also includes using the most real and natural products we can that have the least impact in our environment. It includes limiting our exposure to toxins that surround us everyday not just in our foods but in our consumer products from toiletries and cleaners to fabrics and plastics. All of this can feel overwhelming and it definitely can overwhelm me. But we have to remember that if we want to develop a lifestyle, we can’t do it all at once. We need to take it step by step, adopting one healthy habit at a time.
Developing and maintaining healthy habits is key. No one has an unlimited supply of willpower to withstand all of the temptations that keep us from achieving our health and wellness goals. In her book Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin has illuminated the key. We just need enough willpower to successfully develop one habit, once it is a habit we don’t need the willpower any longer. Then we can use that willpower to help us develop another habit and gradually we form the healthy lifestyle that is sustainable and enjoyable.
If you are just starting out with this, I recommend that you visit a previous post I wrote about some simple healthy habits you could begin with. Pick one and start there.
There is always more that we can do to become healthier. For a while I was working on eating more locally sourced foods. I found The Buffalo Farm in a nearby town that delivered grass-fed meats and pastured chickens to our village. While I’ve always known the benefits of eating local organic grass fed meats, our budget was so tight that I couldn’t figure out how to make it work. However, after comparing prices I found only a slight difference in the price and was able to make room in the budget to buy our meat here monthly. Now once a month I buy a box of meat they have put together and build my weekly meal plans around it. I’ve also gotten into the habit of walking to another farm down the road from us to get our free range eggs and fresh sourdough bread every Saturday. This is an example of a very successful way to build habits. Habits are easier to build if we somehow tack them on to a habit we already have. So in this case, I had already been taking Saturday morning walks by myself so I just tacked a this on to that habit. Instead of walking somewhere else, I can get both of those habits done at once. If you want more ideas about this kind of practice have a listen to Katy Bowman’s podcast about Stacking Your Life. Now that I have built this habit into my routine, I don’t have to think about it anymore. I can move on to something new.
There are a few things that I am thinking about for the next habit I want to develop. Now comes the hard part, narrowing down the one habit to focus my attention on. There is always the temptation to just try to do everything, but it really is best to focus your attention. I will post soon about the habit I have chosen to work on, but in the meantime here are some that I am thinking about:
- daily core exercises to heal my diastatis recti/umbilical hernia
- eating more seasonal produce in our meals
- getting more probiotics in our family’s diet
- using more natural cleaning supplies
- using more natural toiletries
- prepping snacks for the kids weekly
- getting back into the habit of walking everyday with my kids
Make a list of all of the habits you’d like to develop in relation to your health and wellness. Take some time to really think about each one and how they would impact your life. I like to choose one that is achievable as well as one that will have a big positive impact on your life immediately. For example, let’s say you have just been told you are allergic to a type of food but you also really want to get into the habit of a daily exercise or movement habit. While both are good for you, dealing with your allergies and learning how to remove that from your diet is probably the one that will give you the most immediate health benefits.
Another example I have had to choose between previously was to get more sleep or spend that extra hour getting up early to exercise. With a brand new baby who did not sleep very well, I was exhausted. At the same time, I was also anxious to heal my diastasis recti (an injury I developed in my previous pregnancy) and the only way I could find time to exercise was to wake up before all the kids woke up. But if I did that I would only get about 6 hours of sleep a night. I had to choose to sleep in and get that extra hour of sleep because it had the most positive health benefits.
Sometimes the key is learning how to choose the best habit to develop out of many good habits and putting your attention and willpower there.