These days people are surrounded by healthy eating advice. There are so many "shoulds" and "should nots" that it is impossible to even keep track of them all. The problem with these expectations is that they create guilt and do not motivate healthy eating. Instead, they create discouragement and resentfulness. Here are a few of these common expectations and how you can eliminate them from your life.
1. You shouldn't eat out. This is a common one. While making your own food can often be healthier for your body, it it not always healthier overall. Sometimes you may be too tired to create a healthy meal. You may need to connect with friends or colleagues and doing so over a meal can be a great way to get to know others. There are many reasons to eat out, and you don't need to feel guilty for doing so. Decide how often you would like to go to restaurants, choose your favorites, and enjoy your time away from the kitchen.
2. You shouldn't eat sugar. This a complete impossibility. There are all kinds of sugar in all kinds of foods. While some are better for you than others, trying to avoid all sugar is impossible and overwhelming. Unless you are diabetic, your body is made to handle some amounts of sugar. In fact, our bodies need some for energy. Mindfully choose which sugars (or sugary items) taste the best to you and enjoy them fully without guilt.
3. You should eat balanced meals. While overall it is important to have a balanced diet, not every meal has to be perfectly balanced. If you are in a hurry and grab something quick for breakfast, add an extra fruit or vegetable for a snack later. If during the holidays you go overboard with treats, cut back in January without beating yourself up over it. Life is long and you will go through a lot of ups and downs. Accept that it will happen and don't "should" yourself every time you are in a downswing.
4. You shouldn't eat gluten. This is a huge craze right now. However, if you have not been diagnosed with celiac disease (only 1% of the population has it) or gluten sensitivity, don't stress over this. You can try eliminating it from your diet for a while if you are having health problems, but eating gluten-free has not been proven to be healthier for most people. It is more expensive, eliminates fiber from whole grains, and can even be less healthy since gluten-free foods often have more sugar and sodium.
As you consider how to take care of your body, remove the "shoulds" and "should nots." Experiment with different foods, eat out occasionally, enjoy treats, and make good choices overall.
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