What is good nutrition?
by our on-staff Registered Dietitian, Sara Sheridan
In the age of the Internet and social media, we are continuously inundated with new fad diets (does anyone remember the Cabbage Soup Diet?), diet “hacks” (drink apple cider vinegar every morning to lose weight fast!), and nutrition research (are egg yolks healthy or not??). It’s no wonder the general public thinks “eating healthy” is complicated, monotonous, and restrictive.
In reality, nutrition does not need to be rocket science. Nutrition and “eating healthy” becomes complicated when you try to emulate a diet that isn’t conducive to your body, goals, and/or lifestyle. If you have a family, a full-time job, and a 10-pound weight loss goal, then it doesn’t make sense to follow the diet of a full-time CrossFit athlete in the midst of cutting for a competition. On a less extreme level, it also doesn’t make sense to follow your coworker’s diet for weight loss – no two bodies are the same, and there is no “one size fits all” for nutrition.
When it comes to fueling your body for workouts and day to day life, the most important questions to answer are:
1. What works with your body?
2. What works for your goals?
In my opinion, good nutrition can be defined as balanced, wholesome eating that empowers your life. That definition is meant to be a bit vague in order to force everyone to do their own nutrition homework. Ultimately, you have to define what good nutrition means for YOU. This means experimenting with different foods, meal prep (or non-prep) scenarios, meal/snack timing, pre- and post-workout foods, etc. in order to figure out what works best for your body, lifestyle, and goals. Once you define good nutrition for yourself, you’re more likely to be successful with your goals long term.
When I say that good nutrition should empower your life, I mean that it should empower you both physically AND mentally. Having a healthy relationship with food is just as important as fueling your body properly. Food should not dictate your emotions or how you feel about yourself. The act of discovering your own definition of “good nutrition” sets you up to have a better relationship with food because you’re learning to accept and work with your body’s needs, preferences, and quirks. In turn, that snowballs into consistency with your eating, better energy levels during the day and at the gym, and improved self-image. By no means is this a fast process, but it is the most sustainable one.
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