Changing our mindset around “healthy” foods

Jan 28, 2018 | Thoughts

Ugh. The word healthy” can mean so many different things that it basically means nothing you know? I bet if you asked five different people what healthy” meant, they’d give you five different answers.

And that’s not inherently wrong or bad! The thing is, health is a highly individual thing, and what’s healthy for one person isn’t necessarily healthy for another. What becomes harmful then, is when someone tries to force what’s healthy for them onto you, or when you do something only because it was healthy for one person without questioning whether it’s healthy for your body.

(Note: there are some universally unhealthy things, and telling yourself “a diet of Cheetos and wine is healthy for me!” isn’t going to get you far. 😉 “Everything in moderation” is a good general rule of thumb.)

In a past life, I was definitely in the trap of eating a diet of things I was told were healthy” (and avoiding other things I was told were unhealthy). While my intentions were (mostly) coming from the right place, I was misinformed, and ended up depriving myself of nutrients, calories, and making myself feel miserable.

For my situation specifically (remember this is me and not you!), that looked like eating lots of smoothies and fruits including high FODMAP fruits like apples & pears; plant proteins like beans and tofu; relatively little fat; of course wheat, garlic, & onion; and high FODMAP sweeteners like honey and agave. I went along thinking I was being healthy, not realizing the both physical and mental damage I was causing myself.

So what changed? How do we know what to do? Something that has been so helpful for me is to change my mindset from trying to eat healthy foods to trying to eat nutritious foods. For instance, unprocessed whole grains have more nutrients because more of the grain is present and the nutrients are less likely to be processed out. (Bonus: many gluten free flours like oat, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa are made with whole grains!) Likewise, extra virgin and unrefined oils retain more vitamins & nutrients than highly filtered ones (noticing a trend here? 😄). Dark leafy greens like spinach & kale are full of vitamins A & K, calcium, & iron. 

Even after I’d cut out most FODMAPs and my gut was feeling much better, I still wasn’t getting the nutrients my body needed. Here are some things that I did that really helped:

 

Education

The first step is to educate myself on the nutrition content of foods not going by what the food industry tells me is healthy, but what the nutrition content actually is. Nutrition Stripped is a great resource and a good place to start. 

Diet

I try to include foods I know are full of nutrients and avoid ones I know don’t have much to offer. This is always a balance if I want to eat french fries later, or maybe yesterday I didn’t eat much nutrient-filled foods, I’ll make an extra effort to add in some greens or fruits to make sure I’m getting the vitamins & minerals I need. 

Listen to my body

Definitely easy to say, hard to do. I lived for years (like, potentially most of my life?) not paying attention to how miserable I was feeling. It wasn’t until I felt so awful that it started impacting my life I didn’t want to eat, all I could do was lay in bed hoping to feel better that I started to pay attention to what my body was telling me. This is all still an ongoing effort on my part (see this post on my current experiment with sugar), but it’s something I try to practice often. 

Even if you do your research and know that a certain food is full of nutrients, if it doesn’t make you feel good (or even if you don’t like it!) you don’t have to eat it. Get creative! There are millions of options for what foods you eat, so find what works best for you!

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