Everything in Moderation: The Balanced Approach to Healthy Eating
Healthy eating is important for reasons I’m sure you already know about: to keep your energy levels high and to allow your body to function at its peak. But eating well is just as important psychologically as it is physically and, from a mental health standpoint, it’s important to practice a balanced rather than an all-or-nothing approach.
To me, “eating well” means focusing on whole foods, minimizing processed foods and consuming lots of fruit and vegetables. “Eating well” means choosing whole grains instead of white starch, and brown rather than white rice and pastas. It means eating a healthy and balanced breakfast, eating every 4 hours or so and staying well hydrated.
What “eating well” does not mean is dieting, or staying away from anything containing sugar. “Eating well” doesn’t mean never eating dessert, and it definitely doesn’t mean not enjoying what you eat and using food as punishment. Thinking that you need to eat a perfectly clean diet with no treats whatsoever is dangerous, and can lead to disordered eating.
Enjoying and indulging in treats once in awhile will not make a dent in an otherwise healthy diet. Rather, it will keep you balanced psychologically, and it will result in a healthier attitude toward food. Denying yourself the piece of cake you really want does not always mean that you’re disciplined; instead, it means that you’ll probably binge on it later and “start again tomorrow.” This can result in a vicious cycle; rather, be friends with desserts. If you really want to be healthy, have a little; if you’re still thinking about it and want to have some more, have some. Don’t get trapped into believing that having dessert means you aren’t eating well.
You can also make healthy, unprocessed treats and desserts for yourself using natural sweeteners like honey and agave nectar. There are lots of websites with ideas for delicious and chemical-free desserts that will fuel your mind and body with clean energy. Just remember that, as important as it is to provide your body with the fuel it needs to work well, it’s equally important to enjoy the food you eat in order to keep your mind calm and balanced.