The Five Pillars of Health: A Balanced Diet
What is a Balanced Diet?
There are no good or bad foods and no universally good or bad diets. We should consider diet in context with our desired lifestyle and not assume that everyone wants to be slim, healthy and live forever. If we’re training for a marathon, our bodies need an energy-rich diet. But, if we live a sedentary life, the converse is not necessarily true. After decades of research, we still don’t know who should eat what or when.
Evidence is incomplete not just because of the paucity of proper research, but because of complex interactions between eating and health. All diets have consequences and, to complicate matters further, diet is also confounded by lifestyle – whilst some studies show that vegetarians may be less likely to die from heart disease, is that because vegetarians are more likely to be non-smokers?
What is the best way to eat?
Extreme diets for those who don’t require special nutrition may be responsible for a misleading health-food culture that is so stressful it’s counterproductive. Strict diets can spoil family meals or time with friends and leave us malnourished. We don’t need to eat organic, ‘clean’ food for good health; we just need to eat a little healthier more often.
Healthy Enjoyable Eating
The only truly harmful diets are those of restriction and devoid of joy. Healthy enjoyable eating simply requires us to:
· Eat a wide variety of foods
· Not too much or too little
· But, we shouldn’t feel guilty about what we eat
· Nor should we make anyone else feel guilty about what or how they eat
Indulging in occasional junk food or a greasy fry-up can wake up our immune systems. And it’s ok to base our choices on educated guesses rather than hard science as the evidence available is inconclusive.
“You are what you eat” so they say. From a yogic perspective, you are not just what you eat but how you eat. Mindful eating – eating slowly with little distraction - helps us become aware of each bite, noticing its taste, texture and temperature. We then fully appreciate and enjoy our food whilst digesting it properly. Food is our sustenance and a balanced diet should be a source of health providing joy as well as nutrition. So, enjoy…