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We all agree that fruits, veggies, and lean meats are actually healthy food. But what about other things? Granola bars, fruit leather, salad dressings… all these foods have been recently “exposed” as being full of sugar and salt, but masquerading as health foods. If you’re like me, keeping up with all these healthy-not-healthy foods is exhausting, especially since I stopped dieting. It’s time to figure out what are actually “healthy” foods!
My Definition of Healthy
In order to be actually healthy, a food has to satisfy a need. It can meet your physical requirements of carbs, protein, fats, and calories. And it can do something else at the same time: satisfy you mentally and emotionally. What – emotional eating?! Yes, sometimes it’s okay to eat something because you will enjoy it on an emotional level. That’s a part of intuitive eating. Your mind and emotions are a part of your body, and satisfying every part will help you let go of the diet mentality.
Generally, we eat things for one of two reasons. We’re hungry and we want to eat something that will make our bodies feel good. Or, we’re craving a little something special. Listen to what your body says – it’s okay to satisfy your mind! Actually healthy food keeps your body strong and your cravings at bay, so you’re not battling against yourself.
Actually Healthy Food in Action
So what does that look like? You might enjoy your breakfast of eggs and avocado on multigrain toast, but you might also enjoy a bacon egg and cheese on a white bagel when you’re feeling like it. Maybe you get dessert when you’re out to dinner with an old friend. Or you allow yourself some chocolate when you’re feeling like it, instead of trying to fight off the urge. Actually healthy food might not be clean, vegan, or paleo – it’s what keeps you happy, and it’s sustainable. It’s a way of eating that makes you never want to diet again.
The Numbers Obsession
I haven’t mentioned any numbers so far in this post – that’s on purpose! You might be used to searching Pinterest for “healthy dinners under 400 calories” or “low carb lunch ideas.” But actually healthy food isn’t reliant on how many grams of whatever it contains. In fact, getting caught up in these numbers can make you get out of touch with your body’s natural cues. If you often ignore your hunger, you might be used to putting off eating until you physically can’t anymore. And if you’re been ignoring your mind’s desires, you might go a bit crazy when you decide to remove the restrictions.
So what’s the solution? How do we eat actually healthy food?
Eat “Healthy” When You Want
When you want to eat fruits, veggies, lean meats, and traditionally healthy food, do it! Don’t focus on the number of calories, carbs, or fats. Just enjoy your food and feel your body’s strength and wisdom for helping you nourish it with building block foods.
Eat “Unhealthy” When You Want
But when you’re wanting something special – chocolate, chips, dessert, whatever – eat it, and enjoy it! These are actually healthy foods if they keep you mentally healthy, emotionally satisfied, and out of the diet mentality.
Listen to Your Body
There’s one important point about figuring out what’s actually healthy food to you – you have to listen to your body! It can be hard to listen to your body after years of ignoring and abusing it. But it will still talk if you listen!
It might a bit uncomfortable following your cravings. You might feel out of control – after all, you’ve been trying to train your body not to feel, and now you’re listening to what it has to say. Be gentle with yourself, and most importantly, commit to stop dieting. Remember that actually healthy food is what makes you feel the best, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
What is actually healthy food to you? Tell me in the comments!
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