With all the nutrition advice on the Internet and in the media, why do savvy food consumers who eat healthy foods like salmon, broccoli, whole grain pasta and salads struggle with ongoing health issues? Concerns with weight, fatigue, food cravings, digestive distress and pain are quite common. Where is this disconnect created between the knowledge and the action?
Here are the most common mistakes that I observe in my practice, and some suggestions for remedying them:
- Filling up a large dinner plate with a variety of foods, at home or at a restaurant, often results in overeating. Even if it looks balanced, an oversized plate with too much of anything on it (except for vegetables) adds up to too many calories.
Try this: Fill half of your plate with vegetables, add a fist-sized portion of meat or protein and a “golf ball” or two of whole grains.
- Vegetarians, and those who choose to cut back on meat to avoid saturated fat, often replace protein with mostly starches. This can lead to an imbalanced diet and an accumulation of body fat.
Try this: Instead of filling up on starch, replace meat with other types of protein, such as tofu or tempeh, beans, veggie burgers, nuts and seeds, yogurt, eggs or fish. Limit breads and starches to one third of your total diet.
- In an effort to lose weight, many people skip breakfast or lunch and end up eating “backwards.” That is, they eat most of their food at the end of the day when metabolism often slows down, and eat the least in the mornings when metabolism is the fastest.
Try this: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” ―Adelle Davis
- Food manufacturers have contributed to redefining a snack as a dessert or empty-calorie food. Choosing 100-calorie cookie packages, for example, is a lost opportunity to consume food that’s rich in nutrients, fiber, and energy-rich protein.
Try this: Whole, unprocessed food like raw vegetables and fruits, and small amounts of meat, beans or whole grains, should be used to bridge your meals.
- Heeding popular advice to eat small meals throughout the day, people are “grazing” (i.e. filling up on salty and sweet snacks) and are consequently consuming fewer nutrients and more calories.
Try this: Eat three substantial meals a day that include mostly vegetables and proteins with some carbohydrates and fruits, and very small snacks in-between.
- Eating so-called nutritious food―such as whole wheat products, sweetened yogurt and “sugar-free” items―can make people feel sick or weak because of food sensitivities to gluten, dairy or artificial sweeteners.
If you suspect that some of your foods may be making you especially tired, bloated, itchy or triggering a headache for example:
Try this: Eliminate one kind of food at a time to see if you feel better, or seek guidance from a trained professional to help you identify the source and find where it is hidden in other foods.
Small shifts in your eating habits can add up to a big difference in your health and wellbeing. If you’d like to explore where there are opportunities for improvement in your diet, contact me here to get the conversation started.