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Baby Steps To New Eating Habits (Part One)

The Center:  Facing a new diet life style can be fun. Some dieters have medical conditions that mandate good nutrition as part of their treatment plan. Let’s take a quick look at three patients who have discovered medical conditions that require them to re-think their eating habits:

Jen has been diagnosed with celiac disease. She knows gluten has been making her sick.

Arthur has just learned he has type 2 diabetes. He faces a battle with sugar addiction.

Ellen endured a heart incident over the holidays, and must learn to eat heart healthy.

At the Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine, we understand that changing eating habits is one of the largest health issues a patient can face. If you have a health situation like that of Jen, Arthur or Ellen, above, and you have newly discovered that your health absolutely depends on your food choices, you might need a starting point. Although there are some good diet hints involved in this blog, Parts One and Two, for any one, it is especially dedicated to the baby steps involved in a your initial commitment to a medical diet.

1. The Big Reason Dieting is Difficult

At the Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine, we know that food is more than nourishment. We realize, “food is part of our culture and our social existence.” We understand that your eating habits are part of your daily life, and our culture makes food a “source of pleasure and comfort.”

When your doctor mandates changes to your diet, it takes a while to understand that you must also make changes in your life.

2. Recognition of a Mourning Period

According to wellness coach for Dr. Frank Lipman, Laura Kraber, allowing yourself to mourn favorite foods is “a first step in developing new habits and discovering new treats.” (Special Note:  A “treat” does not have to be food!)

The Center of Natural and Integrative Medicine encourages walking!

Kraber adds, “Although it is immensely rational to reject the health-robbing Standard American Diet of sugary snacks, processed foods, and factory-farmed meat, by diverging from the norm, you are stepping outside of the mainstream.”

Stepping out of the mainstream was an alien, and somewhat distressing, situation for Arthur in our above stories, but he has just begun to stop mourning his daily chocolate bar, and start looking forward to his daily walk.

As we stated in Step One, social change is at the heart of some of changing habits you have come to associate with  your favorite foods:

Jen can not split pasta orders with her friends at their favorite Italian Bistro.

Arthur feels left out of the morning donut break at the office.

Ellen misses sharing French fries with her children.

Kraber states,”The ability to grab food on the go declines when you raise the requirements of what constitutes food.” It is not easy to reject the ease and convenience of fast food and packaged food in a culture that embraces it.”

All of these deprivations must be mourned and then accepted.

3. Ideas to Help Create a Game Plan

Our nutritionists often recommend patients turn to reliable dieting articles, recipes, blogs and other online sources to help find a “community” to support your effort to make dietary changes. Research restaurant menus, and find new places to meet your friends, places with healthy food choices.

WebMd gave Ellen a beginning point with their healthy action plans and cooking ideas. She discovered her children liked sharing the local farmer’s market with her even more than the French fries. 

Learn to love your Veggies!

Jen turned to our friends at elana’s pantry for rich and varied dishes that are all gluten free.

Arthur researched many local restaurant menus, on his computer, and found new places to meet friends, places with healthy sugar-free food choices.

“Sourcing high quality food is a priority when your health dictates your diet, and making the time and allocating the funds to organic, unprocessed, whole foods demands effort.”

The Center for Natural and Integrative Health knows that one of the  biggest changes in your life will probably be learning new ways of cooking at home. Don’t worry, your friends and family will love your invitations to dinner with your new healthy foods.

Likewise, meals do not have to be the heart of every social event.

For example, meeting friends for a walk or a spending an evening at concert are not menu items that demand going out to eat. The idea is removing the harmful food from the social fun.

Next week, in Part Two of our topic, “Baby Steps to New Eating Habits,” we will bring you more tips, hints and points to ponder as you enter a new world of feeling better through significant changes in your nutrition and eating habits.

(Special Note:  We remind you that our above patients are entirely fictional, created entirely to bring human interest to your understanding of typical health issues.)

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