When it comes to nutrition, health for the individual reflects food and drink choices made over time and occurs where food and eating meets with that persons genetics, life stage, environment, culture and lifestyle choices.
In other words it reflects the big picture over several weeks of many different foods, in different situations, eaten for different reasons and in different amounts. The science of nutrition helps us to understand more about human health but must ultimately be translated to real people living everyday individual lives. This is what a dietitian can do and is about much more than knowledge of nutrients.
All of our new knowledge about nutritional science in recent years hasn’t actually changed the essence of what we have known for a long time. Broadly, healthy eating is varied and includes water, fruits and vegetables, cereals and grains, dairy foods or alternatives, foods that give you protein and minerals like egg, meats, legumes and vegetarian alternatives, and those that give you fats and oils. It even includes some sugar and richer foods as part of a well-balanced, flexible diet and lifestyle.
This is not about black and white rules that always say yes to some foods and no to others. All food is food, it isn’t morally good or bad, healthy or unhealthy in itself. It is the balance over time that matters, with the ability to choose with mindful awareness, but not guilt.
For some people food is a simple and no fuss part of life, for others it is more involved or plays a bigger part of their day. Both ways are fine unless a line is crossed where eating becomes too inflexible, obsessive or perfectionistic, or too much about body control. So let’s broaden the conversation about nutrients and use the language of real food with some sensible and big picture thinking. I eat and enjoy bread, rice and pasta – I dont call them carbs! I eat more than I feel comfortable with sometimes because it is enjoyable, sometimes not quite as much as I want or not quiet what I want because I am busy. This is not an issue for my health, I have a broad variety of food choices generally – why would I deny myself or my family the pleasure of a beautiful Italian risotto or pasta dish for dinner or a toasted ham and tomato sandwich for lunch – if they felt right at the time?