My food philosophy:
I believe an overall eating pattern should be thought about in terms of nutrients (this includes a healthy balance of both macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, fat and water as well as micronutrients – vitamins and minerals). Not calories, not grams of fat or carbohydrate, not shade of vegetables or grams of protein. Just nutrients.
Nutrients are chemical substances derived from the foods we eat to help our bodies function their best and perform important tasks to keep everything running smoothly (from basic things like our brains working, hearts pumping, digestive tracts running but also bigger stuff like playing sports).
Every day our bodies depend on us to provide them protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals and water so that they can do their job of breaking down those nutrients and utilizing them to run all our bodily processes. I’m sure many of you have heard the age-old saying that “food is fuel” and this couldn’t be more true. Just as a car couldn’t run without gas in the tank, our bodies can’t run without food! You would never force your car to run on too little or too much gas, so you should never expect your body to either!
The way to get the large variety of required nutrients is to eat a large variety of foods. No one food has everything our bodies need, so I believe working in a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins (including dairy) and heart healthy fats is the best approach to ensuring we keep our fuel tanks full.
That said, I absolutely do not believe in a “perfect” diet. There’s no perfect way of eating and the above is certainly not prescriptive – everyone requires a different balance of fuel and nutrients. You need to find what works best for you. That includes indulgences. You may have heard of the 80/20 rule where 80% of the time you work to include a healthful variety of wholesome foods (so your body can run its best!) and 20% of the time you indulge in your cravings (whatever they may be). I whole-heartedly believe that listening to your body and satisfying cravings is part of an overall balanced lifestyle.