The term healthy eating varies depending on whom you are talking with. To some, healthy eating means having more variety of fresh foods (fruits, veggies, meats), and to others, it means that you want to eat out less. Healthy eating cannot be easily defined because the concept of it is different for every person.
The internet is full of nutrition advice from professionals (like Dietitians), fitness experts, other health professionals, and others passionate about living healthy lifestyles. How does one sift through all of the messages to understand what healthy eating is?
Keep it simple.
Like most things, approaching a topic with simplicity is the best. We have made nutrition so complicated over the years. Now is the time to pull back the layers, find what works best for you, and define your healthy eating.
We have six considerations for you to figure out what healthy eating is for you. These factors contribute to your overall healthy eating habits while not restricting or prescribing a "diet" that will make you healthy.
Have Consistent Intake
Consistently eating throughout the day will keep your body properly nourished. When you don't eat regularly, your body won't cue you to feel hungry, and you will lose those natural instincts. The solution:
eat every 3-4 hours even if meals or snacks are small
eat breakfast within 2 hours of waking up
Eat a Variety of Foods
Each food group provides us with essential nutrients needed for growing and surviving. All food groups have a place in our diets so that the body is adequately sustained and operates optimally. To do this:
choose at least 2 food groups for your snacks
select 3-4 food groups for mealtimes
Maintain Energy Levels
Swinging energy levels will have the body and mind feel exhausted, potentially leave yourself running in a deficit, and can lead to overeating to boost low energy. To keep energy up throughout the day:
sip on water throughout the day to stay hydrated
watch caffeine and alcohol intake
don't restrict particular food groups, like carbs, or limit the amount of a specific food
Build Healthy Food Relationships
When you have a good relationship with food, you make choices that feel good in your body, reinforcing your preferences. To create a healthy relationship with food:
know that all foods are acceptable to eat
eat foods that make you feel good and bring you joy
check-in with your hunger regularly and listen to what it's asking for
Ensure Your Gut is Happy
An anxious or upset gut can make life a challenge. Constipation or diarrhea takes a toll on your body and your mental health as well. To create a happy gut:
eating foods that are high in fibre will regulate stool consistency whether you have diarrhea or constipation
include fermented foods that help to boost digestion with healthy bacteria
Consider Your Specific Health Needs
Your healthy eating choices must take any health conditions that you have into consideration. These conditions will affect your food choices, and working within your particular circumstances will create your definition of healthy eating. Your health conditions may include:
Chronic disease management
Eating disorder management
With all of these points to consider, you will formulate what healthy eating means for you in your life. It's a lot of information to digest, but looking closely at all of these aspects will help you get a clearer vision of healthy eating in your life.
To Create Your Definition:
Write down all of the things that you are currently doing that you think contribute to healthy eating.
Examine each of the six points above and write down your thoughts on each.
Write down the goals that will help you improve your eating habits. Remember to include specific details of how you will achieve your goal.
Healthy eating, like all things in nutrition, is not a fixed term to be defined. There is no cookie-cutter solution or recommendation. What works for you is not necessarily what will work for others. Evaluate your specific and unique situation to find your definition.
Your Dietitian can also support you, build your definition and support you as you develop your healthy eating habits. A Discovery Call with us is the first step to get you on your way!