Fitness Thursday: Eating Whatever You Want

It's healthier than you think

I remember in high school, I loved my ability to eat whatever I wanted and not get fat. This continued through college until my metabolism started to slow down. Around the same time, I also began working desk jobs.

That was likely the first time in my life I had thought that I should start eating healthier.

But the damage had been done. I was still mistaken enough to think that foods like cereal, Gatorade, and granola bars were healthy. But I was also determined to change.

The problem with eating whatever you want when you’re eating unhealthy foods is that you build bad habits, so by the time your metabolism slows down, you have bad eating habits that are hard to break.

Not to mention all the negative health effects that are unseen because you think that just being skinny is enough to be healthy.

Amid my weight woes, I thought that going on a diet would help. But doing so always made things worse. I was constantly forcing myself to eat foods and do things that I hated. I never liked the “finish line” mentality of weight loss either. I’d rather learn to enjoy each day and moment, which is also much healthier in the long run.

That’s when I learned, again by reading great books, that diets don’t work.

What worked for me instead was focusing on the foods and activities that I enjoyed that were healthy. A recent study identified that not eating enough healthy foods may be a larger problem for our overall health than too many unhealthy foods.

Natural, unprocessed foods, such as carrots, are much better and allow your body and mind to function correctly. Fruit snacks, soda, and pizza don’t. If I’m starting to sound in favor of dieting, you’re only sort of right.

You’re always on a diet; the question is whether it’s a good or bad one.

The best diet for you is eating whatever you want that is healthy for you.

A few years ago, I consistently ate and enjoyed foods like potato chips, baked beans, and hamburgers. Last night my wife mentioned to a friend who was over how I’m the worst at barbecue’s because I don’t like any of those foods anymore. How did I do it?

I switched out the unhealthy foods that I enjoyed for the healthy ones that I relished, and turned eating them into a habit. Instead of forcing myself to do something I hated, I found what I preferred and reasons to like healthy foods that I didn’t think I liked. The more I ate those foods, the more my body craved them, the better I felt, and the more weight I lost.

Today, I’d rather eat a bag of carrots than some chips.

It just took some effort to identify the natural foods that I liked, start having them consistently instead of the unhealthy foods. Before I knew it, I was still eating whatever I wanted, but most of it was healthy.

I still enjoy cookies and pizza and other foods that you’d call unhealthy, and I still eat them sometimes. But I don’t often crave them or eat them as much as I used to. I’d rather have some salmon or some nuts.

Actionable Advice: Avocados, nuts, berries, broccoli, peas, carrots, tomatoes, and apples are some of my favorite healthy snacks. What are some of yours? Make a list and buy one of those items the next time you go to the grocery store. Pay attention to how your body and mind feel after eating that food.

Head’s up! I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t meant to be taken as professional advice of any kind.