And I don’t mean a space-time continuum like in Back to the Future (although, that was one of the best films of my youth-hood and maybe I should do more ‘where we’re going, we don’t need roads’ when I pull out of the driveway in my
Delorean Ford Focus)
When I say it’s all just a continuum, I am talking about health, food and your approach to eating.
(btw, totally ignore this post if you are not interested in eating better or feeling better)
This whole ‘eating better’ business is tricky.
Should you eat butter or margarine?
Avoid sugar completely, or stick with the odd juice, or stuff it and eat donuts?
Is it better to reduce carbs, ditch carbs or what?
And what is ‘better’ anyway?
And my answer is often (unhelpfully at first glance):
‘It all depends.’
And by that, I am not trying to be annoying.
What I mean is that it depends where you are right now.
It depends on what you already eat or drink.
It depends on how your life is.
And it depends on about eighteen hundred* other random factors that you don’t take into consideration when you decide that you want to sort your IBS out once and for.
There are different level of ‘goodness’ when it comes to food. And there are different layers of ‘goodness’ that you can do.
The hard part isn’t figuring out if you should eat more greens (you should) and the trick isn’t quitting chocolate for the rest of your life (hell no).
The thing is to take it all into consideration, do some complicated algebra and then jumble it up and google it.
Which leaves you none the wiser, definitely confused, and heading towards the biscuit tin again (does anyone still have a biscuit tin anymore?)
Help is here
To save you, and all my clients from the trauma of the google, I like to talk in continuums (continuui? continuuae?)
Is sugar bad for me?
If you check out any research, health blogger, dietician or ‘person-who-knows-these-things’, they will generally tell you that, yes, sugar is bad. You should avoid it. They might even go as far as to say that you shouldn’t drink fruit juice, or eat fruit due to the sugars contained in them.
Which is perfectly acceptable advice. For people who are already not eating loads of sugar or who don’t have blood sugar crazies every mid-afternoon.
For the rest of us, quitting sugar completely might save our skin, but will also turn us into hateful monsters.
Which isn’t good.
So my continuum when it comes to sugar is this:
(bad) artificial sweeteners -> refined sugar -> ‘natural’ sugars/alternatives such as honey etc -> processed fruit juice -> dried fruit-> fresh fruit juice -> fruit -> nothing sweetened whatsoever (good)
And this isn’t even an exhaustive list (for example, there are loads of different sweeteners and loads of different dried fruits) but to go right in depth would require that we sit down and handcraft some nutrition guidelines just for you.
Take this list as a mini-signpost about sugars, taking you from wherever you are right now, and pointing you in the direction of improving things just a tad.
Which means if you are busy drinking loads and loads of soda pop every day, jumping straight to ‘nothing sweetened whatsoever’ will pretty much guarantee that you feel rubbish, fail in your quest for good health, and end up drinking more fizzy drinks in an effort to get over the guilt of being so bad at giving up soda.
Whereas improving just one aspect in a very small step by small step way might seem long, slow and boring, but it means that the changes are going to be long lasting, easy to maintain and will soon just become the way that you eat or drink. No thinking or willpower required.
Even more simple
Same goes for getting your ‘five a day’ fruit and veg goal, set by the UK government. If you are already eating around four portions a day, then well done, see if you can have an extra carrot at snack-o-clock.
If you are just about managing 1 apple a day and no veg, and you work in an office with no kitchen facilities and you hate cooking, then trying to jump straight to five a day is going to feel very hard indeed (which means you won’t even try, and may end up quitting your one apple a day too out of annoyance).
Instead, think of the continuum when it comes to fruit and veg – you will like this one as it is so obvious, you may fall off your chair.
Not so good = 0 portions per day -> 1 portion a day -> 2 portions a day -> 3 portions -> 4 portions -> 5 portions = hurrah.
(and if you get even more than that it, there’s a special place for you in my nutritionist heart!)
You just see where you are at on the fruit and veg continuum, and aim to go on step better. Couldn’t be simpler. And it’s as obvious as a really obvious thing. But we get ourselves in such a tiz that we either don’t bother or get so stressed and confused by what we should eat that we no longer enjoy the fun that is food.
The great bonus that comes from thinking about food in this way is that you never need to feel guilty. Had a load of rubbish for the past week? Never mind. Just take one step forward. Worried that you eat so bad there is NO CHANCE EVER that you can improve your diet? Fear not, and take one small step. No need to beat yourself up about it.
This is idea of eating better being part of a continuum is really appealing to me – sign up to my newsletter because I have a feeling that I’m going to set out a few more in the near future.
I have a great knack for making the obvious nicely obvious (I never gloat, ever) and I have an even better knack of making the not-so-obvious just that little bit easier to see and understand.
Is it time for us to find out where you are in the
space-time healthy eating continuum, and get you one little step closer to healthy happiness? Check out how to work with me here.