Confused about how to eat healthy?

Posted on Monday, November 24th, 2014

Written by Lindzie O'Reilly

Healthy eating can be confusing. Or at least we've made it confusing.

Book store shelves are stocked full of books promising a recipe for health and weight loss. You can find limitless information online to support a variety of different dietary approaches - paleo, gluten free, vegan, raw. So what's real? and what's best?

The issue with most approaches to health is that they focus on weight loss. The problem with this is that when we change our habits, we really cannot predict how our body will respond. You might make very healthy changes to your food routine, but the number on the scale might not budge at all...or it might even go up. This does NOT mean that you have failed. Our habits determine our health, not the number on the scale. This means that if you have made healthy changes to your habits, your health will improve. The problem with our society's approach is that if weight loss does not occur, individuals get frustrated, or bored, and go back to their old routine. A recent article in the Globe and Mail discusses why we shouldn't compare losing weight to quitting smoking and provides a great description of the errors in our approach. Brazil has recently taken a bold, and I think very beneficial, step towards focusing more on food behaviours than on nutrients, food groups and external indicators like calories and the number on the scale. Check out Jennifer Sygo's recent article, which discusses Brazil's approach to dietary guidelines.

Another issue with the majority of the information you will read in popular nutrition books and online is that the approach they propose is extreme. There are many myths surrounding nutrition, and research surrounding nutrition is constantly changing and evolving, which makes it REALLY hard to distinguish between truth and fad. I believe that all foods can fit as part of a healthy routine. Restricting or banning certain foods from our diet often backfires as it is unrealistic to maintain or makes us feel deprived. Similarly, adding certain superfoods to your diet while changing nothing else is unlikely to have drastic health benefits. If you have an erratic food routine or base your meals around highly processed foods, but choose to add 1 cup of blueberries to your breakfast, you are unlikely to reap many benefits. Check out this Global News article that outlines 6 misconceptions about nutrition and health eating.

If you have questions or concerns regarding nutrition or if you're struggling to find a food routine that works for you, UofG students can book a FREE one-to-one nutrition appointment with me by calling x52131. Sifting through nutrition information is NOT easy, I'm here to help!

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