Simple ways to make healthful eating a habit

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There is no doubt about it that we live in an unhealthy culture. Unless you're a hermit and don't watch television, you are faced daily with unhealthy food choices.

At the office awaits the coworker who brings doughnuts in the morning or the celebration of a colleague's birthday with the chocolate cake to go along with it. There are also fast food temptations that encourage us to avoid cooking.

There are the snack machines filled with sugary candies and fat-laden chips. Throughout the day, our food choices are filled with too much fat, sugar and salt.

It's a crisis. Obesity is up significantly from just a few decades ago.

I was watching a movie from the 1960s recently, and I was astounded at how everybody in the movie was skinny. I realized that back then, that was normal.

Today's children don't know that that's normal. As a consequence, incidence of type II diabetes is up significantly. That's important because of all the consequences that type II diabetes can lead to, including heart attacks, foot amputations, blindness and more.

We are a nation with a health crisis of immense magnitude, and too many of us think that it's just normal to live that way.

So, what is a person to do who wants to be healthy?

First, let's not beat ourselves up by always seeking perfection. The inability to obtain perfection becomes an excuse in itself.

It's what Dr. Doug Lisle at True North Health Center in Santa Rosa, Calif., calls "the ego trap."

By being gentle with ourselves, we can make healthy eating a habit. Dr. Lisle suggests shooting for 80 percent to 90 percent of calories being good, whole, plant-based foods. That still allows room for as much as one fifth of our calories coming from the exceptions we make during the day.

To achieve that 80 percent of good calories, we can set up our kitchens for healthy eating.

We can keep fresh fruit on hand, whether at home or at the office or at school, to snack on.

We can make doing so easier by keeping close by an apple corer for coring the apples and peelers for peeling oranges.

We can make it a point to not buy unhealthy foods in the first place, thus not having them available to tempt us at home.

The goal is to make healthy eating as easy as possible. Doing so will help it to become more of a habit.

Miraculously, as healthy eating becomes more and more of a habit or way of life for us, we will find it easier and easier to increase the percentage of healthy foods that we eat.

We will find it easier to resist that doughnut in the morning, to maybe have just a small piece of chocolate cake to celebrate a colleague's birthday, and to pass up the snack machine in favor of an apple that we brought with us.

J Lanning Smith is a local freelance writer focused on the whole food, plant-based way of eating.

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Health & Wellness
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