I recently posted a photo of an afternoon snack of Nutella on toast in Instagram Stories and received a comment that Nutella is “so bad for you.” And that I should "make my own – there are a lot of really good recipes out there." Would I like to make my own Nutella? Maybe. Do I think the store bought stuff it’s SO bad for me? Not necessarily (I *try* to eat it in moderation 😊). I’ve made homemade almond butter – pretty easy and tasty, but some store bought versions are better. The point is, I was pretty riled up about this comment. Judgment around food choices (or anything else – we’re not God, we’re human and don’t have that right) is not helpful and I try not to label foods as “good” or “bad.” My approach is to live and eat well so that I can be healthy.
So what does living and eating well mean? We all have different health needs, dietary restrictions, values and backgrounds that affect what we eat, and have lifestyles that impact our food choices. Making “healthy” (for me) food choices 80-90% of the time, and treating myself with “less healthy” foods the other 10-20% is part of what eating well means to me.
For me, healthy foods are whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean protein, and minimally processed foods. This does not mean that I never eat refined grains or processed sugars or fatty meats. Some of my favorite treats are: Nutella, marshmallows, bacon, pizza, ice cream. On the flip side I also really LOVE salads, brown rice/quinoa and veggie bowls, roasted veggies, ground turkey, and fish.
What else do I love? Tacos. Chips and Salsa. Sparkling Wine. Hard Cider. Going to breweries with my husband and friends. Indulging in soft pretzels with cheese sauce and mustard. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Macaroni and Cheese. None of these are particularly “healthy” if consumed every day or in large quantities, but enjoying these things in moderation lets me live well and enjoy life.
This balance is important to me, but it’s not easy. Would I love to eat pizza every week (or every day)? Sure. Would I love to have ice cream after dinner every night? Of course. But I know for me that thinking about my long-term health is also important so I make conscious choices that I think (with the help of research and evidence) will help me be healthy when I am 60, 70, 80+ years old. I want to make choices today that will help me live a full life now and also in the years to come. I want to age well and reduce my risk for chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.
I work every day to make choices to eat mindfully and intuitively. This helps me eat well so I can live well now and in the future. This also means that I want to have a healthy relationship with food and help others do the same. It means I try not to label foods as “bad” or “good” or even “healthy” or “unhealthy” – because this will be different for everyone. I also don’t want to perpetuate negativity around food or in life! – because positivity outranks negativity any day of the week! We all pretty much know what we “should” and “shouldn’t” eat – this is different for different people. So instead of focusing on what foods are “bad” or what we’re doing wrong, I prefer to focus on the positive and provide information that will help people make the best food choices for their lives and their health. Listen, our relationship with food is a very dynamic and complex thing that cannot simply be reduced to good or bad. It takes much more time and thought to untangle and sort through.
Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on healthy eating, living well, eating well, and being the healthiest you can be! Have a great weekend and go ahead eat the Nutella...just not too much and not too often :-)