I once read an article in the Harvard Business Review showcasing an interview with Christiane Amanpour, an international news correspondent. She was reflecting on her career, being a parent, and a woman in a male-dominated industry.
She said something about navigating relationships with people from all cultures, religions and beliefs that really hit home for me:
“The trick is to minimize the extremes…and to stick to the sensible center.”
I think this is true in relationships and other facets of life. Particularly, with nutrition and how we handle it day to day — from the latest fad to the hard-core research.
I’ve taken her quote out of context and applied it to the realities of today’s nutrition, specifically when it comes to eating food:
If you’re a parent, ‘the trick’ is code for how you survive food, nutrition and feeding each day in the most efficient and practical manner.
From choosing food and preparing it, to feeding your family and choosing which messages to convey to your children.
It’s important to point out that some tricks make your life easier and are good for your kids, and some tricks just muddy the water, making it more difficult later.
Minimize the Food Extremes
Extreme beliefs about nutrition instill fear, influence your feeding choices, and limit you to short term, “quick-fix” thinking. Extreme views of food, such as this is good, healthy and preferred and that is bad, toxic and to be avoided, can set a child up for confusion and an unhealthy relationship with food.
Extreme diets to lose weight or improve health can damage metabolism, and create a disturbance in your child’s relationship with food, body and self.
When any of these are passed on to our children (who are limited in the capacity to understand the intricate details and innuendos), they can confuse and cause chaotic eating.
To minimize these extremes, you will have to tune out the nutrition noise, hype and propaganda. Remember, No one food, diet or viewpoint holds that much power.No one food, diet or viewpoint holds enough power to radically change your child's health. #wholechildnutrition #fearlessfeeding #thenourishedchild Click To Tweet
The same is true for feeding your child—when you adopt new diets, avoid or restrict foods, or plug your kids with supplements, you run the risk of backlash behavior: Kids eating the foods you’re controlling, dieting in dangerous ways, and not eating food, but instead taking supplements.
Food extremes are a trap for many people, and keep them stuck in beliefs and behaviors that don’t work.
If you are living with extremes now, be sure you’ve got good evidence to do so, not just the latest fad or nutrition craze touted from someone’s opinion or what worked for them.
Stick to the Sensible Center (Food In Moderation)
When you minimize the extremes, you are left somewhere in the middle. The center is where most people can live naturally and comfortable.
A place where you can wear your ‘common sense hat,’ where mistakes can be made and corrected, and where you can navigate the nutrition noise…confidently.
The center is flexible and forgiving. In fact, I like to say food flexibility is the new eating in moderation.
It means you can have sugar, salt, and fat or any other indulgence in a balanced fashion—not gorging on it, or eliminating it all together. If you do gorge, you’ll simply get back to the center, eating in a balanced way and enjoying the process.
This goes for feeding your family too—if you make feeding mistakes, just step back and re-balance. If your nutrition knowledge is limited, dig deeper.
This will allow you to make feeding decisions out of awareness and knowledge.
The sensible center can be a tough place to find, especially with the abundance of nutrition hype and our complicated food environment.
You may not feel popular, cutting-edge, or snag attention living in the sensible center. But, you’ll get more balance– in your attitudes, beliefs and actions– and your kids will, too.
You’ll make feeding decisions based on evidence, not hype or hysteria. You’ll be flexible, not rigid, keeping lifestyle, nutrition and exercise balance top of mind.
Balance will be your cornerstone.
Have you found your sensible center? If so, how do you navigate all the nutrition noise? If you haven’t, what’s getting in the way?
Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: June 27, 2018
Updated on: September 19, 2019