Have you ever spent months, or even years, centering your life around one particular diet? Maybe it had a focus on eating one type of food or maybe it had a focus on cutting out one type of food. Either way, it probably managed to take over your life. You likely couldn’t think of anything but your next meal. I’m here to tell you, there are better paths to health. You don’t need to eat any one “perfect” food to be healthy.
Different Bodies Have Different Needs
WE. ARE. ALL DIFFERENT.
There is so much that can affect your body’s nutrient needs. Things like the amount of sleep you get, genetic makeup, stress levels, hormone levels and gut bacteria are just a few examples. The great news is, your body has a mechanism to tell you what it needs . . . cravings.
Of course, cravings can be misleading. Processed, hyper-palatable foods have confused our bodies so much. So, when you have a craving for sour cream and ranch potato chips, that doesn’t mean you have to devour a bag. What that means is, your body may need a nutrient that sour cream and ranch potato chips can provide, like sodium.
The problem is that those chips are going to be full of a lot more harmful ingredients than helpful. Instead, the craving could be satisfied by a baked potato with salt and pepper and a little homemade sour cream ranch. And homemade doesn’t mean using a packet of ranch mix. It means mixing the herbs and spices yourself so no other crap is mixed in.
That is one tiny example. The point is to become attuned to your own body’s needs. Because what works for your friend or even your parents isn’t necessarily going to work for you.
Avoid Too Much Processed Food
We can all agree that processed foods are delicious. They are not, however, a part of a balanced diet. Processed, packaged foods as we think of them today were invented in the 20th century, so have only been a part of the human diet for a fraction of a percent of our history. These are foods that were invented by humans far too recently in our history and began being consumed at excessive rates far too quickly for evolution to keep up.
It is important to note that most of our food is processed in some way. Cooking is a form of processing. However, when I refer to processed foods, I am referring to foods with chemical additives and foods that have been altered to extend shelf-life. As a general rule, and of course taking allergies or specific dietary needs as prescribed by your doctor, naturally-occurring foods are best to center your daily diet around. Naturally-occurring foods include meats, vegetables, nuts and dairy.
Look at the Rest of Your Lifestyle
True health isn’t just about food, though. Diet Culture has us all obsessing over what we eat and this obsession can ironically be detrimental to health.
Health and wellness encompass our whole lifestyle. Yes, exercise is important too. But what about stress? According to the American Psychological Association, back in 2012 28% of American women were dealing with a “great deal” of stress (8-10 on a scale of 1-10). Stress can be detrimental to health and can cause significant physical symptoms. And of course, obsessing over what foods you “can” and “cannot” eat can be stressful, completely un-doing any benefits of your “healthy” eating. It’s a fine line to walk.
You Don’t Any One Specific Food to be Healthy
In the end, we all have different bodies, and some bodies have specific needs. Always follow your doctor’s orders around diet, especially when there is an allergy or other immediate health concern involved. In general though, simply avoiding too much processed food and placing your focus for daily meals around meat, vegetables, nuts and dairy should be sufficient for a healthy lifestyle.
And remember, diet isn’t everything when it comes to health. Evaluate your entire lifestyle, paying particular attention to minimizing stressors and adding exercise into your routine. There may not be a “perfect” food to be healthy, but you do have the power to create a healthy life for yourself.
Stay up-to-date on all the current Healthy Motivated Life happenings! Click here to subscribe to my newsletter, and get your free gift.
If you find this post helpful or inspiring, I would appreciate a share! You can easily share the link using one of my social media or email share buttons below. Thank you!