Everyone knows that starting a new eating plan is easy, but sticking to it is the hard part.
This is why diets don’t work: once the excitement of the new eating plan is over, it’s easy to slip back into old eating habits. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First off, if your new eating plan leaves you unsatisfied and hungry, you’re doomed to fail. Few people can sustain being constantly hungry!
Secondly, many people focus on the outside- weight loss- without considering what’s happening on the inside.
Change comes from the inside out, and without examining your inner self, you will have a difficult time sustaining these changes.
We’ve all heard that the key to success is to make healthy eating a lifestyle instead of a diet. And certainly, Eat to Live is a lifestyle, and not a short-term weight loss strategy.
But how does that work in practice?
Well, your mindset is everything. The way you think about and approach your diet will affect your choices, and these choices affect your results and overall health.
Let’s look at how your mindset can make or break your ability to maintain the Eat to Live lifestyle, and how you can make your mindset work for you!
The Eat to Live Lifestyle: A Beginner’s Guide
First things first: if you’re new here, let’s give you a breakdown of what the Eat to Live lifestyle entails.
Eat to Live is an approach to diet laid out in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live. For our purposes I will call it a diet, but what I mean by that is a way of approaching nutrition- it’s not a diet in the traditional sense.
Eat to Live is about feeling great and achieving optimal health in a sustainable way. It’s about improving cholesterol, blood pressure, and other measures of health. Weight loss is just a nice side effect!
Eat to Live, also called the Nutritarian diet, is a baseline diet that many doctors prescribe to their patients when rapid weight loss is required. Nutritarian refers to a diet focused on micronutrients. The Nutritarian diet is based on extensive scientific evidence, and is summed up in the formula health = nutrition/calories.
With the Eat to Life lifestyle, you focus on getting the most micronutrients per calorie. This diet focuses on nutrient-rich, high fiber, plant-based foods.
Eating these types of foods makes it unnecessary to count calories in the first place- welcome news for those of us who have spent our days calculating calories! With this diet you eat an abundance of micronutrients so your body gets everything it needs and stops craving empty calories.
A Nutritarian is defined as a person who chooses to eat foods with the most micro-nutrients per calorie.
Macronutrients provide our bodies with the energy required to function, such as fats and carbohydrates. Micronutrients, on the other hand, are the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that have favorable effects on human health.
Our cells need phytochemicals just as much as fats and proteins to perform key functions. These nutrients drive us to eat, which means if your body has a deprivation of them, you’ll compensate by overeating. By this logic, if you eat fruits and veggies packed with phytochemicals, you’ll stay fuller for longer and won’t eat as much.
The Eat to Live lifestyle generally follows these parameters:
- Raw vegetables are unlimited: aim to eat a pound a day
- Eat as much fresh fruit as you want: at least four a day
- Eat a pound of cooked vegetables a day: mushrooms are a great option to include because they have many anti-cancer qualities, phytonutrients and a meaty, satisfying texture and flavor
- Focus on eating lots of fresh greens, the most micronutrient dense of all the vegetables
- Eat a wide variety of plant-based foods
- Limit starches and grains to one serving, or one cup, a day. Fill up on non-starchy veggies first!
- Eat beans or legumes daily, at least one-half cup to one cup
- Eat a tablespoon of ground flax daily for healthy fiber and omega-3 fats
- Eliminate all animal products, including dairy. If you must keep a bit in your diet, limit animal products to lean fish once or twice a week, and eggs once a week. But it’s best to avoid these altogether! (The animals and climate will thank you, too:)
- LImit nuts and seeds to one once a day for women and 2-3 ounces for men, while in weight-loss mode
- Avoid SOS: added salt, oil, and sugar
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol as much as possible
- Avoid eating between meals, and don’t eat until you are uncomfortably full
Once you move past the initial six week plan following the above parameters, you may choose to follow the Nutritarian diet 90 percent of the time, and incorporate other low-nutrient foods 10 percent of the time (around 150 calories a day). If you must introduce meat or dairy back into your diet, keep it to under 12 ounces a week. These 150 calories a day of ‘free’ foods may help you feel relaxed around food and give you some freedom to enjoy treats.
This may sound restrictive when you first start out, but in reality, it’s how our bodies operate best! And you will be amazed at the wide variety of fruits and vegetables you enjoy over time.
When combined properly, these foods are absolutely delicious. Remember that once you adjust your mindset and examine your relationship with food, it’s much easier than it sounds.
In fact, it’s my preferred way of eating nowadays…and I certainly wasn’t always like this!
So, how can shifting your mindset help you maintain the Eat to Live lifestyle, achieve great health, and lose the extra weight that is holding you back from living your healthiest life?
1. Reframe Your Thinking
It’s critical to remember that the Eat to Live lifestyle is just that – a lifestyle – and not a short-term fix. You must structure it in a way that you can truly sustain for the rest of your life.
Instead of thinking about foods that you can no longer eat, you might think about the new foods that you GET to eat. You now have the privilege of eating healthy, beautiful, fresh, delicious foods that heal your body and prevent disease. You get to eat a wide variety of vegetables- probably more foods than you were eating before, let’s be honest!
Learn how to prepare meals from fresh fruits and vegetables that are truly delicious and satisfying (check out my blog posts and Youtube channels for ideas!). When you eat these foods, think about all the good they’re doing for your body. Imagine them preventing cancer and getting you fitter. Imagine your insides being healthy, clean, and beautiful.
Rerouting your thinking also applies to your social groups. Often socializing is something that holds people back from the Eat to Live lifestyle- they worry that they will feel left out if their friends are eating unhealthy foods. Or, they worry that people will think they’re weird for eating differently than their peers. It’s understandable: no one likes to feel left out.
This is a good opportunity to examine your people-pleasing tendencies. Are you afraid to be different? Are you committed to your health, or are you committed to conforming? Are you going to let fear of judgement prevent you from taking steps towards a healthier life?
2. Practice Discipline
I know, I know. Everyone hates this one! But hear me out: discipline is a muscle that you strengthen through repetition. It’s an important skill to work on if you are going to achieve your goals- not just with your diet, but in your life. Thinking of discipline as a practice, instead of a character trait you are born with (or not), will help you embody it. Each time you make a disciplined choice, you are strengthening that ‘muscle’, and next time, it will get easier. Thinking of discipline as a practice is the growth mindset in action.
3. Adopt the Growth Mindset
Have you heard of the growth mindset vs. fixed mindset? This idea put forth in Carol S. Dweck’s book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, opines that there are two ways of approaching your life.
People with a fixed mindset believe that their character, intelligence, and creative ability are traits they are born with that can hardly be changed. They believe that being bad at something speaks negatively of their worth as a person.
In contrast, people with the growth mindset believe that through regular practice, everything can be improved. People with a growth mindset thrive on challenges and see them as fun instead of evidence of their failures of lack of intelligence. Guess which one leads to greater success?
When it comes to the Eat to Life lifestyle, adopting the growth mindset will really help you achieve success. You might make mistakes when you are learning, but that’s normal, and doesn’t mean you are failing!
Mistakes are part of the process, so it means you are learning and improving. Believing that the more you practice this lifestyle, the better you will become, serves you better than believing that you should just know how to do it perfectly right away.
Changing your diet isn’t easy. Expecting it to be challenging, and then finding joy WITHIN that challenge, will bring you much greater success than mentally fighting with yourself over how challenging it is. Give it a try, and see the difference for yourself.
4. Remember Why You Started
Keeping your “why” in mind is important to keeping up motivation. In fact, motivation isn’t the best approach to the Eat to Live lifestyle. Motivation only gets you so far. It fades, and you need discipline to have your back when your motivation fails you.
When you feel like quitting, remember why you started. Prior to your Eat to Live lifestyle journey, why did you start? Where were you in your life? How did you feel about your health, energy, and physical body? Remember that version of you when you want to give in and go back to your old habits. Is that donut really worth going back to the old version of you who was so unhappy with their life? Think about where you would be if you had started a year ago. It’s challenging to start things today, but if you had a year ago, where could you be now?!
Once you understand your “why”, and learn how a healthy diet can change your life, you are in a better position to maintain these changes. Learning about the impact that foods have on your body empowers you to make healthier choices.
By consistently eating these healthy foods, eventually, you will instinctually prefer them. Trust me, it happened to me! I’m the last person you would think would love to have a raw salad for dinner, but I truly crave and adore these foods now. My body thanks me for the gift of health and enjoys all the benefits these foods have to offer.
5. Plan to Succeed
The old adage “failing to plan is planning to fail” applies here. You cannot expect to overhaul your diet without proper planning! Our eating habits are just that- habits- and it takes time to develop these new routines.
Don’t set yourself up for failure. We’ve all been there: you’re out and about and a delay means you don’t get home in time for your usual meal. Hungry and agitated, you pick up something quick and tasty from a fast food restaurant or cafe. Then, after eating a food not on your plan, you feel so down and disappointed in yourself that you throw in the towel altogether. You’ve already broken your diet, so who cares? You end up eating a ton of unhealthy food that evening as an act of rebellion.
Instead, plan to have healthy foods on hand in case you find yourself in this scenario. Pack fruit, nuts, veggies, etc. so if hunger hits and you can’t make it home to cook a proper meal, you won’t break your eating plan.
In addition, plan out your weekly meals ahead of time. Meal prepping is a life-saver! You don’t want to come home from work starving and feel like you have nothing to eat. Plan a weekly menu ahead of time and ensure you have all the ingredients on hand so you can whip up quick and tasty meals in a cinch.
Follow various blogs and Youtube channels that offer Eat to Live lifestyle recipes so you can keep your meals interesting. Don’t get stuck making the same foods every day. In fact, an important part of the Eat to Live lifestyle is eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Make it a goal to try one new recipe a week, so you keep it interesting!
6. Trust the Process and Believe in Yourself
Give yourself time to adapt to the Eat to Live lifestyle. You won’t get it perfect on the first day, and you will experience cravings at first until your body adapts. Trust that your body will adjust, and your mindset will adjust along with it.
Do you believe in yourself, truly? Do you think you are capable of sticking to your guns and reaching your goals? This is a great opportunity to examine why you may not fully trust your own abilities. Ask yourself this: who would you be if you believed in yourself? What if you fulfilled your own promises to yourself to make good choices?
You are doing an incredible thing for your body by choosing to eat these beautiful plant-based foods. You are choosing yourself over your cravings and social pressure. What a gift!
The Eat to Life Lifestyle Mindset and You
If you want to make any lasting changes in your life, you need to start from the inside out. Examining your mindset and making it work for you is key to reaching success.
Understanding why you are making these changes is the number one thing you need to maintain motivation. And if your motivation wanes, as it inevitably will, you need discipline to have your back. Discipline is like a muscle that you can strengthen through regular practice. It’s not something you are born with or not- it just takes practice!
Planning your diet appropriately, and planning to have backups in case you are stuck with no good food options, will help you maintain the Eat to Live lifestyle. Plus, spicing it up with trying new foods and meals regularly will keep your taste buds dancing. Doing weekly meal prepping will help you maintain this healthy lifestyle during busy periods of your life.
Adopting the Eat to Live lifestyle is a great opportunity to question some of your limiting beliefs. If you tend to get down on yourself and not trust your own ability to maintain structure or be disciplined, let’s turn that around. If you were someone who believed in yourself, what could you accomplish? Why not become that person, today?
Don’t let your mindset sabotage your success. Choose an attitude that supports your goals, and make your mindset work for you. Don’t procrastinate any longer: get started TODAY.
If you need help getting started, join our FREE 9-day challenge! Gain support, accountability partners, knowledge, and all the resources you need to be successful. Drop me a line- I can’t wait to help you!