Making The Transition from Unhealthy Eating to Healthy Eating

From Unhealthy to Healthy Eating
From Unhealthy to Healthy Eating

By John Allen Mollenhauer, founder of the Nutrient Rich Life –  and the Performance Lifestyle.

You know the old saying, “they can’t see the forest from the trees?” Well, never has that confusion been more prevalent than in today’s dietary world. You see, wisdom is rare. You can only really attain it through experience and see it in retrospective; or, if you’re savvy, by leveraging someone else’s experience.

Here in this class, I’m going to share some wisdom; it’s based on a great deal of experience as a person wanting to make sense of food and nutrition in the world over 20 years, as a consumer in a shifty market that can easily sway you when you are most vulnerable and don’t really know what’s happening, and as a professional who has worked with hundreds of people. Its value is in saving you potentially years, maybe even decades of challenge and heartache, which you can prepare for right now, or even traverse (mostly) simply because you know the natural process of transitioning – the key word.

Transitioning is a word most of the diet industry does not understand with its inflated promises, and manipulative approaches that are hell bent on helping you deal with the predictable result of unhealthy eating – weight gain and poor health, while rarely ever solving the problem. They focus on giving you only one benefit – usually weight loss, at the cost of your health, and so the cycle continues.

If you really want to change, then learning how to “transition” from unhealthy eating to healthy eating more plant based nutrient rich is the only sound way to go if you want to nourish and detoxify your body, lose weight naturally and dramatically improve your health reversing lifestyle-induced diseases. It is also the only proven way to age-slower, look-younger and live longer.

So strap in for this 41-minute class, I’ll be sharing the process most people go through when transitioning the way they eat. You’ll learn 10 hidden stages also acting as “big ideas people typically go through over time when transitioning the way they eat. Learn them up front, instead of in retrospect, and you will have a leg up on the pace of change and success in your future.

Stage / Big Idea #1:

Unhealthy Eating:

1. We eat the standard modern diet (SAD) – most of us were raised eating up 80-90% or more animal products and refined foods loaded with added salt, oil and sugar, all of which are micronutrient poor, overly concentrated, and overly stimulating and only 10—20% produce – vegetables, fruit, beans (legumes and pulses), seeds, nuts, and intact whole grains which are micronutrient rich.

Most of us were brought up this way, with the “token vegetable on the side.”
This of course causes us to gain weight and get unhealthy over time, prompting stage big idea #2.

Stage / Big Idea #2:

We experience negative results, think they are “normal” when they actually just common yet abnormal, and then attempt to “eat less” of the SAD otherwise known as “dieting.” This means eating less of the very nutrient poor foods that are not meeting your micronutrient needs to begin with, while simultaneously toxifying your body with refined and added ingredients that give rise to addictions – like  salt, oil and sugar.

To compound the issue of eating less than we need and want (low cal), we also manipulate the calorie containing nutrients in our diets by eating low-to-no fat and low-to-no carb diets. These tactics may help you lose weight in the short term, but they further compromise your health on top of that dynamic “unduo,” of low nutrient density and high toxicity. Both will undo you. All of this will leave you feeling like you’re hungry all the time, while reinforcing cravings and overeating.

This is the stage so many people stay at, merely riding the fence of eating “better,” as compared to their previous usual diet, while still eating predominantly nutrient-poor foods at the same time. This is a weight gain diet, posing as a weight loss diet and it’s guaranteed to keep you stuck in a vicious cycle of eating foods that don’t serve you.

Stage / Big Idea #3:

We get so frustrated at this stage and may go back to #1, because that “stuckness” gives way to the freedom we naturally want, of “just eating” what is available to us, when we want it and as much as we want. The world is my oyster dammit!

At this stage, where the person has very little awareness and context around food and nutrition, many just don’t want to deal with learning more, feeling like they have to monitor themselves, restrict themselves, eat “special” etc and simply head back for the pleasure of just eating.

The problem with that move is that it takes you back, back not only to nutrient-poor foods as the core of our diet, but also back to eating foodstuffs that are downright nutrient barren, and compromising your body (the machinery). Both nutrient poor and nutrient barren foods will undermine your health, happiness and performance over time, over even a short time despite their ability to make you feel good as you eat.

Stage / Big Idea #4:

You may go through this process (1-3) a few times.  This makes sense, given the strategy up until this point doesn’t work. It’s nutrient poor. 

Whole industries(not just the diet industry) are built around the vicious cycle of eating nutrient poor foods, and it is great for business. What could be better for the business ecosystem than never solving the underlying problem that keeps people consuming what they don’t need, more food than they actually need and in an almost addictive fashion? Nothing actually, and that’s just the way the market likes it. That is, if you are on the wrong side of the fence and not one of new and emerging natural or organic food companies that are enabling people to transition to healthy eating and get free of that vicious cycle.

This is precarious time at this stage, in the sense that we’re being told that we need to eat more vegetables and fruit etc, but at a time when our taste buds are geared for super stimulating, calorie concentrated foods like chicken, fish and steak 2-3 times per day, sugar cereals, bagels and butter, pretzels, pasta, cake… and our taste buds simply have not yet had the time to adjust; to get their feet on the ground.

We don’t yet like the foods that love us and the take-your-vitamins, eat-some-vegetables-on the-side strategies, and the like, always fail. You must be eating healthy to be healthy with a nourished, detoxified, immune stabilized and strengthened body that is optimized (nutritionally speaking) for performance. Until this happens your dysfunctions will guide your choices, because what is right, feels wrong and what’s wrong feels right.

Healthy Eating Begins: 

Stage / Big Idea #5:

Eventually, we start to “get” that we just don’t need another diet and we do need to stop the insanity. We come to terms that we need to start eating more plant based nutrient rich foods, because plants and their process of formation (photosynthesis) are were all nutrients originally come from. But instead of going all the way and understanding what it means to eat more plant based nutrient rich, we go vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, eat non-GMO etc, all of which may be very smart things to do as part of a healthy eating style; it’s just that none of these definitions of eating stand alone as a definition of eating healthy. 

The result may be thinking that you’re eating healthy, but in actuality you may be eating a healthier version of the SAD Standard American Diet; only now without the genetically modified organisms, wheat protein and meat, yet potentially still loaded with meat, refined and added salt, oil and sugar depending on your definition.

Basically we end up doing the same thing we’ve always done, eating “healthier” but without enough change to give the shift any major health and sustainability momentum. This is the “wash-your-vegan-pastry-down-with-some-veggies” phase, or eat-lots-of-meat-with-small amount-of-vegetables-on-the-side-with-supplements so-you-make-up-for-what-you’re-not getting-in-your-food phase; and the promises of healthy eating are just not fully realized.

Many dietary tribes are based on what they don’t eat, and these communities are valuable. Dietary tribes like any entity or group, want and need a cause to rally around with clear lines in the sand. The challenge is that we live in a fast paced 2014 and it can be (not always) hard to live with lines in the sand and with ideologies that are inflexible, which in some cases are not really proven healthy or don’t promote psychological or social wellness.

The taste bud adjustment period at this stage is the only really tough time you’ll have in a true transition from unhealthy eating to healthy eating, not because healthy foods aren’t great tasting, but because you’ll experience some withdrawal symptoms from naturally nutrient poor foods, and the manufactured foods you’ve been eating, which have all the nutrients stripped out and only the pleasure inducing chemicals left in. Though a little less intensive, it’s a little like getting off drugs and it’s no wonder why people capitulate at this stage and go backwards. We have to be careful not to associate the pain of withdrawal from unhealthy foods, to the emerging pleasure of health-promoting foods.

Stage / Big Idea #6:

We may again go back to #1 or the simple point of #5 albeit now with some major improvements. 

Ex-vegans, start eating meat again because they may feel better, or require more essential fats in their diet; paleo people and those generally eating high-animal protein / low plant food diets who often suffer from constipation, clogged arteries (thought they may not know it) due to all the saturated fat, cholesterol and limited fiber intake and more rapid aging due to such low amounts of cell protective phytochemicals and the accelerated growth due to excessive animal protein with its high biological value (not such a good thing), all start eating more whole food, plant based nutrient rich foods.

As well, those with prolonged weight problems because they merely cut the gluten out of their diet yet are still dogging the muffins and pizzas, cake mixes etc realize that they aren’t even dieting or eating healthy. They are just doing something potentially better but with little to no measureable impact.

Note: There are many people eating more whole food, plant based nutrient rich vegan diets, and even more plant based nutrient rich “paleo” diets, both of which may be gluten-free and non GMO, or not, (among countless other dietary configurations) who are thriving because they are steering clear of untrue dogmas or the typical dietary patterns in their dietary tribe. So this is not an in-depth inquisition on any particular tribe, it’s just pointing out that the transition from unhealthy eating to healthy eating is more about moving away from predominantly nutrient poor food to more plant based nutrient rich foods. Common dietary tribes rarely explain this, with some notable exceptions.

Stage / Big Idea #7:

Eventually we get smarter and realize more and more of what it means to eat healthy. In this process, we become more inclusionary, and less exclusionary but now with knowledge of the principles, best practices and some strategy. We no longer define the way we eat, by what we don’t eat; rather, we define the way we eat by the primary quality standard of any diet – is it nutrient rich, or nutrient poor…? Is the food I’m eating giving my body what it needs, not overloading it with significant amounts of what it doesn’t and is the food I’m eating as close to its natural state as possible? Can I enjoy what I’m eating and eat freely?

In this phase we discover the full breadth and depth of eating a great tasting health-promoting eating style, and realize that it’s not about nutrients alone, and more a lifestyle complete with nutritional education, values, causes, and a very big open mind to understanding all the attributes of healthy eating, not just one or two; and, beginning to put them together to formulate an approach to eating you can actually live with, well.

This can trip some people up because it’s like “where do I belong?”

Stage / Big Idea #8

So building on big idea #7, there is a potentially big risk in this next phase, in that many of us over the years, whenever it comes to really changing the way we eat, still have a dieter’s mentality. We start eating healthy, but now we approach eating as if we are on a “diet” of healthy foods, when nothing could be further from the truth of how things could really be. The message is as important as the meal we like to say, because your mindset and you’re eating style need to be aligned if you‘re really going to get all the benefits of a healthy eating style.

Too many of us get caught up whole food eating myths, like you can eat whatever you want when you want and you’ll stay lean. Not true. We buy into the myth that nuts are a high fat food that should be avoided, or fruit is too high in sugar, or base our diet on grains and starches. Matter of fact, there are dozens of different factions in the whole foods worlds, each with differentiated diets, based on one or two nuances, and again, exclusionary points of view. This phase presents its own challenges and if you don’t establish a clear context and understanding the nutrient density and calories density of foods (not in a calorie counting kind of way), so that you can make great decisions and not fall for dogma, you may be compelled to go back to less evolved ways of eating.

Stage / Big Idea #9

Here, you finally understand the concepts of nutrient density and calorie density, in that order of importance, as the cornerstones of nutrition. There are a range of foods from the most nutrient rich and calorie appropriate, to foods that are less nutrient rich and calorie excessive. Here you finally get that a healthy eating style needs to be more plant based and micronutrient rich, less animal and refined food based, and micronutrient poor. You finally come to terms that you don’t necessarily need to be vegan or vegetarian and can still eat some micronutrient poor foods and still be eating nutrient rich on total dietary intake basis. You can include all or just a few of the various attributes of healthy eating, from gluten free or not, to non GMO or not, to organic or not, etc and still eat in an extremely healthy way. But if you’re at this stage chances are you’re going to start optimizing the way you eat and pay attention to these distinctions. At this stage you’ve learned how to eat more flexibly. You like to eat ideally, you’re just not necessarily, an idealist, even though you may have some concrete values you live by; and this is a great place to be.
Stage / Big Idea #10

Ultimately you realize “hey, this it’s about just eating more vegetables and fruits, beans and whole grains, nuts and seeds versus not eating as much meat or never eating refined junk foods; the world truly is my oyster and there are more great tasting, truly healthy foods (packaged for convenience and fresh), meals and menus that I could ever get to in my lifetime!”

You start to realize that there is virtually no unhealthy food you are eating right now, that doesn’t have a more plant based nutrient rich, certainly healthier version. You discover you can in fact eat as much as you want until you’re full of those high volume foods that are super nutrient rich (superfoods) and lower in calories; and still plenty of those still nutrient rich but higher calorie foods that require you have moderate activity levels so you don’t gain even healthy weight. You will eat even more when you are more active.

You can feel good while you eat and even better after and leave all the dieting rituals behind. You can just live and be free and enjoy all the discovery around health-promoting foods, that are simple quick and easy or gourmet prepared dishes that are made from predominantly, if not all nutrient rich foods, vegetables, fruits, legumes/beans, raw nuts and seeds, whole unrefined grains with natural seasonings, sauces and gravies that make already great tasting foods taste even better!!

The Transition from Unhealthy Eating to Healthful Eating…

it’s fraught with potential challenges – influential nutritional marketing, ideologies, personal preferences, addictions, and cultural stigmas, the influences from other aspects of lifestyle and more… Yes, it can be challenging and even knowing the above, it can still be challenging to some degree.

What I hoped to convey in this class is that there is a natural phased process people who eventually arrive at eating healthy go through, particularly in a world filled with many unnatural influences that have evolved in our postmodern world; and if you want to make the transition from unhealthy eating to healthy eating, having some context of that process can make all the difference in the world.

I’ve also added in some nutritional education as best I can in 41 minutes to address a rather long process and you’ll need more. But if you start from the right place, the process of learning how eat healthy, successfully, will shorten dramatically.

Enjoy the class and visit me at where we are focused on delivering premium yet affordable nutrient-rich food products for on-the-go adults and their families, with access to nutritional inspiration, education and support so when you do sit down for a meal, it too is great tasting, convenient and incredibly healthy.

Copyright: dml5050 / 123RF Stock Photo

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