There are many factors that play a role in overall optimal health, although nutrition is at the top of the list. For example, social connection is an important factor in longevity. This is the reason why it is beneficial to have a healthy relationship with food before pursuing healthy eating as the main focus on improving ones health. An overemphasis of nutrition can lead to treating healthy eating patterns as another form of a diet.
One example of the overemphasis of eating healthy is that it can manifest an unhealthy obsession with eating healthfully. Food worry can have an opposite effect on health than we expect. Stress literally triggers harmful effects on our body and as Americans we commonly worry about the fattening effects on food and the healthfulness of our food while other countries have decreased “food worry” and improved health. In some countries, food is viewed as one of life’s pleasures. Some qualities like eating slower and enjoying the food are associated with health outcomes.
The habits that we have over time are what is important in terms of food choice. Consuming one particular food on any given day is not going to result in a nutrient deficiency. Just like eating one “health food” isn’t going to make a large impact either. There are a few ways that you can honor your health without obsession over your food choices by keeping in my taste, quantity, and quality.
Taste: Taste is important to satisfaction, eating foods you don’t enjoy and then rewarding with other “better tasting” foods, is not beneficial to improving your relationship with food and eating intuitively what your body needs.
Quantity: Intuitive eaters stop eating when satisfied. Eating without distraction is ideal to be able to acknowledge your hunger cues with accuracy. “Eat enough, not too little.” It is important to note that we need to eat for our metabolism to work properly.
Quality: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals that have added health benefits. Incorporating these into your diet in a way that is pleasing is ideal. You can eat these foods in a non-diet manner. Eating a variety of whole grains can provide carbohydrates, fiber and B vitamins , consuming fish can reduce risk of chronic diseases. Consuming enough water and fluids is essential to health. The less that a food is processed the more nutrients that food will contain and are encouraged. Consuming healthy fats are also needed in the diet for fullness, helping absorb fat soluble vitamins and brain function.
There are many benefits to consuming a variety of foods but it is important to remain mindful of which foods are enjoyed by your body and honoring your hunger and fullness cues.