“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
When it comes to food, I really do believe that every food – if eaten in appropriate quantities and frequencies – can fit into a healthy diet. I recently watched the Netflix documentary What the Health. This film endorses a vegan diet and attributes many of America’s health problems to the consumption of animal products, suggesting that we should eliminate all meat, fish, poultry, dairy, and eggs from our diet.
But wait, not too long ago we heard that we should be eating fewer carbohydrate foods to improve our health. So if we can’t eat carbs, fat, or protein, what can we eat? This is the problem with the extreme approach to nutrition. There is always new research coming out about various foods and their effect on our health.
“This food causes cancer.”
“Eat this food for weight loss.”
“These are the superfoods.”
All these messages can be confusing and frustrating. I think we need to step back and look at the bigger picture of our overall diet pattern rather than fixating on specific foods or food groups and labeling them as “good” and “bad.” Overthinking about food can lead to anxiety, which may lead to disordered eating habits such as restrictive eating or binge eating. Additionally, eliminating certain food groups from your diet makes it more likely that you will be missing out on some key nutrients.
They say variety is the spice of life! Try to eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. If these foods make up the majority of your diet, you will be just fine.
What does healthy eating look like? I think part of it comes down to what will benefit you in the long run, both physically and mentally. Sometimes eating a piece of cake really will make you feel a little better after a stressful day. Don’t feel guilty about it. In the long run, if your normal day-to-day includes lots of other nutrient-dense foods, one piece of cake is not going to ruin your health.
No one is perfect, and we can’t expect ourselves to follow a perfect diet, because the truth is there is no such thing as a perfect diet. The beauty of the total diet approach is that there is room for error.
This is just my humble opinion as a newly Registered Dietitian. You can take it or leave it. In the end, you have to find what works for you. If you prefer eating vegan or gluten free or low-carb or whatever and that makes you feel good both physically and mentally, then do it. But don’t let anyone scare or guilt you into eating a certain way.
Guest post written by the lovely Rachel Kranjc, RD