Several years ago, I heard a simple analogy about how to make a healthy change. The analogy involved changing a plane’s direction by one degree to avoid a place you don’t want to go.
Think about it. If a pilot is headed in the wrong direction and she changes her course by even one degree, in time she will wind up – somewhere else. Maybe she isn’t sure where that better place is yet, but she knows the one-degree turn will help her avoid that awful place she wants to avoid.
This “small change” approach to altering your direction in life is a proven strategy. It’s something you can do right away to ensure you won’t wind up in a dreadful place.
When I am overwhelmed by my food choices, cravings, and eating patterns – and worried about where my overeating will take me – I look at my situation like a pilot. I think about the direction in which I’m flying and consider making a manageable change, knowing it will take me in a better direction.
This past October, as I snacked on Halloween treats, I considered where I was headed and remembered I always have the choice to tweak my direction.
My one-degree change was to add more vegetables to my diet. I have been surprised by how much eating at least one, and ideally two, vegetables with every meal keeps me on a healthier flight path.
Vegetables have some sweetness to them, as well as fiber. When I prepare them the way I like them, I often prefer them to the holiday treats. Even if I like the sweets better, I just don’t eat as many when I’m physically and mentally satisfied with my meals.
Two vegetables per meal can sound daunting to some people, so consider these tips:
- I start with starchy vegetables if I’m feeling resistant or craving sweets. In no universe is a baked potato (white or sweet) worse for my health than chocolate donuts. Baked potatoes are easy to cook! They are not fried, they have fiber, and they are satisfying. The trick is to buy small potatoes, not the behemoths that some grocery stores feature! Also, measure the butter if you use it. Experiment with what is the least amount of butter you need to use to be satisfied.
- Another starchy favorite for me is peas. (When I’m craving sweets in the afternoon, I heat up a can of organic peas. I love them! They are not brownies. Again, I use a small amount of butter – just enough to satisfy and no more.)
- If I’m rushed, I buy precut vegetables and roast them. Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a gallon-size Ziplock bag. Then throw in at least two types of vegetables and toss them around so they are coated evenly. I roast my vegetables at 375 for 40-45 minutes. If you let them get brown, they will be caramelized and taste sweeter. Don’t overfill the baking trays. If you have too many vegetables on a tray, they won’t caramelize, they’ll steam from all the trapped moisture.
- Cook two trays of vegetables at a time so they are there to snack on, or so you don’t have to cook them every night. If you are doing the chopping yourself, and you don’t want to use vegetable cutting as a meditative practice, put a small TV in your kitchen or put on some music. On a bad day, a TV show or music is more likely to keep me in the kitchen.
- Remember the rule of seven. If you’re trying a new food, try it seven times. It takes awhile for our taste buds to adjust and for us to find the exact way we like a given vegetable prepared.
With all this talk of vegetables, I must share my all-time favorite recipe. I never, in a million years, would have guessed how much I would love this combination of vegetables and spices! It’s embarrassing. Mike and I prepare a tray at dinner time and eat the whole thing in one sitting. I wish this same embarrassment for all of you!
Roasted Turmeric Vegetables (from Wholesomelicious.com)
1/4c. olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic (I use a garlic press. Easy peasy.)
2 T. lemon juice (I use a bottle of pure lemon juice, but you can use real lemons.)
1 T. ground turmeric (Turmeric was an acquired taste for me. At first, I used less – about ½ T.)
1t. sea salt + more to taste
1 large head of cauliflower chopped into florets
4 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes diced
10 oz. fresh green beans
1 t. lemon pepper + more to taste
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
- In a small bowl, whish together oil, garlic, lemon juice, turmeric, and sea salt
- Place sauce in a container or Ziplock bag, add vegetables and shake to coat (I couldn’t fit all those vegetables into a Ziplock bag. Instead I used a very large bowl and tossed the vegetables for a couple minutes to thoroughly coat them.)
- Spread over a large baking sheet (I use two baking sheets, covered with parchment paper, because one sheet crowds the vegetables and they don’t brown well.)
- Bake for 40-45 minutes depending on your oven. Vegetables should be nice and golden brown, crispy on the edges.
- Get ready to say, “YUM!”
If you are completely turned off by the idea of eating more vegetables, come up with another one-degree idea. For example, eat three satisfying healthy meals a day. Spend 10 minutes when you get home from work doing deep, relaxing breathing; or listen to a brief guided meditation. You’d be surprised how committing consistently to one “destressing” behavior can help with your food choices.
As the pilot of my life, I can make small changes. A sharp turn in a plane can be too intense, but a one-degree turn is tolerable. And it will get you to a better place. Try it! And let me know how it goes.
Happy New Year to all!