What do you think about when you’re making decisions around what to eat?
The nutrition industry would have you think that the only factor of eating is nutrition information, choosing the foods that have a “perfect” nutritional profile.
Eating is far more complicated. Having an excessive focus on nutritional information can, in some cases, lead to a less healthful eating pattern overall.
When nutrition information is the only driver of food decisions, it can often lead to feelings of deprivation, black and white thinking and moral assignment of eating. Sometimes, the pursuit of control of eating can lead to worse food choices and eating behaviours.
Instead, food decisions need a balance between nutrition information, relationship with food, mindful eating and intuitive eating. Absolutely nutrition information should be a factor in decision-making around food but it shouldn’t be the focus.
A real-world example of this is purchasing yogurt. There are lots of different types, some are higher in fat, some are higher in protein, some are higher in calcium, and some are very low in calories. If you only use nutrition information to determine which one to buy and don’t take into consideration factors like taste, whether it will make you feel satisfied, or whether it helps you get to the next meal without being ravenously hungry, then that purchase may lead to worse nutritional outcomes.
Let’s imagine that you plan to have yoghurt with your breakfast, here are some possible outcomes when nutrition information is the only focus.
Maybe you eat it and you don’t like the taste. The likelihood of making and eating the intended breakfast or even eating it all is significantly reduced.
Maybe you eat breakfast, it’s not satiating and by the time you get to your next meal or snack you are ravenous. When we are excessively hungry we tend to eat whatever is available, we tend to eat faster and eat more.
Maybe you eat the yoghurt but it wasn’t satisfying, it didn’t hit the craving. You may end up purchasing another yoghurt from a café on the way to work and essentially having a double breakfast.
Maybe you eat the yoghurt but you need to eat more or less of it to be a satisfying level of fullness and therefore don’t hit your nutritional targets. Maybe you don't feel very good about that and manage that uncomfortable feeling with food.
In all these instances, purchasing a yoghurt that had a balance of the following would help you reach your goals:
A nutritional profile that is closest to your goals
Tastes good and that you enjoy eating
Makes you feel satisfied until your next eating experience
Our bodies are incredible and it's only when we work with them that we can improve our nutritional health.
Let me know if you have any questions! I'd love to hear your thoughts 😊