There are constantly debates about whether saturated fat is good or bad, or whether carbohydrates should be cut from our diets. This causes a lot of confusion and stress, and certainly isn’t the key for a healthier diet. So what would be a better approach to ensuring you are eating well and preserving your health? The answer is simply to focus less on singular nutrients and more on foods and portions.
Why is it counterproductive to focus on single nutrients?
We are missing the point by focusing so much on single nutrients. Studies that look at the effect of saturated fat or carbohydrates on our body often completely ignore the types of foods these nutrients are coming form. Yet it will make a significant impact on our health if we are getting saturated fats from dairy/ meat opposed to take away and processed meat, or carbohydrates from wholegrain bread rather than doughnuts. We end up eating highly processed bars that are labelled as ‘low carb’ because we are concerned about eating a piece of fruit.
The other concern is that we end up villainising certain nutrients when all nutrients have some important role in our health. This all leads to an unbalanced diet that is tough to sustain.
Focusing on food instead
The best way to eat a balanced, healthy diet is to focus on the types of foods we are eating and the portions of them. Looking at the food as a whole will make for a better quality diet rather than looking at one nutrient and ignoring the rest of the product. For example, choosing a product because it says low carbohydrate, when it is high in fat and sodium. Unfortunately, people seem to care more about avoiding particular nutrients than they are about the total quality.
We should therefore choose foods that are as natural and unprocessed as possible. When eating foods naturally high in fat or carbohydrate, we should watch our portion sizes. This should also take away some of the stress of choosing what to eat. It’s far less time consuming and costly if we are choosing simple, natural options and not dwelling on the nutrient make up. So give yourself a break and think less! It will be better for your mental and physical wellbeing.
The positives to focusing on food
- It is a more sustainable diet in the long run.
- Removes the anxiety and confusion of what to eat/ what not to eat.
- Will result in a more balanced, higher quality diet.
- Less restrictive and easier to follow.
- Makes social occasions easier.
- Is more satisfying and provides you with a better source of energy.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nutritionist. If you have questions about nutrition, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns.