Please let’s stop going to extremes with nutrition.
Health, wellness or nutrition are not, and do not need to be, black or white or all or nothing entities. In the wise words of renowned dietitian and therapist Ellyn Satter, finding the middle ground is more difficult than finding the extremes. If you have found the middle ground when it comes to taking care of your health and well-being, well done; if you are still searching, hang in there as the effort will be worth it!
If you want to eat less sugar, eat less sugar, you don’t have to cut it out of your diet entirely. A little sugar will not harm you.
If you want to reduce your intake of more highly processed foods, you don’t need to “eat clean” or “go paleo” and avoid all highly processed food. You can cook and prepare from scratch as much a possible, but then go with the flow when eating out or during an extra busy time where more ready to eat type food is a perfectly acceptable, and may mean you have something to eat when you’re hungry. You might also choose to rely on some ready to eat meals or take-away on busy nights or when you simply don’t have the energy to cook from scratch.
If you want to eat more plant based foods and less animal foods, you don’t have to go vegan. Wherever possible choose mostly plant based food and then for the times when it’s more difficult or doesn’t fit in with social eating or travelling, you can eat some animal products. Choosing to go 100% vegan for ethical reasons is also fine too.
If you want to reduce your intake of more processed breads and cereals, you don’t need to go gluten free or restrict carbs altogether. Consider where you might be able to make different food choices and perhaps try some not so highly processed grain sources such as bread from a local bakery or meals with couscous, barley or fresh pasta (dried pasta is fine too). For breakfast cereals, you could choose ones with less added ingredients and that are good sources of dietary fibre.
I am not saying doing any of these things is easy, in fact for many people going cold turkey can seem more doable in the short-term, as you don’t have put effort into changing your thinking around food or addressing how you feel about your body. However, very few people stick to the extreme changes long-term and many people end up confused about how to eat, spending way too much time energy thinking about food which can develop into a troublesome relationship with food.
As one of my clients said to me yesterday “I just want food to be food!”
If you feel this way too, then finding the middle ground – HELLO MODERATION – is necessary. You may need help with doing this, so don’t be afraid to ask. Even if you just keep reading and sharing our posts, this will help you in your search for that middle ground.