As a dietitian, people come to see me to learn how to eat better to prevent disease, tread lighter on the planet, feel better and more energized or to use nutrition to heal from a condition. People rarely ask me what I think is the ‘best way’ to eat. They have a path they want to tread and they want me to help show them the way.
Yet on the internet, there are literally millions screaming that their way is not just the best way but the ONLY way to eat. They are right…everyone else is wrong. Raw milk heals! Milk kills! Grains are evil…no, meat is!
Oh, the internet.
It is the force that empowers us as individuals to gain control of our health by offering access to expertise and information we might not get otherwise. It can also be the downfall of our best intentions and make us crazy.
So I am going to say two things that are seemingly in contradiction:
1. The foods you choose to eat have a remarkable power to make you, and keep you, vibrantly healthy.
2. We all need to relax a little bit because hey, it’s just food.
You need to hear both because healthy eating and nutrition is not one size fits all. That is the trouble (and the fun) of being a dietitian: there are (almost) no black and white answers. I have gotten comfortable wading through the grey area because true nutrition is individualized.
We are not test tubes and each one of us has a unique constitution that will thrive on a unique way of eating.
However, the health conscious among us (myself included) can get so wrapped up in health decisions that even choosing between almond milks can send them into a tizzy. And while I truly believe that nutrition is the foundation of a healthy life, stress and constant rigidity can break you down in unimaginable ways (I speak from experience) and eating good food is supposed to fill you with joy in addition to nutrients.
So how will you reconcile these contradictions? By remembering this: what you do day in and day out will make your life. Educate yourself on healthy eating. Eat tons of plant foods. Try to eat amazingly well about 75, 80% of the time. The rest is up to you – whatever makes you feel good: totally vegan, a bit paleo or a bit of red velvet cupcake. Take your time getting there as it doesn’t have to happen overnight.
Perfection isn’t attainable. Perfect eating doesn’t exist. Nutrition research moves at the speed of light but the basics have rarely changed. Eat lots of whole, unprocessed foods. Plenty of plants.
So if you are beating yourself up for ‘failing’ on your nutrition resolutions, make yourself a nice big kale (or spinach or arugula) salad and let it go.
Perfection doesn’t exist. Progress will do nicely.
Exploring dietary alternatives? Check out my Freebies page for a brand spanking new downloadable 7 day low sugar, anti-inflammatory meal plan.