First Steps On the Path to Vibrant Health

Eat healthier with these tips from Laura-Jane Koers.

  • Author and blogger Laura-Jane Koers shares how to eat clean without spending a ton of money or time.
    Photo by Cameron Lerch
  • “Cook Lively” by food blogger Laura-Jane Koers takes the intimidation out of clean eating by offering simple and appetizing vegan and raw-inspired recipes.
    Cover courtesy Da Capo Press

Cook Lively!cook lively by Laura-Jane Koers (Da Capo Press, 2017) shares plant-based recipes to help you get energy and clearer skin. Raw-inspired and vegan, this cookbook simplifies the sometimes overwhelming world of clean eating. In this excerpt the author, a popular food blogger, gives her advice on how to start eating healthier without a ton of hassle.

We all recognize that eating more plants and fewer processed foods is the answer to the seemingly complicated question of how to eat well. In other words, it’s not the lack of knowledge that is the problem. Rather, it’s putting this knowledge into action that is the tricky part. It’s the eating “not too much” and eating “mostly plants” bit that is the trouble.

We are humans. Naturally, most of us crave fats, salts, and sugars; few people come out of the womb craving cucumbers and apples. Enjoying flavorful food is one of the greatest pleasures of our lives. Since we were toddlers, we’ve been crafting our food habits. We’ve created snacking habits, grocery-shopping habits, holiday food traditions, TV-related food habits, brand loyalty, and restaurant-ordering routines. We’ve learned to prepare meals a certain way (whether that means unwrapping a frozen pizza or ordering takeout). These habits are grooves in our brains that are deeply etched. Eating and preparing food is something we do every day, and, depending on your age, you’ve most likely had decades of experience. If you’re 40 years old, you’ve eaten over 40,000 meals. You’ve become the world’s foremost expert in eating and preparing food in your unique way.

Depending on what you’re accustomed to, your expertise and food habits are most likely both a blessing and a curse. Your food habits are a blessing because you’ve got skills to quell your hunger (or your boredom, as the case may be). But your habits are also a curse if they lean toward the unhealthy, because you’re such a master that learning a new way of eating feels like learning to walk again. If this sounds like you, recognize it. Honor it. Be patient with yourself.

If you’re trying to learn new habits, it can feel as though you’re learning how to write with your other hand. When you’re stressed or in a rush, it’s natural to go back to writing with your normal hand, because you mastered it decades ago and it takes zero effort. Similarly, when learning a new way of eating, it’s not about willpower or cravings. It’s about what you know, what you’ve mastered. The trick is to teach yourself new skills and habits when it comes to food, so that they become your new normal. It can be done, and with less time and effort than you might think. When I started my own journey toward healthier eating, breaking those old habits (unwrap, snack, microwave, order in) was a big challenge. Over time, I realized that adopting a few simple rules to live and eat by could make this daunting task easier — and even enjoyable!

You Don’t Have to Be Perfect

Consistently eat a little healthier than you ate yesterday, and you will be on the road toward wellness. When it comes to food, consistent steps in the right direction beat short-lived extreme diets, hands down. Eating well is an ongoing practice, not a short-term event.

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