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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Don't know how to eat healthy? Nonsense!

"I just don't know how to eat healthy", "I don't know what to eat anymore" and  "I don't know what foods I should be eating" are some of the most common comments I hear as a dietitian.  With the exception of a few individuals with very specific disease conditions, my response is "Nonsense!"  Ok, so what actually comes out of my mouth is generally softer and couched in more diplomatic verbiage, but let's face it - in my head I'm shouting "Nonsense!"
If groundhogs can figure out how to eat, we must be able to!
How do you think humans survived and thrived for millennia?  More to the point, how do you think your ancestors survived 100 years ago?
Eating is an intuitive action that we unfortunately un-learn as we grow up.
You may be saying in your head, "yeah, but they didn't have all this fast food and packaged, marketed-out-the-ying-yang foodstuffs."  At which point, a lightbulb should go on inside or possibly above your head.  Listen to yourself.  Listen to your body.  What is real food?  What truly nourishes?  In case the lightbulb inside your head didn't fully clarify, let me sum up:
  • Eat lots of produce.  Fruits and veggies of all kinds - fresh, frozen and canned should make up half of every meal (and snack) you consume.  
  • Balance the rest of your plate with more whole grains than refined ones.
  • Cook and prepare your meals.  Restaurants and remade/convenience foods should be a once-in-a-while, occasional thing.
  • Drink lots of water.  As a rule, don't drink your calories.
  • Move your body.  Regular, varied physical activity helps to balance your appetite and metabolism.  
  • Listen to your body.  Eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full.  If you're not truly hungry, don't eat - do something else.  Slow down and give your body time to send it's fullness signals and then heed them by stopping eating.  Don't depend on portions in packaged foods or portions at restaurants.  
Healthy eating isn't rocket science, but as you relearn nutritious eating, you may need some reminders along the way.
Notice anything new or earth-shattering?  Nope.  See I told you that you know how to eat.  To quote the movie Princess Bride, "Anyone who says differently is selling something."  Truer words were never spoken.  I've said for a long time that guilt and fear sells, but I think I'll have to add confusion to that list as well.  

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