I think every dietitian has a nutrition philosophy that is shaped by their own experiences, relationship with food, and – of course – their education (which, for the record, is very thorough… new dietitians are now required to have a Master of Science degree, and many of us older dietitians got one just for kicks).
As someone who pursued a job in nutrition as a result of my own life-long struggles with my weight, I have thought and thought and thought about my own nutrition philosophy, and now I’m ready to share it.
If I had to write a Michael Pollan style food mantra, mine would be: “Eat real food. Not too much. And don’t stress out about it.”
As someone who was born over 10 pounds and who has pretty much been fat ever since, I have tried so many diets. I had some fleeting success with Weight Watchers back in high school, but gained all that weight back and then some in the years that followed. Calorie counting, paleo, vegetarian… all failures for me in the realm where it really mattered to me, my weight. It just seemed like I couldn’t trick my brain into being satisfied with a reasonable amount of “healthy” food… ever.
However, the one dietary framework that really seems to work for me is low-carb/keto, along with intermittent fasting. When I stick to it, the weight falls off, my skin clears up, my stomach flattens, and I have so much more energy. Of course, the hard part is sticking to it faithfully in a world that is filled with sugar.
BUT, I’m not so much of a zealot that I think everyone should be on keto. I understand, accept, and embrace the fact that different things work for different people. However, I think there are some low-carb concepts that would work wonders in improving the overall health of most people:
- Eat fewer carbs. Most carbs are crap, and people are eating way too many of them.
- Avoid seed oils. Vegetable oil is nasty, inflammatory, and just plain terrible for you. Stick to butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and other natural fats.
- Drink more water. And definitely don’t drink your calories (because, let’s face it, drinking calories should more accurately be called drinking sugar).
- Eat more produce. Veggies are delicious. Eat more of them. And fruit too, if your blood sugar is well-controlled.
- Don’t fear the fat. Fat is good for you. Saturated fat is NOT bad for you. More calories per gram does not equal less healthy.
- Stop salt-shaming. Your body needs salt. Salt sensitivity is a real thing, but affects a minority of people. There are many other factors that have a bigger effect on your blood pressure.
- Limit snacks. Snacks don’t cure hangryness. They cause it.
In addition to the diet aspect, though, I have to discuss what I consider some of the biggest keys to wellness. These are just as important as diet… if not more so, in some instances.
- Get enough sleep. 7-9 hours per night for adults. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
- Decrease the amount of stress in your life. Work stress, family stress, relationship stress, financial stress, commute stress… all of it. Find ways to decrease the stress in your life. It’s terrible for you. This includes stressing out about your diet and/or weight.
- Exercise. Focus on resistance training over steady-state cardio. Try to make it enjoyable. (This is my eternal struggle right here.)
- Connect with others. We need each other.
- Have fun. And sometimes you just need to drop everything and play with your kids for a little bit, or watch some Netflix, or even on rare occasion eat carbs. (Scandalous, I know).
So those are my basic thoughts on diet, nutrition, health, and wellness. I know they may not jive with everyone, and that’s okay.
I realize they might make me sound like some kind of wellness saint, but I am far from it. I still have weight to lose, I struggle with my sweet tooth, I hate exercise, and I love to stay up late when I know I have an early morning the next day.
But I believe I have found a set of food ideals that I can live with for the rest of my life, that focus on healthy foods without being authoritarian, along with focusing on the other huge lifestyle factors that play a key role in health.
How about you? What’s your nutrition philosophy?
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