What is healthy eating anyway? It is eating:
You got it, D. all the above. Really? Eating whatever makes me feel good? Yes, but it may not be in the way that you think!
Healthy eating is about eating in a way that best supports your physical, mental, and emotional needs so that you can be your best self!
It is about getting all the nutrients, energy, and fluid that your brain and body need for each system to do its job.
How do we eat in a way that supports the brain and body?
Lucky for us, we now know that a balanced diet that includes good fat, colorful vegetables and fruits, quality protein, whole grains, beans, and nuts, will do exactly just that.
How do I know what the best healthy diet for me is? Remember this, “quality matters, and quantity counts”:
Look at a few popular, science-backed diets such as Whole Food, Mediterranean, Paleo, Keto, Vegetarian and recognize the few common factors despite some minor variations in proportion and types:
- All include plant foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds
- All emphasize good fats coming from fatty fish, olive, seeds/nuts,
- All recommended free-range, pasture-raised, hormone-free eggs, seafood & meat (if included)
- Low or no added sugar, starch, and processed, refined carbohydrates such as baked good
Ask yourself, what am I missing in this list:
Do I need to add some good fats to your meals? Or am I not eating enough variety of vegetables/fruits and need to include more colors throughout the day? Quality foods are those that give you what you need without (or very little) of the bad.
Understand your current lifestyle needs & health goals:
Are you working from home with very little physical activity? Are you currently training for the next marathon? Or, are you a breastfeeding mum that also needs to work and run after your other child while picking up laundry?
On top of getting adequate nutrients, your energy intake needs to match your energy expenditure. An excellent point to note is that studies have shown us that as long as we stay physically active, our appetite correlates well with our needs; however, if we are inactive, we will likely overeat. Quantity still counts.
What happens when we don’t get enough of what we need?
Eating too little will drive the body towards reaching for the next instant source of “fuel” possible, and that often means any high fat, sugar, salt snack within reach.
Being stressed, tired, and lacking sleep would also do the same to you, driving you towards a chocolate bar rather than an apple as your body is looking for a quick energy boost. It seems to make sense, except that the sugar in the chocolate bar will result in a blood sugar dip shortly after the spike, leaving you yearning for more. On the contrary, a healthy diet that includes those mentioned above will help with better sleep!
Your body is just trying to protect you. Once your body starts to recognize that it has all it needs, you may see a change in the foods you crave, if you still desire any. By then, if you still feel like an occasional indulgence, enjoy it by all means!
Start choosing food that feeds the brain and body, and let us know how you go!