Did you know March is National Nutrition Month? According to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics the theme this year is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”. It’s true many people think eating clean means a boring and tasteless diet. While nothing could be further from the truth, I think there is a more pressing mission when it comes to eating – the American public at large doesn’t know what eating healthy means.
I think it would be an interesting experiment to ask random people to define a healthy diet or describe a healthy meal. If you asked 100 people, I bet you would get 100 different answers. Why the confusion? Three reasons:
Science moves fast, faster than the American government.
The USDA nutrition guidelines, although recently updated, is still out of date with what we know about the effects of too much starch and sugar and limiting fat. Plus food lobbies put too much pressure on the government to emphasize whole grains and dairy.
Science moves fast, but the media moves faster.
It’s only moments after a study is published about the benefits of coconut oil or the hazards of too much protein that it appears on every blog and twitter feed. The same applies to the study that contradicts those findings. With only headlines and few details, most of us don’t know what it means to our everyday diet.
Healthy means different things to different people.
Greek yogurt is great for most people but not those who are lactose intolerant. Or for people like me with sinus issues which dairy seems to make 100 times worse. Nuts are great except when you have an allergy. Pasta is great for the marathoner but no so great for the desk dweller. A healthy diet is shades of gray not black and white.
So what do we do?
A healthy diet is not dictated by a diet bestseller or the latest miracle food breakthrough on Dr. Oz. It is about consistency and balance. It is NOT about being perfect. It’s not about being 100% organic or making everything from scratch. It is food at its simplest form. It’s about what makes you feel good and gives you the energy to do what you need to do. It’s about keeping your body functioning at it’s peak. It’s not trusting the front of the box, but reading the back (or perhaps skipping a box all together).
Don’t follow meal plans or rules that don’t make sense. Listen to your body. Follow your instincts. If it doesn’t sound right, it isn’t. If you have to question if something is good or not, it probably isn’t. Your body knows what it needs; you just need to listen when it tells you.
How do you define YOUR health diet?