A long time ago I made the choice to shift my focus on what I should include more of in my diet instead of what to limit. Interested in joining me?
On Goals and Resolutions
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, are you someone who dreams up big ticket goals only to see them slowly fade in the distance soon after? Most of us can certainly relate. I consider myself a serial goal setter and it wasn’t until recently that I really learned how to effectively accomplish them.
Not following through with New Year’s goals and resolutions doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Somewhere in the ball park of 9% of people fully commit to resolutions set at the beginning of the year. And by the way, it’s probably not you, it’s the goals.
What Does Eating Healthy Actually Mean?
Eating healthier is always at the top of the list when it comes to the most popular resolutions but the internet creates confusion around what exactly that means. We all know that at least one new food or food group will be proclaimed “toxic” this year. There will also surely be a documentary to scare you into thinking you should abide by some newly coined rules (p.s. documentaries are not usually a reliable medium for health advice).
In recent memory alone I’ve read about the dangers of fat, carbohydrates, sugar, gluten, grains, meat, nightshade vegetables, milk, beans, soy, peanuts, eggs, bananas, fruit in general, sparkling water, tap water, bottled water, deli meat, fish, butter, vegetable oil, and coconut oil among many others. At least one of your favorite foods will be on the “no” list at some point. Please don’t take my coffee – anything but coffee! Kidding. Kind of.
The good news is, this really doesn’t have to be all that complicated. Sure, it can be hard not to get caught up in the world of wellness extremes. After all, no one wants to miss out on what could be the next big thing — especially in the social media-driven world we live in!
An Alternative to Food Restriction
If you’re searching for an alternative to food restriction, consider the idea of “more, not less”. Instead of putting energy into what not to eat, try focusing on what to eat more often.
And by this, I mean:
More new foods so you get a variety of nutrients, flavors & textures; and
More creative preparation methods so you can learn to make health-promoting food taste amazing while learning to easily incorporate said food into your normal routine.
Simple mindset shifts can have a huge payoff when it comes to health improvement. And better yet, this goal is actually reasonable and achievable (unlike many other popular choices). Most of my clients don’t need to make any radical dietary changes or to stop eating gluten. They need to learn how to objectively evaluate food and make informed decisions about what best meets a need based on the situation at hand.
It’s important to remember that food is not the enemy, it’s essential for fueling the lifestyle you want. It might seem unattainable now, but it is possible and the benefits are worth the effort.
Where Do I Start?
The first thing you can do is consider making some minor shifts in the language you use around food. For example:
Instead of “this is high in calories”, try “this will fill me up for a while”
If you normally say something like, “this dessert is so unhealthy”, try “this is really rich & indulgent”
Have you been duped by that “fruit is too high in sugar” BS? Remember that “the carbohydrates in fruit provide energy”
This is a powerful step in learning to make appropriate choices whether they’re based on nutrition, pleasure, social connection, or some combination of all of these.
For the sake of mental health, using a “more, not less” approach can even be (dare I say) fun. Challenging yourself to include more variety rather than arbitrarily eliminating something can be liberating! It frees up a lot of space to focus on other things, like learning a new hobby or embracing forms of movement that you actually enjoy.
Remember that our health is not determined by one food, meal or even day of eating. It’s the patterns that we create over longer periods of time that truly make an impact. If you can find a way to blend science-based nutrition information with a healthy mindset around food, I consider that a win.
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