Nutritionist Lyndi Cohen is an advocate for mindful and balanced eating. These are her tips to see if you’re really eating healthy.
Okay – let’s take a deep breath and figure out what ‘healthy’ actually means. We’ve been told the ‘health’ food aisle is a myth and nutritionist Lyndi Cohen says BMI has been completely debunked.
Speaking on Body+Soul’s daily podcast Healthy-ish, she says that every single day there’s a new diet, but there’s one factor alone you should pay attention to – how your food makes you feel.
“Really, the metric of whether or not you’re eating healthily is whether you wake up with energy…and you can just hit the pillow and fall asleep easily. Do you have the energy to run around and do all the things you want to do during the day?” she tells host Felicity Harley on the Healthy-ish episode Are you REALLY eating healthy?
Are you REALLY eating healthy?
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“Now, if we don’t have enough energy, if you’re noticing stuff like your bowels aren’t working as well as they should, then these could be clues that it’s time to get a little bit healthier with your diet.”
Essentially, when you are feeding your body the right fuel, it has the energy to function how it should – and vice versa. If you’re putting in too much energy and not using it up throughout the day, sleep will also be difficult.
While we might know that, it isn’t always easy to follow.
“I think biologically we’re hardwired to crave foods that are high in energy. These days we are really surrounded by all sorts of yummy things and that make it a lot harder,” she explains.
“We often think healthy eating is should be simple. We think, ‘I’ll just eat these foods and follow the strict meal plan. I’m going to be eating healthily’.”
Often restrictive diets just lead to insane cravings. Image: iStock
The problem, she says, is that given we’re not robots, don’t all have personal chefs and nutritionists on hand – sticking to this resolution is inevitably hard – especially as we live such busy lives.
“I think we need to think about how to make things simpler for ourselves and keep it realistic. So let’s not go and cut out all these food groups that we’re never going to be able to stick to. Because what ends up happening is when we cut out foods, we end up craving the very foods that we have now removed from our diet even more.”
Hence, pesky sugar craving and late night munchies. Cohen suggests we stick to eating a variety of wholefoods, so we don’t ever feel deprived.
That all sounds well and good – but what should we do when the pantry calls our name late at night?
It’s all in the prep work for Cohen.
Have healthy foods on hand that will satisfy you more. Image: iStock
“I do try and keep a healthy home environment because fundamentally you can have the best willpower but when you’re sitting in front of the television at night and those commercials come on with the melted chocolate and those lovely bags of chips, I don’t know about you, but it’s exactly what I feel like eating,” she says.
She tries to keep healthy options on hand for when those cravings strike. While Cohen says it’s ok to treat yourself occasionally, try to think about what food might actually make you feel more satisfied and opt for that instead.
If you’ve been unsuccessfully trying to reign in your eating, it’s possible you’ve been following fad diet or overly restrictive meal plan.
“The scariest diets are really the ones that are popular at the moment. It’s the ones that we think are ‘healthy eating’, but really it’s just a diet in disguise. It’s not sustainable. And when we fail it, we blame ourselves for failing, instead of blaming the diets; because the diet failed us, not the other way around.”
Blame the diets if you fail, not yourself. Image: iStock
Lyndi’s top 3 hacks to make healthy eating easier
1. Try a bigger lunch
“By afternoon, willpower goes down. We’re getting tired, getting depleted and probably a little bit hungry, and that’s when we fall into issues. Most of the time, a big thing people don’t do is they don’t eat enough for lunch or they don’t eat a satisfying enough lunch.”
“You’re trying to be too healthy, too clean, and as a result, you end up getting ravenous. So you walk through that door when you get home and suddenly demolish the kitchen. So one way around this is actually eating a more satisfying lunch.”
2. Have a pre-commute snack
“What you might find you need to do is have something called a pre-commute snack. If you’re you are finding that you come home and the pantry gets raided, then before you leave the office, before you do, the school run – have a snack.”
Fill up on the good stuff. Image: iStock
“If 10 almonds doesn’t cut it (because it definitely doesn’t cut it for me), make sure you’re eating more and eat something that’s actually satisfying. Something like a piece of whole grain toast with avocado or yoghurt with some cereal make it substantial and really satisfying.”
“If we’re going to be avoiding the afternoon, almost binge-like pattern, then even eating a little bit more to avoid doing that is going to be a big win.”
3. Don’t cut any particular food group
“When we cut out foods, we are going to end up craving them more. So you don’t have to cut out carbohydrates, you don’t have to cut out sugar. All we want to do is start crowding in those healthier options so your brain can think of all the foods it is allowed to eat instead of obsessing about the foods that are now forbidden.”
Find out more about Lyndi’s Back to Basic’s app via her website, here, or on Instagram, @nude_nutritionist