What the Hell am I supposed to Eat?
It seems like every time we pick up a magazine or turn on the TV, we are being told what to eat and what to avoid- and it never stays the same. One day we should be drinking 2 cups of coffee a day because it may stimulate brain cells and the next, we should be omitting it entirely because it may stunt growth. We are told to consume protein for muscle growth, but that consuming animal protein may contribute to cardiovascular disease. Don’t even get me started on my beloved red wine….
With 13 years as a science educator, I whole-heartedly back scientific research. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the scientists who have put countless hours into the arduous task of extracting information, analyzing data, making observations, drawing conclusions, and making their results public to better serve society. In no way am I discrediting the information provided by reputable sources. But there are a few things to consider- the first being the language of the report. It is common for literature to read “studies suggest” and consumptions of blah blah blah may lead to…… This does not mean that if you eat a candy bar once a week, you will most certainly die of a heart attack at the age of 43. Do I advocate this behavior? No. Research shows that candy bars aren’t the healthiest choices out there. They are high in fat and sugar making them calorie dense with little nutritional value and at the end of the day- a calorie is a calorie.
So now we are right back to where we started. What the hell am I supposed to eat? There is no one answer that will satisfy every person’s dietary agenda. Taking the time to explore what is important in terms of what your dietary needs and values are becomes essential.
Establish your goal. Do you want to lose weight? Gain muscle mass? Eat cleaner? Is there a need to manage a chronic condition? Ask yourself: Why do I want to make this change? How would this benefit me and help me live out my best life?
Get educated. Finding reputable resources can be tricky. If you are surfing the web, try to stick to reputable institutions like the Mayo Clinic, or sites that end in .gov, .edu., or .org. Research more than one source. Ask your doctor or physician for information or resources. Read books. Look at what to avoid and what the research recommends.
Decide what works for you. This is where a lot of exploration comes into place. Who are you? What are your strengths? What does your schedule allow? If you desire to eat cleaner but work 72 hours a week and barely get 6 hours of sleep at night, it is not ideal for you to try to sustain a diet that requires a ton of food prepping and cooking. Be honest with yourself and it will make all the difference in the world. Can you make these changes on your own or do you need support? What do you need in order to be successful? What is your vision?
Take Action. Remember, one foot in front of the other. Don’t go flying out the gate full throttle. Implement small goals that are attainable. Draw strength from your successes and reflect on what qualities you possess that enabled you to get to where you wanted to go. Experiment with new foods and recipes. Keep track of what works.
Reward yourself. Establishing new habits is really hard work and can take a toll on the mind and body. Self- care is extremely important. Take the time to refill your tank whether that be in the form of a massage, purchasing new gym attire, meditating, or allowing a structured cheat day.
If you still find yourself in a rut reach out for help! Your options are endless!