What is healthy eating?

Nearly EVERYONE talks about “healthy eating” all the time.  “Eat this, avoid that, don’t eat carbs, choose low fat, choose high fat, eat vegan, avoid red meat, go with grass-fed”… you get the point.  But what does “healthy eating” really mean?

In a society and world where we constantly hear and talk about the “obesity epidemic,” we’re taught to fear fat.  We’re exposed to so much negativity that we gain an all-or-nothing type of thinking.  We feel the urgency to lose weight and get in shape.  This urgency often leads us to follow fad and crash diets, cleanses, and strive for goals that are often unrealistic and perhaps even unhealthy and harmful.

Healthy eating, however, is really about living intuitively.  It’s about tuning in to your own needs and following those needs.  Tuning in is often much harder than it sounds.  Between media messages, government and society messages, our doctor’s messages, and even our friends’ and families’ messages, we’re left confused and out of touch with ourselves.  Do you know what your body really needs and desires?  Do you really need a slice of cake?  A big salad with salmon?  A chunk of dark chocolate?  A yoga session?  A nap?  A hamburger?  A glass of water?  Learning to tune into your body’s needs isn’t about a craving or an intellectual or emotional drive to eat or do something.  It’s about honoring your body with care and respect.  You might not love your body today, but learn to have the power to respect it.

So then, healthy eating isn’t about WHAT you eat; it’s about HOW you eat and WHY you eat.  If you listen to your body, maybe you will find that it does need more vegetables and whole grains because it’s actually lacking in energy and micronutrients.  Or maybe you’ve been so stuck on avoiding meat that your body is becoming protein-malnourished because you haven’t focused on other adequate protein sources.  Maybe you read that you must avoid sugar and carbohydrates and lately you’ve felt tired, listless, and your exercise routine has begun to feel like a heavy burden when it used to bring you joy and energy.  Honoring these cues within your body is super important.  And guess what?  Honoring them means something different to all of us!  It doesn’t mean that you HAVE to eat meat if your religious beliefs deem otherwise.  It doesn’t mean that you HAVE to eat bread to meet your carbohydrate needs.  But if you really want a burger, then maybe you’ll eat it.  If you really want a PB&J, maybe you’ll enjoy it.

Like I said, eating healthy means something different to each us, and learning what it means to YOU can be a difficult process.  Which is why working with a dietitian can be super important and helpful–especially if you have confounding medical diagnoses, such as diabetes, renal failure, morbid obesity, and/or malnutrition.  Learning to sort through various messages within ourselves may require outside help: a dietitian, a physician, and perhaps a therapist.

We have all struggled with food in some way or another, me being no exception.  No one is perfect and life isn’t meant to be perfect.  We learn and grow and we do our best to move on.  Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.”  She also said, “If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”  And sometimes I think that we get hung up on changing things that we really have no control over–like our weight or our body shape.  So instead, focus on feeling good, nourishing your body, and living life to the fullest.

Oh, Maya Angelou also said, “I love a Hebrew National hot dog with an ice-cold Corona-no lime.  If the phone rings, I won’t answer until I’m done.”  She was a smart woman 😛

Alright ya’ll, have yourselves a beautiful weekend full of smiles and laughter!

Fish, brown rice, green beans, salad with honey mustard 🙂

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