Nutrition can begin to feel very complicated when advertising starts to play a role. Some version of “healthy” is placed on a lot of packaged food without much explanation. Does that mean it’s low carb? Low fat? Does it actually do something good for our bodies? It can be hard to tell. My goal is to simplify nutrition, bringing us back to the basics so that we can easily navigate what we put in our bodies without feeling overwhelmed.
First of all, I want to mention that nutrition can be complicated, it’s not all advertising’s fault. For almost any recommended way of eating, there is the exact opposite recommendation out there as well, with research backing them both up. Some people say low-fat is the way, others say focus on adding in high quality fat. Some say reduce your intake of calories, others say to focus on where the calories are coming from, not how many. Some say cut out meat and animal products, others say high quality meat is essential. Yet, the fact that there are so many opposing views actually gives me a sense of freedom when it comes to the food I eat. It means that no one really knows. What works for one person might not work for someone else. That’s why we have to go on our own individual nutrition journeys for ourselves. We need to figure out what’s right for us and potentially only us. A whole journey can be daunting, though, so let’s just focus on where to begin, and that’s bringing it back to basics.
The main concept that everyone in the nutrition community can agree on is to add in more whole foods. This is especially important as processed food is everywhere nowadays. You can find fast food practically anywhere, gas stations are filled with these packaged snacks, and even our restaurants and grocery stores have processed food filling up most of the menus and aisles. Now, in order to make sustainable shifts, we have to be honest; a lot of this food tastes really good. Luckily, the goal isn’t to cut it out completely, it’s just to find a healthy balance.
In the beginning, it’s actually best to not even focus on eating less processed food. The real focus should be on adding in more whole foods that you enjoy! If your plan for dinner is pizza, that’s great! How about with that pizza you add a side salad, or a well seasoned side vegetable if salads aren’t your thing. When it’s time for a snack, an apple could be a great addition to your 100 calorie snack pack. Lunch might usually be a sandwich and chips, maybe you add some carrots and hummus in as well. Make this whole thing as easy on yourself as possible. At first you may want to add in pre-packaged whole foods that just need to be microwaved, cooked for a few minutes, or are ready to go from a restaurant. Once that has become a habit, play around with making your own whole food recipes so that you know exactly what’s going into them and you’re able to connect more with the food.
Having the focus of adding in whole foods rather than taking certain foods out makes the process a lot more enjoyable and significantly increases the chances of this new habit sticking. It’s the best way to make sure your nutrition journey starts sustainably!