A diet by definition is a noun that describes the foods that a person chooses to habitually consume. We have lost sight of the meaning of this word and now use it as a verb as in ‘I am going to diet’. This usually means some form of restrictive eating pattern that ignores hunger or eliminates entire food groups in the quest for weight loss.
As a dietitian I encourage people to be mindful of and listen to their hunger (fullness and satiety cues). Choosing foods that make their bodies feel good (not just foods that offer instant gratification). The biggest mistake people make is to think that you have to lose weight in order to be healthy. The reality is that if you focus on healthy behaviours with regards to food, your body will find its happy and healthy weight.
The concept of mindful eating is an interesting one. It focuses more on how to eat rather than on what to eat. You are encouraged to pay attention to your eating experience with all your senses (seeing, tasting, hearing, smelling, feeling). Whilst observing the emotional and physical responses that take place before, during and after the experience without judging yourself! (reference)
When choosing a diet, you should focus on foods that have been proven to be associated with health promotion and disease prevention. Diets that consist of minimally processed foods, close to nature and predominantly plants’ have been found to meet these criteria. (reference)
Using the above advice, try to make the best out of what is available to you in your given situation and don’t become obsessed! Practice mindful eating. It is vital to remember that as human’s we do not eat nutrients in isolation but rather follow food patterns. So if you follow a generally healthy food pattern there is no need to sweat the small stuff!
Abby Courtenay, RD (SA) is an associate dietitian at Nutritional Solutions Sandton and Melrose branches. She has a special interest in all aspects of maternal, infant & child nutrition but also has extensive experience with weight loss and helping adults live a healthier life. To make a booking with Abby please call reception at 011 023 8051/2 or visit Nutritional Solutions at http://www.nutritionalsolutions.co.za/.