At any moment there are so many opinions and controversies around healthy eating. There are the fad diets, the new research finds, the advice you get from people on social media, your friend, or mother. There’s just so much out there. It seems no matter what we eat we’re doing it wrong in someone’s book. You hear about it every where: magazines, TV, online. Honestly, it’s exhausting and can cause a lot of stress. It can also make you feel self-conscious about what you’re eating, particularly when talking about food with others.
Between Keto, low carb, high protein, intermittent fasting, veganism, gluten free etc. there’s a lot of noise in the nutrition world. And while it’s great to have lots of options (which I’ll get into later), it can also feel like you don’t know what to do to eat healthy as they all seem to contradict one another.
I’ve struggled with healthy eating and what I thought about it. When life is busy and I’m stressed it can be tempting to just get take-out, go through the drive through, or grab whatever is easiest at the grocery store. At the same time, I’ve struggled with my self-image, worrying about weight gain, and food guilt. I often have felt pressured to have the perfect body, and I think all of this pressure to eat right doesn’t help that either.
So with all of this noise and all these conflicting messages, how do we eat healthy?
Here is my advice when it comes to eating healthy:
- .Everyone needs a different diet to be healthy. It’s not one size fits all. For example, I struggle with acidity so I need a diet that limits certain foods (tomatoes, spice, acidic fruit, deep fried foods) and that has lots of fats, fibre, grains, carbs and protein. That works for me, but might not work for everyone else and that’s okay. That’s why it is so great there are so many different options out there, find what fits for you not what’s trending.
- Portion control is key. Food = Fuel. Portioning is very important when it comes to eating healthy and I don’t mean just limiting how much you eat. We need to make sure we are giving our bodies the right amount of fuel it needs to be healthy, not too much, but also enough. Both eating too much or too little can harm our health significantly. I have had times in my life when I was over limiting myself for fear of weight gain and this left my body feeling lethargic and weak, it wasn’t healthy eating.
- Listen to your gut. Literally, pay attention to the way your body feels when you eat something. If you have a lot of indigestion after eating certain foods, maybe those foods aren’t good in your diet. If you’re hungry eat, if you aren’t hungry don’t. Listen closely to the ques your body gives you, it can tell you a lot.
- What’s healthy will change throughout your life. What you eat right now might not work for you later down the line and that’s okay. Expect to change your diet as your body needs. I was very lactose intolerant for a long time, but slowly over the last few years it has shifted and I can eat most dairy now. I went from cutting out dairy completely to eating it regularly.
- Don’t cut out cheat foods. Treat yourself, we all get cravings sometimes. You can’t just make cravings disappear and life’s too short to not enjoy treats. Healthy eating also involves enjoying delicious food even if it isn’t strictly nutritious. You can eat a salad if you want to, but if you’re doing it out of guilt that’s not healthy eating.
- Don’t worry about what others are doing. Sure listen to your friends advice if it interests you and seems like it might be helpful but don’t allow other people’s diets to let you become stressed or feel pressured to change. Change should come from your own genuine want to change and nourish your body.
- Don’t judge other people’s eating. It’s never nice when you feel like someone is judging you for what you are eating, so try not to do it to others. Shaming people for what they are eating won’t help you eat healthier and it certainly won’t help them.
- Diet is a part of cultural identity. We can’t forget the important traditional and cultural impacts of what we eat. This can impact what our bodies need and prefer, but it also means we shouldn’t feel pressured to cut out what fills us culturally just because popular media doesn’t deem it “healthy”. For me, I’m not going to give up eating things like poutine or turkey dinners with gravy because these are culturally significant to me even if some people say they are unhealthy.
I eat a lot of foods some people will say are unhealthy, and others might consider me a healthy eater. At the end of the day, regardless of what others think, I’ve gotten to a place where I am happy with my diet and have a positive relationship with food. I sometimes eat specific foods that make me feel nourished, and other days I eat what I’m craving whatever that might be.
More than anything I think healthy eating is about having a healthy relationship with food, your body, and eating. It’s about having positive experiences with food and feeling balanced. It’s about having energy, strength, happiness, and comfort. We need to stop judging ourselves and others about food and eating, and listen to what makes us feel good whether that’s a “healthy” salad or french fries.
Disclaimer: I am not a Doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian. Do not take this blog as medical advice. Consult your Doctor or other medical professional if considering dietary changes especially if it is for weight-loss or other dietary concerns.