Updated: Jan 30
With all the misinformation out there surrounding nutrition, dieting, and how to achieve a healthy lifestyle, it is NO wonder so many people struggle to understand how to properly nourish and take care of their bodies in sustainable, balanced, and mindful ways!
Luckily, meeting our needs doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it, nor does listening and respecting our internal cues for cravings, hunger, satiety, and fullness! The thing is, the more we diet or miss the mark with our nourishment, the harder it can be to tune into these cues… which makes sense! If we have spent weeks, months, or potentially years disregarding our bodies needs in the name of diet culture, we start to “downregulate” these signals as an adaptive mechanism to preserve energy levels and reduce the persistent discomfort of feeling hungry without properly nourishing in response…
Our free Dietitian-Approved Tips for Balanced and Mindful Meals handout was designed to introduce a more neutral, evidence-based, and sustainable approach to nourishing our bodies for optimal health and wellbeing. We hope you find it useful as a tool to get you started!
Before diving into the Dietitian-Approved tips for balanced eating, we want to preface with this very important reminder: if you’re feeling lost, frustrated, and confused in terms of how to support your body properly through balanced nutrition, you are NOT alone. This struggle is ALL too common, and we want you to know it is not a YOU problem (it is a diet culture problem that is fostered through fear mongering, misleading promises, and misinformation…).
The second thing we want you to know is that our accredited healthcare team is here to support you and your needs in different, more meaningul and integrated ways. Our non-judgemental, evidence-based, and client-centred approaches put you, your needs, and your health first!
Okay! Now, let's deep dive into the tips!
Tip #1: The Addition Versus Restriction Mindset
Instead of asking yourself “what should I be avoiding?” or feeling like removing items or restricting foods from your diet is the best way to support your health… try shifting the focus to “is there anything I can add to this meal or snack to increase the nutritional value?”.
One way we could try integrating more balance into our meals, without restriction, is by checking in with a “four-item inventory”. We detail this approach on the handout, so make sure to download it through the link above!
Tip #2: Tuning Into Your Hunger and Fullness Cues
Where we are often taught to rely on extreme forms of hunger and fullness to guide our eating (no doubt a side-effect of chronic dieting or mistrust in our bodies cues), our Intuitive Eating approach encourages tuning into earlier signs of hunger and satiety. When we can do this we are more likely to avoid extreme hunger, which often leads to overeating later in the day, as well as avoid the discomfort associated with overeating (when we can tune in to and respect our “satiety”!).
Our hunger scale is available on the handout, and offers a guide for common signs of early, moderate, and extreme signs of hunger and fullness. This guide can serve as a template for you to begin tuning into your own unique cues!
Tip #3: Practice Mindful Eating
AKA paying attention to your food and the eating experience! All too often we eat on the run or while we are distracted by work, the TV, or our phones… but (no matter how hard we try) humans really are NOT great at multitasking! If you are paying attention to something else while eating, it is very unlikely that you will be able to pay attention to your signs of satiety or early fullness, not to mention actually taste and enjoy your food!
When we aren’t able to be present while eating, we are more likely to fall into emotional eating patterns later in the day, as well as eat past the point of comfort. Check out the handout for prompts and cues you could use before, during and after meals to start practicing mindful eating!