Take a moment to ask yourself: What motivates me to eat well?
If your key motivators behind eating a healthy diet are weight control and/or weight loss, you are not alone. As a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), I notice the driving force behind many people’s desire to develop a healthier diet is typically weight-focused.
But there are often forgotten physical and mental health benefits of eating a balanced, varied and nutrient-dense diet– that have nothing to do with your body size:
One in three U.S. consumers are following a specific diet on their quest for better health.
That’s according to the 2018 International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation survey of more than 1,000 American ages 18-80. The survey also showed people between ages 18 and 34 are more likely to diet, and the number of people dieting has more than doubled from the same survey last year.
The survey also highlighted participating consumers’ top nutrition behaviors and concerns, which include carb avoidance, fatigue and weight. As a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) I constantly hear from clients, friends and family members that they’re trying to avoid XYZ to lose weight and/or be healthy. That’s why I feel a responsibility to help well-intentioned consumers understand why extreme diets are not a solution to their health concerns.
Here are some reasons why following restrictive diets will hurt your health more than help it.
You’ve heard it all: Sugar is bad. Sugar is toxic. Sugar will destroy your health.
Fear-mongering messages around sugar abound. They are extreme, unhelpful, and take the joy out of eating dessert. Bah Humbug.
Truthfully, it is not that simple – cutting out one ingredient (like sugar) or groups of food is not what will lead to better health. In fact, it can be detrimental to health.
To make sure we get enough protein everyday, it is important to consider quality and quantity. When we think of protein, the first foods that come to mind are typically chicken, beef and maybe eggs. But what if you opt to get your protein from plants instead of animal sources? A diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, beans, soy foods, and nuts and seeds can provide enough protein.
From our social media feeds to morning news shows, there’s nutrition advice thrown at us everyday.
The truth is, nutrition science is constantly evolving, which is why it is important to seek information backed by rigorous science.
Recently, diets like Whole30 caution about foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids, like peanuts, peanut butter, seeds and liquid vegetable oils (i.e. corn, sunflower and safflower oils). And greater emphasis is typically placed on benefits of eating omega-3 fatty acids.
Since 2003, peanuts have a qualified health claim that says: Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, including peanuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.
That’s powerful stuff, since heart disease remains the number one killer in Americans. And research linking what we eat to our heart health continues to grow! But in the world of nutrition research, there is only one constant – change. As soon as a conclusion is drawn from one study, there will be another study with a different result. BUT studies continue to prove the link between peanut consumption and reduced risk of heart disease.
It’s no secret that many Americans fall short when it comes to eating the recommended five daily servings of fruits and veggies, despite the health benefits. Many of us know we should be eating more fruits and vegetables. So, why aren’t we getting enough? Here are some common barriers to fruit and veggie consumption, and strategies to help you add more produce to your plate.
Just eight percent of people typically keep their New Year’s resolutions.
That stat seems like a good reason to start thinking outside of the box for new and more sustainable ideas. It’s admirable to set goals for the year ahead, but it’s easy to fall back on the defaults (i.e. eat better or exercise more). And there is good reason why the diet and fitness industries count on January as one of their most lucrative time periods, which is then followed by a drop-off period. In fact, they count on our failures to change.
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