Healthy Living Sound Advice
Recommendations for a “healthy” diet have changed somewhat over the past decade. Along the way we have learned that beliefs we once held about healthy eating might not be so clear cut after all.
1. “NO FOOD IS ‘BAD’”
I weighed more than I do now and for years never allowed myself to eat a bite of a sweet. They were off-limits, even on Christmas. But the reality is you can enjoy a bite of anything and it does not change your weight, neither does two or three bites. The key is enjoying your favorite higher calorie foods in moderation. All foods fit in a healthy eating pattern, some foods just need to fit in smaller amounts.
2. “DON’T FEAR FAT”
I wish I had not spent so many years afraid to eat fat. I think of all the deliciousness I missed like avocados, nuts and seeds, as well as all the fat-free cheese, low fat potato chips and Snackwells I ate thinking they were better for me. Fat-free frozen yogurt with sprinkles is not a balanced lunch.
3. “BMI ISN’T AS USEFUL AS WE THOUGHT’
Body Mass Index used to be key in determining whether someone was at a healthy weight. These days? Not so much. BMI tells us very little about a person beyond their size, and there are so many other biological markers that better measure someone’s health we too often ignore by focusing on weight.
4. “SMALL, LONG-TERM GOALS ARE THE WAY TO GO”
It’s easy to demand: ‘go (insert food group here)-free!,’ ‘give up your favorite coffee order!’ ‘no more this or that!’ But those demands often only work short term. Set realistic goals that can last a lifetime, no matter how small they seem. Whether it is to eat half a pizza, with a side salad in lieu of a full pizza or to mix honey into your plain yogurt instead of buying pre-sweetened yogurt, remember that the small changes add up, and expecting change in a week is unrealistic.
5. “WEIGHT LOSS ISN’T EASY”
We used to think that people who ate well and exercised 5+ times a week, per the pubic health guidelines, would have few problems losing weight and maintaining weight loss. What we have realized is that almost everyone who has any success at keeping pounds off has strategies that they live by to avoid weight gain. In other words, they have to put in continuous effort. This often means that they follow their own ‘rules’ to stay on track, they rarely go off the rails, and when they do, they quickly counteract their slip-up.
6. “STRIVE FOR PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION”
Yes, it’s important to nourish our bodies with healthy foods. Food is fuel and we want to give ourselves the best. However, it’s just as important to enjoy life and celebrate our small successes. When we aim for perfection instead of progress, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. The most successful people with healthy living are the ones who implement small, incremental changes which ultimately leads them to their long-term goal.
7. “HEALTHY EATING MEANS MORE THAN FRUITS AND VEGETABLES”
We used to think that the healthiest days of eating were those where I would consume primarily fresh produce. Of course, there is nothing wrong with fresh fruits and vegetables, and I still believe that everyone should have access to a wide variety of plant foods. But there is so much more to a healthy diet than fruit and vegetables! Our bodies perform best with a balance of fruits, vegetables, proteins and healthy fats, and this balance can look different for every person and every culture. There is absolutely no ‘one-size-fits-all’ healthy diet, and it definitely doesn’t have to be a giant salad at every meal if that isn’t satisfying.
8. “ONE MACRO PLAN DOESN’T FIT ALL”
When it comes to weight loss, studies show calories are king. You don’t have to be on a low-carb, low-fat or high-protein ‘diet’ for it to be effective. Moderately reducing your calories with filling foods and following a macro plan that feels sustainable for you will be most effective.
Go ahead and take the stress off of yourself and simply start implementing these steps into your daily eating habits and see how your journey changes for the better.