What does healthy eating look like to you? It conjures up images of something different for everyone, but most of the time, what people picture boils down to the same thing – less calories to lose weight. Weight is central to almost everyone’s idea of what “healthy” means. There are benefits of healthy eating that have nothing to do with health. Given that long-term intentional weight loss studies indicate that the majority of people will gain back the weight loss, it begs the question, what would your eating habits look like if you weren’t trying to lose weight?
Enjoy the benefits of healthy eating without the guilt
Weight isn’t the end-all, be-all of health. Let’s imagine for a moment that your weight will remain exactly the same forever. Or, better yet, let’s imagine that weight or the scale doesn’t exist. What would you eat? Would you go crazy and eat boxes of doughnuts, dozens of fries, and wash it all down with a nice, cold soda? Maybe. We are wired to like highly-palatable foods. But for how long? Everything gets old after a while. And, there are still foods that have more nutritional value like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, etc. The fact remains that you need to take care of your body and eat and well to feel good. You still need vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water, independent of your weight.
Finding ways to nourish yourself without worry about weight
Worrying about your weight and micromanaging your food choices can be a risk factor for health issues all by itself. Here are a few ways to nourish yourself without the worry:
- Eat when you’re hungry. Sounds obvious, but think about it – how many times have you pushed your hunger aside because it “wasn’t time to eat” or you “shouldn’t be hungry”? Hunger is a natural cue that your body needs nourishment.
- Eat by addition, not subtraction. What can you do to enhance the nutrition composition of a meal? Can you add in some broccoli to your favorite pasta bake? Can you include some fruit in your morning cereal? Crowd out some of the lower nutrient-dense foods with higher nutrient-dense foods. There’s only so much room in your stomach before you begin to feel full, so make sure that the nutrient-rich foods have some prime real estate.
- Nourish your soul. It sounds cheesy, but you know what I’m about here. Find what fills you up. Listen to your favorite music or podcast, spend time outside, grab some coffee with a friend – find time for things that light you up. Mental health and stress management is paramount to overall health.
- Get support. Not only does it take a village to raise a child, but it takes a village to stay healthy. Invite the support of your family, friends, and community to help you find ways to better care for yourself. Find a Registered Dietitian for nutrition coaching. I offer coaching and nutrition counseling for those in the Charleston-area, as well as virtually through video chat. Schedule an introduction call to see if this might serve you well.