HEALTHY EATING DOES NOT EQUAL DEPRIVATION
I want this point to ring true in your life. When I hear of eating patterns that make no room for occasional and sensible treats then I truly believe this sets up the unhealthy cycle of ‘dieting’. In my opinion, diets are temporary, restrictive eating patterns that have a beginning and an end, and are often physically and mentally exhausting to adhere by. It comes as no surprise that such diets often end up failing. It is this point here that I really want to emphasise. The diet failed...not you! It is unrealistic to maintain a restricted eating pattern and has not come down to a lack of will power.
To paraphrase Dr. Rick Kausman, author of, ‘If Not Dieting, Then What....?’ dieting is like holding your breath and sooner or later you will need to come up for air. You can hold your breath for five seconds, may be even five minutes, but definitely not for five years.
MORE THAN FUEL
Food is much more than a source of nutrition and fuel. Food and eating is a very pleasurable activity and is something we use in times of celebration, joy and at times as comfort. This is both normal and healthy human behaviour, and when food is used appropriately this should not be discouraged. To put it in perspective we don’t exactly eat birthday cake because we feel hunger, we eat it as a social norm and way of celebrating with loved ones.
We need to keep in mind that occasional treats are fine and can prevent overindulgences on so called ‘sometimes’ food (often the result when our eating patterns are too restrictive!) When we do choose to enjoy a ‘sometimes’ food – enjoy it! Keep it portion controlled and eat it mindfully, don’t be a speed eater. In fact all food should be eaten mindfully. In doing so you can better listen to your body’s cues such as gauging how hungry or full you are.
VARIETY IS THE KEY
As a dietitian one of my basic nutrition messages is the following: Consume more plant food, whole grains, select lean protein sources and low fat dairy/alternatives. To take this a step further I want you to also choose variety. In doing so you maximise the variety of nutrients and antioxidants you consume. Despite the attention that various ‘superfoods’ have gained, no one food within a particular food group can possibly provide you with the range of nutrients your body needs. In opting for variety on your plate you will also be consuming foods that vary in both texture and flavour – this is key to preventing boredom which can often be the reason why we stray from a more nutritious eating pattern. I know that I certainly would grow tired of consuming the same food day in day out.
Often on quiet weekends I love nothing more than tinkering around in the kitchen, perhaps trying a new recipe that I have come across or just preparing food for the week to come. It is also at this time that I may experiment with different ingredients/foods. I really do feel that a little ‘culinary travel’ is an excellent way to learn about another culture and to open my eyes to the different ways that food is prepared.
KEEPING IT ALL BALANCED
I am at my personal best when I’m taking care of my health in all aspects. Along with good nutrition this includes a little down time, adequate sleep and daily physical activity. Make it your number one priority to get this right. When you’re feeling your best you are better able to get through your busy day, keep on top of work and maintain the various relationships in your life.