When you hear the words “healthy eating,” what do they mean to you?
Maybe you feel like there is one “right” way for everyone to eat healthy.
Maybe you picture food guides, diets, or images of salads on social media.
Or maybe you feel completely lost in a sea of conflicting information around what “healthy eating” actually is.
Yesterday we explored the idea of what the new happy and healthy you might feel like post injury.
Today I ask you: what would that newly defined happy and healthy you like to eat?
My name is Krystal Merrells. I’m a registered dietitian and a concussion warrior in Ontario, Canada.
I’ve had multiple concussions and I’ve seen how food can become this big stressful thing after a brain injury. I am here to help you move towards feeling good with food.
This is Food Love. A 14-day mini-series exploring your relationship with food.
Today is day 8: Healthy eating?
I love opening a nutrition discussion asking people what comes to mind when they think of “healthy eating.”
Especially when I work with kids or teens.
In the past I’ve done it as a sort of a group brainstorm exercise — I give them a big poster sized piece of paper. I write “healthy eating” in the centre. Then I give them about five minutes to draw branches off the centre with words or phrases they associate with “healthy eating.”
The ideas they write down don’t need to be fully formed. Sometimes they may even draw pictures!
I still have one poster I did with a youth sport rock climbing team. Some of the things they wrote included:
Time for breakfast.
Less processed foods.
I love this exercise for a couple of reasons.
One, it shows that there are many different definitions for “healthy eating.”
Two, it gives me an idea whether the definition of the people I’m working with might help or hinder their relationship with food.
On day three, you reflected on why it’s helpful to describe foods as more than just “good” or “bad.” We talked about breaking free of the binary to explore other points of view to have a respectful relationship with food.
The same can be applied to how you view the bigger picture of “healthy eating.”
For example, when I do that brainstorming exercise, my spidey senses will start tingling if I see lots of “no” this or that food, “not” that or this way of eating, or “less” insert food here… This is usually said of things like no sugar, not over eating, less junk food, etc.
Now, you might think those “no, not, less” definitions sound rather reasonable — after all, sugar, overeating and processed foods are common things we hear in the media as things to avoid or limit when talking about healthy eating.
And although a healthy relationship with food can include being mindful about such food choices or eating habits, these associations are still a bit of a red flag.
Because think about it.
How can a person have a good relationship with food if they only view food for what it is NOT?
Imagine if we applied that same principle to people!
Marriage vows would be like:
“Greg, I love you so much because you’re not my ex. You don’t forget my birthday. You have no bad habits I can’t tolerate. You make my days less bad because you don’t stress me out. I look forward to not being miserable spending the rest of my life with you…”
So today’s reflection question is:
What does “healthy eating” mean to you?
What IS it?
If you were to write wedding vows to healthy eating, what would they be?
And if you do write some vows, I would 100% love to hear them!!
Thank you again so much for being here. I’m so glad you are interested in, considering, working on, and nurturing your relationship with food with me ❤️