How to Make Healthy Eating Happen


Spanish translation available here thanks to Mindful Eating Mexico

Move Away From Old Notions Of Healthy Eating

I think most of us want to eat healthy. We hear plenty about its importance to achieving and maintaining health and healthy weights.

National Nutrition Month 2015 But actually doing it escapes a lot of folks. Why? I believe it has to do with their definition of healthy eating.

If you’re like many of the women who come to Green Mountain, you think “boring”, “time-consuming”, “tasteless”, and “expensive” when you hear the words “healthy eating.”

But truly feeding yourself well doesn’t have to look like that at all. In fact, if it does, then it’s probably not true healthy eating.

In honor of National Nutrition Month (March), here are two steps to help you move away from old notions of healthy eating and make it something that really works for you.

Two Steps to Making Healthy Eating a Part of Your Life

Step #1: Move away from a focus on weight.

When our focus is weight loss, we tend to be impatient. We want to lose the weight as fast as we can, and then get back to eating what we like.

Or we think we have to follow highly restrictive food rules that usually conflict with what our bodies really need, and clash with living a full life, which is also so key to our health.

We rarely can adhere to those rules long-term, and the feelings of failure and desperation that arise can initiate a defeating cycle of restricting and overeating or bingeing.

Further, we mustn’t forget the misconception that weight loss is the key to achieving health. To the contrary, a focus on weight loss usually leads to the opposite — weight gain and often ill health –as a result of what I just described.

That doesn’t mean that our bodies might not change when they do settle into a state of health, which naturally occurs as we consistently engage in healthy behaviors like healthy eating. That’s the body finding its healthy place. But holding on to the goal of changing the body as the reason to adopt the healthy behavior may be doomed to failure.

So changing the reason we want to eat healthy is central to being able to do it consistently.

Our #1 vote for the reason to eat healthy: To feel good and have the energy and get-up-and-go to go after what you want in life.

Step #2: Change your definition of healthy eating.

Try this definition instead: When I eat healthy, I eat foods I love in a way that makes me feel well.

Effectively changing the definition often requires exploration and experimentation, which is another reason a weight focus interferes. If you’re worrying about how your choices will affect your weight, you’ll likely be less willing to experiment with those foods you’ve been warned are “fattening.” Yet learning how to eat “forbidden” foods without always overeating them is a critical step in healthy eating for those who have been traumatized about diet and weight.

Professional Help Can, Well, Help

Anyone who has struggled around these issues might benefit from the professional help of a nutritionist to find their way back to “normal,” healthy eating.

But not all nutritionists are skilled in this. Review the toolkit article from the Binge Eating Disorder Association “Weight Stigma In Nutrition Counseling Settings: Guidance for Individuals, Friends and Familiesto learn more about what to look for in a nutrition counselor.

You might also refer him or her to the other article about nutrition counseling in the toolkit, “Weight Stigma In Nutrition Counseling Settings: Guidance for Professionals.”

Here’s to developing a happy, peaceful relationship with healthy eating!

Learn More About Our Binge Eating Program

One response to “How to Make Healthy Eating Happen”

  1. Sue Leroux says:

    I will never forgot one experience I had with a professional when I was in despair about my ability to achieve a healthy weight. I was referred by my workplace’s employee counseling center. I entered an internationally hallowed institution for an appointment with a psychologist. (The office was literally behind an iron gate that flanked the perimeter of a beautiful campus.) I walked in, was given a terse and snooty greeting, and was forced to wait 20 minutes in an empty waiting room for my appointment to begin. The whole time I was near tears because I felt like such a failure to have to see a “shrink” in order to lose weight. When I was finally ushered into the therapist’s office, I was confronted by a very large, clearly obese woman who introduced herself as the therapist. Immediately I felt embarrassed for what I was about to tell her. And before we got past the particulars into “What do you want to talk about?” there was a knock at the door. In nothing short of a truckload of irony supplied by the Universe, the woman received her lunchtime pizza delivery. (It was a large.) Never had I felt more in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person! The session was not a complete waste, however. What she did teach me, thankfully, is that one doesn’t have to feel bad about their size. (She admitted she could not personally relate to my problem…and processing her belief was an important lesson for me.) The second thing I learned from her that day was to move my focus on my self-described “impossible task” and instead concentrate on a couple of “little” things I accomplish every day to move toward my goal (walking more, limiting portion size, etc.). It wasn’t all I had hoped for but it sure ended the rut I had been in!

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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