I have been a consulting dietitian for over three years and regardless of the client’s dietary needs, wants and barriers, developing a positive relationship with food seems to be an obstacle for many people. Clients are often unsure of what to eat, how much to eat and what to avoid, etc. With all of the media and messages being sent our way, what does it mean to eat well? To eat a balanced diet? To eat normally? Does healthy eating mean to be on the paleo diet or to avoid gluten or to stop eating after 7pm?
Normal, or healthy, eating is to have a positive relationship with food. It is to have a healthy diet full of fibre, vegetables and fruits, proteins and fats and to eat an appropriate amount of energy based on your lifestyle (most of the time). Normal eating is sticking to a healthy diet with the ability to take a step outside of your regime in order to enjoy a treat without feeling guilt or shame and without giving up fully on a diet due to loss of motivation. For example, if you always have a healthy, mid-day snack at 3:30pm, it should be okay to switch up the healthy snack once in a while with a treat or to enjoy a few pieces of candy that your co-worker shared with you along with the healthy snack. Normal eating is being able to enjoy pizza and a glass of wine with your friends on a Thursday night only to go back to your healthy regime the next day.
So the question becomes, how do we allow ourselves to form a positive relationship with food? First of all, if you are unsure of how to follow a healthy diet based on your needs, your first step would be to set up a consultation with a professional dietitian such as myself so we can initiate a discussion on what it means to eat well for your specific situation. The second step would be to start incorporating a well-balanced diet into your regime and finally, to learn how to follow a healthy diet while treating yourself once in a while without feeling shamed or guilty.
It is SO easy sometimes for clients to try to follow a diet so strictly that ANY blunder could make them give up completely. Instead, allow yourself to have fun with your dietary intake and try new things, have treats and enjoy food. Don’t let one night out or even one week (or more) of an unhealthy diet set you back. We are all human and we all need to step outside of our regimes every now and then to feel our best.
Eating well is NOT about being on a strict diet, it is about taking care of yourself through your dietary intake while finding a balance to enjoy treats, evenings out and holidays, etc.
Note: The picture I chose for this post is perfect. Although I generally eat very well, a night of wine, bread and cheese with a friend or two has a special place in my diet and whatever you love to eat as a treat can have a special place in your healthy diet as well.
Eat Well, Halifax,
Nicole Marchand, RD