The New Year often brings with it a clutch of well-intentioned resolutions aimed at positive lifestyle changes. After the excesses of Christmas – with its relentless onslaught of cookies and good cheer – it’s only natural to give some serious thought to a sensible diet and maybe doing a bit more in the way of exercise.However, it’s important to understand how “healthy eating” differs from diets aimed solely at weight loss.
Keeping an eye on your calorific intake is both sensible and beneficial to your overall health – but what is considered a healthy diet depends very much on your personal fitness goals. For example, a balanced diet is very different for those looking to increase muscle mass than for people who are focusing on cardiovascular endurance or targeting specific body areas or overall weight loss. Properly managed, diets are a great way to achieve the benefits of long-term weight control and better health, but they must be tailored to ensure that they are providing you with all the nutrients you need to support your new lifestyle change. This is often where religiously “counting the calories” can actually work against your exercise or training regime.
Healthy eating, on the other hand, is much more focused on balancing the needs of your body. Healthy eating is about settling in for the marathon of long-term benefits.
One of the key assumptions that focusing solely on diets tend to make is that not everyone wants or needs to lose weight. For many people, healthy eating is the road to weight control – whether this revolves around losing, maintaining or even gaining more weight. In addition to this making more demands on your body – in the form of a new exercise regime, for example – means that you need to be putting not just the right fuel in your tank but possibly more fuel as well! While this might sound counterintuitive it is the key difference between simple, short-term dieting and the lifelong benefits that healthy eating contributes toward as part of a positive lifestyle change.
Think of healthy eating, not just in terms of diets and calorie counting, but in a more holistic way: where regular exercise, consistent portion sizes and mealtimes combine with healthy snacking to lay the bedrock for your long-term well-being goals. By focussing on your relationship with food, you’ll soon realise how healthy eating can support your mental well-being for the long-term – rather than picking on that comfort food to make you feel better for a short while. Healthy eating is about achieving balance – not just in terms of what you eat – but also in where this fits in your new lifestyle changes.