Diet

All diet, nutrition and lifestyle information is general in nature, and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether any information is appropriate to your situation. This advice is not intended to replace the advice of a professional dietician, and where appropriate you may wish to consider adding a dietician to your health care group.


Introduction

What we eat plays such a large part in our health. Busy lifestyles can often lead to a higher consumption of convenience food - food which is often high in salt, sugar, fat or a combination of these, and which can lead to much poorer health outcomes. Some foods are known to be inflammatory, causing additional health complications such as sore joints or muscles. Misinformation is only a Google search and click away. Food and nutritional knowledge and education can be poor or nonexistent. Even knowing how to read food labels doesn't guarantee they will always be read. The law may require fast food outlets to display nutritional information, but a person queuing up has probably already made their decision to purchase, and seeing how many kilojoules they are about to eat may at best make them rethink about upsizing, but they are unlikely to walk away entirely.

If you want to eat more healthily, a good place to start is to prepare and cook your own food. Start with a meal plan. Planning your meals for the week has been shown to reduce costs, and reduce food waste. It will also reduce the likelihood of eating convenience food.

Everything we eat will affect our overall health. Some things are particularly beneficial (e.g. "antioxidants"), some things are simply necessary for our daily nutritional needs, and some things can have significant negative impacts on our health depending on the frequency and quantity of consumption.

What is your food philosophy?
There are different ways we can think about food. For example, we can think of food as "good" (such as fruit and veggies) and "bad" (chocolate). Thinking about food as good and bad can easily lead to food guilt - feeling bad because you ate something "bad". A better alternative can be to think of food as "nutritional" (fruit and veg) or "non-nutritional / discretionary". We eat nutritional food to grow and heal our body - to survive and thrive. Discretionary food, which has little or no nutritional benefit to our bodies ("empty calories"), is food that tastes good, but which we need to eat infrequently, to minimise the negative health impacts. For example anyone can probably eat one or two squares of chocolate even if you're diabetic¹ (if your blood sugars aren't too high), but eating several blocks a day will likely contribute to weight gain and other health complications.

How you think about food (if you even do) will influence what food you actually choose to eat, which in turn will play a role in your health, affecting your diet, physical well-being, mental well-being and mood, likelihood of contracting (or worsening) disease and others.

General Advice

It is my own personal opinion that most diets are of limited usefulness. Only a long-term change of habits or mindset will result in a long term improvement in health, or reduction in weight. Crash diets may lose significant amounts of weight, but all too often the weight will come back on if no long-term change has occurred. Sometimes it comes down to a thing as simple as how you define the word "diet";

Diet Definitions
Option 1
: Your regular and usual habits of eating. Everything you eat and drink.
Option 2: Cutting out everything which tastes good to try and radically reduce your weight.
Option 3: A magical eating strategy (usually celebrity endorsed) that will make you lose weight, look younger, feel healthier, and gain a six pack of abs, all in 40 days, or six weeks (or some other such believably attainable number).

If you think about everything you eat (option 1) as making up a part of your health and lifestyle, you can better understand if your health and lifestyle is all in all healthy and nutritious, or too high in empty calories. From there you can begin to shift the balance towards better health: increase nutrition, decrease the empty calories (but not necessarily have to eliminate them, and no need to feel bad for anything you eat either, if you have the balance right).

Top tips:
1. Be happy with the changes you make. Don't make a change you don't like. If you don't like it, you won't stick with it, and you need to stick with it to reap the long term benefits from the change.
2. Slow and steady. Start small and enjoy the win when you succeed, and build from there. The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Don't bite off more than you can chew.
3. Play the long game. Put into place changes in thinking and habits that will lead to long term health benefits. Don't measure (or expect) change every single day - instead give yourself time to see a change.

Decide what your food goals are.
Do you want to lose weight? Perhaps your BMI (Body Mass Index) is too high, and you want to lose weight to get it down, or maybe you don't like how you look (or feel).
Do you want to improve your health? Carrying too much weight can affect your joints and muscles causing extra pain, as well as negatively impact our internal organs.
Changing your diet can have significant impacts on such things as:
     - Fatty liver / High cholesterol
     - Diabetes
     - Heart disease
     - Joint pain / arthritis / inflammation
     - Cancer
Do you want to prevent ill health? Changing your diet can not only help reduce the severity of disease, or cure it entirely, it can also help prevent it from happening in the first place.
Are you doing it because of peer pressure? Perhaps it is just some sort of expectation - in our current society where every day on social media someone is posting about their latest diet success, it is possible to feel pressured into joining the perceived "norm". Feeling pressured into doing things in unlikely to create positive outcomes.

Diet and Osteopathy

As diet is an important part of any person's overall health and well-being, you may be asked questions about your diet as part of your osteopathic treatment session, as well as general advice or suggestions made, or a referral to a dietician recommended. The aim is to improve your health outcomes, and the speed of your recovery.


Resources

References
¹ https://www.diabetes.co.uk/food/diabetes-and-chocolate.html


"This is a testimonial."

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