A guest post today by Lynn Stiff MD, RD, MS
Whenever people hear I’m a dietitian, they often make comments like –
“Oh that’s so cool! I wish medical school spent more time on this. I know nothing about diet.”
“I bet you have so much knowledge for your patients! They must all be so healthy!”
“Awesome! I just started a _[enter fad diet]_!”
“Don’t look at my plate.”
These people think I am going to make a HUGE impact because of this super secret education I have about nutrition. But the fact of the matter is this – nutrition isn’t that hard.
I know, mind-blowing, right?
Disclaimer – Before all the RDs out there start sending me hate mail, hear me out. Nutrition itself is pretty straight forward. A general healthy diet can be explained in detail in 30 min or less. The biochemistry and nuances of various medical conditions, tube feeding, and supplements – that’s where things get more challenging. But that’s not what the general population needs or cares to know about. And remember, all that training you did also included much more than just nutrition. So you’re still super valuable in my opinion!
While the various nutrition organizations may beg to differ, here’s the deal. Nutrition as the average person sees it is actually super simple. Our food system has complicated it. There is a whole world of herbal supplements and supplements as medicine. I’m not talking about that (and FYI – that is NOT taught while training to become a dietitian).
What I’m talking about is eating on a day-to-day basis. The secret to a healthy diet is actually quite simple. Michael Pollan sums it up well in his book “In Defense of Food” –
“Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.“
That’s it. So what does this mean?
- Eat food: eat real food. This is the “shop the perimeter” stuff you hear about. Put fresh, whole foods into your meals, not processed items. Take the time to make a dish from scratch instead of the “just add water” box or “hot and ready in 5 min” from the freezer. The perfect example – eat real butter not that crazy margarine that comes in a 1lb tub.
- Not too much: Easier said than done, right? Most people eat much more than they need. We go through the day distracted and stressed, eating because it’s a necessity, not because we enjoy it. Sit down. Eat mindfully. Stop a few bites before you feel full and assess if you need more. This alone could cut out hundreds of calories a day.
- Mostly plants: most adults do not get the recommended servings of vegetables a day. If I had it my way, everyone would eat 1 serving at breakfast, 2 at lunch and 2 a dinner. The choice to eat fruits and vegetables should be the easy one. They should be a default side at a restaurant. Kids should get vegetables throughout the day so they are used to seeing them on their plate. If our default was vegetable over starch we would leave a meal more satisfied with more stabilized glucose/insulin levels. We would lower our cancer and (insert any chronic disease here) disease risk. And we’d all poop more often (the added bonus no one talks about).
The truth is, eating healthy is not rocket science. Doing what we all know we should do…now that is where the challenge lies. And that’s where I can help. Check out my free starter guide at bewell.nutritionhealthlife.com/becomingwhole to get started on your healty eating journey!
What’s your take on Pollan’s quote? What do you do to try to eat a healthy diet?