What is the easiest thing I can do to eat more healthily?

What is the easiest thing I can do to eat more healthily?

Loo Read – Something you can read in the 3 minutes you are sitting on the loo…

Don’t forget, we have an entire online course devoted to helping you Eat Better for the long term. Click here to take a look. In the meantime, to get you started…

People often ask, ‘Should I be eating this food, or that food?’ or ‘What is the best thing I can do to eat more healthily?’   This is our opinion…

Every living organism on this planet can somehow get everything it needs and be fit and healthy enough to fight for its very survival, by eating a diet made up of whole, natural, unprocessed food.

  • Cheetahs can run faster than anything on the planet by eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods.
  • Gorillas grow immensely big and strong by eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods.
  • Wildebeest migrate huge distances by eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods.
  • Humans…have increasingly chronic medical challenges including obesity, higher blood pressure, heart disease, greater risk of diabetes and stroke (to name a few) by eating less whole, natural, unprocessed foods and lots more processed, manufactured junk.

A very simple lesson to learn from nature to eat more healthily is: 

“If it looks like it has come straight from a farm, it’s probably good for you. 

If it looks like it has come straight out of a factory, it’s probably not good for you”.

Eating less processed, manufactured junk food reduces the amount of excess, nutrient-low calories and salt, sugar, bad fats and additives you have.

Eating more whole, natural and unprocessed foods means you will be getting all the necessary energy and nutrients you need to fuel your body and thrive. For example eating more

  • Fruit and veg
  • Nuts and pulses
  • Meat and fish

A simple rule to follow to improve your healthy eating is to make sure the bulk of every meal/snack is made of whole, unprocessed, natural food that looks like it has come straight from a farm…and you won’t go far wrong.

Read moreWhat is the easiest thing I can do to eat more healthily?

Learning Barriers – Where do you get stuck?

Learning Barriers – Where do you get stuck?

Learning is all about personal exploration and growth. There are so many opportunities to learn and yet it is often easy to take this for granted, give up when we get stuck or not even try for fear of failing. Sometimes we just don’t recognise the chance to learn or we discount an experience as irrelevant. 

However, learning and its benefits are a fundamental part of wellbeing and therefore overcoming barriers and making the most of all learning opportunities makes sense. 

True learning is acquiring knowledge/awareness/skills and using or applying it. This second part, the ‘so what’ of learning, is what makes the difference to our growth and development, and, in my experience, this is often the hardest part.  (Why Greater Awareness is Essential for Your Wellbeing explains how you can raise awareness and shares a simple reflective model ‘What, So What, Now What’ to help you).

This article explores where you might get stuck in your learning so you can make the most of your opportunities to learn.

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The stories we are told have an effect

The stories we are told have an effect

I’m in the minority of people my age, I don’t have any kids. I’ve never had to rear them, house train them or release them into the wild (but in case you didn't notice, I have had a fair amount of experience with animals…)

Despite this lack of experience with kids, I do know that the things they are told and the stories they hear play a big part on their development. I know it’s wrong to keep saying to them, things like:

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The Stages of Learning

4 stages of learning

The Stages of Learning is a model we talked about in Why Awareness is Essential for Your Wellbeing. It is a simple and effective model/theory explaining the different stages of learning experienced when approaching any new skill or technique. It applies to all learning and growth, from trying something completely new, to changing a habit, such as a new healthy eating regime.

Let’s look at this in a bit more detail so you can add it to your toolkit to help you when facing a new challenge.

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Why Greater Awareness is Essential for Your Wellbeing

Ice berg with the tip showing representing conscious mind and the mass under the water line representing subconscious mind
Awareness require effort to become conscious thought

Looking after your physical and mental health and wellbeing requires constant attention. There are many factors that impact your wellbeing which fluctuates in response to your life circumstances and experiences.  In the Eat, Move, Be Happy Mental Health series, we explore the link between our physical and mental health more, introducing self-awareness as an important tool in helping you develop good health and wellbeing practise. See How Healthy are You? and How can we fight the stigma of mental illness?  In Eat Better we also talk about the essential role of regular debrief time in helping you develop healthier eating habits.

When something is worth valuing, it also requires effort and energy to build and maintain. For example, people accept that relationships, be they with a partner, friendships or colleagues, need attention to be at their best.  When learning something new or developing a skill, you expect to spend time to understand the theory and knowledge required and then to practise the steps in how to apply the knowledge or skill in the right way. You are prepared for this to take time, with some repetition, mistakes and for this not to go without a hitch or two along the way. No-one expects to be able to jump behind the wheel of a car for the first time and be an expert driver.

Maintaining optimum health and wellbeing is no different. It doesn’t happen by magic and requires energy and effort to understand your personal complexities and nuances that help you be the best you can be. You know yourself better than other people do.

This module looks at ways you can help yourself develop greater awareness of your health and wellbeing and channel your energy and effort more effectively.

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Is the Water Getting Too Hot to Jump Out?

cartoon frog leaping away from a pot of boiling water

I came across a story several years ago that I refer to frequently, including once in an interview. The boiling frog phenomenon describes how, if a frog is placed in a pot of boiling water it will immediately jump out, the water is too hot. However if a frog is placed in a pot of cool water and a low heat applied, the immediate surrounding is comfortable so the frog stays in the water.  Eventually the water heats up and gets too hot for the frog to jump out.  

I know that is a pretty grim analogy, however how often have you found yourself in a situation where you suddenly feel totally overwhelmed, helpless and maybe even hopeless? When you find yourself in this place, not only do you not know what to do for the best, but often you do not have the energy to do it. 

It is likely that your feeling of being overwhelmed increased gradually, much like the temperature of the water for the frog.  By the time you recognised the potential impact of the situation on your stress levels, it was too late to avoid that feeling of lack of control and hopelessness. Not a good place to be and a sign of chronic stress, or a long-lasting exposure to stressful triggers. 

Not all stress is bad for us. Some stress can be motivational, for example physical training is a way of putting your body under acute stress to challenge it to improve in either fitness or strength. Acute stress responses are also the body’s way for humans and mammals to prepare for fight or flight, an evolutionary survival trait. 

The trick is to be able to pay attention to the temperature of the water isn’t it? At Eat, Move, Be Happy we also think it is about paying attention to what is causing the water to heat up in the first place and having ways of cooling the water down, or of jumping out, before it gets too hot to handle.   

This article looks at ways you can improve awareness of your stress levels and what triggers an increase in stress for you. It also explores why some people appear to be able to cope better than others with more stress and ways you can be more effective at maintaining more acceptable stress levels more of the time. 

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The Myth about Willpower

What is Willpower?

hand reaching for a fairy cake

At Eat, Move, Be Happy we regularly have conversations with people about the habits they want to change and how, for all sorts of reasons, they think they can’t. Typically these habits are about healthy eating and exercise. And what we hear are comments like:

‘I can’t resist the cake/chocolate/crisps, I haven’t got the willpower.’

‘I am too tired to exercise today. I will try harder tomorrow.’

‘I haven’t got the willpower to resist all the things that are bad for me, so what is the point in trying?’

They think about willpower as something you either have or you don’t.  And people who have it are better in some way, than those who don’t. Using this logic, people who can resist a slice of cake or get out of bed half an hour earlier to run in the morning are somehow seen as being better than people who eat cake or stay in bed and snooze. 

And that is ridiculous, right?  That seems to seperate us out into “have” and “have nots”, or “elite” and “lower” classes and by implication, we are destined to stagnate with no potential to improve or choose not to eat the cake. 

So I started wondering about this mystical willpower that seems powerful enough to influence people’s belief in their ability to make decisions and shift habits to more healthy eating and to exercise more consistently. 

I thought answering the question, what is willpower? was a simple enough place to start an exploration of willpower. Why do some people seem, on the face of it, to have more willpower to resist temptation and stick to their intentions than others? I wondered if this was actually true and, if so, where people who have more willpower get their supply?

However, it turns out the answer to the question ‘what is willpower?’ is not so simple. Understanding this is tricky. There are many variations in the definition of willpower and how people think about it. Even dictionary definitions vary and this in itself creates confusion. 

Rather than beating ourselves up because we ate the cake, is there a different way? And what part does willpower play?

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What do you want to be different and why

"What do you want?

Why?"

These are 2 of my favourite questions to ask.  I’m always amazed by what I can learn by digging into the answers a bit.

Eat, Move, Be Happy is all about helping people be and feel healthier, fitter, happier.  Sometimes, to achieve this, we decide we need to change something in our lives.  We think, “If only something were different, we would be happy”.

But there is more to this than you think...

Before we can hope to make changes and be happier, we need to know the answers to the above questions.  And that is where the story starts…

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It’s Ok to be Selfish…

Self-care is commonly referred to in relation to looking after mental health and wellbeing and is often mis-understood. I have heard it described as being indulgent or selfish, putting personal needs above those of others and as a practise for people who want to spend time alone.

Broadly speaking, self-care is about looking after yourself and it seems like common sense and pretty straight forward doesn't it? 

Human behaviour tells us time and time again that common sense is not so common. There are many examples of seemingly obvious choices that would benefit our health and wellbeing, for example eating less junk food, exercising more frequently and yet we don’t do it. We have looked at why this happens in What is Stopping you from Starting? 

Self-care is another classic knowing-doing gap (see Turn Your Plan into Action for more on this). On a basic level it makes perfect sense and not many people would disagree - and yet we don’t always think this applies to us. 

This article will help by:

  • Improving awareness of what self-care is and what it isn’t
  • Challenging thinking about your current self-care approach
  • Sharing practical Top Tips on how you can broaden your range of self-care resources and practise it more of the time.

Let’s start with one of our favourite stories…

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