I’m a firm believer that healthy food is a joy giver, a beautiful privilege and total life changer. My view is that meals should be fully enjoyed – celebrated and appreciated. With so much conflicting information, it’s a sad reality that so many people have become caught up in rights and wrongs of food choices, with black and white views of what they should and shouldn’t be eating – leading to unnecessary stress and / or deprivation.
Dieting is the absolute opposite of living a balanced life, with the problem being that many diets are restrictive, extreme and only short-term fixes. By their very definition of cutting out food groups, diets are nutritionally unbalanced and therefore unsustainable. In most cases, any weight that is lost is soon re-gained when old eating habits are resumed.
Instead, adopting a balanced approach to eating – incorporating a variety of foods and minding portion sizes – is a sustainable solution (and not just to weight loss, but to healthy living.)
Besides which, every individual’s metabolism and genetic makeup are different, which is why you should ditch the notion of a “diet” for weight loss, and instead think about “diet” as being what you eat and making that as balanced as you possibly can.
That said, I realise time and money can have an impact on your diet. Not everyone has the time (or space or inclination!) to grow their own vegetables, by organic or shop at the local farmers’ markets.
We are busy people in a busy world, and this is why a non-restrictive strategy works best – have good intentions but be kind to yourself. If you’ve worked an eight-hour day (on broken sleep courtesy of a teething child), then it’s okay to not cook a completely nutritious meal from scratch (and then face a laundry basket of ironing while simultaneously responding to urgent work-related emails). Give yourself a break.
Balance clean eating with everyday stress, financial considerations and your busy schedule; if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by your diet then it’s time to scale it back. In an ideal world we would be cooking organic, healthy homemade meals every day, but lets face it, sometimes that’s just not achievable. It’s much better to bring it back a level, then to quit completely.
We should be aiming to do your best, not to be perfect. And if you need help, don’t beat yourself up about it. The world won’t end if you indulge in a chocolate brownie, or steam some frozen vegetables instead of purchasing organic ones direct from the grower and then creating a Master Chef-worthy dish with them.
Balanced eating becomes achievable with each small, conscious decision that then becomes a habit, making it sustainable in the long-term. Why not challenge yourself to incorporate one new habit into your balanced lifestyle each week?
Below are some simple ‘food swaps’ to get you started, but remember! There is no need to go too hard, too fast or too drastic. Be kind to yourself in the process. This isn’t a competition, it’s about focusing on health and not weight.
- When using flour to bake, try some different variations; use buckwheat and almond flour for a gluten free and protein rich option – If you don’t know where to start, use my recipes or recipes of your favourite health bloggers.
- Mix up your ‘go-to’ vegetables. Carrots and broccoli are great, but why not experiment with something you’ve never tasted/cooked with before? You can always ask the grower at the market how to use it, or jump onto the Internet.
- Switch to wholegrain, which offer more nutrients and fibre than the refined “white” varieties. And while wholegrains tend to have a lower GI, so they help keep you feeling fuller for longer, they also have more texture and flavour. Win win.
- Here’s a super simple one; use balsamic vinegar or lemon juice with extra virgin olive oil instead of store bought salad dressing. These habits don’t have to be overcomplicated – you want to make it as easy as possible to integrate them into your balanced mindset.
Wouldn’t it be the ultimate if we could all follow our own rhythm and not get caught up with what others are doing? If there’s one thing I’d like to encourage more of, it’s to focus on you and your own progress without getting caught up with what others are doing.
Here’s to a balanced approach in eating and in life!