Grace Russell – Dietitian and Counsellor at Wallsend Health Hub
Welcome to the first of a series on why we struggle with food and diet.
Most of my clients come to me with good nutrition skills. They know which foods are nutritious, they know exercise is important and they have even starting making lots of little changes themselves. So what gets in the way of turning all this good knowledge into good eating habits?
1) We get hung up on the little things
We as humans are so curious about the little things. We want to know which brand of milk to buy, what types of salt to use and so on. While these little things can be helpful, they can also distract from the bigger picture – are these small choices really contributing that much to our health and happiness?
We are too busy looking at the leaves (grams of salt, percentage of omega 3’s) that we aren’t seeing the tree (our quality of life, if we are living in line with our values, enjoyment of food etc). Bigger picture questions that are more important include:
Are we mainly eating fruits and veggies, wholegrains, dairy?
Are we mainly eating when we’re hungry and stopping when we’re full?
Are we able to enjoy a variety of foods without feeling guilty?
Are we able to make changes to our diet because they make us feel great, not just because someone said so?
These are the big things that will have much more impact on health than if you’re choosing the chips with 2g less saturated fat.
My challenge for today: Think of 2 healthy changes that we can work on implementing into your daily routine. For me these are doing different forms of movement each day and eating more veggies at lunch!
2) We don’t really care for ourselves
So many problems with health can be alleviated if we truly care for ourselves. Think about it. We are so busy running around, looking after everyone else or proritising work duties, that we barely give our needs a thought.
We don’t sleep enough.
We don’t give ourselves time for breakfast.
All these things are signs that we don’t really care enough about ourselves or our own health.
We just can’t function well if we aren’t well. Stress is the main common denominator in all my clients who are struggling with their health. Among people who are stressed, 40% eat more than they should and an even higher % lose sleep. So we really need to do whatever we can to look after ourselves. This may be going to sleep a little earlier, taking some time to do one of your favourite things, making a cup of tea.
3) We try the latest trends
Everywhere we look we see new food trends. They sound so appealing and trendy and we see people in magazines and on Facebook swearing by their results.
But how many times do we have to try them to realise they just don’t work?! They’re not made to work – they’re made to be trendy. These on and off diets are actually doing harm to our health. Why? – they are made to be restrictive. We know that every time we restrict our food intake, our body will respond by amping up our hunger hormones which makes us more likely to cave in to that plate of brownies or bowl of pasta, so eventually we end up overeating.
If we are sensible with our food choices and realise there are no miracle diets, we are more likely to have a lower BMI and better blood panel. By following the trends we’re disconnecting from what it really takes to be healthy, something our grandparents knew so well – “everything in moderation”.