Being Realistic about Healthy Eating

The theme of this blog is about being realistic. In the world we live in, we’re busy, constantly crunched for time and sometimes money, and feel the ongoing stress from many demands on our plate. What to eat shouldn’t add to the stress – let’s keep to just having food on our plates.

That being said, I absolutely believe in whole foods first but to reduce the burden on our time, using prepacked and prepared foods, in a smart way. Even more so, to realize that all foods really can fit. By labeling foods as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ we start to create emotions, such as guilt, pertaining to what we eat. I see many clients who feel they were “bad” because they ate some candy or ice cream, and others who feel because they “fell off track” for a weekend there is no point to getting “back on track”, so, a downward spiral of unhealthy eating behaviours and potentially disordered eating patterns may be created. For some, this results in an unhealthy relationship with food and a diet mentality. One’s “diet” is their ongoing pattern of eating and food choices. So; if you have ever caught yourself saying the typical, “I need to go on a diet”, guess what? You already are! The word “diet”  actually comes from the Greek word “dieta” which means “way of life”.

It’s more a matter of changing your diet to reflect a pattern that is healthy and enjoyable and most of all, sustainable. Whatever you do to reach your goal (e.g. weight loss), you have to keep doing to maintain that result. So, if the idea of eating cabbage soup for the rest of your life doesn’t appeal to you, then why bother trying in the first place? Those who lose weight–and gain health–are those that make changes that work for them and their lifestyle.

A healthy diet also includes favourite foods that to some may be labeled “bad”. Whether it be ice cream, potato chips, or a pop, have it in a way that adds quality to your life rather than distracting from it. You may do this by making those less nutritious foods worth it and of course by first ensuring the foundation of your diet is a healthy one. For example; to me, nothing beats a homemade apple fritter. When I have the opportunity to have one of these, I savour each and every bite and then say “that was totally worth it!” Later that day, I may take out the grain or
starch at dinner and workout a little longer to help compensate for the calories and sugar load in the fritter. Overall, I gained health from this because it made me feel great and I know my diet and lifestyle is balanced and I am otherwise nourishing myself the way I need to for optimal health.

If you are thinking, “it’s easy for her to say!”, here’s something that may convince you: I absolutely learned the hard way! In fact, the exact words “I feel like eating something bad today” came out of my mouth many years ago. The friend I was with replied with a perplexed look on his face “Bad? Like what? A rotten apple?” He already understood that a ‘bad’ food really only describes one that is spoiled. It took me a while longer to get it.

If you are considering seeing a dietitian, this is the approach you can expect: someone that will work WITH you and not give you a generic, one-size-fits-all “diet”, will help you dispell all of the myths about nutrition, and someone who realizes that life doesn’t revolve around eating so sometimes we do need to cut corners (e.g. having canned pasta sauce instead of homemade sauce, from scratch). Doing so will by no means derail an overall healthy eating pattern and way of life (aka “diet”).

Thanks for reading and have a healthy day!

Jodi Robinson, RD