As a society, many of us are looking for a quick fix; to make an overnight transformation and reach our wellness goals as fast as we possibly can. However, when it comes to our diet and making healthy eating sustainable – consistency and personalised nutrition are key.
We are individual; what works for one doesn’t always work for another. This is why diets don’t work long term. A specific way of eating designed for everyone is unrealistic since our bodies and how we react to certain foods is so different. Dietary needs differ daily depending on age, sex, weight, activity levels, hormones and many other lifestyle factors.
When we avoid following the latest trend, or comparing ourselves to others, we can put more energy into truly listening to our body and eat in a way which makes us feel good.
Approaching our diet as a lifestyle rather than a finish line means less pressure, less stress and more room to enjoy the journey.
Below are a handful of ideas which could work as a useful starting point when trying to make a more sustainable change. Whilst reading through these, remember – your own individual needs and circumstances must be prioritised.
- What can you add in?
Rather than thinking about what you need to remove, lose or restrict, challenge yourself to consider what you can add in. A restrictive approach can not only lead to us missing out on important nutrients from key food groups which our bodies may need to function, but could also end with the potential of eating more than we would have in the first place, once the restrictive approach comes to an end.
Direct your attention toward which delicious, healthy foods you can add into your diet to make it more exciting, nutritious and enjoyable - that’s one way to make the approach more sustainable.
- What is on your plate?
When making food choices, it’s important to be mindful of the impact they will have on our overall health long term, rather than the short term effect they may have on our physical appearance. There is more to ‘healthy eating’ than focusing solely on macro nutrients, however being sure to include each of the key food groups is definitely a good place to start.
When possible, work to balance your plate with good quality fats, proteins and complex carbohydrates. Carbs are our body and brains preferred source of fuel, needed for energy, motivation and mood. Protein helps to keep our bodies and cells functioning as well as working to build our muscles, organs, skin and bones. Healthy fats help us to feel fuller for longer along with supporting brain development and nutrient absorption. Our body and mind need a combination of nutrients to provide us with energy throughout the day – work to include them where possible.
- Prioritise plants
This isn’t to say that having a plant based diet is right for everyone, no one size fits all. However consider making plants more of a priority. Why? Plants are filled with fibre. Fibre rich foods are gut nourishing and can help to support digestion and promote overall health both physically and mentally.
Due to the potential health benefits, recent recommendations have suggested to aim to consume 30 different plant foods per week, however if that doesn’t seem achievable, even adding one or two new fruits or vegetables to your shopping trolley welcomes a new element of variety.
Plant based foods are not just fruits and vegetables, they also include: nuts and seeds, whole grains, oats and beans and pulses.
- Eat what you love
If we don’t enjoy our food – we will not feel satisfied from our meals.
Feel content in the knowledge that balancing your plate with nutritious foods most of the time, is likely to make you feel good, compared to if you consistently eat highly processed, fast food. However that isn’t to say we shouldn’t enjoy these foods occasionally, as it is a lot of fun!
There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. Food should not be associated with guilt or shame but enjoyed in the moment. While I wholly encourage a healthy diet and lifestyle; the healthiest choice isn’t always the most ‘nutritious’. We need to think about whether our meals are enjoyable and satisfying. Include foods that bring you joy.
- Compassion is key
With a fast paced life and so much to juggle, it’s hard to prioritise nutrition all of the time. Set realistic expectations and don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go to plan. After a busy day, sometimes picking up something more convenient which doesn’t require a lot of cooking time can be the most compassionate choice overall.
There is more to a healthy lifestyle than solely what we eat; we need to consider our social, emotional and mental health too. When it comes to our approach to nutrition – remember to be realistic. Do what you can, when you feel like you can, at a pace which suits you and with a sense of self compassion.
Your diet is your business. Feel no pressure to compare, conform or explain. If working to take a more positive and approach going forward – avoid restriction, eat what you love and be mindful of those all important nutrients along the way! Good Luck!
Holistic Health Coach - Anna Whyte
The ‘Wellness with Anna’ philosophy focuses on taking a more balanced and holistic approach to health. Often, the tools needed to make a lasting change are already in your toolbox. I offer client led guidance in order to support the progress of an individual working to meet their personal wellness goals. I will not diagnose, treat or take responsibility for bringing about wellness change, but direct, listen and support development.
We work together on a journey to make health a main priority, both physically and mentally.