What do I do in my spare time, for fun? I learn about nutrition, food psychology and health. That is not all I do, I promise my life is a bit more exciting (errr usually) but learning and researching about these topics has long been an infatuation of mine. A great love really. I have been in a robust relationship with these topics for more than 10 years and am still going strong. Learning about these topics has helped me to get off the binge eating cycle, develop a great relationship with food and my body, stabilize my weight and greatly improve my health. I wanted to share some of what my brain has processed and consolidated from the years of enhancing my own life and exploring my passion.
1. There is no perfect diet. Nutrition is too broad a topic. Food and its components are too complex. How the human body works is largely a mystery. The more these areas are researched, the more questions are uncovered. Because of this, no one has been able to, and they may never be able to, formulate a perfect diet. You don’t have to figure out what the prefect diet is. Because there isn’t one. Don’t let the search for the perfect diet overwhelm you and prevent you from taking any steps towards being healthier.
2. Different people thrive on different diets. Raw. Paleo. Primal. Low carb. No carb. Low fat. High fat. High protein. Fruitarian. Vegetarian. Vegan. Omnivore. Traditional. Look up any internet site about these diets and you will find testimonials of people feeling amazing and beaming with health. Who is anyone to say that those people don’t feel fantastic and are enjoy great health? Experiment with different ways of eating. Find out what makes your body, your energy levels, your health soar. If it starts to not work, make a change. You can combine the best of what works for you from a whole heap of diets.
3. We are all individuals with different likes, dislikes, metabolisms, genetic make ups, food intolerances, and health status. Listen to your body it will give you feedback on how foods and ways of eating are benefiting (or hurting) you. Don’t follow doctrine. You don’t have to eat things that you hate to eat just because some books say’s you should. You can, and should, individualize your diet to suit you.
4. Your body and circumstances will change. You will get older. You may get sick. Get pregnant. You may go to new country with different food. Develop a food intolerance. Heal a food intolerance. You may get injured and not be able to exercise for a while. You may decide to train to climb Kilimanjaro. You may have to slash your food budget to get by. You may be able to start affording organic superfoods. Any of these things (and an endless list of others) can affect what is best for you to eat, move or do in order to stay healthy and feeling great. Things in your life will change and your diet will need to change accordingly for you to feel well. Be flexible.
5. Eat what you enjoy. Food is meant to add enjoyment to your life. Eating food should be pleasurable. Sacrificing taste and the joy of eating is not a requirement in order for you to lose weight or get healthy. Eat what brings you joy and what makes your body feel good.
6. Food is not just fuel. Food and how we eat has history and meaning in people’s lives. There are rituals and special practices around food. Food is meant to be nourishing, not just in nutritional ways, but nourishing in a cultural, social, emotional, and meaningful ways a well. It is OK to eat the dinner your grandmother made for you if you want to, even if it not allowed on your ‘diet’. It is OK to have a big thanksgiving dinner or Easter chocolate breakfast if that is what brings you joy. Enjoy and relish in food customs and traditions.
7. How you eat is just as important as what you eat. Be grateful for the food you get to eat. Eat slowly and mindfully, giving your brain and your body a change to register the food you are eating. Eat when you are feeling calm, it will help with your digestion.
8. You are not what you eat, you are what you digest. You can put as much food into your stomach as your like, but if you are not digesting and absorbing that food, you are getting no benefit from it. Chew your food and chew it well. The smaller the bits you chomp the food into, the better your body will be able to take in the goodness it needed.
9. Nutrition advice can get so overwhelming. There is a lot of different information out there. But most of it has some sound and wonderful advice in common. Eat foods that grow and that are as close to how they grow in nature as possible. Beware of too much sugar, salt, trans and damaged fats, and highly refined carbs. There are always exceptions to rules so don’t get too bogged down. Don’t let overwhelm and uncertainty get in the way of trying out some healthy changes in your life. Do the best with the information that you have.
10. It is not just about the food. Stress is a bigger and more life and health threatening factor than you may be aware of. You could be on the most perfect diet for you in the world, but if your body is living with insidious, chronic stress, you are not going to feel great or be healthy in the long run. Do things to decrease chronic stress. Better yet, focus on increasing pleasure and joy in your life, and the stress will decrease by default. Being stressed about finding and staying on the perfect diet is counterproductive
So I thought I would have to push myself a bit to get to 10 points, turns out once I started writing I realised I could easily write at least 50 more. But I will stop at 10 for today. Health information is overwhelming as it is and I don’t want to further inundate you and throw your head into a spin. Plus, it’s easier to implement a few things from a shorter list than it is to be presented with 100 bits of advice, get overwhelmed and not take action on or remember a thing. I will share the next 50 or so things another time.
Hannah May x