Sometimes when you feel particularly unwell, starting on your journey towards health can seem almost pointless. Perhaps you have been to a naturopath or nutritionist and been advised what to do, or maybe you just know what you need to start doing to make your body feel better, but the task is so massive it seems impossible. I know how you feel.
They really should have called our first year of naturopathy study Finding Out Everything You Do In Your Life Is Wrong, or as my friend once called it, Everything Is Trying To Kill You. I remember thinking that if I wanted to embrace this new naturopathic lifestyle, I would need to change the food I ate, the things I drank, the medications I took, all my personal care products, cleaning products, make up, perfume… the list seemed endless, and incredibly expensive. And I can tell you, standing there looking ahead at all those changes I knew I should make for my health, it was incredibly daunting. I remember the fear I had, and the sinking feeling realising that everything from my breakfast food, to my shampoo was slowly trying to kill me. Exaggeration yes, but you know what I mean.
While I was petrified to begin with, I began to muddle my way through and by the time I finished my degree some three years later, I had managed to change almost everything I once thought was impossible. So today I have some tips for you if you are starting out on your health journey to make the changes easier.
Add in, don’t take out…
David Wolfe says this all the time during his lectures. He advises people not to start by taking something out of the diet, but rather by adding things in. Let’s think for example about breakfast. You decide you want to give up having white toast, jam and coffee for breakfast. You know these things are unhealthy, perhaps your naturopath told you, or Dr Oz did, or you just remember hearing it somewhere. Whatever way it goes, you decide to give them up, so don’t buy any during your weekly shop.
Monday morning comes and you make eggs and suffer through your coffee cravings. Tuesday comes you have eggs again while trying to ignore the caffeine headache building behind your eyes. Wednesday comes and you wake late with a cracking headache and no time to make eggs. Rushing out the door you grab a white bread sandwich and a coffee from the local café cause you’re freaking starving and you are sick of the headaches and this is just crap, so bugger being healthy…
Sound familiar? The best way to remove unhealthy items from your diet is to crowd them out. Plan healthy options first and shove them into your diet in such quantity that they just have to get rid of the bad stuff. Give yourself options and choices that are healthy, instead of just having one thing to reach for. So instead of bread, jam and coffee, give yourself the options of green smoothies, chia puddings, bircher muesli, buckwheat pancakes, fruit salad, green tea, dandelion tea, hot cacao, and so on. With so many options available at your finger tips you are not going to need your morning toast and coffee.
Change one thing at a time…
Another way to go about making these changes is to take it slow and work on one thing at a time. It took me close to four years to make all the changes I needed to, but I got there in the end. Feeling like you have to address everything all at once can easily lead to feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.
You might like to focus on one area at a time, for example diet, then later when you have your diet to a point you like, start working on cleaning products. And within these categories, you can focus on one aspect at a time too- say breakfast for example. Start by making breakfast healthy. Once you have that knocked over, over on to morning tea or snacks. And so on and so on.
These slow changes will make the task more achievable, and while you might be moving slowly, remember you are moving in the right direction.
Don’t throw things away, wait till they run out…
Healthier stuff can be more expensive. Nowadays I don’t blink at paying 10 times the price for ‘healthy’ makeup compared to cheap, nasty makeup I used to wear. But that is now.
When I first started changing things I was staggered at how much money I would have to spend replacing my makeup and person care products (not to mention food). I couldn’t possibly just throw out everything I already had and buy all new natural stuff. So I didn’t. I used all my nasty stuff up and simply replaced it one item at a time. In fact I still have a few wicked eye shadows and nail polishes lying around somewhere. Replacing things slowing spreads the cost out, and made my healthy product turn-over happen over a years as opposed to all at once. It’s OK to do it this way.
The same goes for food items. You don’t have to throw out all your naughty food, just don’t buy it again if you want to make healthy changes.
See a professional in regards to medications…
And finally, in regards to medications (prescription and non prescription), see a professional. I am talking either a naturopath or doctor or both.
You may take pain killers on a regular basis for headaches, but after seeing a naturopath, they can help you identify and address the cause of these headaches and stop them from occurring. Or perhaps they can recommend some natural remedies that will control your pain levels without eating a hole in your stomach lining and poisoning your liver like most headache medicine do over time.
If you are taking prescription medication that you wish to come off or reduce, please talk to your doctor. Some medications require weaning off and going cold turkey can negatively influence your health.
I hope these tips make healthy changes in your life seem more doable. Everyone has to start somewhere, and as the saying goes, in a years time you want to be able to look back and say “I am glad I started that day.”