In this day and age, we are presented with an overwhelming amount of conflicting evidence regarding what types of & how much when it comes to matters of “healthy living”. I don’t know about you, but it has most definitely caused me stress in trying to figure it all out. For example, various medical experts, professionals and athletes have voiced their opinions on optimal dietary patterns, fitness regimes and healthy living tips. Unfortunately, sometimes these opinions conflict in some way, shape or form. So how do we know what is the “right” answer?
In my opinion, there is no “standard” equation or “one size fits all” solution for everyone, and after a long personal journey of extreme ups and downs, I have learned that’s ok! We are all so unique and research is constantly changing and evolving, so all we can do is use our common sense and do the best we can, wherever we are, with whatever resources we have…then let it go. A wise mentor once told me that the stress of trying to figure it all out and be perfect will kill me before making a “less than ideal” healthy living choice every so often will. This has helped me achieve proper perspective.
Instead of focusing on rigid numbers, rules and targets, I personally try to apply key common sense principles when structuring my own “healthy habits” in order to make them a permanent lifestyle. These can apply to all areas of healthy living (i.e. nutrition, fitness, mental health).
- BALANCE & ADAPTABILITY (Stay in control while allowing for exceptions)
Balance – Be realistic by avoiding extreme behaviors. Try to use the old “80/20” rule and make optimal choices 80% of the time while learning to relax and enjoy the 20% when you don’t!
Adaptability – Aim to make the best choices possible in special circumstances that require you to exceed your regular range of healthy balance (i.e. vacations).
Nutrition Tip: I know and believe that organic, whole, natural foods are best for me. Therefore, I choose to prioritize these ingredients and invest in my health. However, I still purchase and consume “less healthy” items once in a while for certain events and occasions.
- VARIETY & ENJOYMENT (Change it up & making it fun)
Variety – Use rotation to ensure you meet all of your needs from a diverse range of sources.
Enjoyment – Find what works for you to increase the chances that behaviors stick long term.
Nutrition Tip: Get creative and make different varieties of smoothies, salads, soups, stir-fries or power bowls with a range of ingredients in balanced combinations!
- MODERATION & ADEQUACY (Find a healthy minimum to maximum range)
Moderation – Ensure that you don’t get too much of anything in order to leave room for others.
Adequacy – Guarantee that you get enough of the essentials your body needs to thrive.
Nutrition Tip: Aim for adequate amounts of the essentials and moderate amounts of the extras! However, while moderation is an obvious concept when it comes to less nutritious foods, too much of a good thing can be a problem too!
- MINDFULNESS & INDIVIDUALITY (Tune into your body and accept yourself)
Mindfulness – Stop and listen to your body. Be aware of what it is saying, and trust it to guide you! Pay attention to your mood, energy, cognitive ability, discomfort, satiety and cravings, etc.
Individuality –No two people are the same. Accept and embrace your unique needs.
Nutrition Tip: I believe we all operate best on personalized diets and that we may each thrive on various amounts of certain nutrients, meal timing and combinations based on individual factors.
- QUALITY & SIMPLICITY (Don’t make it complicated! Less is more when you do it right)
Quality –When you choose quality, quantity naturally falls into place.
Simplicity - Keep things simple and learn to be efficient with fewer things.
Nutrition Tip: When in doubt, choose ingredients as close to their original, natural, whole form as possible without additions, subtractions or modifications and prepare them using traditional methods to optimize nutrition and digestibility. It is very possible to make a delicious, easy and nutritious meal out of a few simple, high quality ingredients.
- CONSISTENCY & PERSISTENCE (Fake it until you make it and never look back)
Consistency – Intentionally repeat behaviours the majority of the time until you have created actual habits that become permanent and natural.
Persistence – Focus on the future with optimism and motivation, not dwelling on the past.
Nutrition Tip: Having a complete, balanced breakfast supports energy levels, mental focus, mood control and weight management. If you tend to skip this meal, start slowly by committing to something light every morning (i.e. protein smoothie) until breakfast becomes a habit.
- PLANNING & MODIFICATION (Set yourself up for success & adjust as needed)
Planning –Avoid failure and preventing relapse by pre-establishing loose guidelines and schedules. Be pro-active and prepared in areas of weakness!
Modification –Acknowledge that we all go through seasons and no plan or pattern is set in stone. We must consistently re-evaluate and change our patterns accordingly.
Nutrition Tip: Note that temporary exceptions are sometimes made for those in need of strategies for specific therapeutic purposes or life stages. For example, those on elimination, Candida or ketogenic protocols may need to cut out certain ingredients that are otherwise healthy for a short while as part of treatment before slowly re-incorporating them into the diet.
- PERSPECTIVE, PERSPECTIVE, PERSPECTIVE! (It’s all in how you see it)
Perspective –Emphasize what you are adding to your life instead of what you are cutting out!
Studying in the field of holistic nutrition is highly rewarding as it allows one to look at each person’s unique biology, history and lifestyle in deciding which diet and lifestyle patterns work best for them. If we look at the big picture, what really matters is that there is an overall shift towards a higher quality of life and becoming the best possible version of ourselves.
-This article is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach-