Enjoying All Foods as Part of a Healthy Diet
by NatureBox Nutritionist Kat Brown, MS RD RYT
Have you ever eaten with someone who is “in the zone” with their eating- someone who’s not overly thinking it or under thinking it and making healthy choices from a place of enjoyment rather than guilt? How does your food attitude stack up? And is your energy around food positive or something that’s draining you?
Sometimes we think about proper nutrition as certain foods being “good” or “bad”- and let’s face it, we live in a culture where we are constantly inundated with these messages. What kind of toll does that take on your food choices and mood? It takes some of the pleasure out of eating if we can’t relax and enjoy a meal without thinking about its nutritional components; the pleasure of eating is one of the most enjoyable parts of life! Let’s take some time to examine how we can have a balanced approach to eating- your body and mind will reap the benefits.
Lay the ground work
Do some preparation and meal planning. We can call it “soft focus” nutrition. Plan meals and snacks for about every 3 hours for you and your family that include all the major food groups- carbs for energy, protein and fat for fullness and satisfaction, fruits and veggies for a nutrient boost, and fun foods too! Keep in mind that proper nutrition adds up over the course of a week or even a month, so there’s no need to hyper focus on each day’s “perfect” nutrition. For more information about meal planning, check out our Meals That Matter post or Dietitian and Social Worker Ellyn Satter’s excellent work on “Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family.”
Slow it down
So you’ve laid the groundwork with meal planning and are set to fuel up throughout the day. Now it’s important to eat in a mindful way-
- Take a moment to breathe and relax before you eat.
- Chew and savor your food, noticing tastes, textures and temperatures.
- Avoid distractions during meals, and notice (and respect) your body’s cues for hunger and fullness.
Be mindful of what you “bring to the table” in terms of food rules or behaviors that may affect how you are eating.
Listen to your body for feedback
We live in a society that sometimes emphasizes pushing the human body and ignoring its cues, but to what effect? Why not take a step back from that and reconnect? When you really listen and get tapped in, you’ll notice that your body doesn’t actually get satisfied from the light ice cream nor does it really feel great after a large portion of greasy food eaten mindlessly. We are hard-wired with knowing exactly what we need to put in our bodies- it just takes some attention and effort to listen for the messages.
Remember, a diet neither entirely of broccoli nor entirely of brownies is healthy. There’s a middle ground. Your body knows how to find it if you do some groundwork and make choices based on its feedback.
Enjoy the freedom from rule-based thinking about food! Now, that’s great for your mood, isn’t it?
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Kat Brown MS RD RYT is a San Francisco Bay Area based Registered Dietitian and Yoga Teacher. As a nutrition counselor, writer, cook, and yogini she seeks to inspire others to nourish themselves and live balanced, fulfilled lives.