What does "healthy eating" mean?
Updated: Aug 2, 2020
As we enter this new year, we find ourselves bombarded with ads encouraging us to transform our bodies in 2017 and chase the resolutions we abandoned last February.
We set new goals and resolutions in pursuit of a new self, a better self. Our intentions are honest and honorable. That being said—as much as I love the passion I see for fitness and nutrition this time of year, it is bittersweet. Why? Because the sudden wave of enthusiasm is also accompanied by an overwhelming amount of unreliable information on healthy living and nutrition. Magazines promise to help us “drop 15lbs in 15 days” and finally achieve those elusive washboard abs we’ve been chasing for years, but all they’re really doing is distracting us from the path to true wellness and balance.
“What should I eat to be healthy?”
I’ve heard this question in the gym too many times to count this week, and I can promise you that the answer is not a two week “teatox” or a fat-burning pill endorsed by the Kardashians. You might be disappointed to find out these quick fixes don’t work, but you’ll be happy to hear that the code to health is actually even simpler to crack.
Let's go back to the era before modern humans discovered processed snacks and came up with the concept of comfort food. How did they eat? Primitive humans foraged and hunted for their food, eating a diet of seasonal produce and wild animals. They used this fuel to build their own shelters, walk miles to find water, run from predators, and chase prey. Flash forward back to our present day, and our society has adopted a diet of frozen meals, processed snacks, and fast food, with very minimal movement.
You see where this is going, right? Not to worry if you don’t, because I’ve put together my toolbox of tips to finding REAL health in 2017.
1. Keep it simple. Eat wholesome foods that exist in nature whenever you can. This includes fruit, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, seeds, protein from ethically raised animals, eggs, and butter. All of these things are all nutritionally dense and are much more filling than anything you can find in the freezer aisle. If you eat a diet plentiful in wholesome food you will naturally eat less and feel more energized, without counting a single calorie.
2. Eat because you’re hungry, not because it’s a habit. If you’re eating the foods I listed above, your body will self regulate and tell you when it needs more fuel. On the flip side, you can eat a whole day’s worth of calories in processed sugar for breakfast and your stomach will still be rumbling at noon because it’s desperate for nutrients.
3. On the same thread, eat ENOUGH when you're hungry. Far too many people think the first step to healthy eating is slashing at least half of their intake and following a severely restricted low calorie diet. In most cases, this causes more harm than good. You might experience rapid weight loss for a few weeks, but you'll quickly become tired and fatigued, and eventually you'll likely rebound, reverting to worse eating habits than you started with! Don't be afraid of food--it is not the enemy, and can help your body do wonderful things.
Simply choose the RIGHT food.
4. Drink water! I’m absolutely shocked by how many people don’t drink enough water. Most of our systems depend on hydration and without adequate intake your body won’t function properly and will eventually shut down. A good place to start is 8 servings x 8 ounces of water a day. Start with this and see how you feel.
5. Move more. Whether this means structured workouts, playing with kids, walking your dog, or just doing a couple laps around the office, just move.
6. Stress less. Dedicate 30 minutes every day to focus on breathing and calming your mind. this will keep your cortisol levels in check and more importantly, remind you that there is nothing wrong with you or your life. One of my favorite quotes is, "if you are breathing there is more right with you then wrong". Life is too short to be stressed all the time, and wallowing in anxiety will make it even shorter!
7. Prioritize rest. Your body needs sleep to recover so you can take on the next hectic day! Go to bed at a decent time and your body will love you for it. Adequate rest will also regulate your hunger cues and help you burn more calories.
At the end of the day, true health and true nutrition comes down to keeping it simple. It’s time to stop accepting your present state of pain and discouragement as the new normal, and start changing your life.
The New Year brings new hope and ambition to a lot of people when it comes to health and fitness, so let me take this opportunity to help you ditch your habitual state of eating and yo-yo dieting.
Follow the above advice for at least 4 weeks and pay close attention to the changes you see and most importantly feel. Embrace the simplicity of life and food. Feel and taste what it’s like to be a human again. Find that lost connection with your body and enjoy its perfect harmony. Bring intention back in your life, and take control of what is yours, what was always yours - your body.