SALT LAKE CITY — There's no doubt we live in a world full of conflicting nutrition information. Celebrities and influencers on social media might seem like they have the answers to lasting youth, truth health and flat abs. And because of our culture's beauty standards, we believe them.
But the desire to achieve this false picture of "health" can leave us feeling frustrated and confused in this pursuit. Instead of leaning on underresearched, false claims of health, we can strive to define what healthy means to us.
Every year during the month of March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month. In previous years, the academy has established a theme that focuses on ways to improve nutrition. This year, however, there isn’t a theme, allowing for flexible and healthful messages that are backed by science.
One of the academy's goals is "to increase the public's awareness of the importance of good nutrition, and position registered dietitian nutritionists as the authorities in nutrition." I believe that getting back to the basics of nutrition allows for the most beneficial nutrition advice.
Essentially, nutrition science is brand new, and because it's constantly changing, there cannot be a perfect diet. However, the principles of nourishing the body have remained constant for decades. While it's much more individualized, proper nourishment can be summarized through the persistence of variety, moderation, and balance in eating.
The human body thrives on a varied diet. This means all the food groups. When we are constantly eliminating food groups, we risk deficiency, low energy, a decreased metabolism, a weakened immune system and poor digestion. Nutrients work in synergy to promote health. The more variety the food we eat, the more nutrients absorbed.
The definition of moderation is the avoidance of excess or extremes. It does not mean restriction. Giving yourself full permission means that you can eat and enjoy all foods, even those foods that you find forbidden. Through the practice of giving yourself permission, you will discover what moderation looks like for you. You will notice what feels good in your body and let go of external opinions of varied foods.
While balance can be a tricky word, simplification helps. Balance can mean that the amount and types of food that you eat varies from day to day. Some days require more energy and therefore more food, while other days require less. Learning to balance your energy needs from day to day or week to week enhances the connection between your body and mind and strengthens your innate "Intuitive Eater."
A healthy relationship with food, your body your, and mind is of utmost importance when it comes to overall health. This vital connection can be dismantled through trendy diets and obscure health claims. So instead of blindly following the masses, get back to — and stay with — the basics of nutrition.
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