When people find out that I’m a dietitian, they always ask me what I eat, what I don’t eat, and what I recommend they should eat. YIKES! My head wants to burst when I hear these questions because they are not quick-answers, but more of an explanation of my nutrition philosophy. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably have a good idea of what the Spice Girls are about: taste, spices, fun, variety, substitutions, portions, enjoyment, flavor, ease, freshness, moderation, intuition, colors, balance, health, etc. In summary, we LOVE food and the nourishment it gives our bodies. We believe food is meant to be enjoyed, and not restricting. Personally, I boil my nutrition philosophy down into three main points:
1. Whole Foods, Plant Based
This does not mean no meat! I eat meat. I love meat! I have a special connection with meat because I am a hunter. I believe meat can fit into a healthy diet. I also believe that a diet should be plant-based. This means eating more plants than meat (or other non-plant foods)! Plant foods include fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. These should be the basis of your diet. Example: If you have a plate, make the base of your meal lettuce (think salad), top with additional fruit/veggies/grains/legumes AND cheese/meat/creamy dressing. The base of this meal is PLANTS, yet it still includes meat and other animal-derived products. When I say whole foods, I’m referring to the form of the food: the less processed, the better. Example: fresh strawberries > fruit snacks; baked potato > potato chips; rolled oats > sugary granola bar; tomatoes > ketchup. Hopefully you get the picture. Most foods are best for our bodies when they are consumed in their whole form.
2. Many Roads Lead to the Same Destination
Nutrition is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ sort of deal. If it was, I would be out of a job! There are numerous factors that influence the body, metabolism, disease process, digestion, genetics, and absorption. Each person is unique and requires slightly different nutrients to function at optimal capacity. The way a body-builder eats is different than the way I eat. The way someone with diabetes eats is different than the way someone with kidney disease eats. A construction worker requires a different amount of nutrition than an office desk worker. These are generalized examples, but the same holds true for you and me.
3. Health is a Process
One healthy meal isn’t going to make a sick person healthy. Each time you eat, you fuel your body and provide it with energy and nutrients that it requires to function. Finding a balance between optimal nutrition, social enjoyment, and a sustainable lifestyle leads to health. Health will never be something that you can check off of your list, but an on-going process that will continue throughout your lifetime.
Cheers to Health!