As a dietitian, I get many different reactions from people, and often they form strong opinions about me and how I eat. Many assume I only eat salads all day and my children are never allowed to have junk food. Others think I must be 100% organic. Then there are the people that are afraid to eat around me because they think I will secretly judge them or will scold them for eating a piece of cake.
I find myself in interesting conversions about my personal eating habits, and in all honesty, I love it! I love being able to teach others that eating “healthy” doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the foods you love. I love food! I love healthy foods and I love not-so-healthy foods. I am not so different from everyone else in the foods we love, but I might be different in how often and how much of these foods I eat and feed my family. I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of my eating habits and the thought process I use to make those choices.
First of all, no I don’t eat salad all day, but I do love salads and eat many through the week. To be honest, I didn’t always love salads, or many vegetables for that matter, it is something that developed over time as I made a conscious effort to include more vegetables in my diet. I found the more consistent I was at eating vegetables, the more I liked them and now I feel like my meal is not complete unless there is at least one serving of vegetables (or fruit) in it.
Secondly, I do allow my children to have some junk food. My boys are teenagers now and I am realistic about their desire to have candy, cookies, ice cream, chips, etc., especially when most of their friends have it often. When they were younger, I was a lot more restrictive. I did not allow my young children to have sweets, other than at special occasions, like birthday parties. Now that they are older, I still limit how often and how much they eat. It is a rule in our house that they have to ask before having junk food, they are never allowed to just freely eat what they want.
So let’s talk organic. I do have certain foods that I buy organic most of the time. My choices are based on the research that I have done and feel are a better choice. However, I do not think you have to eat organic to eat healthy. Eating less processed foods, cooking at home more, including vegetables and some fruits in meals, limiting sugar intake and watching portion sizes are the first steps to eating healthy, and in my opinion, more important than eating organic. In other words, a non-organic spinach salad is more nutritious than an organic cookie!
Lastly, just because I am a dietitian, does not mean I judge what everyone around me is eating. As I stated before, I love food, and I am usually focused on what I am eating, not what others are eating. We all need to learn how to incorporate the foods we love into a healthy diet. I do not eat perfect, nor do I expect others to eat perfect. What I do expect is for my patients to be honest with me about what they are eating when I am working with them in the office. I am here to help, not judge. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. My goal is to help others find their strengths in order to overcome their weaknesses.
So the next time you see me, don’t be afraid to eat around me, and don’t expect for me to only be eating a salad!