I thought I knew all about food. That was before my degree.
A nutrition degree is intense. It’s packed with science, anatomy, stats, nutrition and food. You don’t need a degree to learn how to eat healthy.
What changed for me? One, learning the foundations of healthy eating from uni. Two, learning from other health professionals who know how to sensibly think about food. I’m not a perfect eater (and won’t be). But I’ve definitely changed a few ways I eat since my nutrition and dietetics degree.
1. I tuned into my appetite
This can be hard to learn and it was a process. Perhaps the best way to start is asking ‘Am I really hungry?’. By doing this, I stopped relying on calories or points to tell me what to eat. Instead, I thought about what I was eating and whether it was truly satisfying me.
2. I broke up with bacon
Long before the Bacon and Cancer articles came out, I didn’t even think eating processed meats was an issue. Sausages, ham, salami, devon and all those other deli meats – I just didn’t think much of it. These were just ‘meat’. Now, they are ‘sometimes food’ (because of the nitrates and saturated fat levels) and I eat them less often.
3. I eat more beans (and enjoy them!)
Gut health. Weight control. Managing blood sugar levels. Plant-based protein. There are so many reasons to love legumes. I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste and had NO clue how to cook them. I just keep it simple. I use canned lentils in spag bol, canned black beans in tacos or dried red lentils when whipping up pumpkin soup.
4. I stopped weighing myself every week
I was that kid in high school who used to weigh themselves. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It then became weekly. As a health professional, we only weigh someone daily to check their fluid balance (generally in hospital for those with heart or kidney issues). I ditched the scales and only weigh myself once a year. My eating wasn’t scrutinised because my weight went up by 300g in the week (most likely because of hydration or bowel habits!).
5. I started eating more fish
I didn’t think of fish, and I wasn’t the biggest fan. Little did I know:
a) our bodies cannot make omega-3 and we get it mainly from fish
b) we need omega-3 for healthy heart, blood vessels and brains
c) improves cholesterol levels
d) it’s better to get it from food rather than supplements
Canned, frozen or fresh – it’s all good! (just remember when it’s crumbed its more of a ‘sometime food’). I try to hit the recommended 2-3 serves of fish per week.
There are more changes I’ve made and I’m constantly learning, but I’d say after 4 years I have a more sensible approach and eat more nutritious foods.