The Rule I Live By When It Comes To Food
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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
When it comes to food, I’ve found that keeping things simple and fun is the way to go, both for me and my family.
When I was younger, I'd say things like, "I don’t eat bread. I don’t eat pasta."
I don’t, I don’t, I don’t….
But in my 30s, I realized how long life is. Was I really going to deprive myself of those things for the rest of my life? So these days, I strive to find a balance between eating healthy foods, and enjoying my life.
What works for me is to keep it pretty basic. If you open my refrigerator, you’ll find anything I can use to make a salad: kale, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. I love artichoke hearts, too—you can throw them in a salad or put them on chicken. I also make wheat-free and gluten-free pizza, using olive tapenade, artichoke hearts, and raw cheese. Then I put a salad on top.
As for coffee, it’s not for me. I don’t have a health issue with it. (My husband is a religious coffee-drinker.) But I used to make coffee for my parents when I was very young and I remember thinking that I didn’t want to get to the point where I couldn't get out of bed without a certain drink.
I don’t eat fast food or fried things, but if I’m at a restaurant that offers something unique, like homemade bread or a special dessert, I won't restrict myself. I find that the minute we feel like we can’t have something, we start to obsess about it and want to eat everything. So I allow myself those treats.
If I notice that a particular indulgence is becoming a habit, I just pull the reins a bit and eat more healthy foods that make me feel great. I tell myself, “I’m not *not* allowed to eat things. I’m just choosing to eat other things.”
It's a pretty easy rule to live by.
All in all, the food I put into my body is beautiful and tastes good, which supports my body, mind, and spirit. I enjoy life, and food is one way to help me do that.
I use this same laid-back approach in feeding my family. My overall goal with my children is for them to eat snacks in moderation, and only after we’ve had really good food. I’ve tried to teach them that things like pasta are okay, but we can make better choices. I help them understand that there’s a difference between food and fun. We don’t have to eat snacks to have fun.
That said, I don’t restrict their food too much. When you make really strict rules around food, kids go bonkers whenever they go anywhere outside of those guidelines; they’ll eat everything that they’ve been taught they can’t have.
So I don’t make a big deal about food because I don’t want my kids to feel like they’re sneaking things or that food is some big issue. For example, overly processed foods aren’t part of our diet and don’t come into our house. But we do have a sweets drawer that has chocolate-covered almonds and other treats. If my kids have eaten a good dinner, they ask me if they can have something from the sweets drawer.
So my view on teaching children about eating well: just relax. Don’t create strict rules around food or physical activity. Help kids respect their bodies with a balance of healthy food and activity that lets them enjoy life.
To learn more about my nutrition views make sure to pick up a copy of my new book My Foot Is Too Big for the Glass Slipper. It's a fun, feel-good look inside my relationship and views on how to be a strong, healthy individual.
Photo Credit: GabbyandLaird.com
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