Redefining Healthy Eating

by Marsha Hudnall

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Refine healthy eating | Changing behaviors by changing our languageNew Year’s resolutions aside, most of us find making and sticking to the resolve to eat healthier a bit of a challenge, to say the least. And that’s even though study after study shows that people who eat healthier have a greater chance of living longer, better lives. For example, a study published last year of over 42,000 women suggested that women who ate closest to the recommended number of servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats and poultry definitely lived longer.

So what’s the problem with eating healthier? Many times, it’s all in how we define it.

 

Positive or Negative?

When we say the words ‘healthy eating,’ what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it a positive thought, such as “I feel better” or “It energizes me”? Or is it something negative, such as “boring,” “inconvenient” or “small portions”?

If you’re like the majority of women who come to Green Mountain, the list of negative reactions is much longer than the list of positive reactions. While we all recognize the positive benefits of healthy eating, it’s our negative feelings about it that end up creating obstacles to our doing it on a regular basis. We often feel that healthy eating doesn’t taste good, and we have pictures of ourselves spending hours in the kitchen chopping vegetables.

Certainly, if that’s your vision, it’s easy to see why healthy eating doesn’t particularly appeal. But take a moment to think about why you choose the foods you do when you make an attempt to eat healthy. We frequently choose foods that are lowest in fat, sugar, salt, calories…and therefore, taste and convenience. Why? Because we’re not seeking to eat healthy as much as we are trying to lose weight.

 

Changing the Definition

The trouble is, many of us have perceptions of healthy eating that are defined by diets. The diets that have “educated” us about healthy eating, or our own desire to take weight off fast, have led us to equate healthy eating with consuming the minimum number of calories we can get by with. And that often leaves us unsatisfied, or facing a great deal of difficulty in feeding ourselves when we’re not in our kitchens preparing our own meals.

The solution? Embrace the notion that healthy eating does include higher-fat, higher-sugar, higher-calorie foods if you like them. Within the context of an overall eating plan that features lower-fat, lower-sugar, lower-calorie foods the majority of the time, a few chocolate chip cookies or small bag of potato chips can be just the thing you need to make healthy eating work for you, for both weight loss and good health.

So start today. Resolve to eat healthy. But remember, it doesn’t matter how healthy a food is — if it doesn’t taste good, you’re not likely to continue eating it. Eat balanced meals and snacks that include your favorite foods. And think broadly about what your favorite foods are. Many of us love carrot sticks and chocolate chip cookies. Maybe not at the same time, but over the course of a day, it’s easy to fit both in.

Here’s to a long, healthy life…enjoying eating in a way that truly feels great!

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