Healthy eating encompasses so much more than just the specific food you eat. I would go as far to say that healthy eating actually has less to do with the specific food you eat and more to do with self awareness and meeting family, social and cultural needs.
At its core, healthy eating is ensuring your body receives all the nutrients it requires for you to live and be physically, mentally and socially nourished.
Healthy eating also encompasses the following principles:
- Sharing meals with friends and family.
- Nurturing loved ones.
- Acknowledging and celebrating culture, rituals and beliefs.
- Enjoying food that makes you feel good mentally and physically.
- Understanding and trusting your appetite and responding to your internal cues of hunger and fullness.
- Being mindful of where your food comes from and how it’s produced.
- Nurturing a healthy relationship with food and your body (see below for definitions).
If you can find a pattern of eating that fulfils the above concepts, then you are eating healthily.
Healthy eating does not require strict rules, avoiding pleasurable food or deprivation.
Healthy eating can take many different forms and we only need to look to the various blue zones of the world, where people live to well over 100 years with lower risk of diet related disease, to see this. Blue zones have been found in Japan, Italy, Greece, Central America and America. These diets include whole-grains, legumes, potatoes, dairy, coffee, alcohol and a little sugar.
You don’t need to cut out any of these foods to reclaim your health, you can if you feel that style of eating is right for you and allows you to meet the above concepts, but you don’t need to.
The alternative to avoiding certain food to improve your health, is to focus on achieving the above description of health eating. Do this and you can enjoy all food (and alcohol) as part of a healthy eating pattern.
For myself I choose to include all food, coffee and alcohol, but I pay careful attention to my appetite and I know what feels good in my body. I regularly enjoy my favourite cheeses, wine, hot chips and eating out without worrying about my health.
What is a healthy relationship with food?
A healthy relationship with food is one where you don’t constantly worry about what you should or shouldn’t be eating, there is no guilt attached to eating and you allow yourself to eat food that you truly enjoy.
What is a healthy relationship with your body?
Having a healthy relationship with your body means you respect it for all the amazing things it is capable of doing, rather than just being concerned with how it looks. You may have parts of your body that you’re not happy with, as we all do, but you don’t let this over-ride all the other positive aspects of you as a person.