I believe the healthiest “diet” comes down to what works best for you and that there’s no one-size-fits-all.
While it’s great to have goals, diet culture has no place here! It’s important to remember there is no one-size-fits-all diet or wellness journey.
Even if you strictly adhere to the “best” diet or workout plan, you may not get the results you want. What works for one person may not work for the next — we all have different goals, different bodies, and different needs.
So, rather than punish your body or try to fit the mold of someone else, consider approaching your goals from a place of love and finding what works best for you.
Whether you’re following a diet or not, honor your body and give it what it needs through nourishment rather than restriction. This goes beyond your diet, too! Are you hungry after dinner? Eat a nourishing snack! Are you too exhausted to make it to your workout class? Give yourself a rest day!
When you listen to your body, it often tells you exactly what you need. So, are you ready to ditch the restrictive mindset and flip your perspective?
Keep reading to find out the best ways to honor your body through nourishment, not restriction, and learn how to build a plan that works best for you.
Why The Meaning of Healthy Needs a Refresh
How many times have you been told what’s “healthy” for you and what’s not? Between your friends, parents, favorite Instagram influencers, and diet (and non-diet) advertisements on social media, you probably hear the word “healthy” tossed around all day long. But oftentimes, these voices don’t have the right to determine what’s best or “healthiest” for you (or any individual, for that matter). While they may have good intentions, there are only two people who truly have a say about your health: you and your doctor. The fact of the matter is, nothing in the wellness industry is black or white. Healthy is not one body size, one lifestyle, or one diet. There is always a grey area — even “unhealthy” foods can be enjoyed from time to time (and can be a perfectly healthy addition to your diet)! Only you and your doctor know what health-related decisions are harmful (or best) for you. A vegan diet may be the healthiest choice for someone, while incorporating animal products may be best for another. More rest days may be necessary for one person, while encouraging movement may be best for someone else.
There is no universal rule when it comes to what’s healthiest.
Although, that’s not to say all advice is wrong or bad. In fact, you can learn a lot from others — maybe you learn of a new food brand, find a new workout you love or discover beneficial research about the latest health trend! But, remember — unless the advice is coming from your doctor, you are in charge of building a lifestyle that suits you and your needs. Of course, certain behaviors are healthier than others — we can all agree getting an adequate amount of sleep and eating a nutrient-dense diet are healthy habits. But, even “healthy” behaviors can be unhealthy for some people. So, take advice with a grain of salt! Ultimately, you know your body best — every behavior should be highly individualized depending on you and your goals.
9 Ways to Honor Your Body Through Nourishment & Not Restriction
The way you speak to yourself is powerful — self-talk can determine the outcome of your day, your mood, and even your motivation toward achieving your goals. Rather than criticize your body, give yourself love!
Daily affirmations have been shown to increase feelings of self-worth, self-confidence, and can even optimize brain activity and mindset. Start by using these prompts and affirmations: I love and accept my body exactly the way it is. I honor my body for all it does for me. I honor that my body needs rest and nourishment, I will listen when it tells me.
Your diet isn’t the only way to nourish your body — getting enough sleep is another form of nourishment too.
Consider sleep care as self-care. Your body works hard for you all day long and needs adequate rest to be able to repair, rebuild, and recharge. While you may be tempted to work through the night for a deadline or upcoming exam, prioritizing sleep is going to be much more beneficial.
When we skimp on sleep, our body produces excess cortisol, which can lead to weight gain, not to mention the long list of health risks that can result from a sleep-deprived night. Give your body the nourishment it needs with a well-rested snooze. Start by creating a bedtime routine and sleep sanctuary and allowing for at least 7 hours of sleep.
Move Your Body Daily
Honoring your body with daily movement is different than punishing yourself with daily workouts. While movement can certainly be in the form of exercise, movement can be leisurely and relaxing too! There is no right or wrong way to move your body, but there are many benefits to prioritizing some sort of daily movement! Daily movement has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, boost mood, and benefit your brain, bone, and heart health. Aside from exercise, here are some ways to practice daily movement: park your car further away from your destination (or if you’re walking, take a longer route), take the stairs instead of the elevator, take your dog on a walk or spend some solo time walking in nature, mow the lawn or do some yard work.
Honor Your Hunger Cues
If you’re hungry, eat! Rather than ignoring your hunger cues and restricting your diet, listen to your body and honor what it’s asking.
When we create too many restrictive rules around food (no eating after dinner, no snacks, fast until noon), it can be easy to lose touch with our inherent hunger cues. If your stomach is growling, your body is searching for nourishment!
Plus, restrictive behaviors can do more harm than good. Extreme dieting habits often lead to stress, burnout, and surprisingly — weight gain. So, learn to listen to your body and eat mindfully. We’re not saying to polish off a pint of ice cream for dessert, but if you’re hungry after dinner, eat a healthy bedtime snack (like a banana with almond butter or a cup of unsweetened yogurt with berries). When you honor your hunger cues from a place of mindfulness, you’ll be able to determine what your body needs in that moment. Maybe you’re thirsty, maybe you need to eat a more satiating meal, maybe you just want dessert! Don’t ignore your hunger cues — it’s your body’s way of communicating with you!
Eat For Nourishment
Whether you follow a specific diet or not, you should never feel shame for any of the food choices you make. Consider what foods make YOU feel your best, and incorporate more of them into your diet! If this means keto makes you feel your best, great! If intuitive eating with zero food rules works better for you, that’s great too! The most important thing is nourishing your body with foods that help you thrive and reach your goals. Here are some things to consider: eat a variety of different colored fruits and veggies, consider what foods make you feel most energized and satiated, and prioritize them!
Allow Room for Dessert or Comfort Food
Sometimes nourishment means finding healthy swaps for your favorite desserts or comfort foods, and sometimes it means just enjoying the real deal!
Treating yourself from time to time can actually be a form of nourishment when you enjoy these foods from a place of love and honor your cravings. Eat the cookie and move on with your day! No guilt attached.
Setting boundaries can feel uncomfortable at times, but protecting your energy is a necessary step to nourishing your body. Plus, boundary setting can be beneficial for both you and your relationships. Setting boundaries can look like giving yourself permission to say no, asking for support when you need it, and making the decision that will be most beneficial for you. Take a break from social media, turn off notifications, and consider walking away from any relationships that no longer serve you!
Prioritize Your Mental Health
Take a mental check-in. This is one of the most important aspects of self-care but is oftentimes the most overlooked! Prioritizing your mental health can reduce the risk of burnout, stress and anxiety, depression, moodiness, and even weight gain. Here are some ways to de-stress and nourish your body and mind: try a meditation, journal or practice gratitude, find a therapist, wind down the evening with a yoga class or a relaxing Epsom Salt bath.
Listen to Your Body
Are you feeling burnt out? Your body may be trying to tell you something! But, we get it — listening to your body can be easier said than done (especially with overwhelming work deadlines, societal pressure to look a certain way, and day-to-day life in a fast-paced environment). Here are some signs your body may need some attention: you’re constantly “pushing through” the pain — take a rest day (mentally or physically!). You take on more than you can handle (this can be at work, during a workout, and even emotionally in relationships!) You’re ignoring signs from your body (such as fatigue, injury, or poor sleep). When it comes to exercise, pushing yourself when your body needs rest is not the answer. In fact, restricting rest days can have the opposite intended effect.
Research suggests overexercising can increase the risk for injury, lead to burnout, and even increase belly fat and weight gain due to heightened cortisol levels. So, if your body is sore, tired, or needs to relax, listen and honor these feelings! But, taking a rest day doesn’t need to mean you need to avoid all movement or recovery. In fact, having an active rest day can be beneficial! Here are some ideas: foam roll and stretch, go for a longer walk, try a restorative yoga class, go for a leisurely bike ride.
Set Your Own Pace
Your wellness journey isn’t a race. There’s no need to compare your progress to someone else’s. Looking to others for motivation can be great, but it can also become a slippery slope as it leads to self-comparison. Rather than creating external goals around body image or body size, think about creating internal goals. How do you want to feel? Do you want more energy? Better sleep? Enhanced mood and focus? Shift the focus back to you and work toward what you want to accomplish.
It’s All About Finding What Works For You !!
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