As a registered dietician, every time I begin a talk or a client session with "better nutrition is actually simple" I get looks that range from incredulous, to hopeful, to (frankly) pissed off. Read
As a nutritionist and mindfulness coach, I work with people from all over the world who struggle to maintain a healthy weight. Many of them are unhappy and unwell, and they don't know why. What they all have in common is that they're frustrated and confused by all the different diets out there. They're suffering from what I call "diet trauma."
Raw, vegan, gluten-free, paleo, flexitarian—to name just a few—all these trends are fighting for attention, claiming to solve all your problems while providing long lists of scientific studies (which can prove or disprove anything if you just dig deep enough) to support their cause.
I hear statements like these all the time:
- "I've been completely gluten-free for months now but I'm still not better."
- "I went raw but it's damn hard to keep up."
- "All my friends went vegan and every time I buy a steak now I have a guilty conscience."
While they were once highly motivated to take their health and happiness to the next level, they wound up completely frustrated because they followed a trend which might be a solution but turned out not to be their solution.
Of course, if you are gluten-intolerant you have to go gluten-free.
If you are a vegan with heart and soul, you should never doubt your lifestyle (which is not the diet trend I'm talking about).
But if you "just" want to be better and happier overall, reach a healthy weight, and actually enjoy eating again, here's what I tell my clients:
1. Stop labeling your diet.
This gives you the freedom to eat whatever your body and mind need without feeling guilty because something wasn't "vegal" or "paleosher."
2. Develop your somatic intelligence.
We all have an innate food navigation system which tells us exactly what we—as individuals—need to be genuinely happy & healthy.
Rediscover and develop your somatic intelligence by
- Avoiding processed food and eating as naturally and organically as possible.
- Having more raw and slightly broken-down food than heavily cooked food.
- Eating more plants than animals.
- Making your own food instead of buying ready-made.
3. Eat mindfully.
Take your time when you eat. Re-discover what's on your plate through the eyes of a child. Stop when you are almost full and wait. Your brain will tell you that you've had enough after about 20 minutes.
People always think that because I'm a nutritionist my diet is 200% clean. Here's a "shocking" truth: I had a piece of my Mum's cheesecake only yesterday and the day before, we made pizza (with gluten!).
And I enjoyed and savored every bite.
I strongly believe that it's enjoying eating promotes well-being and a healthy weight. That's why, as long as you are listening to your "somatic antennae" most of the time, it's perfectly fine to go rogue every now and then.
5. Be grateful.
I've got two toddlers who are used to eating fresh veggies and fruit and drinking green smoothies. A while ago my son (he's five) told me he'd like to have a certain breakfast drink (which is completely processed and full of sugar) every day because some of his friends were allowed to do the same, too.
I didn't tell my son he couldn't have that drink.
Instead I asked:
"Do you know why your friends need to stay at home regularly because they don't feel well, and why you and your sister haven't been sick in over three years? It's because of the little warriors in your green smoothies who make sure you stay fit and can play every day."
The next morning he actually thanked the little warriors in his green smoothie for taking such good care of him and never spoke of that breakfast drink again.
6. Visualize every day.
Genuinely simple, real and organic food is not an enemy. (And please don't let any diet trend tell you otherwise.) It's something for which to be grateful.
The above tips are essential to finding a lifestyle (NOT a diet) that promotes well-being, joy, and a healthy weight. Those actions, combined with visualizing the "whole & happy" person you long to be, will help you achieve anything.
And completely trauma-free!
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
To learn more about happiness, check out our video course How To Create More Happiness & Meaning In Your Life.