Raise your hand if you’ve been that person who has jumped from fad diet to fad diet and ended up feeling like a failure because you can’t sustain the diet deprivation.
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I’ve definitely been there and always walked away thinking that something was wrong with me. I would beat myself up for not having the willpower I needed.
Thankfully, I figured out, through the wisdom of my child, that nothing was wrong with me; rather, something was very wrong with my food. When my daughter decided at age 6 to become a vegetarian, it intrigued me. I decided to support her by cooking and eating more vegetarian foods. Since there weren’t a lot of vegetarian options in restaurants and prepackaged meals, I found myself cooking at home and creating plant-based recipes for my family.
Along the way, I realized that as I was eating more whole, real, plant-based foods, I started to lose cravings for unhealthy processed foods that usually had a hold on me, such as ice cream, cookies and chips. I found myself falling in love with foods that were delicious and good for me — mangos, blueberries, raspberries, avocados, cashews, walnuts, hummus and whole grains like quinoa, amaranth and couscous. I started to find ways to combine my favorite foods into delicious recipes and found a meditative pleasure and satisfaction in cooking with these ingredients.
When I started to choose foods I love that were also good for me, I never felt deprived, and my body felt full and satisfied. So much of eating is psychological, and so much of dieting is about deprivation. I’m convinced that’s why we fail. I don’t care how much willpower you have, eating unhealthy food with a long list of ingredients that are hard to pronounce will lead to failure every time, even if it is a “diet food.”
I shudder when people talk about not eating fruit because it has too much sugar or not eating grains because they aren’t Paleo. These are the very foods everyone should be eating. It’s only when we eat real food that our bodies are satisfied and turn off the hunger switch.
Here’s a sample menu of what we eat at home:
Breakfast: Toast with almond butter, banana, raspberries, honey and cinnamon. Coffee or green tea to drink. For the bread, I use a local organic bread with just four ingredients: wheat flour, sea salt, yeast and water.
Snack: A green smoothie with three frozen bananas, one cup of spinach, one cup of vanilla almond milk and a handful of raspberries and blueberries.
Lunch: Spinach, kale, avocado and pine nut salad. Drizzle olive oil and fresh lemon juice over ripped kale and spinach, then sprinkle with sea salt and fresh pepper and add a seeded and chopped avocado and a handful of pine nuts.
Snack: Chunky salsa or homemade hummus with organic blue corn chips.
Tea time: Ginger tea.
Dinner: Roasted cauliflower or Brussels sprouts with sweet red onion mixed with savory couscous or quinoa and served with stewed apples.
The beauty of this way of eating is that it’s so easy. I feel energetic and successful and my eating plan is sustainable. I’m in my 40s and I finally understand how to eat to maintain a healthy weight and not ever deprive myself. I am finally in the best shape of my life. My body has thanked me by how I feel and how I look — and so will yours.
Veronica Bosgraaf is an entrepreneur and lifestyle expert who founded the Pure Bar in 2006 when her 6-year-old daughter declared herself a vegetarian. Veronica supported her daughter’s decision and began to research and cook for a vegetarian lifestyle. Today, Pure offers a range of vegan bars, clusters and fruit snacks that are certified organic, gluten-free and non-GMO, with antioxidant-rich fruits, heart- and brain-healthy nuts, grains, organic fiber and organic protein. Veronica’s cookbook, Pure Food: Eat Clean With Seasonal, Plant-Based Recipes, also features a variety of simple, healthy vegetarian and vegan recipes designed to inspire people to get back into the kitchen.