It's easy for me to get caught up in my own little bubble and forget that there are still tons of people believing in old nutrition methodologies that might be harming, rather than helping their health. This are often myths I've believed myself for years, which has now lead me to deal with the health issues I have today. In today's post, I want to cover the top five mindset shifts about nutrition and health that need to change if you ever wish to have lasting health and stop the yo-yo dieting cycle.
1. Low-fat and low-calorie don't work (in the long term).
The low-fat and low-calorie craze of the 80s and 90s is long past due. It simply doesn't work, and if it did, we wouldn't be in the health crisis we are in today. We need healthy fat in our diet to support our cells, hormones, and brain function. These three things are LITERALLY how we keep living. Our cells make up every organ in our body. Our hormones are the master over everything that occurs in our bodies. Our brain allows us to work and think coherently. If we deprive our bodies of this absolutely necessary nutrient, we are setting ourselves up for years of trouble with hormones, blood sugar regulation, joint pain and inflammation, anxiety, depression, and so much more.
The low-calorie mindset, on the other hand, takes everything about low-fat to the extreme. Low-calorie usually means that something was removed from the food to make it that way. But, in order to still make it palatable, something had to be added to that product to replace what was taken. And that something is usually an artificial sweetener or some other concoction of chemicals made to resemble food. THIS IS NOT HOW WE ARE MEANT TO EAT! We were not meant to live off of low-calorie bars and shakes; it's simply not the way to true health. If it was, these bars would grow on trees (or at least their ingredients would!).
One or both of these methods might work in the short term, I'll give it that, but eventually over time, issues start to arise as our body becomes more and more nutrient depleted. We start to see chronic health issues crop up, like diabetes, Alzheimer's, or autoimmune disease. We lose and regain the same 10-20lbs only to find each time, we end up 10lbs heavier than we started. We start to hold all of our weight in our midsection, and it won't budge no matter how hard you diet or exercise. These are all signs that your body has had ENOUGH and that it is seeking real, whole foods. For long term health, especially of your metabolism, low-fat or low-calorie is not the way to go.
2. There is no quick fix that is going to make you healthy.
Even I wish this were true, but it's not. There is no medication, supplement, food or diet, exercise regime, or contraption you can eat or use that is going to make you instantaneously healthy. It simply doesn't work that way. Celery juice isn't the cure to cancer. That new cream won't get rid of your cellulite. This new 20 minute workout plan isn't going to help you lose 20lbs in 2 weeks. These things just don't happen! Yes, we want them to work, but wanting something doesn't to work doesn't make it so.
What we need to remember is that more than anything else, CONSISTENCY is what matters in the end. We are all trying to win at life, which is a long journey, so we need to remember that we are in this for the long term. Making choices to support this mindset is more important than trying to eat only grapefruit for a week in an attempt to fit into a pair of jeans for a special event.
3. Real food ALWAYS wins. No exceptions.
Real food is king. There is no exception. We are meant to eat real, whole food that can be found in nature, not some frankenfoods that were made in a lab and designed to be addicting by food scientists (this is a real thing). Any diet or shake or bar that tries to convince you otherwise is WRONG. DEAD WRONG. I come across all of these stupid products on a daily basis, and every single time someone asks me about my thoughts, I ask them what the ingredients are and how it is better than real, whole food. Powders and potions don't compare to what nature readily gives us.
4. We eat to nourish, not to deprive or make up for when we are "bad."
"Ate a Big Mac? Now you need to run for at least an hour to burn it off - better get going!"
We live in a culture built around the guilt and shame mentality. If we eat something "bad," we need to mediate it with something "good" to cancel out the effects.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.
We NEED food to nourish our bodies. Eating shouldn't be some game to see how little you can eat and how little nutrition you can give your body. Trust me - I've been there, and it DOES NOT WORK, unless of course you want to be dealing with chronic health issues in your 20s, then by all means, do it. We need food to fuel our bodies. We need food to fuel our lives. Where does this fuel come from? Not from a low-calorie meal replacement bar. It comes from real, whole food.
5. Sleep is king, and water shares the throne.
Last but not least, if we do not get enough sleep or drink enough water, nothing that we do with our nutrition is going to take root.
We need adequate quality sleep to allow our body to restore itself back to homeostasis. Not making sleep a priority is like not showering for a month. You're basically telling your body (and the world) that you really don't care about your health.
Water, on the other hand, literally gives life to our cells, and we need it to avoid the negative, long term effects of dehydration like joint pain, migraines, back pain, and fibromyalgia. Drinking 1/2 your weight in ounces + 1.5x the number of ounces of diuretics you drink each day is a must. Take a water bottle with you EVERYWHERE you go - no exceptions!
Trust me when I say that making these mindset shifts will completely change your health and your relationship with food. Food isn't meant to be a battle, especially when we choose to fuel our bodies with real, whole food.