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Don't diet. Nourish.

Don't diet.  Nourish.

As readers of this blog are well aware, I’m not a fan of diets.  

But this month, instead of listing all of the (many, many!) reasons why different diets don’t work, I want to offer a perspective shift: Instead of restrictions and counting calories and avoiding certain foods, I think it’s time we think about food in a different light. Specifically, I’d like us to think of food as nourishment.

If you’ve been inundated with diets for weight loss, this may seem like a huge change. But the reason we eat is to nourish our bodies. Originally, people probably ate solely as a means of physical survival; without food, our bodies starve to death in a matter of two to three months. We rely on protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals to replenish cells and ensure that our bodily processes keep functioning.

When food is plentiful, humans still eat to fuel our bodies. And we also eat to fuel our souls and to connect with others -- so much so that how often a family eats dinner together can be used as a predictor for kids’ health and success in school and beyond.

Some research even shows that when we take special care with our food -- by gardening, cooking at home, or simply slowing down to eat it -- we tend to eat more nutritious and healthy foods. Notably, none of those benefits come when we suppress appetites and restrict foods. In fact, people who diet often experience negative health consequences.

So what does eating for nourishment look like? It doesn’t have to mean gourmet, candle-lit meals three times a day. In fact, it can be extraordinarily simple. It can mean eating the way our grandparents ate, whether that was a vegetable bake brimming with late summer’s bounty or chicken noodle soup with dill.  In other words fresh, local whole foods prepared simply and enjoyed immensely – because they taste soooo good!

As much as it’s important for our physical health to eat for nourishment, it’s also important for our mental health. We’ve stressed the impact food has on mood before. But our overall perspective on how we fuel our bodies is also important. When we view food through a positive lens, we’re much more likely to feel satisfied with ourselves and with what we eat.

This month, I’ll examine nourishment-forward ways people eat, including -- spoiler alert -- what a certain cardiologist eats in a day.

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