Living in a world where we make the conscious choice to avoid certain foods in our diet is becoming more and more common as time goes on. There are a lot of reasons that people choose to modify their diet, like food sensitivities, allergies, or even just to follow the latest trend (not something I would recommend, for the record). There are also situations like Elimination Diets, where we may have to eliminate certain foods for a short period of time, to either test ourselves for sensitivities or to try to work towards a health goal, like reducing inflammation. No matter what the reason, modifying your diet can often feel overwhelming!
I have worked with a lot of clients through elimination diets or through simple modifications to their overall diet, and the initial reaction to change always seems to be the same. It seems as though most of us start from a place of fear and apprehension, and the feelings of overwhelm come on quickly! I also remember when I first started paying attention to the food that I was putting in my body, and when I completed my own elimination diet; I was blown away by the number of questions I needed to ask at restaurants, and I felt so fearful that I would be missing out on something just because I had to spend more time paying attention to my meals. Fast forward a year or so... and I found so many positive benefits from the experience that I decided to follow this career path to help others through the same transitions.
Most of us will experience a "complicated diet" at one point or another, and that is not a negative thing. There are so many positives that come along with changes to the way that we eat, and the best way to overcome the feelings of fear is to focus on these four.
1. It makes you try new things!
When you remove the foods that you eat on a regular basis, you are left with no choice but to replace them with something new. And a diet change typically includes staying away from processed foods and convenience foods. Therefore, this leads to experimenting with new whole foods that you have never experienced before! Take the opportunity to enjoy the new-found variety!
2. It makes you ask questions & opens your eyes to where your food is really coming from.
Having to check the ingredients in everything you eat makes you realize what is really hiding in many of our processed "foods". The more you read mile-long ingredient lists where you have to google every second word, the more you will want to reach for simple, whole foods. And if you're lucky enough to live somewhere where fresh food is plentiful, you have the opportunity to notice the difference in flavour between conventional grocery store produce, and the local options that you can enjoy shortly after they have been harvested!
3. It enhances your connection to both your food and your body.
Having to make calculated, informed decisions about what ends up on your plate will give you a much stronger appreciation for the food that made the cut. Not only that, as you pay more attention to what you're putting in your body, you start to pay more attention to how you feel. And as you notice what feels good in your body and what doesn't, those tough decisions about what to avoid become a lot simpler!
4. It makes you appreciate life's indulgences instead of relying on them.
Having a "complicated" diet doesn't mean that you can't enjoy treats... it means that you have to get creative. When you make something incredibly delicious and satisfying from wholesome ingredients, you will take the time to enjoy it much more than you would when you reach for a chocolate bar at your desk during the 3:00 slump. And on the other hand, when you choose to give yourself "comfort" food that does not necessarily fall within your plan, you can savour it as a one-off, instead of treating it as something that you need to consume on a daily basis. I don't believe in 100% restriction in life, we have to make lifestyle changes that are completely sustainable, and if you absolutely LOVE the odd unhealthy option, you should give yourself that from time to time.