Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD
What is being "healthy"?
Updated: Aug 31, 2018
So many of us work hard every day to get "healthy." But to each of us healthy may mean something different. Whether it's having enough energy to get through the day, feeling confident with the mirror's reflection, or getting a good report from the doctor, healthy can come in many forms.
And that means that there is not just one way to eat either. It seems like every week I open my computer to find a new way of eating that people are adopting and calling the healthiest way to eat. The truth is that there is not just one way to eat "healthy." Over the years, through my experience with clients and in my own personal health journey, I have come to realize that customized diets are more the rule than the exception. This is because food intolerances and allergies are more common than once thought, thyroid issues and hormone imbalances are a real thing that can impact weight management, and not all diabetes patients respond the same to all foods.
For a long time I never really understood this. In my first year as a dietitian, I was unaware of the complexities of meal planning and was stuck in the mindset of certain "healthy" foods and "unhealthy" foods. My first job was at a medical weight loss center where a low carbohydrate diet was the standard diet that was given to ALL clients, no matter what. From what I can remember, the only differences that were allowed to be made to these "customized" diets were slightly varying calorie levels and vegetarian diets for those who did not eat meat.
As I started working in long-term care and outpatient counseling environments, I started to have my eyes opened to the real world around me. I was introduced to gluten-free diets for celiac disease patients, renal diets for those with kidney disease, and anti-inflammatory diets for those with digestive conditions. And once I was diagnosed with IBS-C in October 2017, this awareness expanded exponentially. Not only did I learn about low FODMAP, dairy-free, and elimination diets, but I had to live within these regimens every day to help control my IBS symptoms, and to control my chronic hives (which after trial and error I discovered is triggered by gluten).
So, if you are reading articles online and starting to feel bad because you are not eating keto or paleolithic or plant-based, then remember this. That way of eating may work for some people, but it doesn't mean that it is the only healthy choice. The best diet you will follow is the one that you will be able to live with long-term and that is meeting your health needs. If you are not sure what this "right" way of eating is exactly, then I highly recommend meeting with a qualified registered dietitian in your area to help you figure that out. Just be your own advocate and do not settle for a standardized diet regimen. You may have to visit a few dietitians before you find the one that works to meet your needs.
To get healthy, many of us look to the internet for answers. Unfortunately, there is a lot of mixed message media flying around online that makes it hard for the average consumer to know what is true health advice. Research in health and wellness progresses every day, so it is hard to keep up with what can be considered "accurate" information. You are not expected to keep up, so as a healthcare professional, I try to keep up as best as I can for you. If you ever have a health or nutrition question you would like addressed in a future blog post, contact Lighttrack Nutrition and I will do the best I can to help. In the meantime, don't forget to find YOUR lighter life that will help you feel your best inside and out.