WHY FLEXIBILITY AND BALANCE WITH FOOD KEEPS YOU HEALTHY AND HAPPY

The key to sustainable health lies in your ability to navigate food without rigidity or extremes. Here are 6 reasons to start.


BY: EMILY FONNESBECK, RD, CD, CLT

It’s very easy in our current nutrition culture to be tempted by extremes. It’s also easy to overshoot the mark, or put the cart before the horse.

While I am sure many of you have legitimate health concerns around digestion, sleep, blood sugar, and heart related concerns, as a nutrition professional who has worked with many clients over the years, I’ve found this to be true:

Those who are consistent with the basics often lead to those said concerns taking care of themselves.  

A big part of those basics? Eating regular, balanced meals.

By allowing yourself time to engage in regular self-care through nourishment, you will get where you want to go.  It may not be by tomorrow or next month as many diets will promise, but you will get there.

And when you do, it will be a sustainable, flexible approach that has fostered self-trust, self-acceptance, confidence, and an increase in wisdom and patience. Here are a few reasons why you need to start.

1.  Re-establish trust with your body.

If eating patterns have been haphazard or inconsistent, it is very likely you aren’t feeling regular hunger and fullness levels.  After ignoring your body’s signals for too long, it may need reassurance you are willing to listen.

Please know that a body that feels well taken care of can become very resilient; you are basically teaching your body that it can trust you.  As you trust it, it will trust you – it goes both ways. By feeding it regularly, hunger and fullness levels will reemerge by fostering self-trust.

2.  Create balance within your body.

Eating regularly stabilizes blood sugar levels, which helps to reduce cravings. It also influences mood regulation as well as overall hormonal balance.  

You feel well fed and satisfied during the day, preventing feelings of deprivation, which can lead to overeating and bingeing. You’ll also start to notice what portion sizes are adequate to fuel you without leaving you uncomfortably full,  lethargic, or still hungry and preoccupied with food.

3. Take the time to care for yourself.

Eating serves as a great reminder to take a break from your day to engage in regular self-care. Meals are a time to relax, take a break, and derive healthy nourishment and satisfaction from food.  You can then get back into the game of life feeling fueled and ready with increased productivity.

4. Learn to love food again.

It’s quite possible that other weight loss attempts have left you confused about what to eat, given that many diets have lists of “good” and “bad” foods. When you allow yourself to eat balanced meals regularly, it helps you to make peace with all food groups.   

A balanced meal is one that includes at least a carbohydrate choice, a protein choice, a fat choice and a fruit and/or vegetable.  This allows you to make room for all food groups, in a way you feel would be most satisfying and energizing for you. Also, if meal timing is longer than 3-4 hours, plan to a snack in between meals.

5. Find peace in flexibility.

Instead of restriction or chaos, regular, balanced meals are meant to have a flexible structure.  Many of you may feel chaotic about having no boundaries or guidelines, and may wish to stay as far away from chaos as possible.  In fact, this is why diets feel like such a great solution – but remember: restriction is not a solution for chaos, it causes it.

Use an eating structure that is flexible: you get to decide which carbohydrate, protein, fat, and fruit or vegetable you would like to include.  In essence, as you work to normalize eating behaviors, meal timing and structure may not be negotiable while what you eat at that time is negotiable.  

6. Find freedom from rules and guidelines.

As you are learning to connect with your body and give it what it needs, it may need more or less than the basic outline of portions above.  Those are only meant to be a tool, not a weapon. Our bodies are not machines, and your needs may change from meal-to-meal and from day-to-day.  

As you are learning to reconnect with your body, get curious about how to build your own flexible self-care plan to nourish your body. Curiosity and openness will be your best asset.

By moving away from a weight-obsessed discussion around your food choices, you are free to figure out what fuels you the best.  

Only then can you find a safe environment that fosters curiosity and connection.

Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: MONIKA GRABKOWSKA

Emily Fonnesbeck, RD, CD, CLT is a Utah-based private practice Registered Dietitian. Instead of creating unnecessary restrictions, Emily focuses on helping individuals become confident and in charge of their own well-being through Intuitive Eating and Mindful Living. She is a strong believer and advocate for helping people become capable individuals who are confident in taking care of themselves.  Make a visit and read more from Emily.

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