Posted by Jessica Zupan on December 06, 2020
Written by Jessica Zupan, RD
Let’s face it, a lot of the nutritional information out there is conflicting, overwhelming, and downright confusing. As a Registered Dietitian working in the field for a decade, I can attest to this.
On one hand, researching nutrition information and guidelines can come from a place of self-care. On the other hand, following diets can be harmful or at the least a waste of time.
Here are 4 ways to assess whether the diet you are following is right for you.
Your body can let you know when you are hungry and full. Those signals are unique to your experience and are worth listening to. If the diet or nutrition advice you follow is going against your body signals, this is a red flag. While everyone was born with the capacity to feel hunger and fullness, we can sometimes lose touch with our body signals.
It is possible to relearn hunger and fullness through a practice called Intuitive Eating. Are you able to honour your hunger and fullness while following nutrition advice or diets? Or do diets often leave you feeling too hungry or too full?
Hunger is a physiological signal that you need to eat. It is triggered when the body is running low on fuel. Appetite is the desire to eat and has many triggers unrelated to the need for nourishment.
Have you ever been hungry but did not want to eat what was in front of you? That may be because while your body is feeling hungry, something is affecting your appetite. Many things decrease our appetite that cannot be controlled; anxiety, illness, and emotions. Sometimes we eat when we are not hungry; in that case, appetite overrides fullness. Have you ever craved dessert right after you ate a balanced dinner?
While you sometimes do not physiologically require more nourishment, you can override fullness to satisfy your appetite. If we can learn the difference between hunger and appetite we can use our rational thoughts to override physical or emotional interference. Can you tell the difference between appetite and hunger?
While listening to the body is a great way to determine how much to eat, nutrition information can help guide what you eat. You can use nutrition information to understand when it is appropriate to override hunger, fullness, or satisfaction. If, for instance, you have an allergy or food intolerances you can use nutrition information to understand what foods to avoid.
Of course, the nutrition information you are using should be accurate and based on science. A Registered Dietitian can help you evaluate nutrition information. In what ways could nutrition information be useful for you?
Following diet rules can sometimes lead to stress or anxiety. Ideally, you can integrate some nutrition messages without feeling anxious, guilty, or overwhelmed. If you feel anxious or controlled by nutrition information, I suggest reevaluating your nutrition goals.
Food and nutrition do not occur in a silo. Food and eating influence our lives in so many ways. Your diet should support not only your physical healthy but your mental health, emotional, health spiritual health, and social wellbeing. If your diet and eating habits are getting in the way of socializing or living your fullest life, the food rules may not be right for you. Are your food rules having a negative affect on any other part of your life?
It is possible to make food choices that honor your taste buds and health while making you feel well. You do not need to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. The ultimate goal is to integrate your inner wisdom with external food values to achieve authentic health.
You could ask yourself questions like:
Was I able to listen to my body today?
How many times did I follow a food rule today?
Was I able to recognize and listen to my hunger cues today?
How many times did I seek nutrition information today? How did that impact my mood?
You can be as detailed or as brief as you like. See how being mindful and reflective can change your daily eating habits and cultivate joy in your life.
Our Registered Dietitian, Jessica Zupan, works with teens (and adults).
Jessica Zupan is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in eating disorders, intuitive eating and emotional eating. She has 10 years experience working in clinical nutrition and family health teams with a variety of populations including adults, youth and teens. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Human Nutrition. She is also an Intuitive Eating Counsellor and a Certified Diabetes Educator.
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