Hey, friends! I have had this topic on my mind for some time and can’t wait to share it with you. If there is one thing I hope you NEVER leave my page feeling, it’s guilt. Guilt for what you eat, the foods you buy, what you spend your time doing, or how you feel about your health. Everything I share is merely to provide information and inspiration to help you live YOUR best and most nourished life. It’s not about perfection, and nourishment looks and feels different for everyone. I, by no means, do things perfectly, nor do I expect I ever will. Life ebbs and flows, and we’re all just looking to find balance in the chaos.
If you’ve seen my Instagram (@stephaniemoore_rd), then you know how much I enjoy posting pictures of what I eat. Some find it annoying, but I love it! I love looking at what other’s eat because it provides inspiration for fun and delicious new foods. But, if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that everyone eats a wide variety of foods, and to their own liking and needs. What you eat isn’t what I need to eat. How much you eat doesn’t reflect how much I need to eat. And to compare my food choices to another person’s does my health and body a great disservice. But sometimes I get caught up in this comparison. Do I eat too many starches, not enough vegetables, and where the heck do I buy that “superfruit” or mystical powder that is sure to bring me immortality and radiant skin?
The only way I’ve been able to continue enjoying Instagram for what it is, a snapshot of people’s lives, is to remind myself that these photos of food are merely for inspiration and something pretty to look at. They are not the end all be all of what healthy eating looks like. In fact, healthy eating looks different for everyone, so what’s the use in comparing? If someone is making you feel self-conscious about what you eat then “unfollow” because you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. And if I ever make you feel that way, call me out on it! We all benefit from knowing where we can improve and grow.
No Labels, No Rules
So, what do I eat on any given day? It varies! I like to change things up to keep my taste buds happy and keep things interesting. It keeps my creative juices flowing and I get the benefit of a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (plant compounds that are good for your body). I do have to follow some guidelines because I have a digestive disorder called Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Yeah, you know the Ben Stiller movie, Along Came Polly, where he’s out eating Indian food and it sends him urgently to the bathroom? He had IBS, too. Sounds great, doesn’ t it? Ha! NO.
Fortunately for those with IBS there is a diet called the Low-FODMAP diet and it has honestly been an absolute life-saver for me and so many of my IBS patients. That being said, there are certain foods (including very healthy foods!) that I am hypersensitive to and need to avoid. Does that mean YOU need to avoid these foods, too? Nope. Not at all. For example, wheat, garlic and onion are high-FODMAP foods that are high in Fructans, and every time I try to reintroduce these foods back into my diet I get gas, bloating, abdominal cramping (sometimes so severe I can’t move from the fetal position), nausea, and constipation. TMI but I’m a GI dietitian and talk about this daily, so you could say I’m just desensitized.
For the most part I stay away from these foods, or at least high quantities of them, which means the majority of the foods I post on Instagram and recipes I create are gluten-free for this reason. But that doesn’t mean that there is anything unhealthy about eating gluten, in actuality 100% whole wheat foods are high in fiber, B-vitamins and minerals. If I didn’t experience unpleasant symptoms I would be eating wheat, especially Dave’s Killer bread because that stuff is. my. jam.
Eat What Makes You Feel Good
Besides the food I’m unable to tolerate for medical reasons, no other foods are off limits. In fact, I eat by no food rules and instruct others without medical necessities to do the same. I feel good and energized when I eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, lots of healthy fats, meats and fish, and complex carbohydrates from brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and potatoes. I also feel good when I don’t deprive my sweet tooth and allow myself to indulge in some cravings on a regular basis. Hello, dark chocolate and ice cream! If I make foods completely off-limits, you’ll find me sneaking multiple spoonfuls of ice cream from the container until I feel sick. I’d rather just have a sensible portion of ice cream whenever I want without the guilt and sour stomach.
Sometimes I’ll focus on more paleo based meals because I love eating an abundance of veggies and good quality meat. It gives me energy and doesn’t aggravate my IBS. I may enjoy paleo based meals, but that doesn’t make me Paleo. I enjoy homemade veggie burgers and plant-based meatballs, but that doesn’t mean I’m vegan. At times I’ll eat pizza or a cheeseburger (not paleo, not low-FODMAP and not vegan). Why? Because I love these foods and can tolerate them in small quantities. What do all of these meals have in common? I like them. That’s all I really care about. No label and no set of rules.
I like to dabble in some of the currently hyped up foods, think tumeric lattes and ghee cooked in everything, but I do so for variety and fun. Not because these foods are going to have any significant impact on my health. Do you know how much ghee you have to eat to obtain enough butyric acid that it would benefit your intestinal lining? Yeah, me neither.
But I’m not going to down a bunch of expensive butter in hopes it will improve the integrity of my gut. I can do more sensible things that will have greater benefit to my overall health, such as increase the amount of fiber I’m eating. That being said, I like the taste of it! There are so many foods out there but there is not one food that is going to be the elixir of youth and good health. If you’re interested and have the money then indulge in the fun foods, but when it comes down to it a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts/seeds, fish, lean meats and plant-based proteins are the foundation of health.
We make food choices all day, everyday. To feel guilty or pressured every time you make a food choice is just going to drive you crazy and stress you out. If you want to talk bout the real threat to health, it’s STRESS.
I hope you take what I eat with a grain of salt. Feel inspired to try new foods and learn different ways of fueling your body, but do what is best for YOU. I’m going to keep doing what is best for me. I eat a little bit of everything, not too much of the high-FODMAP foods, some unnecessary but fun stuff, and anything that makes my body feel good, as well as settles my sweet tooth. And I’m not going to apologize for that sweet tooth. She’s a part of me and we’ve learned to balance each other out. 🙂