5 Useful Tips to Nourish without Dieting
Real talk-I hate the word “healthy”. I find it ironic that it’s part of my brand name. It’s an arbitrary term that's misused by society, now reflective of food restriction and over exercising. It makes my heart hurt when I see many people on social media and real life engaging in damaging behaviors and labeling it as “healthy.”
I’ll mention it 1000x on my blog I’m sure: Being “healthy” is so much more than diet and exercise. Sleep, stress management, mental health, income, relationships, etc are all health influences. Important to note are also environmental, societal, and genetic influences. Being a Registered Dietitian, I want to promote and discuss what trulymatters in nutrition. The internet is infested with diet culture laden content that is more helpful than harmful. Food should be simple, enjoyable, and nourishing.
Here are 5 simple strategies to take care of yourself when eating food:
1. Check in with yourself
Asking yourself questions and being reflective is a great way to approach food and eating. When was the last time you ate? Our bodies function best when fueling every few hours to help keep blood sugar stable. You can envision this as a fire kindling- we want to add wood before the flames go out. Are you starting to feel signs of hunger? You may consider grabbing a snack or eating a meal, regardless of when you ate last. What sounds good? Is it a creamy tomato soup with grilled cheese; a blueberry muffin with streusel on top; or is it a fresh salad with your favorite dressing? You are the food expert of your body.Eat a variety of foods for a variety of reasons
2. Eat a variety of foods for a variety of reasons
Foods contain different nutrients, making it important to eat a variety of foods. Combining protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber make meals and snacks sustaining, and help keep blood sugar levels balanced. Have you ever eaten a bowl of cereal and felt hungry in an hour? Have some eggs on the side to make more satisfying :) However, it’s not black and white-let’s say you have dinner in an hour but you’re hungry now. The cereal would be a great snack to have now, as you will be hungry for dinner again in an hour. CONTEXT IS KEY.
Eating foods that look and taste satisfying are other important aspects of getting variety. I often enjoy making snack plates because my taste buds get bored and I love seeing color on my plate.
3. Give yourself time to sit down and eat; or don’t!
It’s easy to get caught up in work or an activity, and you may urge to continue through lunch-eating aimlessly and distracted. While not always ideal (due to sometimes lacking hunger satisfaction), if you are enjoying an activity or have a ton of work to do ITS NOT A BIG DEAL to sometimes do this. Food shouldn't take up so much time and brain space, and if you are living your life ITS OK TO WORK THROUGH LUNCH SOMETIMES. Of course, you deserve to step away from the work desk to have a satisfying meal and a break. But I totally get wanting to work through lunch so you can get home to hang with your dog <3
4. Remove moralizing terms and negative emotions with food and eating experiences
Society has deemed certain foods as “good” or “bad” making it to where we have certain emotions associated with these foods as we eat them. The truth is, Food is just food. It is okay and acceptable if every meal isn’t kale, chicken and sweet potatoes (PS- I do NOT like sweet potatoes). And if you enjoy kale, chicken and sweet potatoes you should totally eat them as often or as little as you want. Eating more “clean” or “wholesome” foods doesn’t make you a better person.
5. Practice self-compassion
There isn’t a perfect way to eat. And if there were, it would be unhealthy because it would likely be rigid and unsustainable. There will be times where you may overeat and feel bleh. This is part of being human- be kind to yourself during this time. It’s easy to get caught up in thoughts as of “I shouldn’t have done that” or other shaming thoughts. Breathe, and move on. You don’t need to give too much thought to it. Your body will let you know when its hungry next. Also, there will be times when you eat what’s in your fridge which isn’t what you really wanted but you didn't want to waste food-this is also acceptable and being compassionate towards your budget, the earth, and those who may not always have access to food.
I hope you found these tips helpful. I’ve appreciated everyone’s feedback, comments, messages, emails :) Lets continue to fight diet culture and build healthy relationships with food!