It’s March, which means National Nutrition Month, and the message from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is this: there is no right or wrong, one-size-fits-all diet. Instead, starting right now, everyone is encouraged to stop stressing about food rules, good vs. bad foods, and feeling like eating healthy means giving up your favorite foods.
Their recommendation is to Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day, and include the foods you love as part of a healthful eating plan. I think that’s great advice, and I make the same recommendation all of the time. However, I’m aware that many people aren’t sure what’s “right” because the research always seems to change. I also know that people are busy and stressed, so the foods they love often include lots of fast food because it’s easy, and ice cream and cookies because they taste good after a stressful day…Can those foods be part of a healthy eating plan?
Thank heavens for Harvard Vanguard’s team of Registered Dietitians, who can help sort it all out! RDs are your best resource for science-based food and nutrition information, and we work closely with our clients and patients to provide Medical Nutrition Therapy. Part of this therapy includes education about healthy eating, and the latest research about how different foods impact personal health concerns or goals. But we also know that everyone has his or her own individual food preferences, cultural traditions, and most importantly, “relationship” with food. So often, the therapy involves determining what, how, and why we eat the way we do, and exploring ways to help individuals Eat Better, Your Way, Most Days.
There is a wealth of nutrition information available on the Internet and in the media, and whether they realize it or not, most people actually do know what’s “right.” Probably the most common thing RDs hear from our patients is, “I know what I should eat, but I just can’t seem to do it.” Most people are well aware that they should eat more fruits and vegetables, and less burgers, fried food, and sugary snacks. It’s doing it that’s the hard part, because life gets in the way, and for some reason, most people have an “all or nothing” mentality about healthy eating. Well, just like there is no one-size-fits-all diet, healthy eating has to involve some give and take for each of us. There most certainly is a place for all foods in everyone’s diet, as long as the focus is on balance and moderation, rather than all or nothing.
So for this month at least (and hopefully for ever after), make a goal to Eat Better, any way you like, as long as you do it Most Days. Make a list of the foods that you know are good for you, and eat a few of them each day. Try to eat one more fruit and one more serving of vegetables (any ones you like) each day. Try to eat a healthy breakfast if you usually skip it. Try not to snack after dinner if you tend to raid the cookie jar at night. When you do find yourself at the fast food drive-through, order the small burger with a side salad, and skip the fries. If you suspect the foods you love are not the healthiest choices, eat them less often. The more of the “right” things you try, the easier it will become to Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day. And if you need any help, I know a few excellent RDs!