The word balance get’s thrown around a hell of a lot in the nutrition, wellness and weight loss industry. But what does it really mean?
Is it going to the gym, eating kale and then following that up with a doughnut? Or is it eating whatever you want when you want so long as you also eat vegetables too?
At the end of the day, ‘balance’ means different things to different people. And what’s important and part of feeling fulfilled in your life is having your actions line up with your own expectations of what ‘balance’ means.
For example: You’ll feel frustrated by following a strict, restrictive diet, if your idea of balance is enjoying a piece of cake if it’s offered to you or drinking a glass of wine each night with your dinner.
It’s important to note, however, that your definition of ‘balance’ may not be what’s required to achieve ‘results’ and this is a very important distinction.
You might need to spend some time figuring out what ‘balance’ means to you so you can start aligning your actions with that definition. You’ll also need to figure out what daily habits and food choices get results (if you’re after them) and then investigate whether they line up with your definition on balance. Ultimately, you’ll feel frustrated for forever, if these two things don’t align.
Sounds deep and complicated? It is.
To help you along, we’d like to share OUR definition of balance:
To eat in a way that is free from rules and restrictions, that promotes long term health in your body AND allows you to connect with the culture and environment around you.
Here’s how we like to teach our members how to put it into practice:
Add whole foods to your meals
Nutrition communication has become saturated with talk about nutrients. And then, we’re given recommendations on how to improve our diets from this perspective. For example: Eat less carbs. Eat more protein. High fat is best (or bad, depending on who you talk to).
The reality is, we don’t eat nutrients in isolation. We eat foods, that are a mixture of nutrients, and foods sit on a spectrum of being whole (unprocessed) to ultra-processed and everything in between. This processing (depending on what it is) has a profound effect on the nutrient density of the food. So, the less processed a food is, the more nutrients it has.
Adding whole foods to meals is a great way to balance them. Rather than thinking about what to take away from your diet, focus your efforts on what to add. This will mean that you can still enjoy the meal or social situation and ensure that you’re giving your body the nutrients it needs, satisfying the definition above.
Ideas to try:
- Add pine nuts to salad
- Add chick peas to curry
- Add lentils to Bolognese
- Add zucchini noodles to a past dish
- Add fruit to dessert
- Add yoghurt to a biscuit snack
- Add a side salad to a takeaway meal
Learn to listen to your body
Believe it or not, your body does have the tools and feedback mechanisms to help you moderate your food intake. It’s just that years of not listening means you might not be able to hear it any more. The good news is that if you’ve learnt to override your body’s hunger/fullness cues, you can unlearn them. You just need to give yourself time and commit to the process of change.
Mindfulness practices are the best way to start learning to listen to your body. It’s about being present and tuning in to (just like finding a radio station) the messages that your body is sending to your brain about your stomach, your digestive tract, your blood sugar levels and your hormones.
You can’t notice your bottom on the seat you’re currently sitting on, until you’re made aware of it, like you are now after just reading this. Same with your hunger/fullness cues. When you’re listing to your body, it means that you can engage in social situations, but genuinely say ‘no’ or ‘yes’ to foods, because it’s fully YOUR choice and you stop eating when you’re full and don’t feel the need to keep going. This satisfies both sides to the definition above.
Here are some key ways to be in the moment to help you start listening to your body:
- Always eat at a table (not in a car or at your work desk, etc)
- Turn off screens while you’re eating
- Use a knife and fork and put the cutlery down on the table in between mouthfuls to slow yourself down
- Chew your food 8+ times before swallowing, really fast it
Include vegetables often
Vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. You simple can’t eat well without them. No matter what you’re eating for your main meals, add a vegetable to it. This will mean you can still have a plate full of food and be less likely to overeat. A consistent vegetable habit is worth it’s weight in gold. In fact, more than gold, we’re talking about your health. Here’s how you can add vegetables:
You can add a salad to takeaway of fried chicken and chips and dramatically reduce your energy intake.
You can boost your curry with broccoli, carrots, zucchini, snow peas, eggplant and all sorts of different vegetables.
You can add tomatoes, zucchini noodles, baby spinach, diced capsicum and mushrooms to a pasta dish.
You can add a side salad to your favourite vegetable-less pasta dish.
Remove the judgment from your language
At the end of the day, you’re not going to make positive changes to your nutrition if you’re using judgmental language about the foods you eat each day. Food is not ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It holds no moral value. Focus on doing the three tips above and learn to enjoy all foods without guilt.
Positive behaviour only comes from a place of self-love and acceptance, not shame and judgment.
Our signature program is all about building long term healthy eating habits in a realistic and sustainable way, free from guilt, stress and overwhelm. Find out more here.