You don't live on a farm
Let’s speak candidly for a moment: You don’t live on an organic farm. It would be super cool if you did—I once spent a month WWOOFing and it was the healthiest my diet ever has been or likely ever will be. I love the ideas behind the paleo diet or Whole30, but they’re hard to practice. How do you expect to get organic veggies at the airport? Sometimes you gotta drink your OJ from McDonald’s and get on with your life.
Don’t get me wrong—I have a great respect for people who can keep a strict, clean diet at all times. I wish I could do it every day, but when the healthiest acceptable snack you can find is an $8 juice smoothie that keeps you satisfied for the duration of this sentence, eating non-processed foods becomes a bit more of a challenge.
That is why I urge you not to become overly anal about eating clean. In order to eat a healthy diet, aim for three goals:
1. Make vegetables 50 percent of what you eat.
2. Eat a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
If you want to get fancy, start cooking paleo brownies and imagine they’re healthy. They are delicious, but don’t somehow delude yourself into thinking that non-GMO cocoa isn’t going to make you fat.
Let me reiterate that eating an organic, all-natural diet is the ideal. But is it realistic?And is attempting to be perfect actually making your weight-loss journey harder?
When it comes your diet, like anything you are actively trying to improve, you should have targets and stretch goals. The former should be something you always hit, like eating clean 60 percent of the time or having 50 percent of your diet consist of vegetables (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), but your stretch goals should be a little harder. Say, not eating anything processed for six days of the week, or drinking alcohol less than once a week. If you don’t make it, no biggie. But, you know, “shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
Be reasonable with your targets. Setting one too high is a sure way to feel bad about yourself. When you establish your target, the overarching theme should be “do a little better than last week.”
If you want to be in the healthiest 1 percent of people, try eating healthy 95 percent of the time (and don’t worry about the other 5 percent). If you train hard and eat right most of the time, you’ll be eating your chocolate cake guilt-free in no time. Even though we all aren’t getting our food straight from the ground, we can do our best to get as much of it straight from the source as possible. Spending money on high-quality groceries is an investment in what will be on the shelves next week. Stores listen to their customers, and if everyone demands healthy food the market will answer in kind. Don’t try a fad diet dictated by an ideal lifestyle or someone else’s favorite foods; build a nutrition program that works for you and adhere to it. Don’t stress about your diet—stress is far worse for your overall health than a reasonable amount of processed food.
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P.S. Here is a picture of me walking into the yurt I lived in on the Magic Forest Farm