University of Michigan Health-West Shares Tips on How to Eat for Life During National Nutrition Month

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There is no one-size-fits all diet. Eliminating all, or even most, of a macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate/sugar) has unintended consequences. The trick is finding the proper balance of those macronutrients to fuel your life and activities. Many factors influence your needs, such as gender, race, genetics, underlying metabolism, hormone levels, and what you are fueling to do. All these factors will change your personal need for both total calories and breakdown of macros. Elizabeth Albright, DO,  primary care sports medicine physician with University of Michigan Health-West, shares these tips on finding the proper balance in your diet as a lifestyle:

Stop thinking of food as “good” or “bad.” Food is necessary to live. Think about food in terms of fuel. There may be foods that will fuel you towards your goals more effectively but that doesn’t make other foods “bad.” You wouldn’t put regular unleaded gas in a diesel engine, but that doesn’t make unleaded gas “bad.” It’s just a different kind of gas. In the same way, eating foods that do not properly fuel our body for our activity/living goals can damage the body the way unleaded gas would damage a diesel engine.

Change your mindset. Stop referring to your ongoing daily food habits as a diet. By definition, a diet has an end-date, which is why fad diets don’t last; they end and then you go back to what you were eating previously. Your food habits are a lifestyle. You must eat to live and what you eat in a day that works for your body is your food lifestyle.

Use food hacks. Food hacks help with the times you struggle most. Some great food hacks include trying grab-n-go snacks, meal prepping, meal kits, and crockpot/instapot meals to make your daily food journey as easy as possible. When eating out, review the menu and choose your meal before you go to limit temptations in the moment. If you eat out a lot, review the menu to find a few more nutritious options to rotate through.

Get the family involved in your food journey. Preparing foods can be a fun family event. Let the kids help cut up veggies (safely) or measure out dry goods for meal prepping. Introduce them to the joys of healthy cooking and food preparation at a young age to avoid growing into the negative connotations that are so commonly associated with food.

Dr. Elizabeth Albright is a Primary Care Sports Medicine physician with University of Michigan Health-West. She is board certified in both Family Medicine and Sports Medicine.

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