When Healthy Eating Becomes Unhealthy – Approaches to Diet for us to Embrace and Avoid #wellbeingwednesday
What does eating healthfully mean to you? If I asked you for your answer, I’m sure that I would get a response that is similar to that of a lot of other people. However, despite the similarities, I am sure many of you would have differing opinions on several hotly contested dietary topics. To gluten or not to gluten? To load up on animal protein or to eat only plant-based foods? To intermittently fast or to do weekly juice cleanses? This list could go on and on given all of the different dietary approaches available to us today.
In my practice, I have clients asking me about the newest dietary trends. They usually want to jump on the current bandwagon in an attempt to address their health concerns. What they often forget is that what works for one person may not work for them. I often say every BODY is different, and this is an important fact when it comes to nutrition. If you are ready to approach your nutrition with the mindset that you will choose foods that are nourishing, enjoyable and wholesome for YOU, then you have already made the best “diet” choice out there.
I have a few tips when it comes to eating a healthy diet. They are not revolutionary, however, they are reasonable and achievable. “Reasonable and achievable” is the place we need to start if we want to adhere to a “diet,” because, ideally, a diet should be about lifestyle.
Choose foods that you enjoy
Nothing will get you off a “diet” faster than eating meals that are not pleasurable to you. Nourishing your body should include eating foods that you like. Deprivation is not healthy and neither is feeling sad when you eat. If you don’t like kale, don’t worry about it, find another leafy green that speaks to you. Quinoa doesn’t do it for you? No problem. Thankfully, there are many other whole grains (or pseudograins in the case of quinoa) out there for you to experiment with.
Don’t become obsessed with the word “clean”
When you hyper-focus on whether or not your meal is “clean,” you do your body the disservice of worrying. The trouble with worrying about your food is that it leads to stressed digestion, which is unhealthier than the “dirty” foods you were steering clear of. Of course if you are trying to avoid certain foods that are triggers for you (foods that cause ailments such as headaches, upset stomachs, low moods, skin reactions etc.), it makes sense to pay extra-close attention to whether you’re eating “clean” or “dirty” so that you can either prepare yourself for the effects of a meal, or order a meal that will leave you feeling well.
Avoid “cheat days”
Cheat days are not ideal because they insinuate that your diet is something that you want to break free from. That is why I emphasize healthy-eating lifestyles rather than diets. A lifestyle of eating nourishing foods does allow for meals that are not healthy, because that is life! Sometimes you will find yourself without time in your day to sit down to a proper, healthy meal. Other times you may not have the energy to cook at the end of the day. Whatever the circumstance, do your best to select something healthy, and if that’s not possible, eat what is available to you, even if it is not the most nourishing. The next meal or the next day is an opportunity to eat well again.
JAIME SLAVIN is a nutritionist, registered dietician, Masters of Public Health, food educator and advocate for your health and wellbeing. JAIMESLAVIN.COM