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What is a healthy diet?

If you ask someone that works in the field of nutrition, dietetics or even a medical professional, what a healthy diet is - they will often throw about words like "nutrient-dense foods", or "everything in moderation" or maybe "eating from all food-groups" or maybe they will even recommend specific ways of eating such as "plant-based" or "low-carb". When people talk about HEALTH when it comes to diets and food - they are often talking about which foods will maximise our PHYSICAL HEALTH. And yes - it is true - certain foods and ways of eating can and will improve our physical health significantly. However achieving optimum HEALTH does not involve just achieving optimum PHYSICAL HEALTH is also involves achieving optimum MENTAL and EMOTIONAL HEALTH too.

So a truly healthy diet is one which allows and encourages me to enjoy meals with others and therefore ensures my mental and emotional health is doing well. A truly healthy diet is one which allows me to eat the foods that I associate with my cultural identity and derive pleasure from too. A truly healthy diet is one which encourages me to feel free around food and not miserable, deprived and resentful because of all of the foods that "I should not" be eating.

And when thinking about our diets - to really prioritise our mental and emotional health, we should be thinking not just about the food we are eating but also about what we are consuming in all other areas of our lives. Yes I want to nourish my body with good food, but I also want to nourish my mind by only reading books and consuming things from the media that I find uplifting and inspiring - not by digesting lots of information and Instagram feeds that leave me feeling miserable and down. Yes I want to eat healthy food but I also want to nourish my soul by only surrounding myself with people that support me and build me up - not those that leave me feeling anxious and that knock me down. Yes I need good food to feel good but I also need to nourish my spirit by pursuing my passions and doing those things that bring me joy - rather than just doing things just because I feel I "should" or because it is what others expect from me.

So yes nourishment comes from healthy food - but it also comes from healthy relationships and surrounding ourselves with uplifting people, doing things that bring us joy and limiting our consumption of negative and sensationalised information. Yes I want to be healthy - but I want to be healthy mind, body and soul.

My approach to food and eating at The Food Psychology Clinic is one which encourages my clients to develop healthy relationships with food - one which encourages them to optimise their physical health but also their emotional and mental health too. I have recently launched a 12-week online course in food psychology to help individuals to completely re-build their relationship with food but also to manage their emotions, stress-levels and to improve their personal and professional lives too. You can find out more about the course here:

“and I said to my body. softly. ‘I want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath. and replied ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.”

― Nayyirah Waheed

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