Nutrition & Wellness: Where do we start?

 
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When being asked to write an article about nutrition and wellness, where do I even start…? 

There is SO much – and I mean a ridiculous amount of – information and misinformation available, so how do I tackle that? Do I even bother? Do any of us even know what 'wellness' means?

Wellness can mean different things to different people, and different professions may describe wellness in different ways. At the end of the day, wellness is how you feel and how you are doing.

From a nutrition perspective, we want to make sure that you are healthy and free from illness or disease. We want the way you feel about yourself and body to help you to make decisions that continue to maintain – or even better – your wellbeing, especially when it comes to food choices.

These choices may be to avoid the piece of cake, or eat the piece of cake… but that decision is being made from a positive perspective, and not a negative one.

Food is a huge part of wellbeing. It can make us feel better or worse, it can make us sick and it can keep us well. It is all to do with how we approach it.

We hear all about the latest fad diets, what we should and shouldn't be eating, and we are bombarded with both obvious and subliminal messaging when it comes to food advertising.

It is no wonder there is confusion around what is best for us.

Our lives are manipulated by social media and the latest trending person to follow (who may have no qualifications and be giving false hope or advice), which in reality can be incredibly detrimental.

Orthorexia, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder... These illnesses are coming into the mainstream so much more now due to the social pressures from social media to eat or look a certain way.

So how do we get out of a vicious dieting cycle? Just by eating better…? Easier said than done.

Many of us are already aware that we should be eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods… but how? It is not just about stopping eating something, but breaking our addiction to these hyper-processed foods that are so readily available all around us. 

We are living longer, but battling more controllable disease due to our unhealthy lifestyles. Does this mean we’ve been choosing quantity over quality? In some cases – yes, and this is what I hope to help people with.

While we can approach wellness at a population level with generic advice, everyone is different, so we need to combine this with a more targeted, individual approach.

I am a nutritionist myself, but I don’t eat ‘clean’ 100% of the time. Some people find that hard to understand. When I meet someone new, they comment: ‘I bet you eat so healthy’… well, what does that mean??

Most of the time I choose to eat lots of fruits and veggies, lean proteins and wholegrains. But people who know me also know my soft spot for pizza and wine – which there is nothing wrong with.

It is about knowing how often these foods should be consumed in relation to foods that are going to nourish our bodies with key nutrients that keep us functioning at our best.

Well… where do we go from here? All I can say is…

Choose foods that make you feel good inside and out.

Don’t rely on emotions to tell you what to eat, as this can become an unhealthy cycle for mental wellbeing. It is about removing guilt from foods, choosing nutrient-rich foods more often than not, being aware of added sugars… and if you are feeling unsure about something – talk to someone.

It might be a friend for support, or a professional to dispel myths and help you get on the track you want to be on. Be sure to have a good system in place so that you can be at your best as much as you can!


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By Emma Clarkson

Emma has Bachelor of Applied Science in Human nutrition and is soon to become an Associate Registered Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society of New Zealand.

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