The most important thing to remember once making the decision to start eating healthier is that you are going to experience some side effects as a result of your body adjusting to the diet.
Contrary to what many Canadians believe and expect, when starting to eat healthy it’s not a feeling of feeling good that you are going to experience at first.
Here is what happens when you switch from unhealthy to healthy eating
Common symptoms of switching to a healthy diet include feeling moody and less energetic, experiencing digestion issues such as constipation or bloating, and of course hunger when you reduce your calorie intake by a drastic amount.
These uncomfortable feelings are said to occur due to your body eliminating toxins, but the underlying cause goes deeper than that.
While, yes, you will be entering a detoxifying phase, the reason you may start to experience these symptoms has a lot to do with your brain.
- Processed foods, loaded with salt, fat, sugar and various addictive ingredients, activate certain parts of the brain that make us feel good when eating them. It’s why we also crave processed foods so much because they activate the “feeling good” center in the brain.
The more processed we eat and the more we’ve grown accustomed to eating processed foods, the more difficult the transition is going to be because the brain and the body are not going to like eating healthy foods at first and they are going to protest by triggering uncomfortable feelings both physical and emotional.
Give your body and brain time to adjust
Because many people expect something entirely different – they expect feeling-good results right away, – when that doesn’t happen, they get discouraged, sometimes to the point of giving up entirely.
The power is in making changes gradually and making small changes.
- For example, if previously you used to consume 2500 calories per day and you want to cut down on that, push for cutting down 300 to 500 calories at most. Any more than that and you may start feeling hungry throughout the day, which can lead to binge eating and actually end up consuming more calories than before.
It can take weeks for these changes to start feeling normal and body and brain to adjust.
It shouldn’t feel like deprivation
When you take baby steps towards eating healthy, and you take things one step at a time, you’re less likely to feel like you are depriving yourself of anything.
Switching from unhealthy to healthy eating shouldn’t feel like deprivation because once you start feeling like that, you might find it very hard to stick to the routine. This is why you should eliminate unhealthy foods gradually and not cut them out from your diet at once.
You could start cutting down on some of the sweets you usually eat or the fried foods and find replacements for that. Have fresh fruits always in sight so that you can avoid temptation and eat something like a banana or sweet strawberries instead of candy.
Also, avoid the common physical symptoms of switching to a healthy diet by not eating too much of anything, and most importantly gradually increase the amount of high-fiber foods. Eating a whole lot of beans, lentils and generally legumes can cause bloating, constipation and other intestinal problems.
- Increase fiber intake by two or three grams a day until you build up to a higher intake and observe your body’s reactions.
- Eat fiber-packed and protein-packed breakfasts to avoid feeling tired throughout the day.
- Incorporate strategic snacking into your diet: every two to three hours serve a fruit, a healthy mix of nuts or a slice of whole bread with peanut butter to resist unhealthy cravings.