What does healthy eating mean to you? When you think of healthy eating do you think weight loss?
If your answer is “Yes”, what if I told you that the answer is partly yes and partly no?
To understand why I say this I invite you to read on.
Healthy Eating is more than weight loss
Is your current thinking on food about energy in, energy out? If it is, I understand why you think that healthy eating equates to weight loss.
I would like to offer a different perspective.
The concept of healthy eating was for a long time focused only on weight loss. We now know better, that food is not just about energy but primarily about the nutrients it provides to you to function.
To better understand why I say this, let us look at the consequence of making poor food choices.
Consequences of Poor Food Choices
Have you heard the saying countless times, “You are what you eat.”? Have you thought about what that really means? One way to understand what that really means is to look at some of the consequences of poor food choices:
- Lack of energy
- Poor concentration and memory
- Being overweight and obese
- Or at worst, poor food choices that over time contribute to the development of chronic health conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
Did you know that the Global Burden of Disease Study (2016) now ranks poor quality diet as the second leading contributing factor to early death (mortality) across the globe?
Hence, the potential consequences are significant. With such downsides to eating poorly, how can you ensure that you are eating well?
Below are some things to consider.
Relationship with Food
Do you understand your relationship with food? Two elements to consider in this area are ‘food communication’ and ‘food boundaries’.
Importance of listening to your body
- Every individual has different needs based on the quality of their health and well-being.
- And I am sure you will agree prevention is better than cure.
- To learn to understand how your body responds to food you need to listen to your body.
- Your body communicates with you via symptoms and signs.
- It uses these symptoms or signs in many ways, including letting you know well it is digesting and absorbing the food you eat, and whether is able to fully utilise the nutrients in the foods you eat.
- I encourage you to learn how to better listen to your body through some strategies found here.
Importance of knowing your food
- Nutrients: Food comes in all shapes and sizes, providing different types of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Knowing about the food groups and how they support your body helps you match your input (food you eat) with your body’s needs.
- Seasons: Different foods are available in different seasons. Nature has its way of knowing what our body needs in the changing seasons and eating with the seasons will not only ensure you are satisfied but also nourished by your foods
- Labels: Processed and manufactured food vary in quality and ingredients, and hence nutrient density. If you want to understand what is in your food, you need to read the nutrition labels. Doing so will enable you to know what you are putting into your body.
- Healthy eating is not about being restrictive and structured all of the time. Your health and well-being is best supported in the consistency in the quality of the food that you eat.
- You might want a burger or sugar hit from time to time. You can allow yourself this indulgence occasionally.
- Good quality health is a product of your food habits and choices over time.
- If you are making the right food choices most of the time, chances are you will meet your health and well-being needs.
- However, if you are struggling with particular habits or food choices, a good strategy is to consider food swaps, where you switch an unhealthy food for a healthier option most of the time.
Attitude towards food
What is your attitude towards food? Is eating food just an item on your checklist to get “energy”?
Your attitude toward your food shapes the way you relate to your food. I encourage you to create a holistic attitude toward your food.
- These days you may too often find yourself to eating on the go, in front of our computers or the television. As a result of a busy life, we are trading off sitting, eating and enjoying our food with getting “something done”.
- Did you know according to Harvard Health, engaging in this “stressed-out” mode of eating is likely to lead to piling on weight.
- You can read more about mindful eating strategies here.
- In many cultures around the world, time taken to eat together as a family or community is considered sacred.
- Research indicates that fostering a positive food culture in your home and making time to eat with others can help regulate and support healthy eating habits.
An Integrated and Holistic Approach
And lastly but certainly not leastly I would also like to provide you with a reminder of the 7 fundamental elements of integrated health which include the role of healthy eating.
- Healthy eating and drinking – which includes preparing healthy food, awareness of how your body responds to food and limiting intake of harmful substances
- Regular physical activity (incidental and organized) – which supports healthy body composition and time outdoors in the sunshine
- Strong interpersonal connection – from a social, family and community perspective
- A clear sense of purpose – meaning in life, your view of work/life balance and a sense of formal or informal spiritual connection that enables you to keep a positive outlook
- Appropriate rest and relaxation – ability to take time out, to play, reflect and maintain healthy boundaries that allow us to de-stress and recharge
- An outlet for creative expression – variety in life, your own form of creative expression that enables a regular spring clean of mind, body and environment
- Consistent and ongoing mental stimulation that keeps your mind engaged, stimulated and sharp
Cultivating Food Habits & Rituals
Sustainable healthy eating is about cultivating healthier food habits and choices. Weight loss is one of the by-products of sustainable healthy eating.
If you invest time in establishing a healthier relationship with your food, cultivate a more holistic attitude towards it and develop an understanding that healthy eating is an important part of your integrated well-being, you are ready to make change.
Be aware that changing habits take time and it requires a plan. If you think you are ready to take charge and make change, I encourage you to make contact.
If you would like to find out more about how I work, read more about my 3-step process called ACE (Access, Create, Enable).