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March 29, 2021

These Two Words Sum up Healthy Eating.

The posts are all over my Facebook feed as I scroll, and my anger grows every time I see them.

You know the ones—the before and after pictures of people who have taken off 10, 20, or 50 pounds in no time. They want you to buy all of the foods the company sells and get you onboard their program.

Let’s be honest here. The people posting are doing so under the guise of “helping others become healthy,” yet they make money with each new recruit they get.

Where is the research that supports that someone else knows better than you on what you may need to be healthy? I haven’t seen any and I am a registered dietitian specializing in weight issues.

I have, however, seen the research suggesting that the number one predictor for weight gain in five years is being on a “diet.” I have also seen the research that following low-calorie diets long-term, not only changes the body, it changes the mind. Restriction of foods can lead to eating disorders and body dissatisfaction. Believe me when I say, from both a professional and personal perspective, losing weight in this manner is harmful and, sometimes, deadly.

What is the right way to get healthy?

I can sum it up in two words: mindful moderation.

The way to take the weight off and keep it off is to change the way you look at food and tune into the mind-gut connection. By doing this, you can listen to your own body and understand its specific needs and wants. Someone else has absolutely no idea. How could they? It’s your body. When you allow someone else to take the reins on this, you may just be setting yourself up for bigger issues in the long run.

It’s important that you give yourself permission to eat anything you want in a moderate amount that satisfies you and makes you feel good. This makes sure there is no “all or nothing,” “good or bad” food mentality. That rigid mindset sets people up for falling short of their goals. It also potentially creates a whole host of other issues creating an unhealthy relationship with food.

Here are my four tips:

1. Be mindful of your portions and really taste the food without distraction.

That means don’t eat while watching TV, scrolling your phone, or working on the computer. Aim for satisfaction with what you are eating so you don’t overeat or under eat—you just eat till you feel satisfied.

2. Increase your intake of nutritious foods.

Such as lean protein, fruits, and vegetables, and decrease your intake of highly caloric foods with no nutritional value, such as fried foods, baked goods, and highly processed foods.

At the same time, you want to make sure you don’t demonise any specific foods because, guess what, all foods can be a part of a healthy diet. Yes, that does mean cookies, cakes, and other pastries are okay. Why? When you demonise and restrict, you will, invariably, overeat them at some point. That is the polar opposite of a healthy relationship with food.

3. Stay connected with what makes you feel good and satisfied, add in an appropriate amount of exercise, and hydrate well.

This is easier said than done. You may be so entrenched in the notion of what’s healthy and what’s not that you may think you know what satisfies you, yet you really are just settling for the lower calorie option.

4. Read the nutrition facts label and ingredients on the food you buy for your family.

This is for informational purposes so that you can nourish yourself and those you love. However, do not trade taste and flavor for the “healthier” option. It will not satisfy. One food does not ever make or break your efforts. If you think it does, you are still in the “all or nothing” mentality.

All the foods you eat should be flavored well with seasonings and your favorite oils. It’s important to add healthy fats and flavor to meals for satiety. Think about it—if you are not satisfied with your food, you will continue to eat until you are, unwittingly increasing caloric intake. Also, the human body needs fat for important processes, such as protecting our vital organs and absorbing important fat-soluble vitamins.

And, if you need more help, seek the guidance of a registered dietitian (RD) who has the education to really help you meet your goals. Registered dietitians go through four to eight years of education to become a nutrition expert. Anyone else may just take a course, get a certificate, and call themselves a nutritionist. Like you, I don’t trust my health or my family’s to someone who doesn’t have the education, the experience, or the knowledge base to help me.

I truly believe each of us are the only ones who know what our bodies are telling us, but we may need an expert to help guide us on the journey of health and well-being. Listen to your body carefully, choose wisely, and follow my motto: you only get one body in this life, feed it well.

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