Our society has a pretty messed up version of what constitutes “healthy”. In a country notorious for obesity and unhealthy eating habits, there seems to be a lot of information (or better put, misinformation) of what we should and should not be eating.
Here is what healthy eating really means:
Healthy eating is…
Eating the foods you LOVE
Whether it be chocolate cake, craft beer or pizza or kale smoothies, salmon burgers or oatmeal. You need to eat your favorite foods in order to have a truly healthy lifestyle and relationship with food.
Eating what you want when you want and listening to your body’s cravings
Sometimes I truly crave a hearty spinach salad topped with a perfectly grilled salmon filet with a dabble of goat cheese. Other times, all my body desires is a large piece of my favorite cheesecake for dinner. Yes, FOR dinner. Healthy eating means ignoring those silly “food rules” that our society has created, and doing what is best for YOU.
Enjoying food and drinks without guilt
One of the things that makes me happiest, is trying out new restaurants or spending the day at a winery with friends. This wouldn’t be the case if I obsessed over how much butter was used to prepare my pasta dish or how many calories was in that bottle of wine. When you stop trying to analyze everything, food really is more enjoyable.
I’m not talking binge eating or stuffing your face without reason here. No, I am talking about sometimes enjoying more than you usually would because you don’t deny yourself. This may mean enjoying three to four extra alcoholic beverages because you’re out celebrating your best friends bachelorette party. Or, it may mean trying all the local street food while traveling to a new city or country.
Healthy eating is NOT…
Eating based on a number
Don’t be a slave to a specific calorie count or macronutrient level.
*Side rant- when I see people who follow “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM) on my Facebook, insta or twitter feed I immediately un-follow them. This is such a diet mentality and is so restrictive and unhealthy. I don’t see how depriving yourself by only eating egg whites and protein powder during the day, then bingeing on Oreos smothered in peanut butter at night because they have “leftover macros” is viewed as healthy. Ok, rant over, moving on!
Anyways, your body needs different things and amounts everyday based on a variety of factors, so it’s silly to try to hit a certain number everyday. Some days you may need more calories because you are extra hungry (which is your bodies way of telling you it needs more fuel!) and other days you are naturally less hungry. The body is so smart and balances itself, so there’s no need for your brain to worry about the numbers.
Completely eliminating certain foods/food groups
Eliminating an entire food group is JUST NOT HEALTHY for the body. Carbs do not make you fat. Fat does not make you fat. Protein does not make you skinny. You need a balance of all these things, not an excess or restriction of one or the other.
Don’t deny yourself something just because it’s “unhealthy”. This sets you up for failure and a life of misery. What’s life without your favorite ice cream sundae every now and then? Food provides us with joy, don’t take that away from yourself.
Following a radical “fast fix” or fad diet
The word “diet” actually means: the foods eaten, as by a particular person or group. This is in opposition to today’s perception of the word, which is usually correlated to restriction, elimination and deprivation. A diet is a lifestyle that you can sustain throughout your entire life and I don’t know anyone who could do this by following one of those drastic, fad diet plans (hence why most people gain the weight back right when they go off them).
In sum, healthy eating is different for everyone as we all have unique needs, lifestyles and cultural backgrounds. However, one commonality exists: healthy eating means enjoying the foods you love, while respecting and listening to your body. It is not about abusing your body through restriction and deprivation or fearing food. Now go eat something delicious tonight <3.