Jeremy grew up being active and involved in sports. But he never gave healthy eating too much thought until he found himself gaining weight several years after college.
In November 2006, Jeremy hit a turning point when he found that he was too out of shape to play in a company football game. He decided to change his eating habits.
Cutting out fast food
The first step Jeremy took toward healthy eating was to stop going to fast-food restaurants. Jeremy used to eat fast food as often as 4 times a week. To his surprise, he found that giving up fast food wasn't that hard. Now, he says, "I don't even like it anymore."
When Jeremy does go out to eat, he tries to pick menu items that he knows are healthier. He orders salads and lower-fat sandwiches instead of hamburgers, and he drinks water instead of soda pop. "I try to order things that I know I can modify or are already prepared the way I would like them to be prepared."
The importance of planning
Planning meals has been a key to Jeremy's success. It helps him avoid the trap of getting too hungry and resorting to fast food. Each week he plans what he will eat for each meal, and he shops for groceries with his plan in mind. "It's a lot easier to make healthy choices when you're just planning ahead for it."
Jeremy has always enjoyed cooking. Now he experiments with ways to make recipes healthier. He uses whole wheat flour instead of white flour, and olive oil instead of butter.
"The cooking styles that I do now just involve a healthier way to cook the foods that I already liked," he says.
Cooking allows him to have more control over his food choices. "If you're going to prepare it yourself, you're much better off than if you were going to buy it already packaged. You know exactly what's in it."
Not feeling discouraged
Rather than cutting out certain foods, Jeremy sometimes includes his favorite foods in his eating plan. "That way I don't feel like I'm letting myself down by not sticking to my plan.
"I know the things that I like to eat, like baked goods, cookies, and stuff like that. I know that I'm never going to stop liking those."
He also says he has learned to expect that there will be setbacks as he changes his eating habits. He accepts that things won't always go perfectly, so he doesn't get discouraged. "Just be patient with it, and be realistic with your goals."
Support from others
Jeremy's friends and family noticed when he started eating healthier. Their support has helped motivate him to make a habit of his healthy eating changes.
"It made me feel pretty good, especially when people started making comments about noticing the changes I would make," he says. "You just feed off the positive energy."
It also helped to have friends with similar goals. They support him with his eating changes.
Tip for buying healthy foods on a budget
Jeremy has advice for people who say that eating healthy is too expensive. He recommends looking for fruits and vegetables that are in season.
"There are always price breaks on certain things," he says. "Fruits and vegetables are expensive, especially when they are out of season. But there's usually something that's in season."
For Jeremy, there have been no drawbacks to changing the way he eats. He acknowledges that it takes planning to eat healthfully. But he knows that it's worth the effort. As a result of his changes, he is back to a healthy weight and has the energy to do the activities that he wants to do.
"It's just something that's been really positive for me."
Jeremy's story reflects his experiences as told in an interview. The photograph is not of Jeremy, to protect his privacy.
For more information, see the topic Healthy Eating.
Current as of: August 21, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator