What does it mean to “eat well”? Does it mean to never eat sugar or fried foods? Does it mean we never eat meat or we never eat grains? If you are confused about what and how to eat to be healthy, you are not alone! The dieting industry makes an estimated 60 billion dollars a year with a slurry of these mixed messages. All that money and yet, as a nation, we are further away from health than ever.
If you haven’t already, you can read more about the negative effects of dieting in the post, Ditch Diets. As this post touches on, one of the biggest barriers to healthy eating are diets themselves. Demonizing or glorifying certain foods only inhibits our ability to tune into our bodies true needs and our true wants.
EXPLORING “EATING WELL”
To me, to “eat well” means to make our food choices with several things in mind:
1. HOW WILL THIS FOOD MAKE ME FEEL?
I bet you can relate to the dreaded sugar crash or the terrible caffeine jitters that leave you feeling downright awful. We eat the food but then wonder why on earth we did it!
Or how about the lightness and energy that come from a nourishing and well-balanced plate? We may be pleasantly surprised by how delicious this nutritious meal was and then, as the day went on, we felt amazing!
When weighing in on what to eat in the name of eating well, ask yourself: “How will this food make me feel?”
2. HOW WILL THIS FOOD NOURISH MY BODY?
You don’t have to be a professional nutritionist to have a basic understanding of what is good for your body. Many foods are pretty obvious. I’d probably have a hard time finding someone who doesn’t know that fried Oreos are less nourishing than roasted carrots.
Foods that are pretty close to their natural state, foods that are identifiable as what they originally were, those are the foods that will strengthen our bodies.
When choosing what to eat in the name of eating well, ask yourself: “How will this food nourish my body?”
3. WHAT DO I REALLY WANT TO EAT?
This is a loaded question, isn’t it? It’s pretty easy to assume the what we really want to eat is the least healthful food available. After all, who doesn’t prefer chocolate cake to hard-boiled eggs? But this assumption misses a very important point- what we really want to eat is more than what we want to taste.
What we really want embodies our health, our goals, how we want to feel, AND our taste preferences.
When deciding what to eat in the name of eating well, ask yourself: “What do I really want to eat?”.
THE TRIFECTA OF QUESTIONS
Eating well comes down to balancing those three questions throughout your daily life. Some meals you may opt for taste over nourishment and that’s 100% ok. Just do your best to keep your diet more nourishing than not.
When assessing how healthy our diets are, it helps to take a bird’s eye view. What is our overall goal for our health and quality of life? As you examine these questions you will be able to see how you can personally balance your food choices for well-being. “Eating well” is individual. Do your best to keep your eyes on your own plate. Make mindful decisions, tune into your body, and adjust, when needed. That is as simple as it gets!
Here at A Joyful Plate, my goal is to provide you with helpful information about how to eat as well as practical resources to get you there. You can check out my delicious recipes and get a few ideas for menu planning.