Although there are so many conflicting opinions and information sources when it comes to what is best for your health, there’s one thing that all will agree on: that nutrition is pivotal. However, this can also be one of the most confronting and overwhelming components of health for many people.
Reassessing your entire approach to food requires constant motivation and attention. If you need to make significant changes to your current eating plan, it can be difficult to know where or how to start.
However, restricting yourself from eating certain foods is not the only path to good health – or necessarily the best option for you. If you want to eat healthier foods without sacrificing the ones you love, we suggest trying flexible eating.
What is flexible eating?
Flexible eating allows you to incorporate a range of foods into your diet each day so that you can reap the benefits of highly nutritious foods without needing to completely withdraw from the ones that give you joy. Forget dieting – this is simply a balanced approach to nutrition that takes into account pleasure and sustainability.
Eating ‘clean’ dictates that you consume the energy you need each day by eating 100% wholesome, nutritious foods. On the other hand, flexible eating allows you to achieve this with the 80/20 rule: 80% nutritious whole foods, 20% indulgent foods.
One of the most notable advantages of flexible eating is its sustainability. Cutting out your favourite treats completely can dampen your motivation and enthusiasm, and often only leads to craving what you can no longer have. In this case, the only options are to ignore these yearnings and push forward, or give in and repeat the cycle.
With flexible eating, striking a balance between health and indulgence can help you feel more satisfied with your nutrition and motivated to consistently feed your body nourishing foods.
Improving your relationship with food
Furthermore, flexible eating removes labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and therefore eradicates the emotions associated with eating them. Detaching negative connotations linked to some of the foods that you most enjoy helps to avoid feelings of guilt or shame that you may have once experienced. Instead, we can look at foods as being on a spectrum ranging in nutritional value, with some more healthy than others. In moderation, you can enjoy foods from a range of points along this scale.
Reaching your nutritional requirements
If you’re wondering whether this approach to nutrition compromises your ability to reach your nutritional requirements in the day, you need not worry. Most of the foods you eat will help you reach your daily macronutrients – fat, protein and carbohydrates. For example, the protein in a lean chicken breast versus a burger patty are both made of the same amino acids.
However, not all foods will give you the range of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) your body needs for good health. This is where it is important to ensure you are dedicating the majority of your diet to whole foods – meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and grains – which are rich in these essential nutrients and will support your overall wellbeing.
How to begin
We suggest beginning your journey with flexible eating by planning out your daily meals and snacks to ensure you are consuming the right balance of healthy foods and treats. Taking a few moments to organise this at the beginning of each week will help you become more mindful of the quality of food you are eating and help manage your cravings for the indulgent foods that make up 20% of your food for the day.
The key to long-lasting nutrition is enjoyment. When you prioritise this in line with your goals, forming new healthy habits becomes a simple task.
At Eden, balance is a core component of your food journey with us. We wholeheartedly believe in the healing powers of whole foods and good nutrition, just as much as we believe that treats are healing for the soul!
If you need guidance on how to begin your path to good nutrition, our wonderful retreat experts can help you. Click here to enquire about a stay at Eden and a member of our team will be in touch.