Beginning to eat healthy can be exciting, but are you making some of the most common mistakes when it comes to approaching a new way of eating?

Why I Needed to Make a Change

I love food. Since my late teens, I have read about food, tried new foods and experimented with new food inspired by my travels. As a young adult, I poured through cookbooks and cooking magazines, constantly trying new recipes and flavors in the household.

As I grew professionally, entering college, medical school, residency and ultimately settling into my career as a physician, I struggled to blend my two environments when it came to the food I loved. It was almost like I had two separate “food lives” that just didn’t mesh.

When I was away from work, I was making healthy, home cooked meals, and when I was busy working as a physician, I was eating fast food, donuts and fried foods from the hospital cafeteria

You can imagine how this lifestyle showed. I carried about 15 – 20 extra pounds. I had minor aches and pains that never seemed to go away. I struggled with low energy and negative moods, especially during the winter months.

Lightbulb Moment

It took going through a difficult time personally for it to become clear that I needed to do something about the food in my life. After this light bulb went off, I dove head first into cleaning up my diet and reading everything I could about food and healthy eating.

As I brought clean eating into my world, it fueled me more and more. My skin cleared up, those extra pounds disappeared and I felt a zest and energy for life that hadn’t been there for a long time. I haven’t turned back since.

Amazing things happen when you add passion to the equation. With life’s beautiful way of evolving, at about the same time as I started to change my own diet, I entered the world of integrative medicine where food could be part of the treatment plan for my patients! Now, instead of treating people for their heart attacks, strokes or complications from diabetes, I could work with them to prevent these chronic diseases or recover from them in a healthy way!

It’s Never Too Late

Fast-forward several years, today, in my private practice, most of my patients come to see me for a question or problem and in most cases, food is part of their treatment plan. Hippocrates’ famous quote never gets old: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

It seems so simple, but the reality is, food IS the ultimate medicine. So many aches, ailments and pains (physical AND emotional) can be lessened or completely dissolved when you fuel your body with clean food!

6 Mistakes People Make when Trying to Eat Healthy

I’ve noticed when working with my patients, the following key mistakes that surface when people are trying to change their eating habits and relationship with food.

Let’s talk about these six mistakes and how you can overcome them. This will help prepare you for lasting success:

Mistake #1: Expecting immediate results

I am all about getting results and getting them fast, but I am more about creating changes that last for life. This comes with patience. Statistics show that diet changes and weight loss don’t stick when they are performed at a sprint versus a marathon pace.

If you look at any of the major diets out there, the small print admits that very few people sustain their diet changes and weight loss after five years. In my food program, I stress that you may initially lose a significant amount of weight in the first few weeks and then after, expect major changes to take place over a year.

The more gradual and slow you go, the more likely you are to have results that stick!

Mistake #2: Trying to “exercise away” a bad diet

I call this running from your plate. I am the queen of this mistake. I spent years of my life doing excessive cardio in attempt to exercise away a not so healthy diet.

The reality is, you need a combination of healthy movement, clean eating and LOW STRESS if you want a healthy body. Without this, you will be constantly chasing your tail to achieve the results you want.

Fitness should be fun, food should be fueling and life is meant to be about joy, not stress and distress. I don’t care how many marathons you run in a year, if you don’t fuel your body with the right food, you will be running in circles.

Mistake #3: Giving up too easily

I see this over and over. Patients start out strong and then as my Food for Fuel foodies hear me say often, they “fall off the wagon.” Falling off the wagon isn’t failure, it’s reality. It is what we do when we fall off that defines whether we will succeed or not.

We must be gentle with ourselves when making changes and realize that our goal is not perfection, the goal is to feel amazing. Any change you make is positive and the longer you wait to get back on board, the longer it will be until you feel amazing!

The failure mentality leads to more failure; the compassionate mentality leads to true success.

Mistake #4: Eating inflammatory foods

As a Wisconsinite, I loved cheese! In my younger years, I religiously drank 2 – 3 glasses of milk daily and cheese was a staple. As you may know, a large percentage of us are lactose intolerant, meaning we don’t produce enough of the enzyme, “lactase” to digest milk products. In these people, eating dairy leads to bloating, gas and inflammation.

I never thought I could remove dairy from my diet, but after a four- week break, I felt so fabulous that it has never been a temptation to bring it back in. Breakfast cereal became eggs and a green smoothie. Eating hunks of cheese as a snack became nuts, dates, veggie sticks and fruit.

Just like my relationship with dairy, many of us have foods that cause internal distress and/or inflammation (like gluten containing foods, corn, soy or dairy) that we will never realize unless we take them out of our diet for a while. In Food for Fuel, the program is set up to help you identify possible inflammatory foods in your diet.

Once you are armed with this knowledge, you can make the choice whether to eat foods that you have sensitivity toward.

Mistake #5: Only focusing on food/diet

This is my favorite mistake because it’s where most people miss the mark. If you’re trying to lose weight or change your diet, you MUST look at yourself and your habits far beyond food. This can be fun and SO rewarding!

Your diet is not the only key to true health. True health must include a solid look at your level of fitness and movement, your sleep, your mental health, your relationships and your spirituality. It is ALL connected!

It wasn’t until I started tending to my own personal holistic health that I developed a healthy relationship with food.

Mistake #6: Thinking change is futile

So many of my patients, friends and acquaintances feel that some people are too far gone. I am here to tell you that until you are dead, it is never too late to feel better with food.

My husband recently asked me if one of our acquaintances was “too far gone” to make some changes through Food for Fuel. I said NO!! I have many elderly patients in my medical practice who have either been diagnosed with cancer or some other life-altering illness and have been shaken to their core. They want to make a change now, and they can.

Yes, even after the diagnosis, and even after it feels like “What for?” I have seen them drop pounds, inspire their families, eradicate body pain, heartburn and diabetes. It is never too late!

Taking the Next Steps Forward

These are a few mistakes and roadblocks that come up in my integrative medicine practice and my Food for Fuel program. In Food for Fuel, you can become part of our “Foodie” team, where we will support you and help you stay on track.

We are in so many ways all the same and the experience of sharing this journey with others is what makes Food for Fuel so amazing!

Join me this year as we continue to develop new foodies and change our food culture to one that supports a life full of energy and joy. No matter how many times you’ve tried before and failed, you can bounce back. I know that to be true.

I am passionate about helping you make a lasting lifestyle change, so I’d love to hear from you!

Let me know which one of these mistakes sounds familiar, or which ones you avoid and how. You can let me know in the comments below.