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The confusion is real
Are you being confused about food? Are you not really sure what foods you should eat? What kind of diet is best for you? Let me tell you, I think you’re not alone! In fact, I think many people nowadays are confused about food. There are so many diet options out there which all claim to be the best and healthiest for you: Low Carb, Paleo, Keto, Vegan, Raw, Whole 30, gluten free, dairy free…just to name a few out of the overwhelming options, WHEW!
I remember in the 90ies it was all about fat, about low fat to be exact. Fat was the enemy and the theory was simple: fat makes you fat. Overall it was being assumed that fat isn’t good for your overall health and you should limit your fat intake in your diet. But that’s only one part of the story because there was also the Atkins diet popping up in the 90ies which is the total opposite: a low carb and high fat diet. Both diets of course claimed to be the best and healthiest for you and had some facts to back that up.
The Internet and Social Media
What was confusing back then is not better nowadays. Besides having many diet options to choose from there’s also the Internet. On Social Media platforms like YouToube or Instagram people can share their diets with the world. Many people share many diets. Food is also not just food anymore. The diet you’re following has become a whole lifestyle. It seems like with following a specific diet you’ve become a member of a certain community. Sometimes it even it appears to even have a kind of cult character from the outside. I know this is controversial but I think we’ve gone too far (ooops, I’ve said it)!
Overwhelmed, confused and disconnected
There is so much information about food available on the Internet. Some of it being contradictory. This leaves many of us overwhelmed and confused. We want to make good and healthy food choices, but we’re unable to filter all this information and apply it to ourselves. Being left with too much and also contradictory information has us feeling disconnected with ourselves. We don’t know which source of information to trust -whether it’s online or in form of a book, so how could we dare to trust ourselves when it comes to making the right food choices?
How can we end the confusion about Food?
I think the key to ending food confusion is to reconnect with ourselves. Instead of trying to follow the latest diet trend until the next better, healthier….one comes around, listen to your body. I am not a big fan of a: “one size fits all”-approach in general. Instead I think, like many other things, your diet is also something very individual. People have different needs, because many factors, like lifestyle, stress, age and so on.
To make it a little easier I have put together 5 tips to help you reconnect with your body.
1. The healthy foundation of every diet
There are some general principles when it comes to a healthy diet.
- Focus mostly on whole foods, which means eat food in it’s original form and limit processed foods. For example, a fresh potatoe is healthier than a powdered mashed potatoe mix in a box.
- Limit your refined sugar intake. White sugar or refined carbohydrates don’t offer nutritional value. They just spike up your blood sugar and can cause inflammation in your body. If you have a sweet tooth like me, try other natural sweeteners that won’t spike up your blood sugar as much and also offer some nutritional value. I would avoid artificial sweeteners and limit Agave and even zero Calorie natural sweeteners. I like coconut sugar and monk fruit but I want to try Lucuma.
- Eat good fats and avoid the bad fats. Avocados, chia seeds, nuts, extra virgine olive oil, coconut oil, fatty fish, cheese, full fat yogurt are good fat choices. Partially hydrogenated oils which a full of trans fats are bad fats. Trans fat raises your LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
- Try to avoid pesticides in fruits and vegetables. Look for organic choices or use the dirty dozen list and the clean fifteen list as a shoppers guide.
- Choose meat and dairy which is free of antibiotics and hormones. If you want to eat meat, focus on quality, humanely raised to make sure it was healthy.
2. You don’t have to put a name on your diet
Who said you strictly have to follow the rules of one particular diet? Why not make it your own? If you like specific ideas of one diet you sure can incorporate those into your diet but everything that feels forced, don’t do it! I want to encourage you to experiment with food. See what works for you and what doesn’t. How does a particular food make you feel? If you don’t feel good maybe you have a food sensitivity or intolerance. Try to eliminate that food for 2 weeks and try it again after that. How does it make you feel?
3. Food should be fun not perfect
Following a healthy diet which doesn’t have a particular name can become very strict too. If you want to have an occasional piece of cake, fast food or candy, go have it. You won’t ruin your healthy diet by that. If you follow a healthy diet most of the time everything is good. Nobody’s perfect (perfect is boring and overrated anyways)!
4. No more food labeling
If you want to eat a particular food but don’t give yourself permission because you label it as “bad” it can create intense and uncontrollable cravings for this food. At some point you might finally give in to have the food you can end up bingeing which probably leaves you feeling guilty. A vicious cycle!
5. Celebrate food
You don’t have to create Instagram worthy foods every day to celebrate food. Just take your time to eat and be present. Sit down and enjoy your food without a distracting device, like your phone or the TV, that keeps you from fully enjoying your food. Eat mindfully, by noticing the flavors and textures. If you can eat together with family or friends, do that. Eating together is something that people have been doing for centuries. For a good reason as research shows.
Food is more than a diet. It should make us feel good and nourished. Our body and our soul too. We all want to feel good, nourished and full of energy. What kind of food does that is very personal, even though there are some basic principles what a healthy diet should consist of. You don’t have to be perfect with your diet all the time. If you want to have an occasional cake, eat it , enjoy it and feel good about it. Don’t label it as a “bad” food and deprive you of fully enjoying it. Take your time eating without the distraction of your phone or the TV. Be present with your food, so you can fully enjoy it.