Coming off the heels of Mental Health Awareness Month, today I'd like to highlight the fact that health is not a one size fits all approach. Furthermore, behaviors that may be healthy and productive for some will not be for others. As technology improves and we have access to food logs, movement trackers, watches, and phones, we have the potential to know more data about our habits than ever before. But there might be a double edged sword here for some.
Do you have a chaotic relationship with food and a history of dieting? Do you struggle with rigid eating rules and lack flexibility in your food choices and schedules? Are you sick of yo-yo dieting and experiencing guilt around your food habits? Do you spend a tremendous amount of time during your day thinking about your food intake and movement? If you can relate to some or all of these sentiments, stepping away from tracking and getting more in tune with intuitive eating and movement might not only benefit your mental health, but ultimately improve your physical health as well. As a Registered Dietitian, I find such joy when I help people make peace with food and adapt a more mindful and intuitive mindset around food. Learning to TRUST yourself and your body to eat foods that you enjoy and that make you feel good in appropriate amounts can ultimately free you from restrictive or overindulgent ways of eating.
This also can help with finding a sustainable and healthy way of living. Healthy eaters don't just choose foods that are health-promoting; they also have habits that are flexible, aren't overly rigid, and don't take the fun and pleasure out of food and eating. We all start out as intuitive eaters, but it gets complicated for various reasons. There are over 140 research studies that state the benefits of intuitive eating on nutrient intake, body satisfaction, and overall well-being. For some, stepping away from knowing daily macronutrient intakes and learning to eat in a way that makes them feel fulfilled both physically and emotionally might be more productive to both their mental and physical health.
Don't get me wrong; there is power in data, and for many people, using these trackers can be helpful in changing behaviors without being mentally detrimental, but there are plenty of individuals who err on the side of being programmed to "track everything" naturally and these devices may only drive them over the edge or force them into overly rigid ways of thinking and living. I speak for the vast majority of Registered Dietitians when I say that we want food to be both enjoyable and health promoting, both physically and emotionally. We are not the food police and all things can fit! So don't feel pressured to count anything if you don't want to (I don't!).
Our health advisors and Registered Dietitians can help you learn what works best for YOU and leaves you feeling satisfied across the board at the end of the day.
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– Keeley Mezzancello, MS, RD, LDN, CHWC
Health Advisor, Registered Dietitian | Email Keeley