If eating right was simply knowing what foods are good for us, everyone would be super healthy, right?! I mean, as a dietitian, I would be eating a “perfect” diet if the only barrier was knowledge, right? And trust me, I do not eat a perfect diet! (You can read about that here – What a Dietitian Eats).
Eating and nutrition are so much more complex than that.
Yes, I think nutrition education is super important to learn about different foods, what the foods do for our body, portion sizes, etc. but aside from that, it is more about learning what works for you. What is reasonable with your schedule/lifestyle, what changes are you willing to make, what tools will help you be successful?
As a dietitian, I often think of myself as providing tools that my clients can put into their toolbox to use as they see fit. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else. Every person is unique and individual. Often times my clients know a good amount about nutrition, they just need new ideas (tools) to put what they know into practice or they need motivation, encouragement, and accountability.
I struggle too.
I struggle with eating well but I am trying to be better. It takes time and effort, even when you know what you need to do. I prep food in advance (when I am super motivated), make my lunch instead of eating out, and try to watch my intake of desserts.
I had a breakthrough moment the other week. On Friday, I went to have pizza for lunch. I love Mama’s Pizza in the downtown Minneapolis sky way. They serve pizza by the slice that is so good! I usually get one slice of chicken alfredo and one slice of cheese. But these are GIANT slices so really 2 slices = 4 slices and I probably don’t NEED to eat 4 slices of pizza for lunch.
So the other day when I went, I had one slice (chicken alfredo, yum!) instead of the usual two. This was a success for me. I didn’t tell myself “I can’t eat pizza” just because I’m trying to eat better, but I modified and was more aware of the choices I was making. I also allowed myself permission to go back later for the second slice if I felt like I still wanted it. (I did not).
A couple things I think are so important –
- Know yourself. Some people can indulge a little bit in their favorite treat and feel satisfied. Others do better if they avoid their “trigger” foods altogether. Find what works best for you.
- Practice mindful eating. Slow down, take time to prepare and enjoy your food. Be aware of what you’re eating, how much, and how it makes you feel.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you have a bad meal or bad day, don’t throw in the towel all together. Just pick back up the next meal/day and keep trying. Life is a marathon, not a sprint!
- Honor your hunger. Even if you are trying to lose weight, if your body is physically hungry – eat something!
- Food is meant to be enjoyed! Whether you are trying to eat well, lose weight, or whatever your goals might be; don’t forget that food is meant to be enjoyed so allow yourself to have your favorite foods without the guilt!
Do you struggle with eating well?
What tips and tricks do you find work well for you?